3544 UNIVERSAL HISTORY-THE MODERN WORLD.
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