History in a box- THE WORLD WAR1

History in a box

History in a box
Jo Nambiar inherited this tin box from hisgreat grandfather who fought the WorldWar I between 1914 to 1918
A Bengaluru resident, bequeathed with an ordinary-looking tin, traces its origins to World War I when it was distributed among soldiers as a Christmas gift by the British royalty 
Fifty-two-year-old Jo Nambiar is an ardent numismatist. In 1993, when he inherited an old tin box from his late grand uncle Bhaskaran Nair, who had left behind a sprawling ancestral bungalow in Kerala filled with antiques, little did Nambiar realise its significance. "From the many other things that were being distributed among the family members, I got this tin box because I was interested in collecting antiques," Nambiar says.

At the time, Nambiar thought of using the ordinary-looking tin box to store a part of his collection of 16,000 coins from across the world, including those from the era of the Mughal rule and some even from 300 BC. 
It was only in 2008 that the tin box caught his attention. The names of the countries and the image of a lady etched on it got him curious. "The box had an alphabet 'M' written on it," recalls Nambiar, who publishes children books. What intrigued him more was the number 1914 on the box. With these few clues he started searching the internet and even visited some libraries to unearth details about the box he possessed. After a failed attempt to retrieve some information about the box from the British Museum and the curators in London, who he had written to, Nambiar finally found some leads.
The box was a gift Princess Victoria Alexandra Alice Mary, Princess Royal and Countess of Harewood, distributed as Christmas mementos to 426,000 soldiers — British and the Allies — during the World War I in 1914. The tin boxes were filled with various items including tobacco, confectionary, spices, pencils, a Christmas card and a picture of the Princess.
But a question that bothered Nambiar was — How did this box land in a little known village called Cherru-Kunnu in Cannanore district?
This question took Nambiar to his ancestral hometown where he chatted up with locals, hoping to gain some knowledge about the owner of the box. "Well, I had heard of my ancestors who had fought during World War I & II but I didn't know anything about this box," Nambiar admits.
It took Nambiar over two years to get to the bottom of the story. In 1918, a bearded and emaciated Sepoy named Govindan Nair disembarked from a Parsi merchant ship that had returned from the Middle East to anchor at the Bombay harbour and made his journey overland back to his hometown in Malabar (Kerala). Apart from his worn and weathered clothes which consisted of two shirts and a trouser, he also carried with him a brass metal box.
The box contained a piece of soap and a pencil. Weak as he was when he arrived home, it took him several months to regain his strength. He spoke very little, as many in the village didn't quite understand the man's narration of his experiences in the war in the Middle East of which he was one of the few survivors. All they knew was that he had served the British in a horrific war in some foreign country. A few even wondered whether he was ill or mentally unstable. However, fragments of the stories he told his family were passed down the generations.
"Govindan Nair was my great-grandfather's youngest brother on my mother's side of the family. A young sepoy of the Madras Regiment, a unit of which had been amalgamated into the 6th Poona Division following the Kitchener Reforms and formed part of the Indian Expeditionary Force D that saw action during the Mesopotamian Campaign, he was initially stationed in the port town called Basra in 1914. A passing British supply vessel that delivered military ordinance and medical supplies also contained chests of Christmas gifts for the British soldiers stationed at Basra," says Nambiar, a resident of OMBR Layout. 
Sepoy Govindan, among others, also received Princess Mary's Christmas Gift Box or "Rani's Petti" as he called it. Besides uttering a few sentences in Persian and Kurdish, on his return home, Govindan spoke of one
"Nickson Saheb", a "Toinshend Saheb" and a "Dr. Carter of a hospital ship at Basra".

