Amazing articles on just about every subject...


The Sublime Porte

( Originally Published 1918 )



AS soon as the diplomatic relations between Austria and Serbia had been broken, the Turkish Grand Vizier informed the diplomatic corps in Constantinople that Turkey would remain neutral in the conflict. The declaration was not formal, for war had not yet been declared. The policy of Turkey, as represented in the ministerial paper, Tasfiri-Efkiar, was as follows:

"Turkey has never asked for war, as she always has worked toward avoiding it, but neutrality does not mean indifference. The present Austro-Serbian conflict is to a supreme degree interesting to us. In the first place, one of our erstwhile opponents is fighting against a much stronger enemy. In the natural course of things Serbia, which till lately was expressing, in a rather open way, her solidarity as a nation, still provoking us, and Greece, will be materially weakened. In the second place, the results of this war may surpass the limits of the conflict between two countries, and in that case our interests will be just as materially affected. We must, therefore, keep our eyes open, as the circumstances are momentarily changing, and do not permit us to let escape certain advantages which we can secure by active, and rightly acting, diplomacy. The policy of neutrality will impose on us the obligation of avoiding to side with either of the belligerents. But the same policy will force us to take all the necessary measures for safeguarding our interests and our frontiers."

Whereupon a Turkish mobilization was at once ordered. The war had hardly begun when Turkey received the news that her two battleships, building in British yards, had been taken over by England. A bitter feeling against England was at once aroused, Turkish mobs proceeded to attack the British stores and British subjects, and attempts were even made against the British embassy in Constantinople, and the British consulate at Smyrna.

At this time Turkey was in a peculiar position. For a century she had been on the best of terms with France and Great Britain. On the other hand Russia had been her hereditary enemy. She was still suffering from her de-feat by the Balkan powers, and her statesmen saw in this war great possibilities. She de-sired to recover her lost provinces in Europe, and saw at once that she could hope for little from the Allies in this direction.

For some years, too, German intrigues, and, according to report, German money had enabled the German Government to control the leading Turkish statesmen. German generals, under General Liman von Sanders, were practically in control of the Turkish army. The commander-in-chief was Enver Bey, who had been educated in Germany and was more German than the Germans. A new system of organization for the Turkish army had been established by the Germans, which had substituted the mechanical German system for the rough and inefficient Turkish methods. Universal conscription provided men, and the Turkish soldier has always been known as a good soldier. Yet as it turned out the German training did little for him. Under his own officers he could fight well, but under German officers, fighting for a cause which he neither liked nor understood, he was bound to fail.

At first the Turkish mobilization was con-ducted in such a way as to be ready to act in common with Bulgaria in an attack against Greek and Serbian Macedonia, as soon as the Austrians had obtained a decisive victory over the Serbians. The entry of Great Britain into the war interfered with this scheme. Meantime, though not at war, the Turks were suffering almost as much as if war had been declared. Greedy speculators took advantage of the situation, and the government itself requisitioned everything it could lay its hands on.

A Constantinople correspondent, writing on the 6th of August, says as follows:

"Policemen and sheriffs followed by military officers are taking by force everything in the way of foodstuffs, entering the bakeries and other shops selling victuals, boarding ships with cargoes of flour, potatoes, wheat and rice, and taking over virtually everything, giving in lieu of payment a receipt which is not worth even the paper on which it is written. In this way many shops are forced to close, bread has entirely disappeared from the bakeries, and Constantinople, the capital of a neutral country, is already feeling all the troubles and privations of a besieged city. Prices for food-stuffs have soared to inaccessible heights, as provisions are becoming scarce. Actual hand-to-hand combats are taking place in the streets outside the bakeries for the possession of a loaf of bread, and hungry women with children in their arms are seen crying and weeping with despair. Many merchants, afraid lest the government requisition their goods, hasten to have their orders canceled, the result being that no merchandise of any kind is coming to Constantinople either from Europe or from Anatolia. Both on account of the recruiting of their employees, and of shortage of coal, the companies operating electric tram-ways of the city have reduced their service to the minimum, as no power is available for the running of the cars. Heartrending scenes are witnessed in front of the closed doors of the various banking establishments, where large posters are to be seen bearing the inscription `Closed temporarily by order of the government.' "

