8/3/1916 Mesopotamia: Britain attacks at Dujaila in attempt to relieve Kut

In Mesopotamia the siege of Kut-al-Amara continues. General Fenton Aylmer commands British forces trying to break through Turkish lines to raise the siege before hunger forces Kut’s surrender. His previous attempt to do so failed but now he is giving it another go. His plan this time is to attack to the south of the Tigris. His men are to stage a night march before launching a surprise attack on the Turkish position at Dujaila. Once this is in British hands it should be a simple matter to extract the besieged garrison of Kut.

But things do not go according to plan. The night march goes more slowly than expected. By the time the sun rises, the British are still some way off from Dujaila. The element of surprise appears to have been lost.

In previous battles Aylmer’s men suffered terrible casualties in frontal assaults on prepared Turkish positions. Rather than risk this again, he keeps back his infantry and subjects the Dujaila redoubt to an intense artillery bombardment. It is only much later in the day that the infantry attack begins.

Unfortunately, the assault on Dujaila is repelled, suffering heavy casualties. The Turks had in fact left the position completely undefended, but Aylmer’s artillery bombardment alerted them to his planned assault. Turkish troops then rushed to defend the position. By the time the British attack, they are ready and waiting. The British suffer nearly 4,000 casualties and their assault fails. Aylmer orders a retreat.

The Turks also suffered great casualties in the battle, but they have the satisfaction of knowing that they have repelled another attempt to relieve Kut, whose fall must surely be imminent.

image sources:

General Fenton Aylmer (Wikipedia)

map (Winkleigh Heroes)

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