I have read that Churchill was attempting to persuade Turkey to end its neutrality for two reasons, 1) Use of air bases in Turkey 2) Turkish manpower, doing so would provide a stronger grounds of argument for the British plans of invading the Balkans; that soft underbelly that I believe was/is as hard as steel.
Air bases aside, including Turkish involvement in the war I believe would have been a daunting task based on new Government leadership in Turkey and, was Turkish military power properly equipped and capable of fighting on the ground and air?
And what of Greece and Russia, from what I know, the Balkan country's were no friends of Turkey let alone the Russians thus, where would Turkish troops be deployed?
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6/1/2021 6:11:45 PM
I'm actually surprised Turkey wouldn't go for a land grab in the Balkans later on once Germany waned.
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6/1/2021 8:32:24 PM
Churchill had his eye on the post war world and was concerned the USSR would not be content to remain within its pre-war borders. There were concerns that the USSR would gain control of the Dardanelles strait during the war and then hold on to it. Churchill wanted to make sure that the UK had access to the Black Sea through that strait. Turkey's participation on the allied side may have guaranteed its control over the strait into the future.
As it is, Turkey and the USSR got into a conflict over the strait in 1946. The USSR was party to a treaty that gave responsibility to Turkey to manage ship traffic through the strait. Only countries that bordered the Black Sea could use that strait.
But in 1946, the Soviets claimed that some Turkish land bordering the Black Sea was actually part of Georgia and Georgia was part of the USSR. The Soviets said that the land was stolen from Georgia by the old Ottoman Empire. The USSR wanted a new treaty. The UK and the US responded by sending warships and the USSR decided that it did not need a new treaty after all.
Churchill was quite prescient, I feel. We know that the UK and the US did not see eye to eye on strategy but Churchill seemed to have an understanding that winning the war in NW Europe was important but there were other concerns if the peace was to be won and an effective balance of power established to maintain it.
One result of the Turkey/USSR conflict was that Turkey joined NATO, realizing that it could not cope with Soviet pressure alone and that its neutrality wouldn't afford protection. Ironically, modern Turkey seems to be getting cosy with Russia and this after nearly coming to blows over Syria.
6/1/2021 10:57:38 PM
What timeframe are you considering, DT? Pre-Barbarossa? Pre-US entry? I think different times might offer different reasons for WSC’s desires. And that’s without focusing too much on what seems to be his fixation on that “soft underbelly”.
Thinking with my fingers, I know that early in the war Winnie believed gaining access to the Black Sea could be a major issue. Part of this was a desire to show support for those countries hived off the deal Austro-Hungarian Empire, including also the remaining nations of the Little Entente. Between the wars, Britain had done its best to build relationships with many of these nations. Turkey as an ally would have made entry to the Black Sea much easier for Allied ships. This would have applied rather differently after Barbarossa, with support shifting to the Russians Being able to ship lend-lease through the Black Sea could have eassed at least some of the problems that arose from using the route through Iran.
There were, IIRC, elements of the RN operating in the Black Sea in support of Soviet clashes with the Kriegsmarine. IIRC, these were all small vessels on both sides – MTBs and E-Boats.
As I say, just thinking with my fingers.
Cheers. And stay safe. Brian G
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