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Stating the obvious this year is 2014. Stating the not so obvious it is the hundredth (100) anniversary of the start of World War 1 from 1914 to 1918.  Our family being Europeans were of course caught up in this with pride of nation being the war cry of the day volunteered to fight in the trenches of France and Belgium.

It all started with the murder of Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria who was the heir presumptive of the Austro-Hungarian Empire.  He and his wife Sophie were shot dead on the Latin Bridge in Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina by a group formed of Serbian military, various nationalists and anarchists.  By July 1914 the various European powers were aligned against each other sabre rattling which led to what became known in Europe as the "Great War" and the "War to end all Wars" - it was and did neither. 

When growing up this war was always referred too as "The Great War" in our family, there were photos, some with medals attached, of family members and family servants in uniform who had served, usually in the same Regiment, in the homes.

Now here we are one hundred years later again involved in dealing with the new Russian Federation Czar Vladimir Putin and Crimea.  During the Great War of 1914 to 1918 the Allied Entente Powers (AEP) of France, British Empire, Russia were joined later by the United States (from 1917 to 1918) fought the Central Powers of the German Empire, Austro-Hungary, and the Ottoman Empire.

There are numerous accounts which one can read and good summations in Google®.  One of the most famous battles was the Battle of the Dardanelles fought in March 1915 to keep the only waterway into the Black Sea open for the Russian fleet at Sevastopol, Crimea.  The Gallipoli Campaign fought from from April 1915 to January 1916 was the continuation of this battle.  The brunt of which borne by the British Empire Colonial forces of Australia and New Zealand (ANZAC).  They fought the Ottoman Empire whose forces were led by the Turkish Commander Mustafa Kemal Ataturk and the German Liman von Sanders who was a brilliant field commander and advisor to the Ottoman Empire.   The AEP forces were held on the beaches where they first landed with heavy loss of life and ANZAC Day is the biggest war memorial day in New Zealand. 

So then as now the Russian Fleet had only one warm water port that of Sevastopol, Crimea with the same problem as today, if the Dardanelles are closed then the Russian Fleet is trapped in the Black Sea or has to fight its way out through the Bosporus cross the Sea of Marmara transit the Dardanelles into the Aegean Sea and finally arrive in the Mediterranean Sea.

But this was not the first conflict involving the Black Sea Fleet.  In the 19th. century the Crimean War of 1853 to 1856 was fought between the French Empire, British Empire, Ottoman Empire against Russia.  As one can see the allegiances had changed by the Great War of 1914 to 1918.

So really nothing that has not happened before is happening now, history once again repeating itself.  The Russians fighting to control the Crimea and keeping a warm water port for the Russian Black Sea Fleet.  Rest assured whatever comes out of the current conflict Czar Putin will keep control of the Crimea and the warm water port of Sevastopol for the Russian Federation Black Sea Fleet.  Those who are playing politics and working diplomatically would do well to remember the regions history.  The position regarding the Black Sea Fleet, unchanged over centuries, of what is now the Russian Federation for most certainly Czar Putin has that history ingrained in every fibre.

Count D. Peter Boucher, Kt. SMOM.


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