Troubridge was well placed for meeting the 11" gunned Goeben. It was not until he heard from the Gloucester that she had turned South and was persistently steering on a South-Easterly course that any new decision was required from him. He received no orders to quit his station from Sir Berkeley Milne. He was in constant hope of receiving a battle-cruiser.
But Admiral Troubridge decided to act on his own responsibility. Eight minutes after midnight of August 6 (i.e. 0.08, August 7) he gave orders to his four cruisers and his eight destroyers to steam Southward at full speed for the purpose of intercepting the Goeben. He also signalled to the Dublin (Captain John Kelly), at that moment coming from Malta to join him with the two extra destroyers, to head her off.
He reported his decision to the Commander-in-Chief. Thus at midnight August 6-7 sixteen British vessels were converging upon the Goeben and Breslau and were In positions from which they could hardly fail to intercept the enemy shortly after daylight. At 3.50 a.m., however, after further reflection and having received no orders or reply from Sir Berkeley Milne.
Admiral Troubridge became convinced that he could not hope to engage the Goeben under the advantageous conditions of the half light of dawn, and that in an action fought in broad waters in full daylight, his four ships would be sunk one after another by the Goeben, who all the time would keep outside the range—16,000 yards—of the British 9.2-inch guns.
This is thought by some naval officers to be an extreme view. The limited ammunition of the Goeben would have had to have been wonderfully employed to have sunk all four British armoured cruisers at this long range. Moreover, if the Goeben and Breslau had become involved in an action, it is hard to believe that none of the sixteen British cruisers and destroyers which were available could have closed in upon them and attacked them with gun or torpedo. All the destroyers were capable of reaching the enemy and could have found their opportunity to attack. It would have been indeed a prodigious feat on the part of the Germans to dispose of so many antagonists at once.
However, the Admiral came to the conclusion that the Goeben was ‘ a superior force’ which by his instructions, passed to him by the Commander-in-Chief, he was not to engage. And in this conclusion he has been sustained by a British naval court-martial..
Quo Fata Vocant-Whither the Fates call