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воскресенье, 5 октября 2014 г.
This Week in World War I, September 19-25, 1914
By Joseph V. Micallef
Ottoman Empire's Declaration of War, 1914
The World at War
World War I saw conflict across
the breadth of the Middle East, from the Sinai to the Persian Gulf in the
south, and in Anatolia and the Caucasus in the north. Conflict also erupted in
East, South and West Africa as well as East Asia and the Pacific. The epitaph
of world war was well deserved.
In the Middle East there were
five principal theaters of conflict: Sinai and Palestine, Mesopotamia, Persia,
Gallipoli and the Caucasus. Great Britain was the principal antagonist in the
first two theaters, Great Britain and to a lesser extent Russia were the
principal antagonists in Persia, Great Britain and France were the chief
antagonists at Gallipoli, and Russia the principal Ottoman opponent in the
In East Asia, Japan was
Germany's principal opponent, in the South Pacific it was Australia, while in
east, south and west of Africa it was Great Britain with assistance from
French, Belgian and Portuguese forces. In addition, the Royal Navy engaged
elements of Germany's East Asia Squadron in a series of battles in the Indian,
Pacific and South Atlantic oceans.
The conflicts in Africa, Asia
and the south Pacific saw Germany stripped of all its overseas colonies. In the
grand scheme of things this was a sideshow whose impact on the broader conduct
of the war was insignificant. The Royal Navy's success in destroying the German
East Asia squadron was equally of little significance in the war.
Notwithstanding the damage the squadron could have done to merchant shipping,
it had no prospect to rearm and lacked the ability to sustain itself over the
The Middle East theaters were
of slightly more importance, but they too had little impact on the eventual
outcome of the war. Ottoman success in seizing the Suez Canal would have
seriously complicated the British war effort in the Balkans and in the Middle
East, but in the end it would not have tipped the balance of power on the
Western Front. More important were Ottoman attempts to tie down British troops
in the Middle East. These were more successful, and Turkey showed, in
Mesopotamia, in the Sinai and at Gallipoli, that it could mount an effective
defense, but here again the number of men involved would have had little impact
on the conflict in the west.
Gallipoli was more significant,
in part because the Allies chose to make it a major military operation, but
here too, a victory would not have immediately knocked the Ottoman Empire out
of the war. The drive up the Dardanelles and subsequent siege of Constantinople
would have been a protracted military operation and the Ottoman Empire, if its
record at Gallipoli was any indication, would have mounted an effective,
protracted defense. Rather than an alternative to breaking the stalemate on the
Western Front, the campaign might well have become yet another example of
Opening a "lifeline"
to Russia would have been no easy task, even with a victory at Gallipoli, and
it is doubtful that in the long run such a lifeline would have made much
difference to the Russian war effort. In the end it was all a sideshow, but
that didn't make the conflicts any less bloody, or the hundreds of thousands of
dead and wounded any less significant.
German Troops in Tsingtao, August 1914
Opening Moves: The War in China
& the Pacific
Germany had a significant
colonial interest in China as well an assortment of island colonies spread out
across the western Pacific. Additionally, Germany had a naval squadron, the
East Asian Squadron, headquartered in the Chinese port of Tsingtao.
Most of the Pacific colonies
capitulated with a minimum of fighting. Early in the war, Australian land and
naval forces engaged German colonial forces in New Guinea and took control of
the archipelago as well as other German island colonies in the Pacific. Naval
warfare in both the Pacific and Indian Ocean was widespread.
The Siege of Tsingtao in 1914,
probably the most significant engagement of the Asian theater, was the first
military encounter between Japanese and German forces. It also saw the first
joint Anglo-Japanese operation of the war. The eastern Chinese city of
Tsingtao, today known as Qingdao, was controlled by Germany and garrisoned by
4,000 troops. The German Navy's East Asia Squadron, based there, represented a
significant naval force although, at the time, most of its ships were dispersed
throughout the Indian Ocean and Western Pacific.
On August 15, Japan issued an
ultimatum demanding that Germany withdraw its warships from Chinese and
Japanese waters and cede control of Tsingtao to Japan. Three days later, the
ultimatum expired and Japan declared war.
Bombardment of the port began
on September 2. The Japanese General Mitsuomi Kamio, who had 23,000 men
supported by 142 guns at his disposal, promptly besieged the German held city.
The British, although formally allied with Japan, were suspicious of Japanese
motives. They sent 1,500 troops, ostensibly to assist the Japanese, but in
reality also to keep an eye on the engagement. Kamio favored night raids and
avoided the kind of bloody frontal assault that was to become common thousands
of miles away on the Western Front.
The German garrison was
outnumbered by six to one, yet managed to hold out for over two months before
surrendering on November 7. They handed over the port three days later. Germany
had lost two ships in the fighting, 727 men killed and 1,335 wounded. When
defeat seemed certain, the balance of the East Asian squadron, four small
gunboats, had been scuttled.
The remaining ships of the East
Asia Squadron was destroyed by the Royal Navy in a series of Battles in the
Indian Ocean, South Pacific and South Atlantic, most notably at the Battle of
the Falkland Islands on December 8, 1914.