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Mesopotamian Campaign

Mesopotamian Campaign

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The Mesopotamian campaign was a campaign in the Middle Eastern theatre
Middle Eastern theatre of World War I
The Middle Eastern theatre of World War I was the scene of action between 29 October 1914, and 30 October 1918. The combatants were the Ottoman Empire, with some assistance from the other Central Powers, and primarily the British and the Russians among the Allies of World War I...

 of World War I
World War I
World War I , which was predominantly called the World War or the Great War from its occurrence until 1939, and the First World War or World War I thereafter, was a major war centred in Europe that began on 28 July 1914 and lasted until 11 November 1918...

 fought between the Allies represented by the British Empire
British Empire
The British Empire comprised the dominions, colonies, protectorates, mandates and other territories ruled or administered by the United Kingdom. It originated with the overseas colonies and trading posts established by England in the late 16th and early 17th centuries. At its height, it was the...

, mostly troops from the Indian Empire, and the Central Powers
Central Powers
The Central Powers were one of the two warring factions in World War I , composed of the German Empire, the Austro-Hungarian Empire, the Ottoman Empire, and the Kingdom of Bulgaria...

, mostly of the Ottoman Empire
Ottoman Empire
The Ottoman EmpireIt was usually referred to as the "Ottoman Empire", the "Turkish Empire", the "Ottoman Caliphate" or more commonly "Turkey" by its contemporaries...

.

Background


The Ottoman Empire
Ottoman Empire
The Ottoman EmpireIt was usually referred to as the "Ottoman Empire", the "Turkish Empire", the "Ottoman Caliphate" or more commonly "Turkey" by its contemporaries...

 had conquered the region in the early 16th century, however never fully gained complete control over the area. Regional pockets of Ottoman control through local proxy rulers maintained the Ottoman's reach throughout Mesopotamia. With the turn of the 19th century came reforms
Tanzimat
The Tanzimât , meaning reorganization of the Ottoman Empire, was a period of reformation that began in 1839 and ended with the First Constitutional Era in 1876. The Tanzimât reform era was characterized by various attempts to modernize the Ottoman Empire, to secure its territorial integrity against...

. Work began on a Baghdad Railway
Baghdad Railway
The Baghdad Railway , was built from 1903 to 1940 to connect Berlin with the Ottoman Empire city of Baghdad with a line through modern-day Turkey, Syria, and Iraq....

 in 1888: by 1915 it had only four gaps, and travel time from Istanbul to Baghdad
Baghdad
Baghdad is the capital of Iraq, as well as the coterminous Baghdad Governorate. The population of Baghdad in 2011 is approximately 7,216,040...

 had fallen to 21 days.

The Anglo-Persian Oil Company
Anglo-Persian Oil Company
The Anglo-Persian Oil Company was founded in 1908 following the discovery of a large oil field in Masjed Soleiman, Iran. It was the first company to extract petroleum from the Middle East...

 had exclusive rights to petroleum deposits throughout the Persian Empire except in the provinces of Azerbaijan, Ghilan, Mazendaran, Asdrabad, and Khorasan. In 1914, before the war, the British government had contracted with the company for oil for the navy. Kuwait
Kuwait
The State of Kuwait is a sovereign Arab state situated in the north-east of the Arabian Peninsula in Western Asia. It is bordered by Saudi Arabia to the south at Khafji, and Iraq to the north at Basra. It lies on the north-western shore of the Persian Gulf. The name Kuwait is derived from the...

 was another strategic factor for the British.

The Ottoman Empire did not expect any major action in this region.

The operational area of the Mesopotamian campaign was limited to the lands watered by the rivers Euphrates
Euphrates
The Euphrates is the longest and one of the most historically important rivers of Western Asia. Together with the Tigris, it is one of the two defining rivers of Mesopotamia...

 and Tigris
Tigris
The Tigris River is the eastern member of the two great rivers that define Mesopotamia, the other being the Euphrates. The river flows south from the mountains of southeastern Turkey through Iraq.-Geography:...

. The main challenge was moving the supplies and troops through the swamps and deserts which surrounded the area of conflict.

Shortly after the European war started, the British sent a military force to protect Abadan. In Abadan was one of the world's earliest oil refineries. British operational planning included landing troops in the Shatt-al-Arab. The reinforced Indian 6th (Poona) Infantry Division
Indian 6th Infantry Division
For the World War I formation see 6th DivisionThe 6th Infantry Division was an infantry division of the Indian Army during World War II, created on 1 March 1941 in Secunderabad. On 11 September 1941 it was shipped to the Iraq and later Iran. During 1942 and 1943 it was part of the Tenth Army...

 from the British Indian Army
British Indian Army
The British Indian Army, officially simply the Indian Army, was the principal army of the British Raj in India before the partition of India in 1947...

 was assigned, designated as Indian Expeditionary Force D (IEFD).

