1916
The Mesopotamia Campaign

Men of the 53rd Sikhs who were part of the 28th Brigade that took part in a majority of the operations in the theatre (©IWM Q 52595)

Men of the 53rd Sikhs who were part of the 28th Brigade that took part in a majority of the operations in the theatre (©IWM Q 52595)

 

By the end of 1915, reinforcements for the relieving force arrived in Mesopotamia from France and Egypt. Meanwhile, the situation at Kut continued to deteriorate. Desperate attempts were made to relieve the garrison but to no avail. Finally, Townshend accepted an unconditional surrender on 29 April ending a painfully long siege and resulting in one of the great military disasters in British military history. Over 13,000 men were marched across Mesopotamia to Anatolian prison camps. More than 1,000 died during this time and are commemorated on the Basra Memorial.

Following the surrender, attempts were made to quickly reconstitute the fourteen Indian battalions that had been lost. The rest of the year was spent mostly in resting, re-organizing and training. General F.S. Maude had taken overall command, and by December he was ready to advance on Kut and Baghdad.

The mismanagement of the campaign in Mesopotamia led to the transfer of responsibility for the operations from the Government of India to the British Government in February 1916, and a Commission of Inquiry was appointed to look into various aspects of the operations leading up to the disaster at Kut.


Commemorated on the Basra Memorial

 

8,689 Indian army casualties recorded on the Basra Memorial for 1916