Immediately after war was declared between Germany and Russia the Porte ordered the Bosporus and Dardanelles closed to every kind of shipping, at the same time barring the entrances of these channels with rows of mines. The first boat to suffer from this measure was a British merchantman which was sunk outside the Bosporus, while another had a narrow es-cape in the Dardanelles. A large number of steamers of every nationality waited outside the straits for the special pilot boats of the Turkish Government, in order to pass in safety through the dangerous mine field. This measure of closing the straits was suggested to Turkey by Austria and Germany, and was primarily intended against Russia, as it was feared that her Black Sea fleet might force its way into the sea of Marmora and the AEgean.

On August 2d the Turkish Parliament was prorogued, so that all political power might center around the Imperial throne. A vigorous endeavor was made to strengthen the Turkish navy. Djemal Pasha was placed at its head with Arif Bey as chief of the naval staff. Talaat Bey and Halil Bey were sent to Bucharest to exchange views with Roumanian statesmen, and representatives of the Greek Government, in regard to the outstanding Greco-Turkish difficulties.

On September 10th an official announcement from the Sublime Porte was issued defining in the first place many constitutional reforms, and in particular abolishing the capitulation, that is, the concessions made by law to foreigners, allowing them participation in the administration of justice, exemption from taxation, and special protection in their business transactions. In abolishing these capitulations the Ottoman Government declared that it would treat foreign countries in accordance with the rules of international law, and that it was acting without any hostile feeling against any of the foreign states.

The Allied governments formally protested against this action of the Turkish Government. Meantime Constantinople was the center of most elaborate intrigues., The Turkish Gov-eminent grew more and more warlike, and began to threaten, not only Greece, but Russia and the Triple Entente as well. During this period the Turkish press maintained an active campaign against England and the Allies. Every endeavor was made by the Sublime Porte' to secure Roumanian or Bulgarian co-operation in a militant policy. The Allies, seeing the situation, made many promises to Bulgaria, Greece and Roumania. Bulgaria was offered Adrianople and Thrace; Greece was to have Smyrna, and Roumania the Rou manian provinces in Austria. The jealousy of these powers of each other prevented an agreement. The influence of Germany became more and more preponderant with the Ottoman Empire; indeed, it is probable that an understanding had existed between the two powers from the beginning. The action of the Turkish Government in regard to the Goeben and Breslau could hardly have been possible unless with a previous understanding. At last the rupture came. The following was the official Turkish version of the events which led to the Turkish declaration of war:

"While on the 27th of October a small part of the Turkish fleet was maneuvering on the Black Sea, the Russian fleet, which at first confined its activities to following and hindering every one of our movements, finally, on the 29th, unexpectedly began hostilities by at-tacking the Ottoman fleet. During the naval battle which ensued the Turkish fleet, with the help of the Almighty, sank the mine layer Pruth, inflicted severe damage on one of the Russian torpedo boats, and captured a collier. A torpedo from the Turkish torpedo boat Gairet-i-Millet sank the Russian destroyer Koubanietz, and another from the Turkish torpedo boat Mouavenet-i-Millet inflicted serious damage on a Russian coast guard ship. Three officers and seventy-two sailors rescued by our men and belonging to the crews of the damaged and sunken vessels of the Russian fleet have been made prisoners. The Ottoman Imperial Fleet, glory be given to the Almighty, escaped injury, and the battle is progressing favorably for us. Information received from our fleet, now in the Black Sea, is as follows:

