Turkish troops proceeding down the River Tigris on rafts to join the besieging army at Kut (Image © IWM HU 52443)

100 Years Ago Today: Ottoman siege of Kut starts in Mesopotamia

Posted on centenarynews.com on 07 December 2015
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Ottoman troops trapped a British-Indian force in the town of Kut-al-Amara on December 7th 1915, marking the start of a siege that lasted almost five months. 

The soldiers of the Indian Expeditionary Force had come close to reaching Baghdad in November but encountered fierce Ottoman resistance at the Battle of Ctesiphon.

Concerned about his losses, British commander Major General Sir Charles Townshend withdrew to Kut, captured by his army earlier in the autumn during its march into Turkish-ruled Mesopotamia (present-day Iraq).

The siege lasted 147 days; the town's people and defenders suffered increasing hardships as food rations dwindled.

Repeated relief expeditions, including a pioneering air drop of supplies, failed.

General Townshend surrendered to the Ottomans on April 29th 1916. Around 13,000 soldiers were taken prisoner, many dying in captivity.

The loss of Kut forced the British Government to order an inquiry into the Mesopotamia campaign. British and Indian forces were reorganised, retaking Kut in February 1917, and capturing Baghdad a month later.

Sources: Wikipedia/various

Images courtesy of Imperial War Museums (© IWM HU 52443)

Posted by: Peter Alhadeff, Centenary News