25/2/1917 Britain returns to Kut

Two days ago the British crossed the Tigris, upstream of Kut-al-Amara, forcing the Turks to abandon the city. Now the British return to Kut itself. British gunboats send a boarding party ashore to fly the Union Jack once more over the site of Townshend‘s humiliating surrender last year. It is unlikely that the townsfolk are too pleased to see the British back, remembering the horrors of the siege and the brutal reprisals that followed the British surrender.

With Kut now secure the gunboats prepare to sail upstream, to harry the retreating Turks. Their blood is up now: perhaps this defeat can be turned into a rout that will secure British victory in Mesopotamia.

image source:

British troops march through Kut (The Heritage of the Great War)

23/2/1917 Mesopotamia: the Second Battle of Kut

Last year Britain suffered a humiliating defeat at Kut-al-Amara, where the Turks trapped a British army there and forced it to surrender. But now in Mesopotamia the fortunes of war appear to be once more favouring the British. They have received considerable reinforcements while Turkish numbers have been depleted by the need to send men to other fronts, notably Persia, the Caucasus and Palestine.

Maude, the British commander, has resumed the offensive. Fighting earlier this month appeared to be a replay of the failed attempts to raise the siege of Kut last year, with British attacks on strongly defended Turkish positions being repelled with heavy losses. But today Maude tries something else. While mounting diversionary attacks on the Turks at Sannaiyat and near Kut itself, he has a flanking force move upstream, where they manage cross the Tigris.

Now the Turkish forces in Kut are in danger of being trapped. Rather than face the same fate as the British last year, Halil Pasha orders his men to retreat towards Baghdad. Kut is abandoned to the British.

image source (Wikipedia)