The Ottoman Fourth Army
Fourth Army (Ottoman Empire)
The Fourth Army of the Ottoman Empire was one of the field armies of the Ottoman Army. It was formed in the middle nineteenth century, during Ottoman military reforms.-Order of Battle, 1877:In 1877, it was stationed in Anatolia...

 was located in the region. The army was composed of two corps, the XII Corps (Ottoman Empire)
XII Corps (Ottoman Empire)
The XII Corps of the Ottoman Empire was one of the corps of the Ottoman Army. It was formed in the early 20th century during Ottoman military reforms.- Order of Battle, 1911 :...

 with 35th and 36th Divisions at Mosul
Mosul
Mosul , is a city in northern Iraq and the capital of the Ninawa Governorate, some northwest of Baghdad. The original city stands on the west bank of the Tigris River, opposite the ancient Assyrian city of Nineveh on the east bank, but the metropolitan area has now grown to encompass substantial...

 and XIII Corps (Ottoman Empire)
XIII Corps (Ottoman Empire)
The XIII Corps of the Ottoman Empire was one of the corps of the Ottoman Army. It was formed in the early 20th century during Ottoman military reforms.-Order of Battle, 1911 :...

 with the 37th and 38th Divisions at Baghdad
Baghdad
Baghdad is the capital of Iraq, as well as the coterminous Baghdad Governorate. The population of Baghdad in 2011 is approximately 7,216,040...

.

On 29 October 1914, after the Pursuit of Goeben and Breslau
Pursuit of Goeben and Breslau
The pursuit of Goeben and Breslau was a naval action that occurred in the Mediterranean Sea at the outbreak of the First World War when elements of the British Mediterranean Fleet attempted to intercept the German Mittelmeerdivision comprising the battlecruiser and the light cruiser...

, Breslau bombarded the Black Sea port of Theodosia
Theodosia
Feodosiya is a port and resort city in Crimea, Ukraine, on the Black Sea coast. During much of its history the town was known as Caffa or Kaffa .- History :...

. On 30 October the High Command in Istanbul
Istanbul
Istanbul , historically known as Byzantium and Constantinople , is the largest city of Turkey. Istanbul metropolitan province had 13.26 million people living in it as of December, 2010, which is 18% of Turkey's population and the 3rd largest metropolitan area in Europe after London and...

 changed the force distribution. On 2 November Grand Vizier Said Halim Pasha
Said Halim Pasha
Said Halim Pasha , Ottoman Empire Grand Vizier from 1913-17. Born in Cairo, Egypt, he was the grandson of Muhammad Ali of Egypt, "founder of modern Egypt". The "Pasha" in his name is an honorific that translates in English to "Lord", or "Lord Said Halim".He was one of the signers in Ottoman-German...

 expressed regret to the Allies for the operations of the navy. Russian Minister of Foreign Affairs Sergey Sazonov
Sergey Sazonov
Sergei Dmitrievich Sazonov GCB was a Russian statesman who served as Foreign Minister from September 1910 to June 1916...

 said it was too late and Russia considered this raid as an act of war. The Cabinet tried to explain that hostilities were begun without its sanction by German officers serving in the navy. The Allies insisted on reparations to Russia, the dismissal of German officers from the Goeben and Breslau, and the internment of the German ships until the end of the war. But before the Ottoman government responded Great Britain and France declared war on the Ottoman Empire on 5 November. CUP's official Declaration of War came on 14 November.

When the Caucasus Campaign
Caucasus Campaign
The Caucasus Campaign comprised armed conflicts between the Ottoman Empire and the Russian Empire, later including Azerbaijan, Armenia, Central Caspian Dictatorship and the UK as part of the Middle Eastern theatre or alternatively named as part of the Caucasus Campaign during World War I...

 became a reality with the Bergmann Offensive
Bergmann Offensive
The Bergmann Offensive was the first engagement of the Caucasus Campaign. General Georgy Berhmann, who was the commander of the I Caucasian Army Corps took the initiative against the Ottoman Empire....

, Enver Pasha sent the 37th Division and the XIII Corps Headquarters to the Caucasus in support of the Third Army
Third Army (Ottoman Empire)
The Ottoman Third Army was originally established in the Balkans and later defended the northern and eastern parts of the Ottoman Empire. Its initial headquarters was at Salonica. With the onset of World War I, it moved to Erzurum Fortress. The headquarters was moved to Susehir after the Battle...

. The entire XII Corps was deployed to the Sinai and Palestine Campaign
Sinai and Palestine Campaign
The Sinai and Palestine Campaigns took place in the Middle Eastern Theatre of World War I. A series of battles were fought between British Empire, German Empire and Ottoman Empire forces from 26 January 1915 to 31 October 1918, when the Armistice of Mudros was signed between the Ottoman Empire and...

. The Fourth Army Headquarters was sent to Syria, to replace the Second Army
Second Army (Ottoman Empire)
The Second Army of the Ottoman Empire was one of the field armies of the Ottoman Army. It was formed in the late 19th century during Ottoman military reforms.- Order of Battle, 1877:In 1877, it was stationed in what is now Bulgaria...

 Headquarters which went to Istanbul. In place of the Fourth Army was "Iraq Area Command
Iraq Area Command (Ottoman Empire)
The Iraq Area Command or Iraq Regional Command of the Ottoman Empire was one of the military formation of the Ottoman Army...

" with only the 38th Division under its command.

Mesopotamia was a low priority area for the Ottomans. Regiments of the XII and XIII Corps were maintained at low levels in peacetime. Lieutenant Colonel Süleyman Askerî Bey
Süleyman Askerî Bey
Süleyman Askerî Bey, also known as Suleyman Askeri, Sulayman Askari, Sulaiman al-Askari and unofficially known as Suleyman Askeri Pasha was a military officer who served for the Ottoman Army.Süleyman Askerî was born to General Vehbi Pasha, who served as military staff at Edirne...

 became the commander. He redeployed portions of the 38th Division at the mouth of Shatt-al-Arab. The rest of the defensive force was stationed in Basra. The Ottoman General Staff did not even possess a proper map of Mesopotamia. They tried to draw a map with the help of some people who used to work in Iraq before the war, although this attempt failed. Enver Pasha bought two German maps scaled 1/1,500,000.

