|Souchon and his staff in Fezzes|
During October, each of the German-crewed vessels (still called Goeben and Breslau by their crews) had made brief sorties into the Black Sea for gunnery practice or other excuses; these were officially protested by some in the Cabinet, who feared they were aimed at provoking Russia (which of course they were). But the Russians, not wanting a new front with Turkey, refused the bait.
By late October, the German Ambassador in Constantinople, Wangenheim, passed on instructions to "Turkish" Admiral Souchon to take decisive action. It's not entirely clear if Enver knew what Souchon was about to do. He may have assumed it was another attempt to provoke the Russians to come out. It wasn't. Souchon had decided to shell the Russian coast.
Yavuz, Medilli, and other elements of the Turkish fleet steamed out of the Bosphorus on October 27. The next day, at sea, Souchon informed the other captains of their orders. The next day, October 29, Yavuz/Goeben, accompanied by the Mine Cruiser Nilofer and the destroyers (sometimes classed as torpedo boats) Tasoz and Samsun, would shell the major Russian naval base at Sevastopol in the Crimea. Medilli/Breslau, accompanied by the Mine Cruiser Berk would lay mines in the Kerch Strait (between the Black Sea and the Sea of Azov) and then proceed to attack Novorossisk. The Turkish light cruiser Hamidiye would attack the port of Feodosia (Theodosia), and the destroyers/torpedo boats Muavenet-i-Milliye and Gairet-i-Wataniye would attack Odessa.
|Muavenet. Gairet was similar|
The Odessa attack, coming hours before other ships reached their targets, alerted the Russians, and around 4 am warnings were sent out to other locations. By the time Goeben/Yavuz reached the big naval base at Sevastopol, around 6:30 AM, the Russian shore batteries were on alert. He shelled the base for about 20 minutes, firing 47 rounds (and hitting a naval hospital) but the Russian batteries were quite accurate and Yavuz/Goeben took three hits. None caused casualties but she chose to withdraw under cover of a smokescreen laid by her escorts.
|Hamidie from the deck of Yavuz/Goeben|
At Novorossisk, also after a warning, Berk began the shelling, being joined in late morning by Medilli/Breslau after she laid her mines in the Kerch Strait.
|Said to Show Bombardment of Novorossisk by Medilli/Breslau|
As Yavuz/Goeben was heading back to Constantinople she encountered an old Russian minelayer, the Prut, accompanied by three torpedo boats. They tried to defend her, but were driven away and one badly damaged by Yavuz' guns. The crew of the Prut, which was filled with a cargo of mines, opted to scuttle her rather than risk being blown to bits if their cargo was hit.
The German and Turkish crews lost no men, and suffered only minor damage, mostly the three hits on Yavuz/Goeben. Russian casualties are unknown but mostly occurred at Odessa.
But Souchon had done something more. Without official authorization from the Cabinet, he had started the war with Russia.
Russia declared war on Turkey November 2, joined by Serbia the same day and Montenegro on November 3. Serbia and Montenegro had other problems on their hands but were doing their Pan-Slavic duty. Britain and France followed suit on November 5, and we'll be hearing more about them, especially Britain, than we will about Montenegro in coming weeks.. The Ottoman Empire was in the war.
Commemorative German postcard (painting?):