Primary Documents - Sir Frederick Maude on Operations Leading to the Fall of Baghdad, December 1916-March 1917

British Commander Sir Frederick Maude Reproduced below is Sir Frederick Maude's official despatch detailing British Army operations in Mesopotamia between December 1916 and March 1917 leading to the capture of Baghdad on 11 March 1917.

Appointed by the Chief of the Imperial General Staff in London, Sir William Robertson, in the wake of the earlier disaster at Kut, Maude's instructions were brief and somewhat unusual: effectively to hold his existing line and to do nothing.  In particular Robertson was emphatic that Maude should not make demands for resources otherwise intended for the Western Front.

A cautious and consistent rather than spectacular commander, Maude nevertheless led his forces in a series of victories up the Tigris, beginning with the Second Battle of Kut and leading to the capture of Baghdad.

Ironically the British - and Robertson in London - found themselves a victim of their own success.  Maude's continuing unbroken run of victories ensured that no scaling down of operations in Mesopotamia could feasibly be considered as Maude's reputation grew in the Muslim world.

Thus British operations were widened to stem threats from Turk forces on the Euphrates, Diyala and Tigris rivers.  Following success at Baghdad, April 1917 saw Maude triumph again, at Samarrah, and he continued his offensive at Ramadi and Tikrit before calamity struck in early November 1917.

Struck down with cholera, probably via contaminated milk (rather than by poisoning as was speculated by some at the time), Maude died on 18 November 1917 and was replaced by General William Marshall.

Click here to read the official Austro-German report detailing the British capture of Baghdad, written by Dr Gaston Bodart.  Click here to read the war reporter Edmund Candler's account of the reaction of the people of Baghdad to the city's fall.

Sir Frederick Maude on Operations Leading to the Fall of Baghdad, December 1916-March 1917

Briefly put, the enemy's plan appeared to be to contain our main forces on the Tigris, while a vigorous campaign, which would directly threaten India, was being developed in Persia.  There were indications, too, of an impending move down the Euphrates toward Nasariyeh.

It seemed clear from the outset that the true solution of the problem was a resolute offensive, with concentrated forces, on the Tigris, thus effectively threatening Baghdad, the centre from which the enemy's columns were operating.

At the beginning of December the enemy still occupied the same positions on the Tigris front which he had held during the summer, and it was decided first to secure possession of the Hai River; secondly, to clear the Turkish trench systems still remaining on the right bank of the Tigris; thirdly, to sap the enemy's strength by constant attacks, and give him no rest; fourthly, to compel him to give up the Sannaiyat position, or in default of that to extend his attenuated forces more and more to counter our strokes against his communications; and, lastly, to cross the Tigris at the weakest part of his line as far west as possible, and so sever his communications.

The Hai position was seized with little difficulty in the middle of December, but the clearing of the Khadairi Bend, which was undertaken on January 6th, involved severe hand-to-hand fighting, and it was not until January 19th that the enemy, who had suffered heavy losses, was finally driven out.

On January 11th, while Lieut.-Gen. Cobbe was still engaged in clearing the Khadairi Bend, Lieut.-Gen. Marshall commenced preparations for the reduction of the Ilai salient - the extensive trench system which the Turks held astride the Hai River near its junction with the Tigris, and for a fortnight we gained ground steadily in face of strong opposition, until, on the 24th, our trenches were within 400 yards of the enemy's front line.

On the 25th the enemy's front line astride the Hai was captured on a frontage of about 1,800 yards.  On the eastern (or left) bank our troops extended their success to the Turkish second line, and consolidated and held all ground won in spite of counter-attacks during the day and following night.  The enemy lost heavily, both from our bombardment and in violent hand-to-hand encounters.

On the western (or right) bank the task was a severe one.  The trench system was elaborate, and offered facilities for counter-attack.  The enemy was in considerable strength on this bank, and guns and machine guns in skilfully concealed positions enfiladed our advance.

