Memorandum for Cabinet by Churchill defending his Dardanelles policy, 15 August 1915.

Memorandum for Cabinet by Churchill defending his Dardanelles policy, 15 August 1915.

Reference: Churchill Papers, CHAR 21/46/31. Crown copyright.


“In the belief that the combined action of the fleet and army would be quickly successful, the purely naval attack was abandoned, and since the 18th March the navy has played only a secondary and ancillary part in ever-growing military operations. Those operations which were decided on by the General and the Vice-Admiral, seemed to offer an easy and less hazardous solution, have now assumed a very grave character and are on an immense scale. Nearly 110,000 casualties have been sustained. An army nominally equivalent to fourteen infantry divisions has been committed, and is deeply, possibly inextricably, involved . . . it has been found impossible to give the General the numbers of reinforcements for which he has asked; and his army, though five times as large as the original force, is, in his opinion, inadequate to the essential task. . . . The first great new fact is the size of the army which the Turks have now concentrated on the Gallipoli Peninsula, which they cannot reduce without being defeated by our large army, and which they can only feed and supply if the Bulair road is open . . . if a squadron of British ships can be placed in the Sea of Marmora the Turkish army must either be starved or so reduced that our army can overpower them . . . The second great new fact is the strength now required for the British squadron in order that, having passed the Straits, it may dominate the Marmora . . . We can put at a given time 5 or 6 submarines in that sea, and these submarines would sink any Turkish or German ships which tried to attack our squadron after it had passed the Straits. The pregnant truth therefore emerges, viz.: The strength of the British squadron to be placed in the Marmora need no longer be superior on paper or in fact to the strength of the Turco-German fleet. Even two heavy ships would be sufficient if protected by a flotilla of submarines.”