"From accounts of Russian sailors taken prisoners, and, from the presence of a mine layer among the Russian fleet, evidence is gathered that the Russian fleet intended closing the entrance to the Bosporus with mines, and destroying entirely the Imperial Ottoman fleet, after having split it in two. Our fleet, believing that it had to face an unexpected at-tack, and supposing that the Russians had be-gun hostilities without a formal declaration of war, pursued the scattered Russian fleet, bombarded the port of Sebastopol, destroyed in the city of Novorossisk fifty petroleum depots, fourteen military transports, some granaries, and the wireless telegraph station. In addition to the above our fleet has sunk in Odessa a Russian cruiser, and damaged severely an-other. It is believed that this second boat was likewise sunk. Five other steamers full of cargoes lying in the same port were seriously damaged. A steamship belonging to the Russian volunteer fleet was also sunk, and five petroleum depots were destroyed. In Odessa and Sebastopol the Russians from the shore opened fire against our fleet."

The Sultan at once declared war against Russia, England and France, and issued a proclamation to his troops, declaring that he had called them to arms to resist aggression and that "the very existence of our Empire and of three hundred million Moslems whom I have summoned by sacred Fetwa to a supreme struggle, depend on your victory. Do not for-get that you are brothers in arms of the strongest and bravest armies of the world, with whom we are now fighting shoulder to shoulder."

The Fetwa, or proclamation announcing a holy war, called upon all Mussulmans capable of carrying arms, and even upon Mussulman women to fight against the powers with whom the Sultan was at war. In this manner the holy war became a duty, not only for all Otto-man subjects, but for the three hundred million Moslems of the earth. On November 5th Great Britain declared war against Turkey, ordered the seizure in British ports of Turkish vessels, and, by an order in Council, annexed the Island of Cyprus. On the 17th of December, the Khedive Abbas II, having thrown in his lot with Turkey and fled to Constantinople, Egypt was formally proclaimed a British Protectorate. The title of Khedive was abolished, and the throne of Egypt, with the title of Sultan, was offered to Prince Hussein Kamel Pasha, the eldest living prince of the house of Mahomet Ali, an able and enlightened man. This meant that Britain was now wholly responsible for the defense of Egypt. The new Sultan of Egypt made his state entry on December 20th into the Abdin Palace in Cairo. The progress of the new ruler was received with great enthusiasm by thousands of spectators.

The King of England sent a telegram of congratulation with his promise of support :

On the occasion when your Highness enters upon your high office I desire to convey to your Highness the expression of my most sincere friendship, and the assurance of my unfailing support in safeguarding the integrity of Egypt, and in securing her future well being and prosperity. Your Highness has been called upon to undertake the responsibilities of your high office at a grave crisis in the national life of Egypt, and I feel convinced that you will be able, with the co-operation of your Ministers, and the Protectorate of Great

Britain, successfully to overcome all the influences which are seeking to destroy the independence of Egypt and the wealth, liberty and happiness of its people.

This was Britain's answer to the Turkish proclamation of war. The Turks had not taken this warlike course with entire unanimity. The Sultan, the Grand Vizier, and Djavid Bey were in favor of peace, but Enver Pasha and his colleagues overruled them. The Odessa incident was unjustified aggression, deliberately planned to provoke hostilities. The tricky and corrupt German diplomacy had won its point.

It is interesting to observe that the proclamation of the holy war, a favorite German scheme; fell flat. The Kaiser, and his advisers, had counted much upon this raising of the sacred flag. The Kaiser had visited Constantinople and permitted himself to be exploited as a sympathizer with Mohammedanism. Photographs of him had been taken representing him in Mohammedan garb, accompanied by Moslem priests, and a report had been deliberately circulated throughout Turkey that he had become a Moslem. The object of this camouflage was to stir up the Mohammedans in the countries controlled by England, risings were hoped for in Egypt and India, and German spies had been distributed through those countries to encourage religious revolts. But there was almost no response. The Sultan, it is true, was the head of the Church, but who was the Sultan? The old Sultan, now de-throned, and imprisoned, or this new and in-significant creature placed on the throne by the young Turk party? The Mohammedan did not feel himself greatly moved.

