24/4/1916 Kut: Gorringe’s last desperate roll of the dice

In Kut-al-Amara the besieged garrison is on the brink of starvation. Attempts to supply Kut by air have delivered far too little food to keep it fed. A relief force under General Gorringe has made a series of attempts to break through the Turkish lines; all have failed. After the last bloody failure, Gorringe accepted that his men would not be capable of another attempt.

Now Gorringe tries one last desperate measure to send food to Kut. He has the Julnar, a steamship, loaded with provisions and sends it up the Tigris to try to run past the Turkish guns to Kut. In Kut, the besieged troops are ready to provide covering fire for the Julnar‘s approach. But the ship never reaches them. The Turks have strung a cable across the river. The overloaded Julnar is unable to break through. The ship is subjected to a deadly fire by the Turks before being boarded. The precious provisions fall into Turkish hands. Surviving members of the crew become prisoners, apart from the ship’s captain, Charles Cowley; he is reportedly murdered by the Turks.

In Kut the garrison realise that they are doomed. Its commander, General Townshend, begins surrender negotiations with the Turks.

image source (Today in World War I)

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