It was "Toinshend Saheb" who led him and the 6th Poona through several small skirmishes with the German and Ottoman forces quite successfully. But following a major defeat, the British had to retreat to a place called Kut-al-Amara. In the siege of Kut-al-Amara, where Govindan along with the Indian Expeditionary Force D of the British army were trapped, severe rationing of food as well as death and disease among the soldiers ensued. Several battles over many months were fought in the siege of Kut-al-Amara before the British finally surrendered and the 6th Poona was all but wiped out. Everything from battle injuries, starvation and diarrhoea to torture and ill-treatment of prisoners by the Ottoman Turks saw the demise of many of his comrades.
Along with a few other Indian soldiers he escaped while enroute to a prisoner-of-war camp near Aleppo, trekked through hostile regions along the Mediterranean for months before reaching the Suez, where a Bombay-bound Parsi merchant vessel finally brought him home. The shock from the battles fought, won and lost as well as his close shave with death on many occasions left him a silent and brooding individual. He was bitter and very critical of "Toinshend Saheb".
Govindan, for the rest of his short life in the village, had also occasionally been the object of ridicule and the butt of jokes. His prized "Christmas Gift Box" which was rechristened by the locals as "murkam petti" (betel-leaf and nut container) was the prime target and cause. He was taunted with — "Is that all you have received for your services to the King?" and "There are better murkam pettis at home. Did you need to go to Arabia for one?"
Though fed and supported by his ancestral manor (Tharavad), Govindan lived a few more years in penury and without a pension. "He never married and died in 1926, with only the Princess Mary Christmas Gift Box and some mention in family property documents of his ever having been in existence," says Nambiar.
Happy to learn about the significance of the prized possession he inherited, Nambiar even wrote to the Buckingham Palace requesting if the Queen or the Royal Family could commemorate the centenary of the Christmas Gift Fund founded in 1914. Though he never got a reply pertaining to his request, the Queen's office wrote back, "Nevertheless, it is lovely to know how proud you are to have inherited one of these Gift Boxes from your great grandfather."
Nambiar believes there will be thousands across the world who might own this gift box passed on through generations. "I don't know the antique value of this box," he says. But the thought of how this Christmas gift must have meant a lot to the war-weary soldiers, that warms his heart.Dr. Carter of a hospital ship at Basra

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BIOGRAPHICAL ENTRYCarter, Robert Markham (1875 - 1961)

CB 1918; MRCS 7 February 1901; FRCS 13 June 1912; LRCP 1901; DTM Liverpool 1906; FCPS Bombay.
18 October 1875
13 March 1961
Ascot, Berkshire
Curator, General surgeon and Pathologist