On February 3rd the Devons and a Ghurka battalion carried the enemy's first and second lines, and a series of counter-attacks by the Turks, which continued up till dark, withered away under our shrapnel and machine-gun fire.  Our troops east of the Hai cooperated with machine-gun and rifle fire, and two-counter-attacks by the enemy on the left bank of the Hai during the day were satisfactorily disposed of.

In the evening there were indications that he was contemplating withdrawal to the right bank, and by daybreak on the 4th the whole of the left bank had passed into our possession.

During this period the splendid fighting qualities of the infantry were well seconded by the bold support rendered by the artillery, and by the ceaseless work carried out by the Royal Flying Corps.  These operations had again resulted in heavy losses to the enemy, as testified to by the dead found, and many prisoners - besides, arms, ammunition, equipment, and stores - had been taken, while the Turks now only retained a fast vanishing hold on the right bank of the Tigris.

February 6th to 8th were days of preparation, but continuous pressure on the enemy was maintained day and night.  On the ninth the liquorice factory was bombarded, and simultaneously the King's Own effected a lodgement in the centre of the enemy's line, thereafter gaining ground rapidly forward and to both flanks.

Repeated attacks by the enemy's bombers met with no success, and two attempted counter-attacks were quickly suppressed by our artillery.  Further west the Worcesters, working toward Yusufiyah and west of that place, captured some advanced posts, trenches and prisoners, and established a line within 2,500 yards of the Tigris at the southern end of the Shumran Bend.

On February 3rd the Devons and a Ghurkha battalion west of the liquorice factory, who had been subjected all night to repeated bombing attacks, began early to extend our hold on the enemy's front line.  This movement was followed by a bombardment directed against machine guns located at Kut and along the left bank of the Tigris, which were bringing a galling fire to bear against our right.

During this the Buffs and a Ghurkha battalion dashed forward, and, joining hands with the King's Own on their left, the whole line advanced northward.  As communication trenches did not exist, any movement was necessarily across the open, and was subject to a hot fire from concealed machine guns on the left bank, but, in spite of this, progress was made all along the front to depths varying from 300 to 2,000 yards, our success compelling the enemy to evacuate the liquorice factory.

He withdrew to an inner line, approximately two and a half miles long, across the Dahra Bend, with advanced posts strongly held, and was finally enclosed in the Dahra Bend by February 13th.

An attack against the enemy's right centre offered the best prospects of success, and this involved the construction of trenches and approaches for the accommodation of troops destined for the assault.  Early on February 15th the Loyal North Lancashires captured a strong point opposite our left, which enfiladed the approaches to the enemy's right and centre, the retiring Turks losing heavily from our machine-gun fire.

An hour later the enemy's extreme left was subjected to a short bombardment and feint attack.  This caused the enemy to disclose his barrage in front of our right, and indicated that our constant activity on this part of his front had been successful in making him, believe that our main attack would be made against that part of his line.

Shortly after the Royal Welsh Fusiliers and South Wales Borderers carried the enemy's right centre in dashing style on a front of 700 yards, and extended their success by bombing to a depth of 500 yards on a frontage of 1,000 yards, taking many prisoners.  Several half-hearted counter-attacks ensued, which were crushed by our artillery and machine guns, and it became evident that the enemy had strengthened his left and could not transfer troops back to his centre on account of our barrage.

A little later the enemy's left centre was captured by the Buffs and Dogras, and, pushing on in a north-easterly direction to the bank of the Tigris, they isolated the enemy's extreme left, where about 1,000 Turks surrendered.

By nightfall the only resistance was from some trenches in the right rear of the position, covering about a mile of the Tigris bank, from which the enemy were trying to escape across the river, and it had been intended to clear these remaining trenches by a combined operation during the night; but two companies of a Ghurkha battalion, acting on their own initiative, obtained a footing in them and took 98 prisoners.  By the morning of the 16th they had completed their task, having taken 264 more prisoners.  The total number of prisoners taken on the 15th and 16th was 2,005, and the Dahra Bend was cleared of the enemy.

