The Siege of Kut-al-Amara

The Siege of Kut-al-Amara

At War in Mesopotamia, 1915-1916
Gardner, Nikolas
Distribution: World
Publication date: 09/16/2014
Format: Hardback 9 maps
ISBN: 978-0-253-01384-2
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Description

Kut-al-Amara was the site of one of the longest sieges ever endured by British forces. On December 3, 1915, the 6th Indian Division under Charles Townshend sought refuge from pursuing Turkish forces inside the walled town. With no heavy artillery to destroy fortifications, the Turks circled the town, subjecting it to intermittent shelling, small arms fire, and infantry attacks. British relief units made repeated attempts to break through the Turkish lines. Meanwhile, within Kut-al-Amara a different sort of war was going on. Townshend's division was made up of Muslim sepoys, who had misgivings about fighting the Turks. Not only were the Turks fellow Muslims but they served the Ottoman Sultan, recognized by many as the Caliph, the spiritual and temporal head of Islam. The Turks played upon this potentially divided loyalty with a propaganda campaign intended to encourage desertion. Then, when a shortage of food forced the garrison to supplement its rations with horsemeat, Muslim and Hindu soldiers were faced with violating dietary restrictions in order to survive. For British officers, prolonging the defense of Kut was complicated by the need to combat disaffection and starvation among the Indian rank and file. A significant event in the British campaign in Mesopotamia, the Siege of Kut-al-Amara offers important insights into Britain’s imperial army and its role in the Middle East during World War I.

Author Bio

Nikolas Gardner is Associate Professor and Co-Chair of the War Studies program at the Royal Military College of Canada in Kingston, Ontario.

Reviews

Gardner, among the most promising of a new generation of military historians, has written a significant, archival-based analysis of the siege and of the use of the Indian Army on a large scale in a modern, non-European campaign [which] should cast useful insights on the pre-history of today’s troubled Iraq.

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Table of Contents

Preface
1. Charles Townshend and His Army: 6 Indian Division in the Fall of 1915
2. Townshend's Advance on Baghdad: September-November 1915
3. Retreat from Ctesiphon: 25 November-7 December
4. Outset of the Siege: December 1915
5. Operations of the Relief Force, January 1916
6. Deprivation and Defeat: February-March 1916
7. Innovation, Starvation and Surrender, April 1916
Conclusion
Notes
Bibliography
Index

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