I don't remember much of what I'm reading in Hew Strachan's The First World War (I don't even understand much of it, not having any background in WWI history.), but some things stand out as I'm reading them. One of those things comes in the form of a chapter headline: Jihad. It is a topic that makes sensational headlines in 2019, let alone a hundred years in our past. The chapter begins with this:
In Constantinople, capital of the Ottoman Empire, the Sheikh-ul-Islam declared an Islamic holy war against Britain, France, Russian, Serbia, and Montenegro on 14 November 1914. He spoke on behalf of the Caliphate, a combination of spiritual and temporal authority claimed by the Sultan, and justified by the fact that the holy cities of Mecca and Medina fell within the purlieus of his rule. But the reach of the Ottoman Empire, which at its height in the sixteenth century had extended from the Persian Gulf to Poland, and from Cairo to the gates of Vienna, was contracting. In 1914, of 270 million Muslims in the world in 1914 [sic], only about 30 million were under French rule, most of them in North and Equatorial Africa; and another 20 million were incorporated in Russia's Asian empire. Those Muslims in the British, French and Russian empires who opposed the Ottoman Empire's summons to holy war were promised 'the fire of hell'. The Muslims in Serbia and Montenegro, who were likely to commit the lesser offence of fighting Austria-Hungary, would merit only 'painful torment'.
Moltke's problem was that the German army and German weapons were all fully committed to the war in Europe. He had no rifles he could send to those who might rise against British, French or Russian rule, and certainly no troops. And, even if he had them, British naval supremacy meant that he could not send them by sea. The Ottoman Empire could confer two strategic benefits on Germany: its army could provide the troops for overseas deployment and its land mass could open the overland routes to Central Asia and Africa.
...The American consul in Erzurum, Leslie Davis, reported from Kharput, the principal transit point, in July that 'The Turks have already chosen the most pretty from among the children and young girls. They will serve as slaves, if they do not serve ends that are more vile'. He was struck by how few men he could see, and concluded that they had been killed on the road. Many thousands of Armenians also succumbed to famine and disease. Mortality among the 200,000 to 300,000 who fled to the comparative safety of Russia rose to perhaps 50 per cent, thanks to cholera, dysentery and typhus...
...The differences from the western front were were the products of the terrain and the climate. The narrow and steep foothold on the shore meant that the positions had little depth, and that the only relief was to go for a swim in the sea. But the heat that made that an attractive option also brought flies and then disease, particularly dysentery; water supplies were a constant headache. Only 30 per cent of British casualties in the campaign were sustained in battle.
this summer. Follow the link to my Fort Ticonderoga page for more.