Southern Asia 1918: Occupation of Constantinople

Political map of South & Southwest Asia on 18 Nov 1918 (The Fall of the Ottoman Empire: Occupation of Constantinople), showing the following events: Armistice of Compiègne; Occupation of Constantinople; Annulment of Brest-Litovsk; British occupation of Baku.

On 11 November, Germany agreed to an armistice with the Allies, bringing World War I to an end. On the following day, the first Allied forces arrived in Constantinople, effectively taking control of the Ottoman government by the end of the month.


Changes to the map 30 October 1918–18 November 1918

The Allies - mostly British and French - have finally secured the Dardanelles and arrived in Constantinople. Although much of the Ottoman Empire remains unoccupied, its government is now effectively under Allied control.

The Germans have withdrawn from Georgia and the Ottomans from Azerbaijan, with the only major Ottoman forces still outside the 1914 borders of the Empire being in Kars and Batum.

In the wake of the departure of the Central Powers, the British have landed in Baku and are now gaining control over Azerbaijan. Elsewhere a number of new and old polities have asserted themselves: Karabakh and Aras have broken free from Azerbaijan and are loosely associated with the two Armenian polities, while the Mountainous Republic and Georgia are independent again.

Meanwhile the Soviets have annulled the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk, placing the status of the Transcaucasian Republics in limbo. Elsewhere in Russia, the anti-Soviet forces have agreed to ally under the All-Russian Government of Admiral Kolchak.

In the Levant, the French have landed at Beirut to begin their takeover of the territory promised to them by the British. Further north, the two Allies have taken Alexandretta.

In Mesopotamia, oil-rich Mosul has surrendered to the British.

British Protectorates in the Persian Gulf

The British Residency of the Persian Gulf maintained British India’s influence in a number of Gulf states from the 19th Century until 1947. These states were nominally independent - and shown as such in most atlases from the period - but all signed treaties guaranteeing British control over their foreign affairs.

The Sultanate of Muscat and Oman was 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 was the region to the west of Oman which collectively signed treaties with Britain. The sheikhdoms of this region were often called the Trucial States, and later became the United Arab Emirates. However at this time they had little unity, with no regional council until 1952.

Indian Empire

The British Indian Empire, also known as the British Raj, was comprised of a complex of presidencies, provinces, protectorates, and agencies. Only the top level subdivisions are shown here.

The area under direct British rule was 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, were the hundreds of protectorates or ‘princely states’. These were indirectly ruled states, the largest being Hyderabad, Kashmir, and Mysore. The others were either collected into agencies - which might in turn contain other smaller agencies - or fell under the sway of the provinces.

Main Events

11 Nov 1918 Armistice of Compiègne

At 5am Paris time, Germany signed an armistice with the Allies in railway carriage No. 2419 D at Compiègne, France, to end its involvement in World War I. The armistice went into effect at 11am and, although not a formal surrender, demanded that the Germans withdraw their troops to behind their own borders, renounce the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk, release all prisoners, promise to pay reparations, and surrender their fleet and wikipedia

12–13 Nov 1918 Occupation of Constantinople

The first French troops arrived in the Ottoman capital of Constantinople, followed by the British the next day. The Allies divided the city into occupation zones, setting up a military administration in December. Italian and Greek forces arrived later. The Allied occupation marked the first time Constantinople had changed hands since the original Ottoman conquest in wikipedia

13 Nov 1918 Annulment of Brest-Litovsk

Following the German capitulation, the Bolshevik legislature of Soviet Russia annulled the treaty of Brest-Litovsk. Although this theoretically revoked Soviet recognition of the independence of Finland, Poland, the Baltic states, and Ukraine, most of this area was either still under German occupation or de facto wikipedia

17 Nov 1918 British occupation of Baku

5000 British troops led by General William Thomson arrive in Baku, capital of the Azerbaijan Democratic Republic, and implement martial law. By the end of December, the British will also be in Tiflis and Batum in neighboring wikipedia