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Gareth Davies

Kut Surrender

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seaJane

Thanks Charlie. Don't know why I feel the need to read more, but I suppose that is the nature of GWF addiction...

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Maureene

There are a number of books available online about Kut, including some of those mentioned by seaJane, linked on the FIBIS Fibiwiki page Mesopotamia Campaign, section Historical books online

http://wiki.fibis.org/index.php/Mesopotamia_Campaign#Historical_books_online

 

There are also some books linked on the FIBIS Fibiwiki page Prisoners of the Turks (First World War) 

http://wiki.fibis.org/index.php/Prisoners_of_the_Turks_(First_World_War)

 

including  from the book mentioned by Charlie962: 

Sample chapters from Other Ranks of Kut by P. W. Long, M.M. Flight Sergeant R.A.F, 1938. Transcription of the Preface, Author’s Note, Chapter One and Chapter Six only, with details of the titles of the remaining chapters. saradistribution.com. The author was at the time Driver Percy Walter Long, 67528, 63rd Battery, R.F.A

 

Cheers

Maureen

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charlie962

I haven't read a lot about this but I am left with a feeling that the 'other ranks' were badly let down by their officers after the surrender. I wonder whether the officers should have reacted more strongly when they became aware (or should have become aware) of the extreme level of neglect and maltreatment? And I am ignoring Townshend completely. His really was a special case!

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bob lembke

This is from memory from several years ago but there was one officer captured at Kut who insisted in accompanying his men, rather than get a better grade of treatment. I have mentioned elsewhere, from German sources (I study the Turkish/German side mostly, as my father served as a volunteer in the Turkish Fifth Army in 1915), that German officers kept on seeing Townshend leading the high life in Istanbul, accompanied by Turkish officers, and they finally complained to the Turks that this public feting of Townshend was unseemly. (I remember some annoyance on the part of a GWF Pal when I said that, the individual feeling that "rank hath its privileges".)

 

In partial and reluctant defense of the poor treatment of the captured ORs, I am not sure if it was not much worse than the situation of Turkish ORs in the war, who were sometimes even marched to death. The logistical and staff work situation in the Turkish Army of the period was regrettable, and caused much misery to many.

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seaJane

General Melliss, who travelled the route some days after the other officers as he had been recovering in hospital, insisted fervently on doing what he could for those other ranks he caught up with. I too recall the anecdote about the officer who insisted on travelling with his men, but as I recall he wasn't allowed to. I don't think the ORs can strictly said to have been let down by their officers, who I believe had no choice. 

 

Even given the fact that the Turkish ORs weren't well treated, what was meted out to the captives still seems extreme, although it depends which source you read; Braddon's is definitely the most sensational (by which I don't necessarily mean untrue), but even 'Kut 1916' describes some horrors. (And yes, Townsend's behaviour another matter entirely).

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David Filsell

Thanks all, as ever, most helpful  - initially I'm going to find a copy of Braddon's s book on Abebooks. One of the problems with book reviewing is the little time it leaves me for 'personal' reading. Just made a start on the new two volume history of the Scots Guards in the Great War, I reckon I've got two weeks or more solid reading in that alone!

Regards

David

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seaJane

This is Wikipedia on Melliss:

 

Transported upriver to Baghdad by steamship, Melliss remained in hospital and unable to travel as the survivors of the 6th Division were marched north toward Anatolia. When Melliss was well enough to travel, he followed the same route north. As he was a general, Melliss was allowed a traveling party and better than average supplies. Along the way, they encountered dead and dying enlisted men who had fallen behind one of the columns of British and Indian prisoners. Melliss took any survivors he found with him; at each stop he insisted that the men he had rescued from the desert be put into hospital.

Melliss spent his captivity at Broussa in northwestern Anatolia. While there, he repeatedly wrote letters to Enver Pasha detailing the sad state of the enlisted prisoners and demanding better treatment. Most of the British other ranks (1,755 out of 2,592) captured at Kut-al-Amara died in captivity.

 

David -

of the contemporary records I think I 'enjoyed' Mousley's Secrets of a Kuttite most, although The Road to En-Dor is an excellent read too.  I must catch up with Four fifty miles to freedom some time.

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David Filsell

Bob,

As I have said before, Senior officers generally expected and received special treatment - rightly or wrongly.

The real question therefore the degree to which Townshend was aware of the treatment, who made the allegations, and whether he made any representations about it and if he  knew and did, or could do, nothing about it. If any  - second proofs and all that - of it is available, I am certainly unaware of it. Perhaps others 'know better'?

I ask this simply because mud sticks and the accusation is very common. Thus it is important to know both context and fact. 

For instance having read the new biography of Hunter Bunter, it's clear that a number of the long repeated accusations of his conduct were not contemporary, but made by officers who he got rid of and who had a grudge against him. Don't misunderstand, I am not saying he was perfect - he was certainly promoted far too early but it should be borne in mind that he doubted the Gallipoli adventure and expressed grave concern's about the attack of his division on the Somme and was recognized as an extremely good trainer of 'green' formations.

