Kut’ül Amare, announced by Halil Pasha after the surrender of the British troops on April 29, 1916, with the mention “History will have difficulty finding the words to write this event. Here we see the first victory at Çanakkale, where Ottoman perseverance shattered British stubbornness, and here we see the second victory.” Celebrating the 106th anniversary of his victory.
The Battle of Kut’ül Amare, which resulted in the decisive victory of the Turkish army on the Iraqi front on April 29, 1916, is considered one of the major battles of the First World War. This victory, won by the surrender of British troops under the command of Major General Charles Vere Ferrers Townshend, is the “greatest victory” of the First World War after the Dardanelles.
Military documents, sketches and commanders’ correspondence relating to the Battle of Kut’ül Amare in the General Staff archives illuminate many details of the victory achieved by the surrender of the 13,300 strong British army .
British troops captured
According to information compiled from data from the Department of Military History and Strategic Studies of the General Staff (ATASE), the Battle of Kut al Amara, described by British historian James Morris as “the despicable in British military history”, unfolded in the eastern part of Iraq near the town of Kut on the banks of the Tigris. It began with the siege of the British and their allies stationed there, and ended with the capture of the city by the Ottoman army and the capture of all British troops.
As the British 6th Division under Major General Townshend advanced towards Baghdad, it lost the Battle of Salman Pak on 22–23 November 1915 and retreated and took refuge in the town of Kut on 3 December. On the orders of Marshal Colmar Freiherr von der Goltz Pasha, appointed to command the 6th Army, the troops of Colonel Sakallı Nurettin Pasha, commander of Iraq and its surroundings, besieged Kut on December 27.
The British attacked with the Tigris Corps under General Aylmer to save Kut, but withdrew after losing 4,000 troops in the Battle of Sheikh Saad on 6 January. In this battle, the 9th Corps commander Miralay Nurettin Pasha, who ordered the Turkish army to “stand down”, was removed from his post and Halil Pasha was replaced.
The British Army was repulsed with the loss of 1,600 troops at the Battle of the Valley on 13 January 1916 and 2,700 at the Battle of Hannah on 21 January 1916. Attacking again in early March, the British attacked the 13th corps under the command of Colonel Ali İhsan Bey at Sabis on March 8, 1916, but withdrew after losing 3,500 troops. Because of this defeat, General Aylmer was fired. Halil Pasha, appointed commander of the 6th Army in the place of Marshal Colmar Freiherr von der Goltz Pasha, who died of typhus in his headquarters in Baghdad on April 19, 1916, took command of the British armies under the command of General Charles Townshend on the 29 april.
MONEY OFFER FROM BRITISH PRISONERS
According to military documents, Halil Pasha sent a telegram to the Ottoman General Staff, informing him that the British commander Townshend, whom he had met in front of the trenches, offered to “let him go to India with his army of 13,300 men in exchange for £1million” and asked for the state order on the matter.
In the response of the Ottoman General Staff to Halil Pasha, “We don’t have to do things that would please the British politically, nor do we need money. Only Major General Townshend is personally authorized to surrender the army completely. No other conditions can be accepted.” statements have been included.
In another letter sent by the Ottoman General Staff, “Major General Townshend can go where he wants if he goes with his army and promises not to take any hostile action against the Turkish army during the war”. specified.
This order was reported to Major General Townshend by Halil Pasha. Townshend in the telegram he sent to Halil Pasha said: “I only want one thing and that is for you to ask Enver Pasha to be transferred to Istanbul with my help and 3 commanders after the surrender of the city. I will be very grateful if it is allowed.” mentioned.
BRITISH COMMANDER: READY TO DELIVER MY SOLDIERS
Major General Charles Vere Ferrers Townshend, in the letter he sent to Halil Pasha during the siege, stated that he was ready to surrender his army and used the following expressions:
“Your Excellency, hunger compels us to lay down our arms. His Excellency has said, ‘Your brave soldiers will be our sincere and valued guests.’ Based on your words, I am ready to deliver my heroic soldiers to you. Treat my soldiers well as they carry out their assigned task. You saw my soldiers at the battle of Selmanpark, during the retreat and during the siege of Kut’ül Amare which lasted five months. You appreciated the way my soldiers carried out their duties. Military history will specifically confirm this issue. Once the necessary conditions have been met, I am ready to come to your headquarters and deliver Kut’ül Amare. However, I request and hope that you expedite the delivery of supplies. I suggest you visit my hospital and see that some of my soldiers there are without arms and feet, and some are sick and weak. I guess you’re not ready to take them prisoners of war. I think the best way for them would be to send the wounded to India.”
