By William E. Welsh The crash of the heavy guns from a dozen British and French capital ships, one of which was the super-dreadnought the HMS Queen Elizabeth, reverberated against the shoreline of the Dardanelles on February 19, 1915. The Allied fleet engaged the Turkish forts guarding the entrance to the straits at long range that day, although three of the warships did move in much closer. The Allied warships drew surprisingly little return fire, but at the same time they did not inflict any significant damage on the forts that defended the straits. British Vice Adm. Sackville Carden, the officer commanding the British forces in the Aegean Sea in World War I, had to delay his next attack for nearly a week because of severe weather. Vice Adm. John de Robeck, who directed the bombardment on February 25, engaged the forts at close range. This allowed the captains of the warships to observe the effects of their fire more closely. The forts received such a pounding that day that the Turkish and German crews manning the guns withdrew from the forts to minimize their loss in lives. But silencing the forts guarding the entrance was only the first part of a naval campaign aimed at reaching Constantinople in the hope of toppling the supposedly fragile Ottoman Empire, thereby taking it out of the war. The Ottoman Empire had secretly joined the Central Powers in August 1914 and then officially announced to the world two months later that it had sided with Germany and Austria-Hungary


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