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GUNS OF AUGUST 1914-2014 – “The Terrible ‘Ifs’ Accumulate”: The Escape of the Goeben

Finest Hour 163, Summer 2014

Page 22

By Winston S. Churchill

Meanwhile in the Mediterranean a drama of intense interest, and as it proved of fatal consequence, was being enacted….” Our author’s dramatic account of the first naval action in World War I makes for exciting reading a century later—even though he lost.

In a feat of seamanship even Churchill was forced to admire, the German battlecruiser Goeben eluded Royal Navy hunters and sailed to Constantinople, where she was presented to the Ottoman Navy and renamed Yavuz Sultan Selim. usually shortened to Yavuz. By bombarding Russian Black Sea facilities she brought Turkey into the war on the German side. Remarkably, she remained the flagship of the Turkish Navy until 1950, and was not scrapped until 1973, after the West German government declined an invitation to buy her back.


The event which would dominate all others, if war broke out, was the main shock of battle between the French and German armies. We knew that the French were counting on placing in the line a whole army corps of their best troops from North Africa, and that every man was needed. We were informed also that they intended to transport these troops across the Mediterranean as fast as ships could be loaded, under the general protection of the French Fleet, but without any individual escort or system of convoys.

The French General Staff calculated that whatever happened most of the troops would get across. The French Fleet disposed between this stream of transports and the Austrian Fleet afforded a good guarantee. But there was one ship in the Mediterranean which far outstripped in speed every vessel in the French Navy. She was the Goeben.
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Datelines

Finest Hour 163, Summer 2014

Page 05



Quotation of the Season

The danger which threaten the tranquillity of the modern world come not from those powers that have become interdependent upon others…. They come from those powers which are more or less aloof from the general intercourse of mankind….” —WSC, HOUSE OF COMMONS, 8 MARCH 1905

Denmark Remembers

BLADON, MAY 4TH— In the annual Holger Danske Clubben ceremony, Claus Grube, Danish Ambassador to Britain, laid a wreath in commemoration of the Danish Resistance and in thanks to Winston Churchill for Denmark’s liberation. The short service, organised and attended by local British Legion groups, gave thanks for “all those who served in the Resistance and other Forces…for the life and memory of Winston Leonard Spencer Churchill, who led the free world in the fight for peace during the Second World War.”
—ROBERT COURTS

Getting to Chartwell

WESTERHAM, MARCH 20TH— Chartwell opened today and through November 2nd, although the studio, exhibition room, gardens and estate are open throughout the year. Opening times are Wednesday through Sunday from 11am to 5pm, with the last house admission at 4:15 pm. Entry fees (house and gardens) are £12.50 adults, £6.25 children, £31.25 family. Visitors may opt for a small premium, “Gift Aid on Entry,” which is a donation. For the gardens and studio only, entry is £6.25 adults, £3.10 children and £15.60 family. There are no guided tours (although guides are present to help), but there is a reduced group rate of £10.70 adults for house and gardens. Telephone (01732) 868381.

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