12/4/1915 Mesopotamia: Turkey strikes back

The Ottoman Empire entered the war as an ally of Germany in the hope of regaining its former greatness. Unfortunately a series of defeats now make the empire look like it is on the brink of defeat, with British and French forces threatening Constantinople itself. But not all of Turkey’s military commanders are willing to go down without a fight.
Late last year the British took the Mesopotamian port of Basra. They are occupying it now with a force largely made up of soldiers recruited in India. The Turks fear that the British plan to advance up the Tigris and Euphrates rivers. To prevent this, Ottoman forces under Lt. Colonel Suleyman Askeri launch a counter-attack on British positions at Shaiba, near Basra. The Ottoman forces comprise about 4,000 regular troops and another 14,000 or so Arab irregulars. The British have less than 7,000 men, but they are defending a fortified position strengthened with barbed wire.

The Turks attack in the evening, after a short artillery bombardment. They try to infiltrate through gaps in the barbed wire, but their attacks are unsuccessful. The British and Indian soldiers hold their positions and repel the enemy’s attacks.

image source (Wikipedia)

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