Seizure of the Sultan Osman and Res¸adiye

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First Lord of the Admiralty Winston Churchill (right, with Prime Minister David Lloyd George) ordered the seizure of the Sultan Osman and the Res¸adiye.

First Lord of the Admiralty Winston Churchill (right, with Prime Minister David Lloyd George) ordered the seizure of the Sultan Osman and the Res¸adiye.

Probably the single most important event that poisoned the already strained relations with Britain was the seizure of the warships Sultan Osman and Res¸adiye on 31 July, before the outbreak of the war and the signing of the Turco-German alliance agreement. This was perceived as an act of open aggression and caused tremendous indignation and outrage in Turkey against the British, who were now regarded as thieves. The ships had been fully paid for by public subscription; more than 500 Turkish officials, sailors and enlisted men eagerly waited at Armstrong and Vickers shipyards in Newcastle-upon-Tyne to sail the battleships home. Churchill, First Lord of the Admiralty, who ordered the seizure, added insult to injury by letting the Ottoman government know that the money would be repaid in weekly instalments so small that full repayment would take decades. With the entry of Turkey into the war, the issue of instalments disappeared completely. In the event, Britain acquired the two ships—now renamed HMS Erin and HMS Agincourt—for nothing.

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