1914


On 6 November 1914, the British offensive began with the naval force bombarding the old fort at Fao, which was located at the point where the Shatt-al-Arab meets the Persian Gulf. At the Fao Landing
Fao Landing
The Fao Landing occurred on November 6, 1914 and the Battle of Fao Fortress on November 8, 1914 with British forces attacking the Ottoman Fortress of Fao. The British successfully took the fort.- Background :...

, the British Indian Expeditionary Force D (IEF D), comprising the 6th (Poona) Division
6th (Poona) Division
For the World War II formation see 6th Infantry Division The 6th Division was a division of the British Indian Army. It was formed in 1903, following the Kitchener reforms of the Indian Army.-World War I:...

 led by Lieutenant General Arthur Barrett
Arthur Barrett (Indian Army officer)
Field Marshal Sir Arthur Arnold Barrett GCB GCSI KCVO ADC was a British officer of the Indian Army.-Early life and service:Barrett was born in Carshalton, Surrey , the son of a clergyman...

 with Sir Percy Cox as Political Officer
Political officer
Political officer may refer to:*Political officer , Occasionally, a synonym for political commissar*Political officer , in the context of the British Empire, for a pseudo-ambassadorial role in areas bordering imperial territories...

, was opposed by 350 Ottoman troops and 4 cannons. By mid-November, the Poona Division was fully ashore and moved towards the city of Basra
Basra
Basra is the capital of Basra Governorate, in southern Iraq near Kuwait and Iran. It had an estimated population of two million as of 2009...

.

On 22 November, the British occupied the city of Basra
Battle of Basra (1914)
The Battle of Basra was a battle of World War I which took place south of the city of Basra between British and Ottoman troops from November 11th to November 21st, 1914. The battle resulted in the British capture of Basra.-Background:...

 against a force of Ottoman soldiers of the Iraq Area Command
Iraq Area Command (Ottoman Empire)
The Iraq Area Command or Iraq Regional Command of the Ottoman Empire was one of the military formation of the Ottoman Army...

 commanded by Suphi Bey, the Governor of Basra. The Ottoman troops ran after a short fight, abandoning Basra and retreated farther up the river. The British occupied Basra and established order in the town. The British then continued their advance, and at the Battle of Qurna
Battle of Qurna
The Battle of Qurna, was between British forces and Ottoman forces that had retreated from Basra, which they lost at the Battle of Basra during the Mesopotamian campaign of World War I.-Background:...

 they succeeded in capturing Subhi Bey and 1,000 of his Ottoman troops. That gave the British a very strong position and ensured that Basra and the oilfields would be protected from an Ottoman advance. The main Ottoman army, under the overall command of Khalil Pasha was located 275 miles north-west around Baghdad. They made only weak efforts to dislodge the British.

1915



On 2 January, Süleyman Askerî Bey
Süleyman Askerî Bey
Süleyman Askerî Bey, also known as Suleyman Askeri, Sulayman Askari, Sulaiman al-Askari and unofficially known as Suleyman Askeri Pasha was a military officer who served for the Ottoman Army.Süleyman Askerî was born to General Vehbi Pasha, who served as military staff at Edirne...

 assumed the Iraq Area Command
Iraq Area Command (Ottoman Empire)
The Iraq Area Command or Iraq Regional Command of the Ottoman Empire was one of the military formation of the Ottoman Army...

. The Ottoman Army did not have any other resources at the time to move to this region because other areas such as Gallipoli, the Caucasus, and Palestine had higher priority. Süleyman Askerî Bey sent letters to Arab sheiks in an attempt to organize them to fight against the British. He wanted to retake the Shatt-al-Arab region at any cost.

On 12 April, Süleyman Askerî attacked the British camp at Shaiba in what became known as the Battle of Shaiba
Battle of Shaiba
The Battle of Shaiba, 12–14 April 1915 was between British forces and Ottoman forces that were trying to retake the city of Basra from the British.-Background:...

. He had about 4,000 regular troops and about 14,000 Arab irregulars. The attack started early in the morning. These forces provided by Arab sheiks did not produce results. However, the Ottoman infantry launched a series of relentless attacks on the fortified British camp and later attempted by bypass it. When the British cavalry and infantry counter attacked Suleyman Askari pulled his troops back. The next day the British attacked his defensive positions. It was a hard fought infantry battle in which the British infantry overcame tough Ottoman opposition. Ottoman losses numbered 2400 men killed, wounded, or taken prisoner as well as two artillery field pieces lost. The retreat ended 75 miles up the river at Hamisiye. Süleyman Askerî was wounded at Shaiba. Disappointed and depressed, he shot himself at the hospital in Baghdad In his place Colonel Nureddin
Nureddin Pasha
Nureddin Pasha , often called Bearded Nureddin , was a Turkish military officer, who served in the Ottoman Empire during World War I and in the Turkish army during the Greco-Turkish War...

 was appointed commander of the Iraq Area Command on 20 April 1915. Nureddin was one of the few officers to reach high command without the benefit of a staff college education. He did, however, have extensive combat experience.

