Primary Documents - G. Ward Price on the Surrender of Constantinople, 10 November 1918
Following the British success in capturing Jerusalem in December 1917 further progress north was effectively stalled in the face of strengthened German forces until September 1918. In part this was because troops had been hastily transferred to the Western Front in March 1918 to assist in the Allies' defence against the German Spring offensive.
Thus on 18 September Sir Edmund Allenby - British regional Commander-in-Chief launched the Battle of Megiddo at Rafat. This set in trail an unbroken series of victories including those at Damascus and Beirut (the latter seized by a French fleet). It was in light of these overwhelming victories that Turkey sued for an armistice of surrender, which was duly agreed on 30 October 1918 in Mudros. British forces subsequently took possession of Constantinople on 10 November 1918.
Reproduced below is an account of the surrender of Constantinople on 10 November by the official British observer G. Ward Price.
Click here to read an account of Turkey's fall by Germany's official observer, Gaston Bodart. Click here to read a summary of Allenby's progress by W. T. Massey. Click here to read Allenby's official report on fighting at Megiddo. Click here to read a British eyewitness account of the surrender of the Gallipoli peninsular on 9 November. Click here to read the proclamation of the newly appointed Sultan Mehmed VI in which he regretted Turkish crimes against the Armenians and promised a full investigation.
Official British Observer G. Ward Price on the Surrender of Constantinople, 10 November 1918
Constantinople, November 10th
At Chanak lay a grey transport steamer with British troops on board. She had arrived a little before us, and the khaki figures that lined her rail, staring curiously at the low-lying little town, with its old stone castle and its throng of equally interested inhabitants, were on their way to garrison the forts of the Narrows further up.
With a Turkish pilot on board to guide us through the rest of the minefields, the destroyer made her way on into the Sea of Marmora, and increased her speed to thirty knots. So that at 3 o'clock this afternoon, under a cloudy sky, but one filled with the diffused lights of the East, we rounded the point of the old Seraglio and entered the Golden Horn.
There was no demonstration of any kind. It seemed as if no one had even noticed the arrival of this herald of the British fleet. But as we drew near to the quay one saw that the houses and windows were thronged with people.
The crowd had an unusual tone of red about it, derived from all the crimson fezzes bobbing to and fro as their wearers strained for a glimpse. And a few waved handkerchiefs. A German officer stood on the quay close to where the destroyer gradually came alongside.
He was more interested than any one, but affected indifference and yawned with care from time to time. A little group of German soldiers and sailors gradually formed behind him as if for mutual moral support. For years they had been the self-ordained military gods of this place, but now their altars are overthrown and they see Turkish naval officers of high rank hurrying past them to pay respects to the representative of a nation they once thought they could despise.
We are, indeed, much surrounded by an unwelcome neighbourhood of Germans. Germans look down on us from their office windows opposite the quay. Here in my bedroom at the Pera Palace Hotel there are Germans talking in the rooms on either side of me as I write. I gather from fragments overheard that they are packing up.
One is pleased to think that their compatriots throughout Turkey are doing the same. As we drove up from the quay, too, there seemed a considerable number of Germans, and also Austrians, in the streets. The Austrians saluted the party of British officers. The Germans swaggered by with a stare, the non-commissioned officers and men smoking cigars, which give them to English eyes a peculiar appearance of pretentiousness.
Source: Source Records of the Great War, Vol. VI, ed. Charles F. Horne, National Alumni 1923
A Kite Balloon was an observation balloon controlled by a cable from the ground.
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