David  

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Dust Jacket Collector

One of the most graphic accounts of the Garrisons sufferings is given in a little book of mine I've mentioned previously in the 'Rarest Book' thread.

"The Sufferings of the Kut Garrison on their march into Turkey as Prisoners of War" by Q.Mast. F. A. Harvey of the 2nd Dorsets. Privately printed in Ludgershall in 1923. Sadly the only other copy I can find is a photocopy in the IWM.

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seaJane
1 hour ago, David Filsell said:

Bob,

The real question therefore the degree to which Townshend was aware of the treatment, who made the allegations, and whether he made any representations about it and if he  knew and did, or could do, nothing about it. If any  - second proofs and all that - of it is available, I am certainly unaware of it.

David  

David,

 

I can't recall having seen any evidence from the time that Townshend was aware of the bad treatment. As regards his behaviour generally, as before-mentioned Braddon hasn't a good word to say for him (though acknowledging that he was very popular with the men). Millar is somewhat more inclined to find good reasons for his behaviour given the difficult conditions (and sometimes people) he was working with. Having been reading more for my own interest than for research purposes I haven't made notes, but I can't say that I recall anything about his having been much concerned to dig beyond the assurances that the Turkish upper echelons gave him about conditions.

 

Once you get down to reading primary sources this may change and it may, for example, be illuminating to check Hansard online http://hansard.millbanksystems.com/ for contemporary responses.

 

Best regards,

 

sJ

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bob lembke

I in no way want to sanitize the Turkish treatment of captured foes. I just wanted to point out the generally poor state of Turkish supplies and staff work as contributing factors. I generally only read primary sources, and of course writers on the Turkish/German side were not going to mention the occurrences of such treatment frequently. I do know of a number of instances in which German officers and other personnel intervened and improved the situation of Allied prisoners, often to the astonishment of the Turks.

 

My father told me that the Turkish troops, in matters of spirit and courage, were splendid soldiers, and he saw a lot of fighting during and after the Great War, and fought in two of the three most renowned German storm units, wounded four times. The Turks generally had great contempt of soldiers who ended up surrendering. Interestingly, they also associated headgear with a bill or brim with cowardice, and later in the war the Germans manufactured special versions of their Stalhelm for elite Turkish troops that omitted the usual steel rolled brim. This might even have been a factor.  

 

Despite these comments, which I hope are interesting, I do not know many specifics about the mistreatment of the Kut prisoners, which I am sure was excessive and severe. Not trying to excuse the events, just present some background factors. 

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seaJane

I do appreciate that Bob, and indeed some of the memoirs express both admiration for the Turkish other ranks and astonishment at how badly they themselves were treated, as well as acknowledging kindnesses from German military in the area.

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seaJane

If I remember rightly anger about bad treatment was particularly directed at the Arab population and (by some) at the Kurdish personnel of the Turkish army.

 

I would very much like to know what happened to the diaries and writings lent to Russell Braddon for his book - I presumehe returned them to their owners, but what happened to them later?

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charlie962

Whilst it never excuses bad ( this an understatement) treatment of prisoners I do agree with much of the comment above and that from what I have read

-the Turks treated their own men appalingly, and their maltreatment of prisoners was as much deliberate neglect as physical assault (there are some descriptions of young soldiers being shamefully treated by Turkish officers)

-the Arabs were even worse and from written accounts seemed to enjoy beating etc the prisoners..

- the Germans did make efforts on a number of occasions to improve matters,

-certain British officers (incl Melliss) tried hard to assist and intervene but with little success

Clearly a huge cultural divide. But as I say this doesn't make it excusable.

 

Did the Other Ranks ever complain they felt let down or abandoned by their Officers?

 

There are some good previous threads on Kut which expand on the above, with some of the same members contributing

 

It would be interesting to know what happened to Lady Neave's records as well as Braddon's

 

Charlie962

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David Filsell

Seajane,

I have had experience of trying to find source  material for two dead writers whose subject was the Great War. In these cases no one knew. Probably simply junked as the author moved I suspect. Good luck!

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seaJane

I haven't time to go hunting, alas. But I suppose Russell Braddon's papers may be somewhere; I wonder if he made transcripts?

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michaeldr

With too much time to spare today, whilst looking for something else on the 'Mapping the Front – Gallipoli' disc [WFA & IWM] I strayed into the 'indexmaps' section and found this, which I had never seen before and it may prove equally interesting to others.