Due to the unexpected success British command reconsidered their plan and General Sir John Nixon was sent in April 1915 to take command. He ordered Charles Vere Ferrers Townshend
Charles Vere Ferrers Townshend
Major General Sir Charles Vere Ferrers Townshend KCB, DSO was a British Indian Army officer who led the ultimately disastrous first British Expedition against Baghdad during World War I, and was later elected to Parliament....

 to advance to Kut
Kut
Al-Kūt is a city in eastern Iraq, on the left bank of the Tigris River, about 160 kilometres south east of Baghdad. the estimated population is about 374,000 people...

 or even to Baghdad
Baghdad
Baghdad is the capital of Iraq, as well as the coterminous Baghdad Governorate. The population of Baghdad in 2011 is approximately 7,216,040...

 if possible. Townshend and his small army advanced up the Tigris river. They defeated several Ottoman forces sent to halt him. Logistically, his advance was very difficult to sustain, but it was sustained.

Enver Pasha worried about the possible fall of Baghdad. He realized the mistake of underestimating the importance of the Mesopotamian campaign. He ordered the 35th Division and Mehmet Fazıl Pasha to return to their old location, which was Mosul. The 38th Division was reconstituted. The Sixth Army
Sixth Army (Ottoman Empire)
The Sixth Army of the Ottoman Empire was one of the field armies of the Ottoman Army. It was formed in the middle 19th century during Ottoman military reforms.- Order of Battle, 1877:In 1877, it was stationed in Baghdad...

 was created on 5 October 1915, and its commander was a 76 year old German General Colmar von der Goltz
Colmar Freiherr von der Goltz
Wilhelm Leopold Colmar Freiherr von der Goltz also known as Goltz Pasha, was a Prussian Field Marshal and military writer.-Military career:...

. Von der Goltz was a famous military historian who had written several classic books on military operations. He had also spent many years working as a military adviser in the Ottoman Empire. However, he was in Thrace commanding the Ottoman First Army
First Army (Ottoman Empire)
The First Army or First Guards Army of the Ottoman Empire was one of the field armies of the Ottoman Army. It was formed in the middle 19th century during Ottoman military reforms....

 and would not reach the theater for some time. Colonel Nureddin the former commander of the Iraq Area Command
Iraq Area Command (Ottoman Empire)
The Iraq Area Command or Iraq Regional Command of the Ottoman Empire was one of the military formation of the Ottoman Army...

 was still in charge on the ground.

On 22 November, Townshend and Nureddin fought a battle at Ctesiphon
Battle of Ctesiphon (1915)
The Battle of Ctesiphon was fought in November 1915 by the British Empire and British India, against the Ottoman Empire, within the Mesopotamian Campaign of World War I....

, a town 25 miles south of Baghdad. The conflict lasted five days. The battle was a stalemate as both the Ottomans and the British ended up retreating from the battlefield. Townshend concluded that a full scale retreat was necessary. However, Nureddin realized the British were retreating and cancelled his retreat, then followed the British. Townshend withdrew his division in good order back to Kut-al-Amara. He halted and fortified the position. Nureddin pursued with his forces. He tried to encircle the British with his XVIII Corps composed of the 45th Division, 51st Division and 2nd Tribal Cavalry Brigade. The exhausted and depleted British force was urged back to the defenses of Kut-al-Amara. The retreat finalized on 3 December. Nureddin encircled the British at Kut-al-Amara, and sent other forces down river to prevent the British from marching to the relief of the garrison.

On 7 December, the siege of Kut
Siege of Kut
The siege of Kut Al Amara , was the besieging of 8,000 strong British-Indian garrison in the town of Kut, 100 miles south of Baghdad, by the Ottoman Army. Its known also as 1st Battle of Kut. In 1915, its population was around 6,500...

 began. From the Ottoman perspective; Siege of Kut
Kut
Al-Kūt is a city in eastern Iraq, on the left bank of the Tigris River, about 160 kilometres south east of Baghdad. the estimated population is about 374,000 people...

 prevented Sixth Army to perform other operations. From the British perspective, defending Kut as opposed to retreating back to Basra was a mistake since Kut was isolated. It could be defended, but it could not be resupplied. Von der Goltz helped the Ottoman forces build defensive positions around Kut. The Sixth Army was reorganized into 2 corps, the XIII and the XVIII. Nureddin Pasha gave command to Von der Goltz. With the reorganization the Sixth Army laid siege to the British. New fortified positions established down river fended off any attempt to rescue Townshend. Townshend suggested an attempt to break out but this was initially rejected by Sir John Nixon, however he relented. Nixon under the command of General Aylmer established a relief force. General Aylmer made three major attempts to break the siege, but each effort was unsuccessful.

1916


On 20 January, Enver Pasha replaced Nureddin Pasha with Colonel Halil Kut (Khalil Pasha). Nureddin Pasha did not want to work with a German General. He send a telegram to War ministry "The Iraq Army has already proven that it does not need the military knowledge of Goltz Pasha…" After the first failure, General Nixon was replaced by General Lake. British forces received small quantities of supplies from the air. These drops were not enough to feed the garrison, though. Halil Kut forced the British to choose between starving or surrendering, though in the mean time they would try to lift the siege.

Between January–March 1916, both Townshend and Aylmer launched several attacks in an attempt to lift the siege. In sequence, the attacks took place at the Battle of Sheikh Sa'ad
Battle of Sheikh Sa'ad
The Battle of Sheikh Sa'ad occurred between 6–8 January 1916 during the Mesopotamian Campaign of the First World War. The battle took place along the banks of the Tigris River between the Anglo-Indian Tigris Corps and elements of the Ottoman Sixth Army...

, the Battle of the Wadi
Battle of Wadi (1916)
The Battle of Wadi, occurring on 13 January 1916, was an unsuccessful attempt by British forces fighting in present-day Iraq during World War I to relieve beleaguered forces under Sir Charles Townshend then under siege by the Ottoman Sixth Army at Kut-al-Amara.Pushed by regional British...