Born on 18 October 1875, son of Captain Arthur William Markham Carter of the 25th Native Infantry and Rosalie Edmunds Bradley, Robert Markham Carter was educated at Epsom where he played in the fifteen. He then studied medicine at St George's and St Bartholomew's Hospitals and in Paris. He took the MRCS and LRCP in 1901 and entered the Indian Medical Service on 29 January 1902 as medical officer to the 1st Bombay Lancers. From 1903 to 1904 he was attached to the Anglo-Turkish Boundary Commission in the Aden interior. During leave in Britain in 1904 he carried out research work in several laboratories. On his return to India, then a Captain, he was posted to the North-West Frontier, where in the Zakka Khel expedition of 1908 he was severely wounded. He was awarded the medal with clasp.
After this Carter was transferred to the civil side of the Service and his first posting was at the Pasteur Institute, Kasauli where his previous research experience was useful, but he wished to devote his life to clinical work so in 1911 he went to St George's Hospital, Bombay as resident surgeon. He obtained the FRCS in 1912 and was appointed Professor of Materia Medica and Pharmacy at the Grant Medical College in that year. In 1913 Carter became Second Presidency Surgeon, and 2nd Physician at the Sir Jamsetjee Jeejeebhoy Hospital, Bombay, and the following year he was appointed Third Presidency Surgeon, Professor of Pathology and Morbid Anatomy, and Curator of the Museum of the Grant Medical College, Bombay.
With the outbreak of the first world war Carter was recalled to military duty and placed in medical charge of the Varela. This hospital ship was sent to Basra to evacuate casualties from the defeat at Ctesiphon. The many sick and wounded were transported in barges along the tortuous river Tigris; Carter was profoundly shocked by their condition on arrival and said so. This criticism led to a succession of stormy interviews in which Carter was accused of being meddlesome and interfering, but he was not intimidated by threats of arrest and loss of his career. He insisted on a personal interview with the Commander-in-Chief, General Sir John Nixon. The result is recorded in the report of the Mesopotamian Commission, which contains these words: "Carter by his persistence brought to the notice of his superiors the terrible condition of the wounded when they arrived at Basra after Ctesiphon, and in other ways he revealed shortcomings which might have been ignored and left unremedied. His sense of duty seems to be most commendable, and he was fertile and resourceful in suggesting remedies."
In April 1916 Carter was sent to the India Office in Whitehall to organise medical equipment for the Mesopotamian expedition; when the War Office took over the operations Carter was transferred there and was made responsible for the complete fitting out of the hospital ships. He organised a river hospital fleet, a water-post system and purification plant, an ice-making fleet and refrigerator barges. He was thrice mentioned in dispatches, and given the brevet of Lieutenant-Colonel on 26 April 1916.
In 1918 Carter was appointed CB and placed on special duty under the Controller-General of Merchant Shipping. He did valuable work for the Admiralty as medical supervisor of labour and housing.
After the war he returned to his civil career in Bombay, as first Physician at the JJ Hospital and Professor at the Grant Medical College. In 1925 he was appointed First Presidency Surgeon, and consulting physician to the European General Hospital, Bombay. He retired in 1927 with the rank of Lieutenant-Colonel.
He married Kate Elizabeth, daughter of Alexander Michie Saunderson; they had one son and three daughters. He died on 13 March 1961 at his home, Paddock Cottage, Ascot, Berkshire at the age of 85. Mrs Carter died there on 30 April 1965 aged 86.
Sources used to compile this entry: [The Times 14 March 1961 p 17 a and 3 May 1965, death of Mrs Carter; Brit med J 1961, 1, 908 by G R McR, 1961, 2, 59 by Major S Gordon, and page 773 by Dr P V Gharpure of Grant Medical College, Bombay; Epsom College Register p 176; Crawford's Roll of the Indian Medical Service, General list No 193].
                                  Toinshend Saheb

Charles Vere Ferrers TownshendMesopotamian campaign General Townshed.png

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Sir Charles Townshend
Mesopotamian campaign General Townshed.png
Born21 February 1861
Died18 May 1924
AllegianceUnited Kingdom United Kingdom
Service/branchFlag of the British Army.svg British Army
Years of service1881-1920
Commands held12th Sudanese Battalion
Orange River Colony District
East Anglian Division
Jhanzi Brigade
Rawal Pindi Brigade
6th Indian Division
Battles/warsFirst World War
AwardsKnight Commander of the Order of the Bath
Distinguished Service Order
Major General Sir Charles Vere Ferrers Townshend KCBDSO (21 February 1861 – 18 May 1924) was a British Army officer who led the ultimately disastrous first British Expedition against Baghdad during theFirst World War, and was later elected to Parliament.

Background and pre-war life[edit]

