My dear Kitchener,
I have now heard from Carden that he considers it will take him 14 days on which firing is practicable to enter the Sea of Marmora, counting from the 2nd of March. Of course bad weather would prolong, and a collapse of the Turkish resistance at the later forts would shorten this period. But it seems to me we ought now to fix a date for the military concentration so that the arrival of troops can be timed to fit in with the normal fruition of the naval operation.
The transports for the 30,000 troops from Egypt, less those already taken to Lemnos, will all have arrived at Alexandria between the 8th and the 15th, that is to say the troops could be landed at Bulair or, alternatively, if practicable, taken through the Straits to Constantinople about the 18th instant.
By the same date the transports conveying the 8,000 men of the Naval Division from England could also reach the same points. In addition there are, I understand, in Lemnos 4,000 Australians and 2,000 Marines of the Royal Naval Division. Therefore I suggest for your consideration, and for the proper co-ordination of naval and military policy, that we fix in our own minds the 20th March as the date on which 40,000 British troops will certainly be available for land operations on Turkish soil.
To make sure of this date, it will perhaps be better to give all orders as for the 17th or 18th; we should then have a little in hand. I think the French should be given this date (20th) as their point, and should rendezvous at Lemnos not later than the 16th. We should also inform the Russians and the Greeks, and ask them what dates they can work to (assuming they are coming). It is necessary for me to know what your views and plans are in these matters.
I feel it my duty also to represent the strong feeling we have at the Admiralty that there should be placed at the head of this army so variously composed, a general officer of high rank and reputation, who has held important commands in war. I heard yesterday with very great pleasure you mentioned the name of Sir Ian Hamilton as the officer you had designated for the main command in this theatre. Certainly no choice could be more agreeable to the Admiralty and to the Navy; but I would venture to press upon you the desirability of this officer being on the spot as soon as possible, in order that he may concert with the Admiral on the really critical and decisive operations which may be required at the very outset.
I wish to make it clear that the naval operations in the Dardanelles cannot be delayed for troop movements, as we must get into the Marmora as soon as possible in the normal course.