Southern Asia 1914: Outbreak of the Great War
The end of July saw the outbreak of World War I in Europe, pitting Russia, France, and Britain against Germany. At first the Ottoman Empire declared neutrality, but tensions with Britain and Russia soon rose. After the British requisitioned warships being built for them, the Ottomans signed a secret alliance with Germany, agreed to provide sanctuary to German cruisers, and closed the Turkish Straits. In October, they raided Russian bases in the Black Sea, prompting Russia to declare war.
British Protectorates in the Persian Gulf
The British Residency of the Persian Gulf maintains British India influence in a number of Gulf states. These states are nominally independent - and shown as such in most atlases from the period - but have all signed treaties guaranteeing British control over their foreign affairs.
The Sultanate of Muscat and Oman is the only one of these states with significant international relations, having obtained trade agreements with the US and France before it signed its treaty with Britain. Maps of the time often show Trucial Oman and even Qatar as regions of Oman.
Trucial Oman is the region to the west of Oman which collectively signed treaties with Britain. The sheikhdoms of this region are often called the Trucial States, and will become the United Arab Emirates. However at this time they have little unity, with no regional council until 1952.
The British Indian Empire, also known as the British Raj, is comprised of a complex of presidencies, provinces, protectorates, and agencies. Only the top level subdivisions are shown here.
The area under direct British rule is known as British India and made up of presidencies and provinces - a presidency simply being the name for an older province.
Outside British India, but often included within the sphere of the presidencies/provinces, are the hundreds of protectorates or 'princely states'. These are indirectly ruled states, the largest being Hyderabad, Kashmir, and Mysore. The others are either collected into agencies - which may in turn contain other smaller agencies - or fall under the sway of the provinces.
28 Jul 1914 Outbreak of World War I▲
The Austro-Hungarian Empire declared war on the Kingdom of Serbia, in response to Serbia’s rejection of Austria-Hungary’s July Ultimatum. In the following days, Russia, Germany, France, and Britain all entered the conflict, resulting in the First World War.
29 Aug-9 Nov 1914 SMS Emden Raids▲
The German light cruiser SMS Emden, captained by Karl von Müller, enters the Indian Ocean via Lombok Strait. After raiding the Bay of Bengal, Ceylon, and the Maldives, the Emden attacks Penang, British Malaya, where it sinks a Russian cruiser and a French destroyer. The Emden is finally defeated by the Australian light cruiser HMAS Sydney off the Cocos Islands.
Sep 1914 British occupation of Abadan▲
With the outbreak of war in Europe, the British send a military force to protect Abadan, Persia, and the oil refieneries in that region.
Oct 1914 Idrisid Emirate of Asir▲
Muhammad ibn Ali al-Idrisi declares the independence of the Idrisid Emirate of Asir from the Ottoman Empire.
29 Oct 1914 Ottoman entry into World War I▲
In a surprise attack, Ottoman warships bombarded the Russian ports of Odessa and Sevastopol, initiating war with the Russian Empire and bringing the Ottoman Empire into the Great War on the side of the Central Powers.
2-17 Nov 1914 Bergmann Offensive▲
Russian troops under Georgy Bergmann cross into the Ottoman Empire, advancing through the Caucasus to take Köprüköy. However Bergmann overextends himself and is forced to retreat by an Ottoman counterattack led by Hasan Izzet Pasha.
6-8 Nov 1914 Fao Landing▲
The British land the 16th (Poona) Brigade under Brigadier General Delamain at Fao beach, Ottoman-ruled Mesopotamia, capturing the Fortress of Fao two days later when the heavy artillery is landed. The operation ends the only remaining Ottoman presence on the Persian Gulf.