29/4/1916 Kut: another attempt to bribe the Turks

In a last attempt to secure the freedom of the besieged British garrison of Kut-al-Amara, three British intelligence officers today meet with Turkish commander Halil Pasha. Colonel Edward Beach, Captains Aubrey Herbert and T. E. Lawrence have travelled up the Tigris from Basra. Now, blindfolded, they are taken through the Turkish lines to meet Halil.

The British officers make another attempt to bribe Halil to let the Kut garrison go free, but the Turkish commander is still not interested. They also appeal for him to show clemency to any of the townsfolk of Kut who have provided assistance to the British, but Halil curtly tells the three officers that the fate of the town’s civilians is an internal matter for the Turkish authorities. He gives no assurances that there will be no reprisals.

Halil has a request of his own. He reminds Beach and his colleagues that after their long siege the British and Indian troops in Kut are now very debilitated. They will have to be transported away from Kut but the Turks lack the ships to do this, so the prisoners will have to march, something many of them will be incapable of doing. Halil asks the British to supply boats that he can use to bring the prisoners up the Tigris to Baghdad, after which the boats would be returned to the British.

The British decline to supply the ships. Halil draws the conclusion that they are not too concerned with the fate of their prisoners. And if the British do not care about their fate, why should he?

And then abruptly Halil informs the British that the meeting is at an end. He has no more time to speak to them because he has important matters to attend to.

And indeed he does. What the British officers do not know is that Kut has already surrendered this morning. Halil has the occupation of the town and the disposal of the prisoners to oversee.

image source:

Halil Pasha (Wikipedia)

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