Ends and Means: The British Mesopotamian Campaign and Commission

Ends and Means: The British Mesopotamian Campaign and Commission

by Paul Davis




Indian Expeditionary Force D landed at the head of the Persian Gulf on 7 November 1914 and quickly gained control of the area around Basra. Since the British army was already involved in drawn-out trench warfare in France, and the outlook there was far from bright, it seemed odd that the British government would commit troops to another campaign. The traditionally accepted rationale behind this move has been the protection of oil supplies used by the Royal Navy - but the campaign veered seriously away from its original intent. What followed was perhaps the finest example of blind political ambition in wartime. In April 1915, another division was added to Force D; and its new commander, General Sir John Nixon, arrived in Mesopotamia with orders to protect the oil supply, establish British control in the province of Basra, and prepare plans for a possible future offensive on Baghdad. The campaign against the Turks was a model of daring and sacrifice in the Middle Eastern desert. Successive victories encouraged the authorities in India to expand the campaign to aim at Baghdad. At this point the campaign was doomed to failure. The lack of direction, policy, and cooperation between Nixon, India, and London resulted in the total lack of a suitable logistic framework in Mesopotamia. An unwitting conspiracy of hesitant and uninformed leaders in London, greedy politicians in India, and aggressive "men on the spot" brought about the longest siege in British history and one of the great military disasters of this century. The appalling suffering and loss of the 6th Indian Division provoked such a public outcry in Britain that the government was obliged to institute a parliamentary investigation. The resulting Mesopotamia Commission rocked the nation and the government alike. This book probes the rationale behind the British interest in the Middle East, the invasion of Mesopotamia, the successes that drove the political aspirations higher, and the brilliance of the leaders

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780838635308
Publisher: Fairleigh Dickinson University Press
Publication date: 08/01/1994
Pages: 279
Product dimensions: 6.50(w) x 1.50(h) x 9.50(d)

Table of Contents

List of Maps9
Author's Note11
1Background - Constantinople15
2Background - Mesopotamia31
3Opening Moves49
4Consolidation of the Basra Vilayet69
5The de Bunsen Committee and the Sykes-Picot Agreement96
6The Decision to Advance to Baghdad112
7The Siege of Kut Al Amara139
8The Mesopotamian Commission173
9The Commission's Report208

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