, the Battle of Hanna
Battle of Hanna
The First Battle of Hanna was a World War I battle fought on the Mesopotamian front on 21 January 1916 between Ottoman Army and Anglo-Indian forces.-Prelude:...

, and the Battle of Dujaila Redoubt
Battle of Dujaila
The Battle of Dujaila was fought on 8 March 1916, between British and Ottoman forces during the First World War. The Ottoman forces, led by Colmar Freiherr von der Goltz were besieging Kut, when the Anglo-Indian relief force, led by Lieutenant-General Fenton Aylmer, attempted to relieve the city...

. These series of British attempts to break through the encirclement did not succeed and their costs were heavy. Both sides suffered high casualties. In February, XIII Corps received 2nd Infantry Division as a reinforcement. Food and hopes were running out for Townshend in Kut-al-Amara. Disease were spreading rapidly and could not be cured.

On 19 April Field Marshal Von der Goltz died of cholera
Cholera
Cholera is an infection of the small intestine that is caused by the bacterium Vibrio cholerae. The main symptoms are profuse watery diarrhea and vomiting. Transmission occurs primarily by drinking or eating water or food that has been contaminated by the diarrhea of an infected person or the feces...

. On 24 April, an attempt by the paddle steamer “Julnar” to re-supply the town by river failed. With that there was no way the British could resupply Kut. After repeated attempts to break through the Ottoman attacks on the city rather than wait for reinforcements Townshend surrendered on 29 April 1916. The remaining force in Kut-al-Amara of 13,164 soldiers became captives of the Ottomans .

The British viewed the loss of Kut as a humiliating defeat. It had been many years since such a large body of British Army soldiers had surrendered to an enemy. Also this loss followed only four months after the British defeat at the Battle of Gallipoli
Battle of Gallipoli
The Gallipoli Campaign, also known as the Dardanelles Campaign or the Battle of Gallipoli, took place at the peninsula of Gallipoli in the Ottoman Empire between 25 April 1915 and 9 January 1916, during the First World War...

. Nearly all the British commanders involved in the failure to rescue Townshend were removed from command. The Ottomans proved they were good at holding defensive positions against superior forces.

A major problem for the British was the lack of logistical infrastructure. When ships arrived at Basra, they had to be unloaded by small boats which then unloaded their cargo which was then stored in warehouses, which there were not enough of in Basra. Ships often sat for days waiting to be unloaded. Then supplies had to be sent north along the river in shallow draft river steamers because there were almost no roads north. Usually the amount of supplies being sent north was barely adequate to supply the forces in place. A plan to build a railway was rejected by the Indian Government in 1915, but after Kut it was approved. After the defeat at Kut, the British made a major effort to improve the ability to move men and equipment into theater, and keep them supplied. The port at Basra was greatly improved so that ships could be quickly unloaded. Good roads were built around Basra. Rest camps and supply dumps were created to receive men and material from the port. More and better river steamers were put into service moving supplies up river. New hospitals were also set up to better care for the sick and wounded. As a result, the British were able to bring more troops and equipment to the front lines and keep them properly supplied for a new offensive.

1917




The British refused to let this defeat stand and so the new commander, General Maude
Frederick Stanley Maude
Lieutenant General Sir Frederick Stanley Maude KCB, CMG, DSO was a British commander, most famous for his efforts in Mesopotamia during World War I and for conquering Baghdad in 1917.-Family:...

 was given additional reinforcements and equipment. For the next six months he trained and organized his army. At the same time, the Ottoman Sixth Army was growing weaker. Khalil Pasha received very few replacements, and ended up disbanding the weak 38th Division and used its soldiers as replacements for his other divisions, the 46th, 51st, 35th, and 52nd.

Maude's offensive was launched on 13 December 1916. The British advanced up both sides of the Tigris
Tigris
The Tigris River is the eastern member of the two great rivers that define Mesopotamia, the other being the Euphrates. The river flows south from the mountains of southeastern Turkey through Iraq.-Geography:...

 river, forcing the Ottoman army out of a number of fortified positions along the way. General Maude's offensive was methodical, organized, and successful. Khalil Pasha was able to concentrate most of his forces against Maude near Kut. However, Maude switched his advance to the other bank of the Tigris, bypassing most of the Ottoman forces. The Ottoman XVIII Corps escaped destruction only by fighting some desperate rear guard actions. It did lose quite a bit of equipment and supplies. The British occupied Kut and continued to advance up the Tigris.

By early March, the British were at the outskirts of Baghdad, and the Baghdad garrison, under the direct command of the Governor of Baghdad province Halil Kut (Khalil Pasha), tried to stop them on the Diyala river. General Maude outmanoeuvered the Ottoman forces, destroyed an Ottoman regiment and captured the Ottoman defensive positions. Khalil Pasha retreated in disarray out of the city. On 11 March 1917 the British entered Baghdad where they were greeted as liberators. The British Indian Army
British Indian Army
The British Indian Army, officially simply the Indian Army, was the principal army of the British Raj in India before the partition of India in 1947...

 played a significant role in the liberation of Baghdad. Amidst the confusion of the retreat a large part of the Ottoman army (some 15,000 soldiers) were captured. A week after the city fell, General Maude issued the oft-quoted Proclamation of Baghdad, which contained the famous line "our armies do not come into your cities and lands as conquerors or enemies, but as liberators".

