Churchill became First Lord of the Admiralty shortly before his thirty-seventh birthday. He was not yet forty when Europe plunged into war and Turkey hovered on the brink of joining the Central Powers. Before 1914 he felt let down when the Foreign Office twice rebuffed his efforts at closer Anglo-Turkish friendship. In Constantinople, his representative, Rear-Admiral Limpus, who since 1912 had been helping the Turks to build up the Dardanelles defences, was using his influence from the beginning of August 1914 to prevent Turkey succumbing to German blandishments. Limpus wrote to Churchill on 26 August 1914, reporting his efforts to

persuade the Turkish authorities as to ‘why Turkey should not join the German Group’. His letter continued:

In giving my reasons to the authorities here why Turkey should not join the German Group I have studiously omitted all talk of action that England might take, such as keeping the requisitioned ships without payment, and fomenting Arabian and Persian Gulf troubles against Turkey: or might encourage Greece to take, such as a landing between Smyrna and the Dardanelles, taking the forts on the south side of the Straits, admitting Torpedo Craft to the Marmora, cutting off and starving first the Gallipoli Peninsula, and soon after cutting all communications between Constantinople and the South. But they are each and all things which, methodically undertaken and persistently carried out, would succeed, and would annihilate the remaining power of Turkey.1