The Campaign in Mesopotamia Vol II. Official History of the Great War Other Theatres
This volume, the second of four on the Mesoptamia (Iraq) campaign, covers October 1915 to April 1916 and begins immediately after the capture of Kut-al-Amara at the end of September by Gen. Townshend’s British/Indian force, the main element of which was the 6th Indian Division. It describes the discussions that followed regarding the advisability of exploiting the capture of Kut by advancing on Baghdad. Among the doubters was Kitchener, but eventually the Cabinet decided to authorise the advance. There follows the account of operations in which the Turks halted the advance at Ctesiphon, causing Townshend to retreat to Kut where his force was besieged over the period of the next four months. The narrative describes the unsuccessful efforts of relief columns to get through (three attempts in all) and in the end Townshend was directed to open negotiations with the Turks, leading to the starving garrison’s surrender on 29 April 1916. Nearly all the official records of the force in Kut dealing with the operations at Ctesiphon, the subsequent retreat and the siege were destroyed, so the author has had to rely to a great extent on private accounts which have also included the bad treatment of the garrison by the Turks. Numerous appendices give extracts from official documents, correspondence and details on order of battle and casualty figures. As the author says in his introduction: “This volume is mainly a recital of a series of British misfortunes”.