Khalil Pasha withdrew his battered Sixth Army up river and established his headquarters in Mosul. He had about 30,000 total troops with which to oppose Maude. In April, he received the 2nd Infantry Division, but overall the Ottoman strategic position was bad in the spring of 1917. After the capture of Baghdad, Maude stopped his advance. He felt his supply lines were too long, conditions in the summer made campaigning difficult and he had been denied reinforcements he felt he needed.

General Maude died of cholera
Cholera
Cholera is an infection of the small intestine that is caused by the bacterium Vibrio cholerae. The main symptoms are profuse watery diarrhea and vomiting. Transmission occurs primarily by drinking or eating water or food that has been contaminated by the diarrhea of an infected person or the feces...

 on 18 November. He was replaced by General William Marshall who halted operations for the winter.

1918



The British resumed their offensive in late February 1918 capturing Hīt
Hīt
Hīt is an Iraqi city in Al-Anbar province. Hīt lies northwest of Ramadi, the provincial capital.On the Euphrates River, Hīt is a small walled town built on two mounds on the site of the ancient city of Is; bitumen wells in the vicinity have been utilized for at least 3,000 years and were used in...

 and Khan al Baghdadi
Action of Khan Baghdadi
The Action of Khan Baghdadi was an engagement during the Mesopotamian Campaign in World War I.The 15th Indian Division had been at Ramadi since its capture of the town in September 1917...

 in March, and Kifri
Kifri
Kifri is a town in Iraq and a seat of Kifri District. The district population was estimated at 42,010 in 2003 . Kurds form the majority of the population both in this town and in the District, which is currently part of Diyala Governorate...

 in April. For the rest of the 1918, the British had to move troops to the Sinai and Palestine Campaign
Sinai and Palestine Campaign
The Sinai and Palestine Campaigns took place in the Middle Eastern Theatre of World War I. A series of battles were fought between British Empire, German Empire and Ottoman Empire forces from 26 January 1915 to 31 October 1918, when the Armistice of Mudros was signed between the Ottoman Empire and...

 in support of the Battle of Megiddo
Battle of Megiddo (1918)
The Battle of Megiddo took place between 19 September and 1 October 1918, in what was then the northern part of Ottoman Palestine and parts of present-day Syria and Jordan...

. General Marshall moved some of the forces east in support of General Lionel Dunsterville
Lionel Dunsterville
General Lionel Charles Dunsterville CB, CSI was a British general, who led the so-called Dunsterforce across present-day Iraq and Iran towards Caucasus and oil-rich Baku.-Biography:...

's operations in Persia
Persian Campaign
The Persian Campaign or Invasion of Persia was a series of engagements at northern Persian Azerbaijan and western Persia between the British Empire and the Russian Empire against the Ottoman Empire, beginning in December 1914 and ending with the Armistice of Mudros on October 30, 1918 as part of...

 during the summer of 1918. His very powerful army was "astonishingly inactive, not only in the hot season but through most of the cold". The fight in Mesopotamia was not wanted anymore.

Armistice conditions between the Allies and the Ottoman Empire began negotiations with the turn of October. General Marshall, following instructions from the War Office
War Office
The War Office was a department of the British Government, responsible for the administration of the British Army between the 17th century and 1964, when its functions were transferred to the Ministry of Defence...

 that "every effort was to be made to score as heavily as possible on the Tigris before the whistle blew" went on the offensive for the last time. General Alexander Cobbe
Alexander Cobbe
General Sir Alexander Stanhope Cobbe VC GCB KCSI DSO was a recipient of the Victoria Cross, the highest and most prestigious award for gallantry in the face of the enemy that can be awarded to British and Commonwealth forces....

 commanded a British force from Baghdad on 23 October 1918. Within two days it covered 120 kilometers, reaching the Little Zab River
Little Zab
The Little Zab , , ) originates in Iran and joins the Tigris in Iraq. The river is approximately long and drains an area of c. . The river is fed by rainfall and snowmelt, resulting in a peak discharge in spring and low water in summer and early fall...

, where it expected to meet and engage the Ottoman Sixth Army operating under Ismail Hakki Bey. He fought a battle at the Battle of Sharqat
Battle of Sharqat
The Battle of Sharqat was between the British and the Ottoman Empire in the Mesopotamian Campaign in World War I, which became the final conflict that ended as a result of the signing of armistice....

, capturing nearly the entire Ottoman force.

Armistice of Mudros, October


On 30 October 1918, the Armistice of Mudros
Armistice of Mudros
The Armistice of Moudros , concluded on 30 October 1918, ended the hostilities in the Middle Eastern theatre between the Ottoman Empire and the Allies of World War I...

 was signed and both parties accepted their current positions. General Marshall accepted the surrender of Khalil Pasha and the Ottoman 6th Army at the same day. But Cobbe did not hold his current position as the armistice required, and continued to advance on Mosul
Mosul
Mosul , is a city in northern Iraq and the capital of the Ninawa Governorate, some northwest of Baghdad. The original city stands on the west bank of the Tigris River, opposite the ancient Assyrian city of Nineveh on the east bank, but the metropolitan area has now grown to encompass substantial...

 in the face of Turkish protests. British troops marched unopposed into Mosul on the 14 November 1918. The ownership of the Mosul Province
Mosul Province, Ottoman Empire
The Vilayet of Mosul was a vilayet of the Ottoman Empire. It was created from the northern sanjaks of the Vilayet of Baghdad in 1878.At the beginning of the 20th century it reportedly had an area of , while the preliminary results of the first Ottoman census of 1885 gave the population as 300,280...

 and its rich oil fields became an international issue.