Thus terminated a phase of severe fighting, brilliantly carried out. To eject the enemy from this horseshoe bend, bristling with trenches and commanded from across the river on three sides by hostile batteries and machine guns, called for offensive qualities of a high standard on the part of the troops.  That such good results were achieved was due to the heroism and determination of the infantry, and to the close and ever-present support rendered by the artillery, whose accurate fire was assisted by efficient airplane observation.

The enemy had now, after two months of strenuous fighting, been driven entirely from the right bank of the Tigris in the neighbourhood of Kut.  He still held, however, a very strong position, defensively, in that it was protected from Sannaiyat to Shumran by the Tigris, which also afforded security to his communications running along the left bank of that river.

The successive lines at Sannaiyat, which had been consistently strengthened for nearly a year, barred the way on a narrow front to an advance on our part along the left bank, while north of Sannaiyat the Suwaikieh Marsh and the Marsh of Jessan rendered the Turks immune from attack from the north.

On the other hand, we had, by the application of constant pressure to the vicinity of Shumran, where the enemy's battle line and communications met, compelled him so to weaken and expand his front that his attenuated forces were found to present vulnerable points, if these could be ascertained.  The moment then seemed ripe to cross the river and commence conclusions with the enemy on the left bank.

To effect this it was important that his attention should be engaged about Sannaiyat and along the river line between Sannaiyat and Kut, whilst the main stroke was being prepared and delivered as far west as possible.

While Lieut.-Gen. Marshall's force was engaged in the Dahra Bend, Lieut.-Gen. Cobbe maintained constant activity along the Sannaiyat front, and as soon as the right bank had been cleared orders were issued for Sannaiyat to be attacked on February 17th.

The sodden condition of the ground, consequent on heavy rain during the preceding day and night, hampered final preparations, but the first and second lines, on a frontage of about 400 yards, were captured by a surprise assault with little loss.  Before the captured trenches, however, could be consolidated they were subjected to heavy fire from artillery and trench mortars, and were strongly counter-attacked by the enemy.

The first counter-attack was dispersed, but the second regained for the enemy his lost ground, except on the river bank, where a party of Ghurkhas maintained themselves until dusk, and were then withdrawn.  The waterlogged state of the country and a high flood on the Tigris now necessitated a pause, but the time was usefully employed in methodical preparation for the passage of the Tigris about Shumran.

On February 22nd the Seaforths and a Punjabi battalion assaulted Sannaiyat, with the same objective as on the 17th.  The enemy were again taken by surprise, and our losses were slight.  A series of counter-attacks followed, and the first three were repulsed without difficulty.  The fourth drove back our left, but the Punjabis, reinforced by an Indian Rifle battalion and assisted by the fire of the Seaforths, who were still holding the Turkish trenches on the right front, re-established their position.

Two more counterattacks which followed were defeated.  As soon as the captured position had been consolidated two frontier force regiments assaulted the trenches still held by the enemy in prolongation of, and to the north of, those already occupied by us. A counter-attack forced our right back temporarily, but the situation was restored by the arrival of reinforcements, and by nightfall we were in secure occupation of the first two lines of Sannaiyat.  The brilliant tenacity of the Seaforths throughout this day deserves special mention.

Feints in connection with the passage of the Tigris were made on the night of the 22nd-23rd opposite Kut and at Magasis, respectively.  Opposite Kut preparations for bridging the Tigris opposite the liquorice factory, under cover of a bombardment of Kut, were made furtively in daylight, and every detail, down to the erection of observation ladders, was provided for.

The result was, as afterward ascertained, that the enemy moved infantry and guns into the Kut peninsula, and these could not be retransferred to the actual point of crossing in time to be of any use.  The feint at Magasis consisted of a raid across the river, made by a detachment of Punjabis, assisted by parties of sappers and miners and of the Sikh Pioneers.  This bold raid was successfully carried out with trifling loss, and the detachment returned with a captured trench mortar.