At the beginning of the war Turkey found herself unable to make any move to recover her provinces in Thrace. Greece and Bulgaria were neutral, and could not be attacked. Placing herself, therefore, in the hands of her German advisers, she moved her new army to those frontiers where it could meet the powers with whom she was at war. In particular Germany and Austria desired her aid in Transcaucasia against the Russian armies. An at-tack upon Russia from that quarter would mean that many troops which otherwise would have been used against the Central Powers must be sent to the Caucasus. The Suez Canal, too, must be attacked. An expedition there would compel Great Britain to send out troops, and perhaps would encourage the hoped-for rebellion in Egypt and give an opportunity for religious insurrection in India, where the Djehad was being preached among the Mohammedan tribes in the northwest. The Dardanelles, to be sure, might be threatened, but the Germans had sent there many heavy guns and fortifications had been built which, in expert opinion, made Constantinople safe.

The Turkish offensive along her eastern frontier in Transcaucasia and in Persia was first undertaken. The Persian Gulf had long been controlled by Great Britain; even in the days of Elizabeth the East India Company had fought with Dutch and Portuguese rivals for control of its commerce. The English had protected Persia, suppressed piracy and slavery, and introduced sanitary measures in the marshes along the coast. They regarded a control of the Persian Gulf as necessary for the prosperity of India and the Empire. The Turkish Government had never had great power along the Persian Gulf. Bagdad, in-deed, had been captured by Suleiman the Magnificent in the sixteenth century, but in eastern Arabia lived many independent Arabian chieftains who had no idea of subjecting themselves to Turkish rule.

For years Germany had been looking with jealous eyes in this direction. Her elaborate intrigues with Turkey were mainly designed to open up the way to the Persian Gulf. She' had planned a great railway to open up trade, and her endeavor to build the Bagdad Railway is a story in itself. Her efforts had lasted for many years, but she found herself constantly blocked by the agents of Great Britain.

Before the Ottoman troops were ready, the British in the Gulf had made a start. On November 7th a British force under Brigadier-General Delamain bombarded the Turkish fort at Falon, landed troops and occupied the village. Sailing north from this point they disembarked at Sanijah, where they en-trenched themselves and waited for reinforcements. On November 13th reinforcements arrived, and on November 17th the British army advanced toward Sahain. From there they moved on Sahil, where they encountered a Turkish force. Some lively fighting ensued and the Turks broke and fled. Turkish casualties were about one thousand five hundred men, the English killed numbered thirty-eight.

The British then moved on Basra, moving by steamer along the Shat-el-Arab River. On November 22d Basra was reached and it was found that the Turks had evacuated the place. A base camp was then prepared, for it was certain that there would be further fighting. Bagdad was only about three hundred miles distant; and fifty miles above Basra, at the junction of the Tigris and the Euphrates, lies the town of Kurna where the Turks were gathering an army. On December 4th an attack was made on Kurna but without success. The British obtained reinforcements, but on December 9th the Turkish garrison surrendered unconditionally. The British troops then entrenched themselves, having established a barricade against a hostile advance upon India.

Farther north the war was between Turkey and Russia. Since Persia had no military power, each combatant was able to occupy that country whenever they desired. The Turks advanced into Persia south of Lake Urmia, and, meeting with no resistance from Persia, moved northward toward the Russian frontier. On the 30th of January, 1915, Russian troops heavily defeated the invaders and followed them south as far as Tabriz, which they occupied and held. The Russian armies had also undertaken movements in this section. In the extreme northwest of Persia a Russian column had crossed the frontier, and occupied, on the 3d of November, the town of Bayazid close to Mt. Ararat. Other columns entered Kurdestan, and an expedition against Van was begun. Further north another Russian column crossed the frontier and captured the town of Karakilissa, but was held there by the Turks.

These were minor expeditions. The real struggle was in Transcaucasia, where the main body of the Turkish army under Enver Pasha himself was in action. At this point the boundaries of Turkey touch upon the Russian Empire. To the north is the Great Russian fortress of Kars, to the south and west the Turkish stronghold of Erzerum. The whole district is a great mountain tangle, the towns standing at an altitude of 5,000 and 6,000 feet, surrounded by lofty hills. None of the roads are good, and in winter the passes are almost impassable. In all the wars between Russia and Turkey, these mountain regions have been the scenes of desperate battles.

