29/4/1916 Britain humiliated as Kut surrenders

The siege of Kut-al-Amara is over. General Townshend has surrendered unconditionally to the Turks under Halil Pasha. The Turks take some 13,000 prisoners. These include nearly 2,800 British soldiers, of whom 277 are officers, and around 10,500 Indians, of whom 204 are officers.

This is a great triumph for Halil and one he does not have to share. The overall commander of Turkish forces in Mesopotamia had been General Goltz, a German general. However Goltz died just ten days ago, officially of typhus, but there are rumours that he was poisoned at the behest of Turkey’s leaders. His death means that all the glory for Kut’s fall goes to Halil.
As Turkish troops enter the town there are some instances of fraternisation between them and the town’s erstwhile defenders. But the Turks also begin to extract vengeance on local civilians they suspect of treachery during the siege, with the first public executions of collaborators taking place. Turkish officers are also angry that the British have destroyed their cannons before surrendering, as they had hoped to seize these as trophies.

Many of Townshend’s men are in a desperate state thanks to the short rations they have been on. They are despondent at having to surrender but this dismay is tempered with hope, as they think their sufferings are coming to an end. They are wrong.

image sources:

Townshend and Halil Pasha (Wikipedia)

British Capitulation at Kut-al-Amara (National Army Museum; a painting by an unknown Turkish artist)

Indian prisoners (Die Welt)

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