The site selected for the passage of the Tigris was at the south end of the Shumran Bend, where the bridge was to be thrown, and three ferrying places were located immediately downstream of this point.  Just before daybreak on February 23rd the three ferries began to work.  The first trip at the ferry immediately below the bridge site, where the Norfolks crossed, was a complete surprise, and five machine guns and some 300 prisoners were captured.

Two battalions of Ghurkhas who were using the two lower ferries, were met by a staggering fire before they reached the left bank but in spite of losses in men and pontoons they pressed on gallantly and effected a landing.  The two downstream ferries were soon under such heavy machine-gun fire that they had to be closed, and all ferrying was subsequently carried on by means of the upstream ferry.

By 7.30 a.m. about three companies of the Norfolks and some 150 of the Ghurkhas were on the left bank.  The enemy's artillery became increasingly active, but was vigorously engaged by ours, and the construction of the bridge commenced.  The Norfolks pushed rapidly upstream on the left bank, taking many prisoners, while our machine guns on the right bank, west of the Shumran Bend, inflicted casualties on those Turks who tried to escape.

The Ghurka battalions on the right and centre were meeting with more opposition, and their progress was slower.  By 3 p.m. all three battalions were established on the east and west line one mile north of the bridge site, and a fourth battalion was being ferried over.

The enemy attempted to counter-attack down the centre of the peninsula and to reinforce along its western edge, but both attempts were foiled by the quickness and accuracy of our artillery.  At 4.30 p.m. the bridge was ready for traffic.

By nightfall, as a result of the day's operations, our troops had, by their unconquerable valour and determination, forced a passage across a river in flood, 340 yards wide, in face of strong opposition, and had secured a position 2,000 yards in depth, covering the bridgehead, while ahead of this line our patrols were acting vigorously against the enemy's advanced detachments, who had suffered heavy losses, including about 700 prisoners taken in all.

The infantry of one division were across and another division was ready to follow.

While the crossing at Shumran was proceeding, Lieut.-Gen. Cobbe had secured the third and fourth lines at Sannaiyat.  Bombing parties occupied the fifth line later, and work was carried on all night making roads across the maze of trenches for the passage of artillery and transport.  Early on February 24th our troops in the Shumran Bend resumed the advance, supported by machine guns and artillery from the right bank.

The enemy held on tenaciously at the northeast corner of the peninsula, where there is a series of nalas in which a number of machine guns were concealed, but after a strenuous fight, lasting for four or five hours, he was forced back, and two field and two machine guns and many prisoners fell into our possession.

Further west our troops were engaged with strong enemy forces in the intricate mass of ruins, mounds, and nalas which lie to the northwest of Shumran, and rapid progress was impossible, but toward evening the enemy had been pushed back to a depth of 1,000 yards, although he still resisted stubbornly.

While this fighting was in progress the cavalry, the artillery, and another division crossed the bridge.  The cavalry attempted to break through at the northern end of the Shumran Bend to operate against the enemy's rear along the Baghdad road, by which airplanes reported hostile columns to be retreating, but strong Turkish rearguards entrenched in nalas prevented them from issuing from the peninsula.

During this day's fighting at Shumran heavy losses had been inflicted on the enemy, and our captures have been increased in all to four field guns, eight machine guns, some 1,650 prisoners, and a large quantity of rifles, ammunition, equipment and war stores.  The gunboats were now ordered upstream from Falahiyeh, and reached Kut the same evening.

While these events were happening at Shumran, Lieut.-Gen. Cobbe cleared the enemy's sixth line at Sannaiyat, the Nakhailat, and Suwada positions, and the left bank as far as Kut without much opposition.

The capture of the Sannaiyat position, which the Turks believed to be impregnable, had only been accomplished after a fierce struggle, in which our infantry, closely supported by our artillery, displayed great gallantry and endurance against a brave and determined enemy.  The latter had again suffered severely.  Many trenches were choked with corpses, and the open ground where counter-attacks had taken place was strewn with them.