The Turkish plan of battle was to entice the Russians from Sarakamish across the frontier, leading them on to 'some distance from their base, then, while holding their front, a second force was to swing around and attack them on the left flank. The plan was simple, the difficulty was the swing of the left flank, which had to be made through mountain paths, deeply covered with snow. The Turkish army was composed of about 150,000 men under the command of Hassan Izzet Pasha, but Enver, with a large German staff, was the true commander. The Russian army, under General Woronzov was about 100,000 men.

Early in November the Russians crossed the frontier and reached Koprikeui, which they occupied on the 20th of November. The Turkish Eleventh corps was entrusted with the duty of holding the Russian forces; the remainder of the army was to advance over the passes and take their stations behind the Russian right. On December 25th the Turkish attack began. The Eleventh corps forced back the Russians from Koprikeui to Khorasan, while the extreme Turkish left was endeavoring to outflank them. But the weather was desperate. A blizzard was sweeping down the steeps. The Turkish forces were indeed able to carry out the plan, for they obtained the position desired. But by this time they were worn out, and half starved, and their attack on New Year's Day resulted in their defeat and retreat. The Ninth corps was utterly wiped out, and the remainder of the Turkish forces driven off in confusion. Only the strenuous efforts of the Turkish Eleventh corps prevented a debacle. After a three days' battle it, too, was broken, and with heavy losses it retreated toward Erzerum. The snowdrifts and blizzards must have ac-counted for not less than 50,000 of the Turkish troops. The result of the battle made Russia safe in the Caucasus.

But the Germans had another use for the Turkish forces. England was in control of Egypt and the Suez Canal. The German view of EngIand's position has been well stated by Dr. Paul Rohrbach:

"As soon as England acquired Egypt it was incumbent upon her to guard against any menace from Asia. Such a danger apparently arose when Turkey, weakened by her last war with Russia and by difficult conditions at home, began to turn to Germany for support. And now war has come, and England is reaping the crops which she has sown. England, not we, desired this war. She knows this, despite all her hypocritical talk, and she fears that, as soon as connection is established along the Berlin-Vienna-Budapest-Sofia-Constantinople Line, the fate of Egypt may be decided. Through the Suez Canal goes the route to all the lands surrounding the Indian Ocean, and by way of Singapore to the western shores of the Pacific. These two worlds together have about nine hundred million inhabitants, more than half the population of the universe, and India lies in a controlling position in their midst. Should England lose the Suez Canal she will be obliged, unlike the powers in control of that waterway, to use the long route around the Cape of Good Hope, and depend on the good will of the South African Boers. The majority among the latter have not the same views as Botha. However, it is too early to prophesy, and it is not according to German ideas to imitate our opponents by singing premature paeons of victory. But anyhow we are well aware why anxious England already sees us on the road to India."

Following out this view a Turkish force was directed toward the Suez Canal, while the German intriguers did their best to stir up revolt in Egypt itself. The story of Egypt is one of the most interesting parts of the world's history. In the early days of the world it led mankind. Its peculiar geographical position at first gave it strength, and after-ward made it the prize for which all nations were ready to contend. In 1517 the Sultan Selim conquered Egypt and made it part of the Turkish realm, and in spite of many changes the sovereignty of Constantinople had continued. In recent years the misgovernment of the Khedive Ismael had brought into its control France and Britain; then came the deposition of Ismael, the revolt under Arabi, the bombardment of Alexandria and the battle of Tel-el-Kebir. Since then Egypt has been occupied by Great Britain, who restored order, defeated the armies of the Mandi, and turned Egyptian bankruptcy into prosperity. Lord Kitchener was the English hero of the wars with the Mandi, and the Lord Cromer the administrator who gave the Egyptian peasant a comfort unknown since the days of the Pharaohs. With prosperity came political agitation, and Germany, as has been seen, looked upon Egypt as fertile territory for German propaganda.