Born a descendant of Field Marshal George Townshend, 1st Marquess Townshend (his great great grandfather) and educated at Cranleigh School and the Royal Military College, Sandhurst, Townshend was commissioned into the Royal Marine Light Infantry in 1881.[1] He served in the Sudan Expedition of 1884, then on 12 December 1885 he was appointed on probation to the Indian Staff Corps[2] and was permanently appointed on the 15 January 1886.[3] He went on to serve on the Hunza Naga expedition in 1891.[1] In 1894, while commanding the newly built fort at Gupis, he entertained the visiting George Curzon, "through a long evening with French songs to the accompaniment of a banjo." [4]
He was the garrison commander during siege of Chitral Fort in the North West territories in 1895, for which he was awarded the CB.[1] He was attached to the British Egyptian army and, as Commanding Officer of the 12th Sudanese Battalion, he fought in the Sudan at the Battle of Atbaraand the Battle of Omdurman in 1898, for which he was awarded theDSO.[1] He served in the Second Boer War becoming Assistant Adjutant General on staff of the Military Governor for Orange Free State in 1900 and then transferred to the Royal Fusiliers later that year.[1] Promoted to colonel in 1904, he became military attaché in Paris in 1905 and then transferred to King's Shropshire Light Infantry in 1906.[1] He went on to be Assistant Adjutant General for 9th Division in India in 1907 and commander of the Orange River Colony District in South Africa in 1908.[1]
Promoted to brigadier general in 1909 and major-general in 1911, Townshend became General Officer Commanding the East Anglian Division in 1911, commander of Jhanzi Brigade in India in 1913 and commander of the Rawal Pindi Brigade in India later that year.[1] With the outbreak of the First World War, he was put in command of the 6th Indian Division.[1] This large military force was one of the best of the military units of the Indian Army - though it was under-equipped by the standards of the regular British army. The 6th Indian was sent to Mesopotamia in early 1915.[1]

Mesopotamian Campaign[edit]

Main article: Mesopotamian Campaign
General Townshend was ordered by his commander, General Nixon, to advance up the Tigris river with the goal of capturingBaghdad. The advance went well initially, Amarah was captured on 3 June 1915 (largely by bluff). The advance resumed three months later and Kut was captured on 28 September 1915.[1] At this point, Townshend suggested halting but Nixon was convinced the Turks were weak and could be beaten. Townshend was ordered to continue to Baghdad.[5]
Around 1 November, the 6th Indian left Kut and marched up the Tigris river. They reached Ctesiphon, some 25 miles (40 km) south of Baghdad on 20 November 1915. Here they met a somewhat larger Ottoman force, under the new command of Baron von der Goltz. Goltz was a German field marshal who had spent 12 years re-organizing the Ottoman army in the 1880s. Called out of retirement, he had spent most of 1915 as the military advisor to the Sultan Mehmed VThe Battle of Ctesiphon was fought over two days starting 22 November 1915. The result of the battle was a draw, but Townshend, having lost one-third of his strength, resolved to retreat back to Kut, arriving on 3 December 1915. Baron von der Goltz, learning of the British retreat, had turned his battered army around and followed the British, arriving at Kut on 7 December.[5]

Siege of Kut[edit]

Townshend and Halil Pasha after the fall of Kut
Main article: Siege of Kut
The siege of Kut was a drawn out and bitter affair for the British army. General Townshend sent reports about his supplies to his commander, General Nixon, which (in the event) proved to be false. He reported that he only had supplies for a month at full ration. Actually, his troops finally ran out of supplies near the end of April 1916, almost five months longer than he had reported. This led the British in Basra to hastily send a relief expedition, which was defeated by the unexpected strong Ottoman defences (expertly directed by Baron von der Goltz).
The later relief expeditions fared little better. The British relief forces reached a point just 10 miles (16 km) from Kut but repeated assaults on Turkish positions failed to dislodge the defenders. The last effort---after three weeks of desperate attacks---took place on 22 April 1916, but it ended in failure. On the other side, the Ottoman commander, Baron von der Goltz, did not live to see his triumph. He died, supposedly from typhoid, on 16 April 1916. General Townshend surrendered 29 April 1916.[1] He himself was well treated by his Ottoman captors. He lived in comfort near Istanbul for the remainder of the war, on a small island. He was given use of a Turkish navy yacht and had receptions in his honour at the royal Turkish court. He was given theKCB for his command at Kut while he was a POW in 1917. The German journalist and newspaper editor Friedrich Schrader, himself married to a British national, reported that Townshend appeared personally in the office of his newspaper "Osmanischer Lloyd" to receive the cable from London notifying him about the award.[6] At the end of the war, Townshend was involved in the negotiations which resulted in the Turkish armistice in October 1918.[5]


