21/1/1916 Siege of Kut: British relief force blocked at Hanna

In Mesopotamia Britain’s General Aylmer is attempting to raise the Turkish siege of Kut-al-Amara. He has managed to drive the Turks from two blocking positions at Sheikh Saad and al-Wadi, but the casualties endured in these actions have greatly depleted his force. Now he faces the last Turkish position before Kut itself, the defile of Hanna.

The Turkish position is a strong one. Their flanks are protected on one side by the Tigris river, on the other by an impassable swamp. The only option for the British is a frontal assault on the Turks, but doing so involves an advance across flat open ground lacking any cover. And heavy rains have turned the approaches to the Turkish positions into a sea of mud.

Aylmer subjects the enemy trenches to a short bombardment and then orders his men forward. They are cut to pieces by the Turks and forced back. Aylmer’s attack has failed, with his men suffering another 2,700 casualties in the attempt. Aylmer prepares to attack again tomorrow, but it begins to become apparent that the siege of Kut will not be raised any time soon.

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