22/1/1916 Mesopotamia: besieged Kut tightens its belt

A British army in Kut-al-Amara is under siege by the Turks. A relief force under General Aylmer is fighting its way up the Tigris in an effort to lift the siege. Yesterday they were unable to break through the Turkish defences at Hanna. Aylmer had intended to attack again today, but he realises that his position is hopeless. His men are greatly outnumbered by the Turks and further attempts to attack could lead to the destruction of his force. Fearing that the Turks will counter-attack while he is in this vulnerable position, Aylmer orders a retreat. He feels that he cannot resume attempts to raise the siege of Kut until he has received adequate reinforcements.

The defenders of Kut have been following Aylmer’s efforts to rescue them by wireless. Realising that the siege will not be ending in the immediate future Townshend, the British commander in the town, orders a halving of all rations. He also orders his men to conduct a house to house search of the town and to requisition all food found. The townsfolk will have to share their food supplies with their guests from the British army.

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