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Gareth Davies

Kut Surrender

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Gareth Davies

100 years ago today Townshend surrendered having been besieged at Kut for 147 days. Some 13000 soldiers went into Turkish captivity.

I haven't heard a squeak on the radio about this anniversary, nor have I seen anything in the papers. Out of sight, out of mind?

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michaeldr

Gareth,

Sad that the British may have forgotten this episode

but the Turks are also in two minds about it

A veil was drawn over this (apparently at the request of the Brits) back in 1952 when Turkey joined NATO

Now there seems to be a move to revive the memory

(see http://www.hurriyetdailynews.com/marking-the-victory-against-the-brits.aspx?pageID=449&nID=98046&NewsCatID=511)

regards

Michael

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trajan

Sad that the British may have forgotten this episode ... but the Turks are also in two minds about it ... A veil was drawn over this (apparently at the request of the Brits) back in 1952 when Turkey joined NATO ... Now there seems to be a move to revive the memory

(see http://www.hurriyetdailynews.com/marking-the-victory-against-the-brits.aspx?pageID=449&nID=98046&NewsCatID=511)

I have never seen any actual confirmation that it was ever celebrated on a regular basis over here, but I'll test my class this morning on their knowledge!

Julian

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trajan

One out of ten knew that today was the anniversary of something to do with the GW but did not know exactly what and none had any idea of who Halil Pasha was, although they did know the name of his nephew!

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michaeldr

none had any idea of who Halil Pasha was, although they did know the name of his nephew!

It's a pity that they don't know who Halil Pasha was,

though one can quite appreciate why some might consider him forgettable

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Halil_Kut

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trajan

Not exactly forgettable, more damnable... Slightly OffTopic, as it were, but connected: my wife's family are from Kemah - resettled there from Iraq and other places after the GW - and when I visited Kemah a few years back I found that I was constantly being watched and even followed by people wherever I went (even into the Birahane!), thinking I was there because I was a descendant of the original population...

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charlie962

Horrific treatment of the prisoners from Kut. A number of accounts by officers describe the harsh treatment they received. Sadly very few by ORs who suffered far worse.

70% of British ORs taken at Kut died in captivity, through 'deliberate' neglect (including medical, food and shelter) and from physical maltreatment of the most bestial nature.

I think over 30% of the Indian ORs also died.

A shameful episode. And seemingly hushed up at the time? But these numbers are still small in comparison to other populations that were being eliminated at the same time in that part of the world.

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Ghazala

This came from the T E Lawrence Society today...

29th April

On this day in history.

After withstanding nearly five months under siege at Kut, on the River Tigris in Mesopotamia, General Charles Townshend surrendered to the Turkish commander Khalil Pasha on April 29, 1916.

What follows is Lawrence’s account of his involvement in the events of that day, written to his family on May 18 while sailing back to Cairo from Basra.

“We are at sea, somewhere off Aden, I suppose, so before it gets too late I am going to tell you something of what I saw in Mesopotamia …

“I only stayed three days in Basra, as the G.O.C. and all his staff were up at the front. The people at the base gave me some biscuits, ten loaves, ten tins of jam, ten tins of beef, and put me on board a little paddle steamer that had been a ferry on the Irrawaddy …

“At the front I found Headquarters living in a steamer with good awnings and a saloon! I stayed with them for about three weeks, while Kut fell … Colonel Beach, one of the Mesopotamian Staff, Aubrey Herbert (who was with us in Cairo) and myself were sent up to see the Turkish Commander in Chief, and arrange the release, if possible, of Townshend's wounded. From our front trenches we waved a white flag vigorously: then we scrambled out, and walked about half-way across the 500 yards of deep meadow-grass between our lines and the Turkish trenches. Turkish officers came out to meet us, and we explained what we wanted. They were tired of shooting, so kept us sitting there with our flag as a temporary truce, while they told Halil Pasha we were coming - and eventually in the early afternoon we were taken blind-folded through their lines and about ten miles Westward till within four miles of Kut to his Headquarters … He spoke French to us, and was very polite, but of course the cards were all in his hands, and we could not get much out of him. However he let about 1,000 wounded go without any condition but the release of as many Turks - which was all we could hope for.

“We spent the night in his camp, and they gave us a most excellent dinner in Turkish style - which was a novelty to Colonel Beach, but pleased Aubrey and myself. Next morning we looked at Kut in the distance, and then came back blindfolded as before … After that there was nothing for us to do, so the Headquarters ship turned round, and came down again to Basra. We got there about the 8th and I spent four or five days settling up things and then came away ...”

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Ghazala

Thanks to the Imperial War Museum for the photo showing General Townshend, front row middle, seated next to Khalil Pasha, front right, following the surrender.

post-100478-0-67815600-1461956253_thumb.

