- Paperback: 366 pages
- Publisher: Mayflower (1969)
- Language: English
- ASIN: B004MKC4DU
- Average Customer Review: 3.3 out of 5 stars See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
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The Siege: The Full Horrifying Account of the Kut Disaster Paperback – 1969
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Britain's involvement in Mesopotamia (Iraq) mixed inertia and ambition. At the impetus of India's government, troops captured the oil fields around Basra in fall 1914. This action resulted in few casualties and secured vital resources for the British military. But these easy victories encouraged Indian officials to dream bigger: Viceroy Beauchamp even envisioned Mesopotamia as a potential colony. In late 1915, General John Nixon planned an offensive towards Baghdad, in service of prestige rather than military necessity. "Nowhere, in any of the Allied theaters of war, was there glimmer of hope: except, perhaps at Baghdad" (82).
Enter Major General Charles Townshend. Descended from Field Marshal George Townshend, Wolfe's second-in-command at Quebec, Townshend was a gallant soldier but a ceaseless climber. He served with distinction in the Sudan, but was best-known for defending the Northwest Frontier post at Chitral in 1895. This small but dramatic victory won him a Victoria Cross and an audience with the Queen. The attendant fame fed Townshend's already healthy ego; "Chitral Charlie" incessantly badgered superiors for high command, styling himself an expert on military strategy. "Restless, ruthless, highly professional and loyal only to his own relentlessly driving ambitions" (30), Townshend finally won wartime appointment to the 6th Indian Division.Read more ›
Charles Townshend was a Major General who took his division and managed to be victorious in some battles with the Ottoman Turks in Iraq. His battle tactics were pretty good. When he retreated, he holed up in a small river town of Kut el Amarah, and waited for a British force to relieve him. During this time, he showed little activity, and basically consumed his fuel and ammunition. After four months, he surrendered when it was apparent the relief forces could not break in. Thousands of his soldiers died in the march into captivity, and the POW camps.
Townshend spent the rest of the war in a villa while his soldiers died in captivity. He wanted promotion to LG, but was not considered by the British or Indian Armies.
I liked this book, and the criticism of Nixon and Townshend. Both were in over their heads in this battle, and it showed in the result of 13,000 men going into captivity. The author shows tha Townshend was constantly scheming for higher rank, and didn't serve the function of looking out for his soldiers. A nice read.