The war in Mesopotamia was over on 14 November 1918. It was 15 days after the Armistice and one day after the occupation of Istanbul
Occupation of Istanbul
The Occupation of Constantinople was the occupation of the capital of the Ottoman Empire by the Triple Entente, following the Armistice of Mudros which ended Ottoman participation in the First World War. The first French troops entered the city on November 12, 1918, followed by British troops the...

.

Aftermath



With British Indian forces already on the ground, the British imported civil servants from India who had previous knowledge and experience on how the government of a colony is supposed to run. The expulsion of Ottomans from the region shook the centuries old power balance. Arabs who believed that the expulsion of the Ottomans would lead to greater independence and fought against the Ottoman forces along the Allies faced another dilemma. They were disappointed with the arguments regarding the establishment of British Mandate of Mesopotamia.

Three important anticolonial secret societies had been formed in the region during 1918 and 1919. At Najaf
Najaf
Najaf is a city in Iraq about 160 km south of Baghdad. Its estimated population in 2008 is 560,000 people. It is the capital of Najaf Governorate...

, Jamiyat an Nahda al Islamiya (The League of the Islamic Awakening) was organized. Al Jamiya al Wataniya al Islamiya (The Muslim National League) was formed with the object of organizing and mobilizing the population for major resistance. In February 1919, in Baghdad
Baghdad
Baghdad is the capital of Iraq, as well as the coterminous Baghdad Governorate. The population of Baghdad in 2011 is approximately 7,216,040...

, a coalition of Shia
Shi'a Islam
Shia Islam is the second largest denomination of Islam. The followers of Shia Islam are called Shi'ites or Shias. "Shia" is the short form of the historic phrase Shīʻatu ʻAlī , meaning "followers of Ali", "faction of Ali", or "party of Ali".Like other schools of thought in Islam, Shia Islam is...

 merchants, Sunni
Sunni Islam
Sunni Islam is the largest branch of Islam. Sunni Muslims are referred to in Arabic as ʾAhl ūs-Sunnah wa āl-Ǧamāʿah or ʾAhl ūs-Sunnah for short; in English, they are known as Sunni Muslims, Sunnis or Sunnites....

 teachers and civil servants, Sunni and Shia ulama
Ulama
-In Islam:* Ulema, also transliterated "ulama", a community of legal scholars of Islam and its laws . See:**Nahdlatul Ulama **Darul-uloom Nadwatul Ulama **Jamiatul Ulama Transvaal**Jamiat ul-Ulama -Other:...

, and Iraqi officers formed the Haras al Istiqlal (the Guardians of Independence
Guardians of Independence
The Guardians of Independence were a secretive, clandestine political group established in early 1919 to oppose the British occupation of Iraq following World War I. Jafar abu al-Timman was its main organizer and leader...

). The Istiqlal
Istiqlal
-Political parties:*Istiqlal Party, the Hizb al-istiqlāl or Independence Party, political party in Morocco*Hizb al-Istiqlal, or Independence Party , Arab political party under the British Mandate of Palestine...

 had member groups in Karbala
Karbala
Karbala is a city in Iraq, located about southwest of Baghdad. Karbala is the capital of Karbala Governorate, and has an estimated population of 572,300 people ....

, Najaf, Kut
Kut
Al-Kūt is a city in eastern Iraq, on the left bank of the Tigris River, about 160 kilometres south east of Baghdad. the estimated population is about 374,000 people...

, and Hillah. The British were in a precarious situation with the Issue of Mosul. They were adopting almost desperate measures to protect their interests. The Iraqi revolt against the British
Iraqi revolt against the British
The Iraqi Revolt against the British , or the Great Iraqi Revolution of 1920, started in Baghdad in the summer of 1920 with mass demonstrations of both Sunni and Shia, including protests by embittered officers from the old Ottoman army, against the policies of British Acting Civil Commissioner Sir...

 developed just after they declared their authority. It was put down by the RAF Iraq Command
RAF Iraq Command
Iraq Command was the RAF commanded inter-service command in charge of British forces in Iraq in the 1920s and early 1930s, during the period of the British Mandate of Mesopotamia. It continued as British Forces in Iraq until 1941 when it was replaced by AHQ Iraq...

 during the summer of 1920.

The Ottoman parliament
Second Constitutional Era (Ottoman Empire)
The Second Constitutional Era of the Ottoman Empire began shortly after Sultan Abdülhamid II restored the constitutional monarchy after the 1908 Young Turk Revolution. The period established many political groups...

 mostly accepted the cession of the region, but they had a different view on the issue of Mosul. They declared the Misak-ı Milli
Misak-i Millî
Misak-ı Millî is the set of six important decisions made by the last term of the Ottoman Parliament. Parliament met on 28 January 1920 and published their decisions on 12 February 1920...

.
Misak-ı Milli stated that the Mosul Province was a part of their heartland, based on a common past, history, concept of morals and laws. Presumably, from a British perspective, if Mustafa Kemal Atatürk
Mustafa Kemal Atatürk
Mustafa Kemal Atatürk was an Ottoman and Turkish army officer, revolutionary statesman, writer, and the first President of Turkey. He is credited with being the founder of the Republic of Turkey....

 succeeded in securing the stability in his efforts to establish Republic of Turkey, he would have turned his attention to recovering Mosul and penetrate into Mesopotamia, where the native population would probably join him. The British Foreign Secretary attempted to disclaim any existence of oil in the Mosul area. On 23 January 1923, Lord Curzon argued that the existence of oil was no more than hypothetical. However, according to Armstrong, "England wanted oil. Mosul and Kurds were the key."

