The Balkans: Bulgaria signs a military agreement with Germany agreeing to enter on the side of the Central Powers. In return for sending forces against Serbia and Montenegro (thereby re-opening the unresolved business of the recent Second Balkan War), Bulgaria is promised large parts of Macedonia, a sea port on the Adriatic and territorial concessions in European Turkey. [Burg & Purcell: “Almanac of World War 1”]
Adriatic skullduggery: The Triple Alliance (Britain, France and Russia) reneges on its secret commitment to Italy (that control of parts of the Adriatic coast should only be decided after the war) by sending an official note to Serbia confirming the post-war territorial claims of Serbia and Montenegro. [Wikipedia].
Italy’s price for joining the Triple Alliance: After a long delay the Allies respond to Italy’s terms that they cannot accept complete Italian control of the Adriatic (because of Russia’s continuing support for Serbia). As the wrangling continues, the British political class confide in each other their private opinions of Italy and its people: “greedy and slippery” (Prime Minister Asquith); “the harlot of Europe” (Navy Minister Winston Churchill); “mere organ grinders” (Admiral Fisher); and “the most contemptible nation” (David Lloyd George). [ Mark Thompson: “The White War: Life and Death on the Italian Front 1915-1919”]
Britain’s price for a Russian Bosphorous: Meanwhile, also today, Britain and Russia sign a separate agreement where Britain will take control of oil rich Ottoman provinces in Mesopotamia in return for Russia taking control of its Black Sea route to the Mediterranean through the Bosphorous and the Dardanelles. [UK government national archives online]
The “Spectator” offers its opinion on “Russia’s prize” – “It is quite clear that France as well as Britain will now welcome Russia’s entry into the warm water, and that winter will no longer mean for Russia the sealing up of all her chief ports. Russia will unquestionably get a great accession of strength by the possession of Constantinople, but no reasonable section of public opinion either here or in France will envy her. She has made great sacrifices for the common cause and deserves great rewards.”
In the Balkans: Serbian troops retake the city of Belgrade, successfully repulsing the third Austro-Hungarian invasion of Serbia. [Burg & Purcell].
In the Middle East: After leaving Marseilles six days ago on a French steamer, a new “Military Intelligence Officer” reaches the north Egyptian coast to take up his new responsibilities with the (British) Egyptian Expeditionary Force in Cairo – T.E.Lawrence, erstwhile arabist and archaeologist. He and his superior officer immediately “set up shop on an upper floor of the Savoy (an eclectic blend of British Victorian and Indian Moghul architectures near the east bank of the Nile) while taking bedrooms at the Grand Intercontinental immediately adjacent” [Scott Anderson: “Lawrence In Arabia – War, Deceit, Imperial Folly and the Making of the Modern Middle East“]
BORN TODAY: The Federal Reserve Bank of New York – opening its doors for business for the first time at 10.00AM local time at 27 Pine Street.
Financing the war: At a meeting in the boardroom of the London County and Westminster Bank in the City of London, the UK’s Chancellor of the Exchequer (Finance Minister) leans on the major British banking houses the day before a government loan, to finance the war effort, comes to the market.
“ He needed to secure the banks’ firm commitment in advance of the launch, because it was essential that the loan should be seen to sell well. Anything less might suggest – to allies and enemies alike – that Britain lacked confidence” [RBS website]
Balkan Front: At the Kolubara River in the Serbia, the Austro-Hungarian army continues its third attempt to over-run Serbia. Over the next 10 days the Serbians will tactically withdrew into the Serbian mountains (“the Battle of Kolubara”) with the intention to over extend the Austrian lines. Although the Austrians successfully take Belgrade late in November, the position will be reversed in early December, and the invaders successfully expelled, once more, from Serbia by mid-December.
Western Front: As the first Battle of Ypres in Belgium is drawing to a close, the dead on both sides cannot be counted. Only estimated: around a quarter of a million men killed or wounded. And each with parents… wives… siblings… children… grieving.
In Constantinople (now Istanbul) Sheikh-ul-Islam declares an Islamic holy war on behalf of the Ottoman government, urging his Muslim followers to take up arms against Britain, France, Russia, Serbia and Montenegro.
On the “home front” – The New York Times reports an “incident” in one of the “concentration camps” where the British are detaining German and Austrian immigrants. One german detainee is killed and another injured at the camp in Surrey.