Page 3543

3543 THE TWENTIETH CENTURY-THE GREAT WAR.

and wounded, while those of the Turks

were several times this number, and

included several hundred prisoners. Some

of these prisoners were paraded through

the streets of Cairo, and their plight had a

sobering influence upon any Egyptians

who may have been contemplating an

uprising in the Turkish interests.

The Turkish Government was soon given

something more serious to think about

nearer home, and the Suez campaign was

allowed to languish. The advantages to

the Allies and most of all to Russia of the

opening up of the waterway that connected the Black Sea with the AEgean had

been apparent ever since Turkey had

entered the war. If the Dardanelles could

be forced by the Allied warships, the Sea

of Marmora could be occupied, and Constantinople, which lies open to attack

from this sea, could easily be captured.

The opening of the Bosphorus would naturally follow. Turkey would be cut into

two unequal parts. The small European

portion would hardly be able to hold out

long; while the Asiatic region, deprived

of all communication with the Teutonic

powers, would either be conquered or

forced to accept peace. Furthermore, the

agricultural products of the great Russian

plain could be carried to western markets,

and munitions of war could be sent to

Russia, which, because she was mainly

a farming country, was unable to manufacture munitions in the enormous quantities which the war was demanding.

In a word, the Dardanelles enterprise

was a magnificent conception. Those who

advocated it were right in believing that,

if it were carried through, it would go

far toward putting a period to the war.

The Turks would be rendered harmless,

and the other Balkan powers would either

throw in their lot with the Allies or would

at least give up any thought of assisting

Germany and Austria. It is easy to see,

in the light of after events, that if the

Allies had opened the straits they would

have saved the loss of millions of lives and

billions of money. But unfortunately for

them, their plans and their execution of

them were in a different class from the idea.

The strait called the Dardanelles, as

a glance at the map will show, forms the

outlet to the Sea of Marmora and lies

between northwestern Asia Minor and

the long narrow projection of southeastern

Europe that is known as the Gallipoli

Peninsula. Upon the European side rise

bold hills, but the Asiatic coast, the region of

ancient Troy, is lower and less broken. At

the entrance, which was defended by two

forts, Sedd-el-Bahr and Kum Kale, the

strait is four or five miles wide. Inside

it broadens out somewhat, but about

a dozen miles up there is a constriction

known as the Narrows, and here were

located the main Turkish defenses. The

Narrows is about ten miles long, and in

places less than a mile wide. It was here

that Xerxes built his bridge of boats over

which his hosts marched on their way

to Greece. Beyond, the strait gradually

grows wider and finally merges into the

Sea of Marmora.

The first proposal for an expedition

to the Dardanelles was made to the War

Cabinet by Winston Churchill, then First

Lord of the Admiralty, on November 25,

1914. But, with the procrastination characteristic of the British authorities at

that time, the matter was allowed to drag.

On January 2, 1915, a communication

from Russia asked that some such operation should be attempted. This brought

the matter to an issue, but even then

there was much indecision and delay.

Obviously the sort of expedition most

likely to succeed would be a joint military

and naval force, but Secretary of War

Kitchener declared that there were no

troops immediately available for operations

in the east, and his opinion was accepted

by the War Council. A commission which

subsequently investigated the undertaking

expressed the opinion that, ' in reality,

troops could have been available at an

earlier date than Kitchener supposed. In

fact, a few thousand well trained troops,

cooperating with the navy in the first

attack, would almost certainly have transformed failure into success.

The truth is that in this Dardanelles

expedition, as in some other matters,