After the war, he resigned from the army in 1920 and wrote a book My Campaign in Mesopotamia (1920). He stood as an Independent Conservative candidate in a by-election in Shropshire and was elected in another by-election to a term inParliament as Member of Parliament (MP) for The Wrekin (1920–1922).[1] However, as reports surfaced about how badly his troops had suffered at the hands of the Turks (more than half of the soldiers who surrendered died in Turkish captivity, many of them actually murdered by their captors), his reputation lost much of its lustre. Military experts attacked him for not beating the Ottomans at Ctesiphon, for his passivity during the siege of Kut, and for his inaccurate reports (claiming rations were running low) which led to the hasty first relief expedition. He died in some disgrace in 1924.[5]
When probate of his will was published in 1924, Townshend's worldly wealth at the time of his death was found to have amounted to a mere £119.

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    Memoirs & Diaries - France, Egypt, Mesopotamia 1915-1916

    Lt. Edwin Evan Jones (1879 - 1919); Taken in Cairo 1918.

    Background To the Diary

    On 5th November 1914 Britain declared war on Turkey and a few days later the first echelon of an expeditionary force, consisting of the 16th Infantry brigade and two Indian mountain batteries under Brigadier-General Delamain, landed at Fao, a fortified town near the head of the Persian Gulf.
    After two stubbornly contested engagements both Fao and Basra were captured.  The invasion of Mesopotamia was ostensibly to protect the oil wells at the head of the Persian Gulf.  This motive became obscured, however, when, lured by the prospect of capturing the legendary Baghdad, the British commander Gen. Sir John Nixon sent forces under Maj. Gen. Charles Townshend up the Tigris.  After overwhelming a Turkish outpost near Qurna in an amphibious assault on May 31 1915, Townshend began to move inland.  By September the British had taken Kut-el-Amara.  Refusing to stop there, Nixon ordered the reluctant Townshend to continue northward.
    Arriving (November) at Ctesiphon, Townshend discovered that the Turks had fortified extensively and had been reinforced to a strength of 18,000 regulars and additional Arabs, with 45 guns.  Townshend mustered approximately 10,000 infantry, 1,000 cavalry, and 30 guns.  He also had, for the first time in that theatre, a squadron of 7 aeroplanes.  Townshend attacked Ctesiphon savagely on November 22, but after 4 days of bitter battle, during which more Turkish reinforcements arrived, Townshend withdrew to Kut.  Kut was invested by the Turks on December 7.
    In Mesopotamia, Townshend's besieged force at Kut-el-Amara vainly waited for help.  The British suffered 21,000 casualties in a series of unsuccessful rescue attempts, and with starvation near, Townshend capitulated on April 29, surrendering 2,680 British of the 6th Division.  By the time the Armistice was signed in 1918 1306 of these had perished and 449 remained untraced.
    Of the 10486 Indians who surrendered, 1290 perished and 1773 were never traced.  British and Indians alike left a trail of whitening bones along the awful road from Kut to Baghdad, to Mosul from there to Fion Kara Hissar in Asia Minor, Aleppo and even Constantinople.  Never, until the disaster at Singapore in 1941, in the whole history of the British Army, had there been a surrender on the same scale.
    This diary was put together by Lt. Edwin Jones who experienced many of the privations of the campaign.  It provides a unique glimpse into the everyday life of a junior officer at the time.  It is a pity that the diary finishes when it does for Edwin later took part in the drive towards Damascus under General Allenby before being demobbed in 1919.
    Having survived all the dangers and privations of the war in Mesopotamia and Syria Edwin was sent home in a troop ship in the clothes that he wore in the desert.  On the way home he and a number of others caught pneumonia and died shortly after landing in the UK.  This diary has been compiled by his Great Nephew, who has in his possession the original diary along with various other memorabilia from the campaign in the Middle East.