Early in the morning of February 25th the cavalry and Lieut.-Gen, Marshall's force moved northwest in pursuit of the enemy, whose rearguards had retired in the night.

The gunboats also proceeded upstream.  Our troops came in contact with the enemy about eight miles from Shumran and drove him back, in spite of stubborn resistance, to his main position two miles further west, where the Turks, strong in artillery, were disposed in trenches and nalas.

Our guns, handled with dash, gave valuable support, but were handicapped in this flat country by being in the open, while the Turkish guns were concealed in gun pits.  After a severe fight our infantry gained a footing in the enemy's position and took about 400 prisoners.

The cavalry on the northern flank had been checked by entrenched infantry and were unable to envelop the Turkish rearguard.  The Royal Navy, on our left flank, cooperated with excellent effect in the bombardment of the enemy's position during the day.

On the 26th one column, following the bend of the river, advanced to force any position which the enemy might be holding on the left hank of the Tigris, while another column of all arms marched direct to the Sumar Bend in order to intercept him.  His retreat proved, however, to be too rapid.  Stripping themselves of guns and other encumbrances, the Turks just evaded our troops, who had made a forced march across some eighteen miles of arid plain.  Our cavalry came up with the enemy's rear parties and shelled his rearguard, entrenched near Nahr Kellak.

The gunboat flotilla, proceeding upstream full speed ahead, came under very heavy fire at the closest range from guns, machine guns and rifles, to which it replied vigorously.  In spite of casualties and damage to the vessels, the flotilla held on its course past the rearguard position, and did considerable execution among the enemy's retreating columns.

Further upstream many of the enemy's craft were struggling to get away, and the Royal Navy pressed forward in pursuit.  The hostile vessels were soon within easy range, and several surrendered, including the armed tug Sumana, which had been captured at Kut when that place fell.  The Turkish steamer Basra, full of troops and wounded, surrendered when brought to by a shell which killed and wounded some German machine gunners.

His Majesty's ship Firefly, captured from us during the retreat from Ctesiphon in 1915, kept up a running fight, but, after being hit several times, she fell into our hands, the enemy making an unsuccessful attempt to set fire to her magazine.

The Pioneer, badly hit by our fire, was also taken, as well as some barges laden with munitions.  Our gunboats were in touch with and shelled the retreating enemy during most of the 27th, and his retirement was harassed by the cavalry until after dark, when his troops were streaming through Aziziyeh in great confusion.

The pursuit was broken off at Aziziyeh (fifty miles from Kut and halfway to Baghdad), where the gunboats, cavalry, and Lieut.-Gen. Marshall's infantry were concentrated during the pause necessary to reorganize our extended line of communication preparatory to a further advance.

Lieut.-Gen. Cobbe's force closed to the front, clearing the battlefields and protecting the line of march.  Immense quantities of equipment, ammunition, rifles, vehicles, and stores of all kinds, lay scattered throughout the eighty miles over which the enemy had retreated under pressure, and marauders on looting intent did not hesitate to attack small parties who stood in their way.

Since crossing the Tigris we had captured some 4,000 prisoners, of whom 188 were officers; thirty-nine guns, twenty-two trench mortars, eleven machine guns, his Majesty's ships Firefly, Sumana (recaptured), Pioneer, Basra and several smaller vessels, besides ten barges, pontoons and other bridging material, quantities of rifles, bayonets, equipment, ammunition and explosives, vehicles, and miscellaneous stores of all kinds.

In addition, the enemy threw into the river or otherwise destroyed several guns and much war material.

On March 5th, the supply situation having been rapidly readjusted, Lieut.-Gen. Marshall marched to Zeur (eighteen miles), preceded by the cavalry, which moved seven miles further to Lajj.  Here the Turkish rearguard was found in an entrenched position, very difficult to locate by reason of a dense dust storm that was blowing and of a network of nalas, with which the country is intersected.

