Page 3544


Earl Kitchener notably failed to measure

up to his task. He was lacking in strategical insight, and, furthermore, was not

inclined to welcome advice. He did not sufficiently avail himself of the services of

his General Staff, "with the result that

more work was undertaken by him than it

was possible for one man to do, and confusion and want of efficiency resulted."

Kitchener's reputation was, however, so

great and he was so "all powerful, imperturbable, and reserved" that, in the words

of Churchill, "he dominated absolutely

our councils at this time. The belief that

he had plans deeper and wider than any

we could see silenced misgivings."

On February 16, the War Council decided to mass troops near the Dardanelles,

but, four days later, Kitchener decided

that the Twenty-Ninth Division, which

was to constitute the main part of this

force, should not be sent. He did not

inform the First Lord of this decision,

and, in consequence of misunderstandings

resulting, the dispatch of any troops was

delayed three weeks. This delay compromised the probability of success of the

original attack by land forces and maternally increased the difficulties encountered

in the final attack some months later.

There were yet other unfortunate circumstances. There can be little question

that some Englishmen hesitated to capture

Constantinople lest they should be compelled to hand it over to Russia, for the

shadow of "the Bear that walks like a

man" still created apprehension in some

circles. Lord Fisher opposed the expedition, partly because he thought the ships

ought to be used elsewhere, partly because

he doubted whether a purely naval expedition could succeed. In the end, the attempt

was first made entirely with ships.

The first operations were promising.

On the 19th of February, the Anglo-French

fleet began a bombardment of Sedd-el-Bahr