    Dr Robert Griffith Jones

    December 21st 1915

    Frontispiece of Edwin Jones' "War Reminiscences"Good-bye France, you have given me some sleepless nights, and many a hard day's work. I very much regret leaving you for foreign parts, but some day I shall return to you and go over all the ground again; no doubt it will recall many sad recollections.
    Boarded the S.S.. "Vita" at Marseilles at 11 a.m., after rushing about and looking after the equipment.
    A mail has arrived, but, alas! it is not being served out, but put upon the mail boat "Persia". It was very hard to think that we could not read our letters for the last time on France, and Legge received a parcel from home, and how all our mouths watered to think of eating a cake in "Blighty".

    December 22nd 1915

    First day's sail and no signs of sea-sickness. Everybody happy with the glorious sunshine, and the sea so calm.
    Started on iron rations again which was not welcomed, but still, you must remember it's "War-time". Night arrived and all in darkness and no one allowed on deck. Lifeboats had to be worn, and sleep where you can. Garter and I found a very snug corner, but, oh, how hard the floor was! In spite of it all slept A.1.

    December 23rd 1915

    Still at sea and all going on splendidly; everybody happy, but of course, food very scarce.
    Bombegy, our Indian cook, was very worried owing to the shortage of rations and we all so hungry, almost threatening him that we should cut him up for stew as a last resource. As usual, the "Sanitary Men" are called for duty, and we started 5 a.m. disinfecting the ship and horse lines. It was hard work, but we did it with a smile, a noted thing for "Sanitary Men".

    December 24th 1915

    At sea, and Malta sighted - oh, what excitement! One would think we hadn't touched land for ages, but I think the real reason was that we could buy some "light' refreshments to celebrate the famous Christmas Day.
    A submarine was sighted and rushed for lifebelts, thinking our last hour had come, but it was one of our own, and gave it three cheers.
    Laid outside Malta for the night.

    December 25th 1915

    "A Happy Christmas to all."
    Taken into Valetta Harbour 7 a.m., a sight that I shall never forget. The sun was just rising and the lovely rocks standing out, dotted with huge buildings. A quantity of small boats came alongside, and small native boys doing all kinds of tricks in the water.
    Most of the officers were ashore by 10 a.m., but we were not allowed.
    I have had some very rough meals on active service, but getting bully beef and biscuits on Christmas Day beats all. We all wished to be back in France; the food we were getting was terrible. At 2.30 p.m. I was granted a pass to go ashore with three other men.
    We hired a small boat alongside, and he took us ashore, but, of course, we didn't leave him on friendly terms, but of course, Tommies are always generous.
    It seemed to be up, up, up, goodness only knows why they built so many steps, but when we got to the top, it was a glorious sight. We raided a shop for picture postcards and other kinds of presents to send home. We made some bargains with fruit, at least, we thought so, but am afraid, after all, we were done. After sight-seeing and our time nearly up (we only had 21/2 hours) we met an English Tommy who insisted on us going back to his station to drink the health of Christmas Day.
    And we did so freely. I counted about 150 steps going up, but only about 50 coming down, and Sergeant Ash swore there were, at least, 7 or 8 hundred. Oh, dear, no! It wasn't the whiskey, but "Sun", as you must remember we had been through the greater part of the winter in France.
    What a rush to get back to the boat! What with baskets of fruit, &c., and our heads all of a whirl, we managed it safe.
    Concert at night, and all our superior officers well away, while poor Tommy had none.
    To bed, all disheartened at the hardship of the day.

    December 26th 1915

    Up in the morning like larks to duty. Sailed out of the harbour 10 a.m., and very calm.
    Christmas Day soon forgotten and hoped such a day on iron rations would never return. All going well and everybody happy.
    Cards and chess usually took up our spare time, and not having any lights at night, turned down to it very early.
    The food still very bad, and we longed for some fresh meat which we hadn't tasted since we embarked.
    The mules and horses became troublesome, and many either died, or were killed, and were thrown overboard.