Specifically, it is 'index30.jpg'

ddae658c-f6bf-48a2-95b6-0a5d2645c9ac_zps

index30%20journey%20frm%20Kut_zps5sx21np

125cbce3-89b3-49c9-bbcb-cf3a45a82f37_zps

The WFA/IWM disc should still be available if you need it: see http://www.westernfrontassociation.com/the-great-war/great-war-mapping/mapping-the-front-great-war-maps-dvd/1205-mapping-the-front-three-new-dvds-released.html#sthash.LjfwyeXd.dpbs 

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Maureene

Thanks for posting Michael. That seems to be the best map I have seen of the POW Camps, showing them situated along the railway. Unfortunately the map part is a bit small for me to read, but the information at the bottom of the map is very interesting.

 

Cheers

Maureen

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michaeldr

The Bavarian Squadron 304 traversed the Ottoman empire to get to the Palestine front with their valuable aeroplanes. Their photographers recorded the country through which they passed and today the Bavarian State Archives hold that collection, part of which is available on-line.

Of particular interest here is that part of their route which took them through the Taurus and Amanus mountains.

Photographs are available of the mountain passes which the Kut PoWs had to traverse by road,

the tunnels and viaducts upon which many PoWs worked

and Karapuna, where one of the camps was located (per the list on the map above)

 

Go to http://www.gda-old.bayern.de/findmittel/ead/index.php?fb=478

and at the very bottom of the left-hand list click on

05.1.2.5 Bodenaufnahmen (413 Einträge)

 

This will bring up a page listing all the photograph in this sub-section

Two-thirds of the way down the list click on Im Amanus-Gebirge

which will bring up the first photograph of interest and there follows some c.32 others which might also be worth looking at in this context.

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Ghazala

The Arab Bureau was filled with mavericks. Prominent among them were intelligence officers like the enigmatic, and almost blind, Aubrey Nigel Henry Molyneux Herbert.

He called Lawrence ‘an odd gnome, half cad – with a touch of genius’. He travelled with him to Kut-al-Amara in Mesopotamia in an effort to negotiate the repatriation of some 6,500 Anglo-Indian soldiers, when their commander, Major-General Charles Townshend, was on the brink of surrendering the town to Ottoman forces.

Fluent in Turkish and Albanian, Herbert was dispatched on a number of strategic missions during the war. When it ended, he was Chief of the British Mission attached to the Italian Army in Albania, and would be instrumental in the establishment of Albania as an independent state.

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michaeldr

 

Albania became independent of the Ottoman empire in 1912 and I believe that I read somewhere or other that there was a proposal to make Aubrey Herbert the monarch of that country, but I cannot now find the reference.

 

What has turned up is the delightful description of him during his sick leave on Tenedos, given by Compton Mackenzie in his book Gallipoli Memories

 

He was wearing a uniform of faded canary yellow. I had never seen that shade of khaki before and commented on the attractive novelty.

'It was made from some stuff my wife got,' he told me vaguely, though whether for casement curtains or uniform he did not add. There were only three buttons left on the tunic, two being the proper ones of his regiment, the Welsh Guards, the other like one of the brown crinkly variety of sweets known as burnt almonds. One shoulder strap had the three stars of his rank as captain, but the other one bore only the single star of a second-lieutenant. He had no belt, and instead of wearing boots he shuffled along in a pair of red Turkish slippers. His sun helmet had received a heavy dent somewhere which gave it a rather the look of a dissolute and bloated Homburg hat, and as a final contribution to the unusual in his military equipment he was not wearing a tie.

'Is that your luggage?' I asked, eyeing the small battered case he was carrying.

'No, no, that's somewhere. I think my man Christo is looking after it probably. This is only my typewriter.'”

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Ghazala

Thanks Michael... 

The man Lawrence seems to have appreciated most was Colonel Alan Dawnay, the Chief (GSO1) of the Hijaz Operational Staff or ‘Hedgehog’. When Allenby appointed him as liaison to Lawrence in February 1918, Dawnay became the senior British officer on the scene. Of him, Lawrence said: ‘Dawnay was Allenby’s greatest gift to us – greater than thousands of baggage camels … He married war and rebellion in himself.’

Dawnay was a true conventional soldier, first commissioned into the Coldstream Guards in 1909, and Lawrence first worried that Dawnay was ‘a regular fighting his first guerrilla battle’ and perhaps not up to the task.

But he was. He was able to use his superior skills as a military planner and organiser to turn a rabble into an effective force. Importantly, although he did not speak Arabic, he was a first-rate diplomat, well able to negotiate with Feisal. Dawnay convinced Feisal to slow his operations down – over the objections of tribal leaders – until a necessary re-organisation was complete.

Dawnay exquisitely planned a successful attack on Tell Shahm Station and followed up with deception operations that convinced the Turks they were dealing with a much larger force. He later repeated that effort at Mudawwara. It was Dawnay’s meticulousness that ensured Lawrence’s force was able to contribute to Allenby’s final autumn 1918 offensive.

After the war, Dawnay proof-read the first manuscript of Seven Pillars – the one lost at Reading Station. He went on to command 1st Battalion, the Coldstream Guards, and reached the rank of major-general before his premature passing in 1938.

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charlie962

Wasn't it FE Smith for King of Albania?

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