Casualties


The British and the British Indian Army forces lost 92,000 soldiers in the Mesopotamian campaign. Ottoman losses are unknown but the British captured a total of 45,000 prisoners of war. By the end of 1918 the British had deployed 410,000 men into the area though only 112,000 of them were combat troops. The vast majority of the British empire forces in this campaign were recruited from India.

Battles of the campaign

  • Fao Landing
    Fao Landing
    The Fao Landing occurred on November 6, 1914 and the Battle of Fao Fortress on November 8, 1914 with British forces attacking the Ottoman Fortress of Fao. The British successfully took the fort.- Background :...

  • Fall of Basra
    Battle of Basra (1914)
    The Battle of Basra was a battle of World War I which took place south of the city of Basra between British and Ottoman troops from November 11th to November 21st, 1914. The battle resulted in the British capture of Basra.-Background:...

  • Battle of Qurna
    Battle of Qurna
    The Battle of Qurna, was between British forces and Ottoman forces that had retreated from Basra, which they lost at the Battle of Basra during the Mesopotamian campaign of World War I.-Background:...

  • Battle of Shaiba
    Battle of Shaiba
    The Battle of Shaiba, 12–14 April 1915 was between British forces and Ottoman forces that were trying to retake the city of Basra from the British.-Background:...

  • Battle of Es Sinn
    Battle of Es Sinn
    The Battle of Es Sinn was a military engagement during the Mesopotamian Campaign of World War I. The battle was fought to determine control of the lower Tigris and Euphrates rivers in what is now Iraq. It was also viewed, by the British and Indian governments, as a test of the Ottoman forces and...

  • Battle of Ctesiphon
    Battle of Ctesiphon (1915)
    The Battle of Ctesiphon was fought in November 1915 by the British Empire and British India, against the Ottoman Empire, within the Mesopotamian Campaign of World War I....

  • Siege of Kut
    Siege of Kut
    The siege of Kut Al Amara , was the besieging of 8,000 strong British-Indian garrison in the town of Kut, 100 miles south of Baghdad, by the Ottoman Army. Its known also as 1st Battle of Kut. In 1915, its population was around 6,500...

     
    Attempts to Relieve Kut:
    • Battle of Sheikh Sa'ad
      Battle of Sheikh Sa'ad
      The Battle of Sheikh Sa'ad occurred between 6–8 January 1916 during the Mesopotamian Campaign of the First World War. The battle took place along the banks of the Tigris River between the Anglo-Indian Tigris Corps and elements of the Ottoman Sixth Army...

    • Battle of the Wadi
    • Battle of Hanna
      Battle of Hanna
      The First Battle of Hanna was a World War I battle fought on the Mesopotamian front on 21 January 1916 between Ottoman Army and Anglo-Indian forces.-Prelude:...

    • Battle of Dujaila Redoubt
    • First Battle of Kut
  • Second Battle of Kut
    Second Battle of Kut
    The Second Battle of Kut was fought on February 23, 1917, between British and Ottoman forces at Kut, Mesopotamia .The battle was part of the British advance to Baghdad begun in December 1916 by a 50,000-man British force organized in two army corps.The British, led by Frederick Stanley Maude,...

  • Fall of Baghdad
    Fall of Baghdad (1917)
    The British Indian Army fought the Ottoman Empire in the First World War. On 11 March 1917, after a series of defeats, it captured Baghdad after a two-year campaign.-Arrival of General Sir Frederick Stanley Maude:...

  • Samarrah Offensive
    Samarrah Offensive
    The Samarrah Offensive was launched by the British against the Ottomans as part of the Mesopotamian Campaign in World War I....

  • Battle of Jebel Hamlin
  • Battle of Istabulat
  • Battle of Ramadi
  • Action of Khan Baghdadi
    Action of Khan Baghdadi
    The Action of Khan Baghdadi was an engagement during the Mesopotamian Campaign in World War I.The 15th Indian Division had been at Ramadi since its capture of the town in September 1917...

  • Battle of Sharqat
    Battle of Sharqat
    The Battle of Sharqat was between the British and the Ottoman Empire in the Mesopotamian Campaign in World War I, which became the final conflict that ended as a result of the signing of armistice....


See also

  • Ottoman Empire
    Ottoman Empire
    The Ottoman EmpireIt was usually referred to as the "Ottoman Empire", the "Turkish Empire", the "Ottoman Caliphate" or more commonly "Turkey" by its contemporaries...

  • Dissolution of the Ottoman Empire
    Dissolution of the Ottoman Empire
    The Dissolution of the Ottoman Empire included the watershed events of the Young Turk Revolution and the establishment of the Second Constitutional Era, and ended with the Partitioning of the Ottoman Empire by the victorious sides of World War I.- Establishment of the Second Constitutional Era, 24...

  • Tanzimat
    Tanzimat
    The Tanzimât , meaning reorganization of the Ottoman Empire, was a period of reformation that began in 1839 and ended with the First Constitutional Era in 1876. The Tanzimât reform era was characterized by various attempts to modernize the Ottoman Empire, to secure its territorial integrity against...

  • II Constitutional Era in the Ottoman Empire
  • Young Turks
    Young Turks
    The Young Turks , from French: Les Jeunes Turcs) were a coalition of various groups favouring reformation of the administration of the Ottoman Empire. The movement was against the absolute monarchy of the Ottoman Sultan and favoured a re-installation of the short-lived Kanûn-ı Esâsî constitution...


External links