    December 27, 28, 29 1915

    As usual.

    December 30th 1915

    Egypt was sighted and we thought we had got to our destination. Put inside the harbour at Alexandria, and orders were given to prepare for disembarkation. After hanging about for several hours, the whole thing was cancelled, and we had to prepare ourselves for another night.

    December 31st 1915

    Last day of the old year, and we were very glad as it had been a year of hardship. We had a splendid concert at night, and sang the Old Year out and New Year in, but NO refreshments.
    The officers were very happy, and no doubt had done themselves well.
    There was a terrible storm at night, and it was bitterly cold. All sorts of rumours were flying about, and some of the Indian Infantry disembarked.
    Only officers were allowed ashore, and we were not allowed to buy from small boats.

    January 1st 1916

    A Happy New Year to Everybody! Somehow, we though it had brought us luck, but when we saw our rations, that confirmed the luck of 1915.
    Sea still very rough and waves mountains high. Sailed at 4 p.m., everybody downhearted. Terrible night, and at times it was impossible to see the escort.
    The "Persia" only 2 hours behind us, and we expected Christmas mail at Port Said.
    All very sea-sick, and wishing we had never left France.
    Arrived at Port Said very early in the morning, and heard that the "Persia" had been torpedoed, and our mail "gone West".
    That was the first bad news we had received during that part of the voyage.

    January 2nd 1916

    In Port Said Harbour and not allowed ashore. We coaled and got smothered with black. The natives were all so excited and wanted to make bargains, but am afraid several made very poor ones. The heat was very trying and we had to put on our linen suits.

    January 3rd 1916

    Left Port Said at 4 a.m. and went through Suez Canal, a wonderful piece of work, and 99 miles long.
    Received many hearty cheers from troops on the banks, who were also anxious to know where we were bound for. Of course, we said "Blighty", and they politely informed us we were going the wrong direction. So we said it must be "Mesop", but in our hearts we trusted it was not so.
    Our first experience of Arabs and Gipos was funny: to see them walking, carrying huge bundles and large water carriers on their heads, all the time shouting to us. Our side of the canal is covered with huge palms and trees, while on the other, nothing but miles and miles of sand.
    Arrived at Port Suez.
    What a splendid sight! Mountains all on one side. Small boats came alongside and a rush for fruit and sweets. Orders were received and away we went, bound for Mesopotamia. The heat in the Red Sea was intense, and oh, how we all longed for a good bath.
    Rations were still very scarce, and we longed for a good feed.
    Concerts were given at night as we went peacefully sailing on.

    January 7th 1916

    Still going smoothly, and no signs of sea-sickness. At 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. we were in direct line with Mecca, and all Indians on board were allowed to pray on deck.
    The water was splendid at night and seemed as though the whole Ocean was alight.

    January 17th 1916

    Entered the Persian Gulf - a sight never to be forgotten. The boat was only allowed to go very slowly, and we could see all the Palm Groves and native houses - of course, some palaces. We were greeted with many cheers, and even the smallest children raced alongside the River Tigris asking for pennies.

    January 20th 1916

    Came alongside of quay at Basrah, and oh, what a terrible night! Started to unload all heavy stuff, and managed to get same on shore when a terrible storm started. Poured with rain, and thundering and lightening. Had to go on shore and do duty on guard. Reed was with me, but it was impossible to keep dry or warm.
    At 9 p.m. the Sergeant-in-Charge came, and said we were to go back on board, but the difficulty was to get there.
    Sergeant went up the rope-ladder first and I followed, but Reed was too frightened to climb, so we had to lower a rope to pull him along. Slept on board.

