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Full title:First report [of the Dardanelles Commission]
Short title:Dardanelles: first report
Corporate author:Dardanelles Commission
Personal author:Fisher; Mackensie; Cawley; Clyde; Gwynn; May; Nicholson, Lord; Pickford; Roch
Chairman:Cromer, Lord
Abstract:'For the purpose of enquiring into the origin and inception of the attack on the Dardanelles.'

The main subject of the inquiry, the origin, inception and conduct of military and naval operations, lies outside the scope of this work. The Report contains a discussion of questions of Cabinet responsibility, and of the relation of Ministers and their naval and military advisers, and a statement of their views on the topic by the two Dominion Prime Ministers who were members of the Commission.

Before the war, direction of strategy was in the hands of the Committee of Imperial Defence, which was practically a Cabinet Committee with added experts and was constitutionally sound. It took four months of war before it was discovered that a Cabinet of twenty-two members was too large to exercise effective control of the conduct of the war. A War Council which exercised full responsibility was then formed, for practical purposes the powers of the full Cabinet were almost entirely in abeyance, and the main responsibility was taken by the Prime Minister (Asquith), the Secretary of State for War (Kitchener) and the First Lord of the Admiralty (Churchill). Since the Dardanelles operation was of a highly technical nature, the Committee investigated closely the precise position assigned to the expert members of the War Council. In evidence these members made it clear that, although they had misgivings about the plans discussed by the Council, they took the view that they had either to keep silent or resign - and their misgivings were not such as to force them to the extreme course. The Committee regarded this as a mistake; it should be a general principle that an adviser should express the views he holds about a policy which is under discussion, but once he is over-ruled, he should do his best to carry it out even although he may not be in agreement with it. The Council should also have seen that the real views of its expert members were put before it.

Fisher dissented from the conclusions expressed regarding the relationship which should exist between a Minister and his Adviser. The latter should express his views only to and through the Minister, otherwise responsible government would be prejudiced. Mackenzie, in dissenting from the same conclusions, thought that an Adviser should consider his duty discharged when he has stated his views to the Minister, who should alone be considered as expressing the views of the Department. Roch in a separate memorandum concludes inter alia, that the War Council never had before it detailed and definite plans and rejected previously expressed expert opinion without adequate inquiry; and that the Minister did not fully present the views of his naval advisers to the Council. Future operations of this kind should be thoroughly considered beforehand by a joint naval and military staff.

See also "Supplement to First Report". pp. 3. 1917. 1917-18 Cd. 8502, x, 481. Contains notes excised form First Report.

See: Final Report., pt. II, "Conduct of operations, etc." 1919 Cmd. 371, xiii, 715
Date presented etc:Appointed August 1916, signed February 1917
Other features:Report
Series:Sessional papers
Volume number:x
Paper/Bill number:Cd.8490
Bound Set Start Page:419
Total Pages:60
Date published:1917
Full-text URL:Not available
BOPCRIS Keywords:Machinery of Government - Ministers
Library of Congress
Subject Heading(s):
World War, 1914-1918 - Campaigns - Turkey - Gallipoli Peninsula
Ministerial responsibility
Year Range:1917-1939
URL of this record:

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