27/4/1916 Kut: Townshend tries to buy his men’s freedom

In Mesopotamia the siege of Kut-al-Amara is drawing to a close. The British garrison has been on short rations for weeks and is now almost completely out of food. Attempts to raise the siege have failed and now imminent starvation obliges General Townshend to discuss surrender terms with the Turks.

Today Townshend meets Halil Bey, the Turkish commander of the besieging forces. The British consider the Turks to be a shifty and dishonourable people, so Townshend has been advised to appeal to Halill’s avarice and vanity in attempt to secure his army’s freedom. He asks Halil to allow his men to retreat from the town without being taken prisoner, promising that they will not take up arms against Turkey again. In return Townshend offers Halil 40 cannons to parade as trophies and one million pounds in cash.

Halil is disappointingly non-committal in response to Townshend’s offer. The British commander returns to Kut with the grim feeling that the Turks will not be satisfied with anything other than the unconditional surrender of his entire army.

map (National Army Museum, London)

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