Extracts from the diary of Maurice Hankey (Secretary of the Committee of Imperial Defence), 1915.

Page from Maurice Hankey's diary

(Reference: Hankey Papers, HNKY 1/1.)


” April 18 . . . News of loss of submarine in Dardanelles. This reminds me that Lord Fisher told me he had protested against sending our new submarines to Dardanelles. Feel very anxious about the attack on the Dardanelles. The plan in my opinion is a most hazardous one.

April 19. . . . Found Winston Churchill extraordinarily optimistic about Dardanelles operation. I think he counts too much on covering fire of ships.

May 11. Sent for by Lord Fisher on arriving at office. Found him in great state of mind about a telegram from Admiral de Robeck at Dardanelles, saying army had failed, and asking if he should now try to free Straits with ships; Churchill had wished to send private telegram which Fisher interpreted as leaving de Robeck an option to try if he thought fit. Fisher had declined to agree & there had been a terrible row. At Fisher’s request I prepared Memo for him to give the First Lord, setting forth his objections to separate naval action and declining to be a party to it. At Fisher’s request saw PM just before lunch and told him Fisher would resign if such action were taken. PM said it was a very foolish message, but authorised me to say separate naval action would not be taken without F’s concurrence.

May 12. In afternoon Fisher sent for me to say that he had had it out with Churchill, who had apparently agreed not to attempt naval attack . . . Masterton Smith (Churchill’s secretary) . . . confirmed [this] in the main, though apparently Churchill did not think he had promised to abandon naval attack.

May 14. Everyone seemed terribly depressed except me – but there is a possible muddle with all this bickering and intriguing [sic] between Churchill and Fisher. Why cannot all work honestly for their country only? I am sick of them.”