What Happened in the Week the Ottomans Joined the Great War

Why the Ottomans Joined

The leading advocate of the Ottoman Empire’s entering the war was Envar Pasha. Pasha was passionately nationalistic and hoped to bring about a national renewal through the war. To ensure this he had two German ships bombarding Sevastapol disguise themselves as Turkish vessels to provoke the Russians into declaring war. The ploy worked and Russia soon launched the Bergman offensive into the Caucasus border region. Russia’s allies Britain and France intiated a bombardment of the Dardanelles.

Austrian Army Invade Serbia

The Austrians launched another offensive into Serbia shortly after the Ottoman’s entered the war. Once again Oskar Potiorek was in command even though he had been defeated by the Serbs in an earlier campaign. The number of men deployed by Austria was colossal with half a million Austrians under Potiorek’s command against something like half that number of Serbs. In spite of this apparent advantage the Austrians remained demoralised due to poor performance in the war thus far.

Russians Take Western Poland

Having foiled Hindenburg’s efforts to take Warsaw the Russian’s attempted to follow up the retreating Germans. Now, however, the incomparable size of the Russian force which had helped it in the battle for Warsaw, proved inconvenient. With the rear of the army far from the front line it became hard to get supplies to everyone while pursuing the Germans, consequently the Russians halted in western Poland.

British Halt Germans at Geluveld

Flanders continued to be the focus of fighting on the western front. German commander-in-chief Falkenhayn believed that if the Germans could take Geluveld from the British they would be able to break the deadlock on the western front. Early on 31 October the Germans drove the British out of Geluveld but later that same day the British received reinforcements and retook the town. In the following days the French sent men to further bolster the force at Geluveld and by 3 November the German command had abandoned its designs on the town.

Naval Warfare Continues

The East Asia Squadron of the German Navy arrived off the coast of South America having quit Tsingtao when the Japanese declared war. The Squadron under Admiral von Spee was tasked with disrupting shipping. Spee won a minor victory over the British in the region but expended much amunition in doing so.

At Tsingtao the Japansese Navy had begun shelling the German controlled city which continued to hold out.

British Defeat in East Africa

An Anglo-Indian force attacked the Germans in Africa in Tanga and Kilimajaro. The British Empire’s forces were decisively defeated by General von Lettow-Vorbeck who would remain undefeated in East Africa for the duration of the war.  In keeping the British occupied in the colonies Lettow-Vorbeck prevented the British redeploying men from their African colonies to the western front.

 Further Reading

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Alex is a history student at King's College London focusing on Europe and the Near East in the Middle Ages. He currently works writing and editing content for madefromhistory.