The cavalry was hotly engaged with the enemy in this locality throughout the day, and took some prisoners.  A noticeable feature of the day's work was a brilliant charge made, mounted, by the Hussars straight into the Turkish trenches.  The enemy retreated during the night.

The dust storm continued on the 6th, when the cavalry, carrying out some useful reconnaissances, got within three miles of the Diala River, and picked up some prisoners.  The Ctesiphon position, strongly entrenched, was found unoccupied.  There was evidence that the enemy had intended to hold it, but the rapidity of our advance had evidently prevented him from doing so.

Lieut.-Gen. Marshall followed the cavalry to Bustan (seventeen miles), and the head of Lieut.-Gen. Cobbe's column reached Zeur.

On March 7th our advanced guard came in contact with the enemy on the line of the Diala River, which joins the Tigris on its left bank, about eight miles below Baghdad.  As the ground was absolutely flat and devoid of cover, it was decided to make no further advance till after sunset.  Our gunboats and artillery, however, came into action against the hostile guns.

Measures for driving the enemy's infantry from the Diala were initiated on the night of March 7th-8th.  It appeared as though the enemy had retired, but when the first pontoon was launched it was riddled by rifle and machine gun fire.  A second attempt was made with artillery and machine-gun cooperation.

Five pontoons were launched, but they were all stopped by withering fire from concealed machine guns.  They floated down stream, and were afterward recovered in the Tigris River with a few wounded survivors on board, and further ferrying enterprises were for the time being deemed impracticable.

It now became evident that, although the line of the Diala was not held strongly, it was well defended by numerous guns and machine guns skilfully sited, and the bright moonlight favoured the defence.

To assist in forcing the passage a small column from the force under Lieut.-Gen. Marshall was ferried across the Tigris in order to enfilade the enemy's position with its guns from the right bank of that river.

During the night of the 8th-9th, after an intense bombardment of the opposite bank, an attempt was made to ferry troops across the Diala River from four separate points.  The main enterprise achieved a qualified success, the most northern ferry being able to work for nearly an hour before it was stopped by very deadly rifle and machine-gun fire, and we established a small post on the right bank.

When day broke this party of seventy of the Loyal North Lancashires had driven off two determined counter-attacks and were still maintaining themselves in a small loop of the river bend.  For the next twenty-two hours, until the passage of the river had been completely forced, the detachment held on gallantly in its isolated position under constant close fire from the surrounding buildings, trenches, and gardens, being subjected to reverse as well as enfilade fire from distant points along the right bank.

On the 8th a bridge was constructed across the Tigris, half a mile below Bawi, and the cavalry, followed by a portion of Lieut.-Gen. Cobbe's force, crossed to the right bank in order to drive the enemy from positions which our airplanes reported that he had occupied about Shawa Khan, and northwest of that place, covering Baghdad from the south and southwest.

The advance of our troops was much impeded by numerous nalas and water cuts, which had to be ramped to render them passable.  During the forenoon of the 9th Shawa Khan was occupied without much opposition, and airplanes reported another position one and a half miles to the northwest, and some six miles south of Baghdad, as strongly held.

Our attack against this developed later from the south and southwest in an endeavour to turn the enemy's right flank.  The cavalry, which at first had been operating on our left flank, withdrew later, as the horses needed water; but our infantry were still engaged before this position when darkness fell, touch with the enemy being kept up by means of patrols, and the advance was resumed as soon as indications of his withdrawal were noticed.

On the morning of March 10th our troops were again engaged with the Turkish rearguard within three miles of Baghdad, and our cavalry patrols reached a point two miles west of Baghdad railway station, where they were checked by the enemy's fire.

A gale and blinding dust storm limited vision to a few yards, and under these conditions reconnaissance and coordination of movements became difficult.  The dry wind and dust and the absence of water away from the river added greatly to the discomfort of the troops and animals.