Intrigue having failed in Egypt, a Turkish force was directed against the Suez Canal. If that could be captured Great Britain could be cut off from India. An expeditionary army of about 65,000 men was gathered under the command of Djemal Pasha, the former Turkish Minister of Marine. He had been bitterly indignant at the seizure of the two Turkish dreadnaughts building in England, and was burning for revenge. But he found great difficulties before him. To reach the Canal it was necessary to cross a trackless desert, varying from 120 to 150 miles in width. Over this desert there were three routes. The first touched the Mediterranean coast at El-Arish and then went across the desert to El-Kantara on the Canal, twenty-five miles south of Port Said. On this route there were only a few wells, quite insufficient for an army. A second route ran from Akaba, on the Red Sea, across the Peninsula of Sinai to a point a little north of Suez. This was also badly supplied with wells. Between the two was the central route. Leaving the Mediterranean at El-Arish it ran up the valley called the Wady El-Arish to where that valley touched the second road. There was no railway, nor were these roads suitable for motor transports; for an army to move it would be necessary either to build a railway or to improve the roads. The best route for railway was the Wady El-Arish. The Suez Canal, moreover, can be easily de-fended. It is over two hundred feet wide, with banks rising to a height of forty feet. A railway runs along the whole Canal, and most of the ground to the east is flat, offering a good field of fire either to troops on the banks or to ships on the Canal.

A considerable force of British troops, under the command of Major-General Sir John Maxwell, were assigned for the protection of the Canal. About the end of October it was reported that 2,000 Bedouins were marching on the Canal, and on November 21st a skirmish took place between this force and some of the English troops in which the Bedouins were repelled. Nothing more was heard for more than two months, but on January 28, 1915, a small advance party from the Turkish army was beaten back east of El-Kantara. British airmen watched the desert well, and kept the British army well informed of the Turkish movements. The Turks had found it impossible to convey their full force across the desert, and the forces which finally arrived seemed to have numbered only about twelve thousand men. The main attack was not developed until February 2d.

According to an account in the London Times, on that date, the enemy began to move toward the Ismalia Ferry. They met a reconnoitering party of Indian troops of all arms, and a desultory engagement ensued to which a violent sandstorm put a sudden end about three o'clock in the afternoon. The main attacking force pushed forward toward its destination after nightfall. From twenty-five to thirty galvanized iron pontoon boats, seven and a half meters in length, which had been dragged in carts across the desert, were hauled by hand toward the water. With one or two rafts made of kerosene tins in a wooden frame, all was ready for the attack. The first warning of the enemy's approach was given by a sentry of a mountain battery who heard, to him, an unknown tongue across the water. The noise soon increased. It would seem that Mudjah Ideem--"Holy Warriors"—said to be mostly old Tripoli fighters, accompanied the pontoon section, and regulars of the Seventy-fifth regiment, for loud exultations, often in Arabic, of "Brothers, die for the faith; we can die but once," betrayed the enthusiastic irregular.

The Egyptians waited until the Turks were pushing their boats into the water, then the Maxims attached to the battery suddenly spoke, and the guns opened at point-blank range at the men and boats crowded under the steep bank opposite them. Immediately a vio lent fire broke out on both sides of the Canal.

A little torpedo boat with a crew of thirteen, patrolling the Canal, dashed up and landed a party of four officers and men to the south of Tussum, who climbed up the eastern bank and found themselves in a Turkish trench, and escaped by a miracle with the news. Promptly the midget dashed in between the fires and enfiladed the eastern bank amid a hail of bullets, and destroyed several pontoon boats lying unlaunched on the bank. It continued to harass the enemy, though two officers and two men were wounded.

