Enver and the Armenians | 25 Feb 1915

With the weather finally clear, the Royal Navy (and their French mates) are finally able to start bombarding the Dardanelles again. Meanwhile, Enver Pasha is applying himself to a completely different problem.

Forcing of the Dardanelles

They’re already learning from previous mistakes. Because of the difficulty in observing fall of shot, only four ships actually open fire. The targets are again the forts guarding the entrance at Cape Helles, Sedd el Bahr, and Kum Kale. The ships taking part, Agamemmnon, Queen Elizabeth, Irresistible, and the French Gaulois, benefit greatly from this change.

Although Gaulois comes under heavy-enough fire from Kum Kale to require her to weigh anchor and shift positions several times, by evening all four of the forts have fallen silent. The rest of the fleet then sails in and delivers an unhealthy quantity of ordnance at the field artillery batteries further down the strait, while minesweeping trawlers head into the mouth of the Dardanelles. So far, so good.

Our Advertising Feature

God bless patent medicine.  Isn't "catarrh" a wonderfully onomatopoeic word?
God bless patent medicine. Isn’t “catarrh” a wonderfully onomatopoeic word?

Enver and the Armenians

Meanwhile, Enver Pasha has been casting around for a scapegoat. Clearly the failure of the Battle of Sarikamis can’t possibly be his fault. The troops under his command had rather unsurprisingly had a lot of deserters as they struggled through the Top Yol. Enver’s noticed that Armenian units (a small minority of the total forces at the battle) had a particularly high rate of desertion. There have also been reports of Armenians taking up arms and fighting for Russia. (Whether any of them did or not is a Matter of Some Debate, and even if they did it’s highly unlikely that they played anything other than the smallest part in the defeat.)

Enver has his scapegoats, and Something Must Be Done. It begins today, with an order to disarm all Armenians in the Ottoman Army, and to re-assign them to labour battalions. The labour battalions are unarmed units who do all the dirty logistical jobs that nobody else wants to. It’s a hard life, and if Enver’s measures against Armenians had begun and ended here, it’d still be a pretty unfair and shitty thing to do. But in the story of the Armenian genocide, this is only the beginning.

Cost of living

The cost of living continues to be an issue in Britain. The shipbuilders’ unions have just requested a wage increase to keep up with it, but shockingly the bosses are disinclined to pay the workers any more than they have to. (There’s strong support for the union stance in Glasgow, where the rent increases are continuing right in the face of opposition from tenants.) The Government has just introduced a new process for resolving industrial disputes without disrupting the war effort. We’ll see how well it works.

A similar dispute, incidentally, has been going on for some time with dockers in London and Liverpool. This is far from an isolated situation. (If it was, then surely there would have been no need for a new conciliation process in the first place…)

Actions in Progress

Siege of Przemysl
Battle of Champagne (First Champagne)
Forcing of the Dardanelles

Further Reading

The Daily Telegraph is republishing its archives from the war day-by-day.

(If you find the olde-tyme style difficult to get along with, have a look at this reading guide.)

Leave a Reply