About midnight patrols reported the enemy to be retiring. T he dust storm was still raging, but, following the Decauville Railway as a guide, our troops occupied Baghdad railway station at 5.55 a.m., and it was ascertained that the enemy on the right bank had retired upstream of Baghdad.  Troops detailed in advance occupied the city, and the cavalry moved on Kadhimain, some four miles northwest of Baghdad, where they secured some prisoners.

On the left bank of the Tigris Lieut.-Gen. Marshall had during the 9th elaborated preparations for forcing the passage of the Diala.  At 4 a.m. on the 10th the crossing began at two points a mile apart, and met with considerable opposition, but by 7 a.m. the East Lancashires and Wiltshires were across and had linked up with the detachment of Loyal North Lancashires which had so heroically held its ground there.

Motor lighters carrying infantry to attack the enemy's right flank above the mouth of the Diala grounded lower down the river, and took no part in the operation.  The bridge across the Diala was completed by noon, and our troops, pushing steadily on, drove the enemy from the riverside villages of Saidah, Dibaiyi and Qararah - the latter strongly defended with machine guns - and finally faced the enemy's last position covering Baghdad along the Tel Muhammad Ridge.

These operations had resulted in the capture of 300 prisoners and a large quantity of arms, ammunition, and equipment, while severe loss had been inflicted on the enemy in killed and wounded, more than 300 of his dead being found by our troops.

During the night of March 10th-11th close touch with the enemy was maintained by patrols, and at 1.30 a.m. on the 11th it was reported that the Turks were retiring.

The Tel Muhammad position was at once occupied, and patrols pushed beyond it, but contact with the enemy was lost in the dust storm.  Early on the 11th Lieut.-Gen. Marshall advanced rapidly on Baghdad, and entered the city amid manifestations of satisfaction on the part of the inhabitants.

A state of anarchy had existed for some hours, Kurds and Arabs looting the bazaars and setting fire indiscriminately at various points.  Infantry guards provided for in advance were, however, soon on the spot, order was restored without difficulty, and the British flag hoisted over the city.

In the afternoon the gunboat flotilla, proceeding upstream in line ahead formation, anchored off the British Residency, and the two forces under Lieut.-Gens. Marshall and Cobbe provided for the security of the approaches to the city, being disposed one on either bank of the river.

For more than a fortnight before we entered Baghdad the enemy had been removing stores and articles of military value and destroying property which he could not remove, but an immense quantity of booty, part damaged, part undamaged, remained.

This included guns, machine guns, rifles, ammunition, machinery, railway workshops, railway material, rolling stock, ice and soda water plant, pipes, pumps, cranes, winches, signal and telegraph equipment, and hospital accessories.  In the arsenal were found, among some cannon of considerable antiquity, all the guns (rendered useless by General Townshend) which fell into the enemy's hands at the capitulation of Kut in April, 1916.

On the right bank of the Tigris the retreating enemy had entrenched a strong position south of Mushaidie railway station, some twenty miles north of Baghdad.  A force under Lieut.-Gen. Cobbe carried this on March 14th, after a brilliant charge by the Black Watch and Ghurkhas.

At Mushaidie station the enemy made his last stand, but the Black Watch and Ghurkhas rushed the station at midnight, and pursued the enemy for half a mile beyond.  The enemy's flight was now so rapid that touch was not obtained again, and on March 16th our airplanes reported stragglers over a depth of twenty miles, the nearest being twenty-five miles north of Mushaidie.

On the same day a post was established on the right bank of the Diala, opposite Baqubah, thirty miles northeast of Baghdad, and four days later Baqubah was captured.  On March 19th our troops occupied Feluja, thirty-five miles west of Baghdad, on the Euphrates, driving out the Turkish garrison.  The occupation of Feluja, with Nasariyeh already in our possession, gave us control over the middle Euphrates from both ends.

During the remainder of the month minor operations were undertaken on the Diala, pending the arrival of the Russian forces advancing from Persia.  The total number of prisoners taken during the period December 13th to March 31st was 7,921.

Source: Source Records of the Great War, Vol. V, ed. Charles F. Horne, National Alumni 1923

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