Page 3497

3497 THE TWENTIETH CENTURY-THE GREAT WAR,

were the Breslau and the Goeben, the former

a protected cruiser of 4,478 tons, and the

latter a giant battle cruiser of 22,640 tons,

both new vessels and exceedingly swift.

On August 2d, these two vessels were at

Messina in Sicily, but, on receiving news

of the declaration of war against Russia,

they put to sea. On the 4th, they made

a demonstration off the coast of Algeria,

and the Goeben inflicted considerable damage upon the port of Philippeville. The

same day, they met the British battle cruisers Indefatigable and Inflexible and

the light cruisers Weymouth and Gloucester,

which closed in on them, and, upon being

asked what was wanted, replied that war

was imminent between Great Britain and

Germany. The German ships separated

and fled. The slower British ships, which

had not yet received news of war, followed

but were outdistanced.

The German ships again entered the

harbor of Messina, but, as Italy had remained neutral, they could stay in this

port only twenty-four hours. Meanwhile,

they had received news of the outbreak

of hostilities between their country and

Great Britain. From Germany came the

wireless dispatch: "His Majesty expects

the Goeben and the Breslau to succeed in

breaking through!" The British supposed

that the Germans would make for some

Austrian harbor on the Adriatic, and concentrated most of their ships in the Straits

of Otranto, but left the swift light cruiser

Gloucester on the watch off Messina. It

is said that the British were sending false

radio messages to the Germans to rush

for Pola. But this was no part of the

German intention. With bands playing

and flags flying, the German ships steamed

out of the harbor as if for the Straits of

Otranto and the Adriatic. The little

Gloucester kept them constantly in sight

and wired their movements to the main

British squadron. Off Cape Spartivento,

the Goeben and Breslau suddenly began

letting off into the air "all the discordant

vibrations which their wireless could command, jamming the air with such a hullabaloo that the Gloucester was unable to

send any intelligible messages." Then the

German cruisers turned southward and

steamed for the AEgean Sea and the

Dardanelles. The plucky little Gloucester

kept at their heels, and once even audaciously offered battle, but the larger

British ships never came in sight of the

German vessels.

Treaties signed in 1856 and 1871 forbade

warships to use the Dardanelles except

by special permission of the Sultan and

then only in times of peace, but German

influences were in the ascendant at Constantinople, and Baron von Wangenheim,

the Kaiser's zealous Ambassador, had

every thing arranged. On arriving off

the entrance to the Straits, the German

cruisers hoisted the Turkish flag, steamed

up the Straits, and in due course dropped

anchor at Constantinople. When the

Allies protested to Turkey, they were

told that Turkey had "bought" the two

cruisers. Such a sale, in time of war, was

itself illegal, but, in reality, the sale was

a fictitious one, and was part of a deep-laid