Britain’s advance on Baghdad has come unstuck. The Turks have counterattacked and now have a British force besieged in Kut-al-Amara. An attempt by the Turks to storm Kut has been repulsed. Within Kut however the situation is grave. Losses from enemy action and from sickness mean that the army is wasting away. General Townshend is the commander of the Kut garrison; he calculates that it will have dropped from around 7,200 effectives at the start of 1916 to just 5,400 by the middle of January. Kut needs to be relieved while there are still men there to rescue.
Help is on its way. General Nixon is the overall British commander in Mesopotamia. He has sent a a force forward to fight through the Turks and raise the siege. The desperate situation of the Kut garrison means the relief force is moving forward before it is at reach full strength.
Today at Sheikh Saad, 25 miles from Kut, the relief force under General Aylmer clashes with a Turkish force barring their advance. If the British expected that they would be able to sweep aside the Turks they now receive a rude awakening. In making frontal assaults across open country on prepared Turkish positions the British suffer heavy casualties.
image source (Wikipedia)