In his letter, Major General Townshend said he would visit Istanbul and then London after his surrender and congratulated Halil Pasha on his victory.
Meanwhile, in a message he sent to British European Forces Headquarters, Townshend said a Turkish regiment was approaching the town to take guard at Kut, raised the white flag over the castle and town, and that they would destroy the radio. with some documents, and at the end of his message, “To all ships of Kut and goodbye to the stations and good luck to all.” added the note.
THE OTTOMAN FLAG IS SEWN
6th Army Deputy Commander Halil Pasha sent a message to Enver Pasha on April 16, “Mahsur Major General Townshend, I present to you that we began to take charge of your army as a prisoner of war this morning and I congratulate you on your supreme success.” gave his statement on the ground.
In another message he sent to the Deputy Commander-in-Chief, Halil Pasha said that the British soldiers, who surrendered destroying their weapons at night, began to be taken prisoners of war from the morning, and said :
“I did not receive Major General Townshend’s sword and promised that he, his assistant and 3 servants would be transferred to Dersaadet as prisoners of war. The captives were 5 generals, 277 British officers, 274 Indian soldiers and 3,400 non-combatants, totaling 13,300 -odd.The police will be sent to Baghdad, and efrad to Samarra to be dispatched there.
After the siege, which ended in a decisive Turkish victory, the commander of the 3rd regiment, Major Nazmi, planted the Ottoman flag on the government office in Kut and the regimental flag on the headquarters of the major general Townsend.
In a message sent to the Ottoman General Staff regarding the course of the war, it was stated that “the British army, which was trapped at Kut’ül Amare, which was besieged by our heroic soldiers for about five months, must finally return the army to Hümayun”, the following information was given:
“Finally, the British once again took up the lessons and experience they had at Çanakkale. They realized that they could not break the Ottoman resistance and they could not take the spoils from the Ottomans. Their attacks ceased. This time the British attempted to resupply the besieged fortress. First they launched sacks of flour with planes. The Ottoman weapon also shattered this hope. Our warplanes succeeded in silencing these grocery planes one by one.
The enemy has found another solution. Taking advantage of the darkness of the night by boat, they attempted to enter the squall. Our heroic soldiers, always on the alert, immediately confiscated this ferry loaded with hundreds of tons of food. There was no longer any hope of salvation for Major General Townshend. On April 13, Major General Townshend appealed to the commander of our Iraqi army and declared that he was ready to surrender Kut’ül Amara on the condition that he be allowed to leave freely with his army. They were told they had no choice but to surrender unconditionally. This time, the British commander proposes a new rule. As if he did not know the superior and absolute victorious position of our army, he thought he could defeat the Ottoman commanders with money and offered to deliver all their artillery and present 1 million lira. The same answer was given. Eventually, the desperate Major General Townshend handed over the entire British army at Kut’ül Amare to the victorious Ottoman commander.
After the victory Halil Pasha in his message to the 6th Army said:
“To my army: Lions, honor and glory to all Ottomans, as the souls of our martyrs fly for joy in the sunny skies of this hot land which is a black square to the Britons, I congratulate you all with a kiss for their pure fronts. officers and 10,000 soldiers were martyred. However, today I take the surrender of 13 generals, 481 officers and 13,000 soldiers in Kut. The British forces, who came to save this army that we have returned, came back with 30,000 “The difference is amazing. History will struggle to find words to describe this event. Here we see the first victory at Çanakkale, where ‘Ottoman perseverance broke British stubbornness’, and here we see the second victory.”
18th Corps Commander Miralay Kazım Karabekir said in his letter of order that he used the phrase “Thank God Almighty for blessing us with such a victory that our history has not been remembered for two hundred years”.
“The greatest glory and honor of this victory is that for the first time in British history, the Turkish bayonet has recorded such an event. Let us recite Fatiha, Blessings and Yasins to our martyrs tonight. Veterans embrace, embrace. May they congratulate you. On the occasion of the Kut al Amara holiday today, I embrace your brows pure and high with respect and sincerity.