As the dark, cloudy night lightened toward dawn fresh forces went into action. The Turks, who occupied the outer, or day, line of the Tussum post, advanced, covered by artillery, against the Indian troops, holding the inner or night position, while an Arab regiment advanced against the Indian troop at the Serapeum post. The warships on the Canal and lake joined in the fray. The enemy brought some six batteries of field guns into action from the slopes west of Kataiba-el-kaeli. Shells admirably fused made fine practice at all the visible targets, but failed to find the battery above mentioned, which, with some help from a detachment of infantry, beat down the fire of the riflemen on the opposite bank and inflicted heavy losses on the hostile supports advancing toward the Canal.

Supported by land and naval artillery the Indian troops took the offensive, the Serapeum garrison, which had stopped the enemy three-quarters of a mile from the position, cleared its front, and the Tussum garrison, by a brilliant counter-attack, drove the enemy back. Two battalions of Anatolians of the Twenty-eighth regiment were thrown into the, fight, but the artillery gave them no chance, and by 3.30 in the afternoon a third of the enemy, with the exception of a force that lay hid in bushy hollows on the east bank between the two posts, were in full retreat, leaving many dead, a large proportion of whom had been killed by shrapnel. Meanwhile the warships on the lake had been in action, a salvo from a battleship woke up Ismailia early, and crowds of soldiers and some civilians climbed every available sand hill to see what was doing, till the Turkish guns sent shells sufficiently near to convince them that it was safer to watch from cover.

At about eleven in the morning two six-inch shells hit the Hardinge near the southern en-trance of the lake. They first damaged the funnel, and the second burst inboard. Pilot Carew, a gallant old merchant seaman, re-fused to go below when the firing opened and lost a leg. Nine others were wounded, one or two merchantmen were hit but no lives were lost. A British gunboat was struck. Then came a dramatic duel between the Turkish big gun, or guns, and a warship. The Turks fired just over, and then just short, at 9,000 yards. The warship sent in a salvo of more six-inch shells than had been fired that day.

Late in the afternoon of the 3d there was sniping from the east bank between Tussum and Serapeum, and a man was killed on the tops of a British battleship. Next morning the sniping was renewed and the Indian troops, moving out to search the ground, found several hundred of the enemy in the hollow previously mentioned. During the fight some of the enemy, either by accident or. design, held up their hands, while others fired on the Punjabis, who were advancing to take the surrender, and killed a British officer. A sharp fight with the cold steel followed, and a British officer killed a Turkish officer with a sword thrust in single combat. A body of a German officer with a white flag was afterward found here, but there is no proof that the white flag was used. Finally all the enemy were killed, captured or put to flight. With this the fighting ended, and the subsequent operations were confined to the rounding up of prisoners, and the capture of a considerable amount of military material left behind. The Turks, who departed with their guns and baggage during the night of the 3d, still seemed to be moving eastward.

So ended the battle of the Suez Canal.

Two more incidents in the Turkish campaign remain to be noticed. Report having come that the town of Akaba on the Red Sea was being used as a miné-laying station, H. M. S. Minerva visited the place, and found it occupied by soldiers under a German officer. The Minerva destroyed the fort and the barracks and the government buildings. Another British cruiser, with a detachment of Indian troops, captured the Turkish fort at Sheik Said, at the southern end of the Red Sea. And so for the time ended all Turkish movements against Great Britain. That such movements should have been possible seems hard to believe. For a century the British had been the friends and allies of the Turkish Government. In the Crimean War their armies had fought side by side with the Turkish troops against Russia. In the Russo-Turkish War Lord Beaconsfield, in the negotiations which preceded the treaty of Berlin, had saved for Turkey much of its territory. It was only the British influence and the fear of the British power which had prevented Russia from taking possession of Constantinople a half a century before. The English had always been popular in Turkey and there was every reason

at the beginning of the war to believe that their popularity had not waned. There is reason to believe that the average Turk had little sympathy with the course of his government, and if a free expression of the popular will had been possible the Turkish army would never have been sent against either the Englishmen or the Frenchmen. But long years of German propaganda had done their work. The power of Enver Pasha was greater than that of the weakling Sultan and the war was forced upon the Turkish people by German tools and German bribes.



Home | More Articles | Email: info@oldandsold.com