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michaeldr

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has praised an Ottoman army victory over British forces a century ago, during World War I

see http://www.hurriyetdailynews.com/turkish-history-does-not-start-with-war-of-independence-erdogan.aspx?pageID=238&nID=98554&NewsCatID=341

However, one cannot help but notice that his agenda here seems somewhat wider than the history of the Great War

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trajan

Living here I am naturally careful to comment on matters relating to the utterances of the Boshbakan (= head leader = president) of Turkey, but I must admit it would be useful in my work if my students knew a little more about their past when they left High School rather than all which happened after 1919/1923. (And if that was not enough, they get two more terms of the same stuff at university just to be certain they know it!) I happened to be in the antika pazari today, and Turks of my generation - so 50's-60's+ - were aware of the anniversary... There again, taking the wider perspective, I gather that things are not much better history-wise in the UK: and as for the US?

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SJ CLARK

I was given a handwritten account of the surrender and the treatment the soldiers received. The soldier who wrote this account was a radio operator at the time of the surrender.

 

SJC

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trajan
21 hours ago, SJ CLARK said:

I was given a handwritten account of the surrender and the treatment the soldiers received. The soldier who wrote this account was a radio operator at the time of the surrender.

 

SJC

 

That sounds exciting and interesting! Is it a relative? Have you transcribed it? As a radio operator he was perhaps quite privvy to many details that others would like to know!

 

Julian 

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charlie962

his name wasn't Lowman by any chance ?

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SJ CLARK

 

Sir,

 

His name is Goode, not Lowman.

Thanks for the reply

SJC

 

 

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michaeldr

Remembering Kut by Dorina L, Neave (Arthur Barker. 12s. 6d.)

That price tells you that this was some time ago; the seven page book review appears in The Naval Review vol.XXV, No.4 of November 1937 – see http://www.naval-review.com/issues/1930s/1937-4.pdf#Page%3D175&View%3DFit  The profits from the book's sales were to go to helping the survivors.

Perhaps one to look out for at the library or in the second-hand lists, (though a little expensive today on ABE at $75.00 and upwards)

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seaJane

Russell Braddon's The Siege includes quotations from both officers and other ranks via diaries and notebooks which were lent to him for the duration of his research. I'd be very interested to know where those diaries may now be, as he doesn't give many details of attribution.

 

Dorina Neave's is the one I haven't got round to affording yet! But if anyone is interested in my accumulated Kut reading list I shall collate it.

 

sJ

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David Filsell

Seajane

I recall reading Braddon's book on Kut many years ago and thought well of it - his book on his time as a Japanese prisoner of war was equaly impressive with an hilarious espisode about his difficulty in supplying " a specimen" when he joined up in Australia.

Now almost forgotten he was a good journalist and commentator and an acerbic regular on Any Questions. 

I don't think the bibliography on Kut is a particularly large one  - has there been anything new published on Kut in more recent years?  I would certainly welcome a copy of your list.

Best regards

david

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seaJane

David,

 

As well as Patrick Crowley's book Kut 1916 mentioned by Charlie above I have read:

  • Begg, R. Campbell. Surgery on trestles: a saga of suffering and triumph. Norwich: Jarrold & Sons, 1967.
  • Braddon, Russell. The siege. London: Jonathan Cape, 1969.
  • Gunn, David. Sailor in the desert: the adventures of Phillip Gunn DSM, RN in the Mesopotamia campaign 1915. Barnsley: Pen and Sword Maritime, 2013.
  • Holyoake, Arthur Valentine ; Transcribed and edited by Douglas Bridgewater. The road to Yozgad: my war 1914-1919. Brighton: Menin House, 2013.
  • Jones, E.H. The road to En-Dor; being an account of how two prisoners of war at Yozgad in Turkey won their way to freedom. London: John Lane / The Bodley Head, 1920.
  • Millar, Ronald. Kut: the death of an army. London: Secker & Warburg, 1969.
  • Mousley, E.O. Secrets of a Kuttite. [reprint]. Naval and Military Press.
  • Nunn, Vice-Admiral Wilfred ; New introduction by Sir Jeremy Greenstock. Tigris gunboats: the forgotten war in Iraq 1914-1917. London: Chatham Publishing, 2007 (orig. 1932).
  • Sandes, E.W.C. In Kut and captivity with the Sixth Indian Division. London: John Murray, 1919.

 

I know this isn't everything - indeed the bibliography to Ronald Millar's book suggests there are still more contemporary accounts to read (I haven't got round to Conrad Cato's The Royal Navy in Mesopotamia, for example). But if anyone can think of a must-read, do let me know!

 

sJ

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charlie962

I've not read this yet but NMP have reprinted it   Other Ranks of Kut by Flt Sgt PW Long MM RAF   " The experiences of a British NCO made prisoner at Kut and his brutal treatment by the Turks in captivity. It makes for grim reading".

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