    January 21st 1916

    Disembarked and said good-bye to S.S. "Vita" at 10 a.m. We gave three very hearty cheers to the Captain for giving us a safe journey.
    The ground was in a terrible state, at least eight inches of mud, and it was most difficult to walk.
    After getting our kit all ready the order was given at 12 o'clock to march. None of us were feeling very grand as we had not seen food since 6 a.m. and then only tea and biscuits. Small Indian garries carried the equipment, but we had to carry all our own kits.
    At first we had a tremendous hill to climb, so were fairly beaten.
    Some Arabs were selling dates and tinned pineapple, which we made a rush for. A halt was given so we sat in the mud to eat.
    Owing to the terrible state of the ground, it was most difficult for the transport to get along, and we were delayed until 8 p.m. Marching orders were again given, but we had lost sight of our officers, and some of the convoy, and had no idea where we were to go.
    Sergeant Hollyfied and Lawson were missing with several Indians, but we had to go, otherwise we should have been completely cut off. At last we came to some water, and we had to march about two miles with water up to our waists.
    Had almost given ourselves up as lost when Issa Khan said he could see the camps, and we arrived at 11 p.m. The officer was in a terrible state about us and had tea provided.
    We were put in tents, no sides, and no blankets but we were all so pleased to lie down that we went fast asleep. About 1 a.m. it was freezing hard and our clothes were frozen on us.
    Next morning, Sergt. Hollyfied and Lawson turned up at 8 a.m., and had completely lost their way and slept on the road.
    We had no rations and had to go and beg tea. Later in the day we were taken to another part of the camp and put in huts which were much more comfortable.
    The officer, Lawson and myself went into the town of Basrah, via "dusty lane" Don't know why they called it "dusty lane" - could only find mud, and if you were not careful your boot would have been left behind.
    My first sight of an Arab town can hardly express my thoughts, and don't even now if I was disappointed. The Arabs, both women and men are very energetic and work very hard. We called at the bank and drew some money, a thing very much needed, and then proceeded by way of boat to the native bazaar, and bought goods. Things were not so dear so we bought a huge basketful; intended making up for lost time. The coolies take the basket and will carry it for miles for one anna, which is equal to an English penny.
    Arrived back at camp at 5 p.m., and oh, how anxious were the boys to hear of what we had seen, but no, said I, a good feed is what I want and let's prepare it at once, and we can talk afterwards. During the whole of our voyage we hadn't received any news from home, so were anxious to find a field post office, and see if any mail awaited us.
    Carter was detailed off to find the p.o., but came back and said nothing doing.
    Next day we were issued with rifles and had instructions of same by Sergt. Brown of the Manchesters. We were all very sad about this, as it meant we had to go through something.
    My word ! We did have a dinner that day. Goat, first fresh meat for a month. Afterwards we settled down for a good night's rest in case we should be called up next day.

    January 23rd 1916

    Sunday. The day of rest in peace time, but the day of work in the Army.
    A wire had arrived at 8 a.m., and we had to embark at once for the lines. Oh dear! How I longed to stay in Basrah and see all the wonderful sights. No transport was allowed, so Legge had to stay behind in charge of same.
    Walker and I were sent out as an advance party, to find our way to the river, reaching there at 11 a.m. We stayed on the riverside and made some dinner, the usual stew again made out of bully beef.
    We embarked on the small river-boat S.2, and sailed at 6 p.m. Of course, there was no sleeping accommodation, so we slept on the iron deck, too hard for words. The scenery along the River Tigris is wonderful, all palm groves. The Indians provided us with curry which seemed as luxury.
    At every bend of the river Arabs ran along selling their goods, but you had to be very smart, otherwise you would lose your money and get no goods.

    January 24th 1916

    Passed Esrum which caused great excitement. We were now well in the country and could see no huts or houses.
    The Arabs ride about on mules and drive the cattle into the river to keep cool; of course, the heat was intense.

    January 25th 1916

    Getting near Armarah where orders were given to disembark. Several times our boat nearly got stuck on mud-banks.
    Reached Armarah at 9:30 p.m., but we couldn't disembark until next morning.

    January 26th 1916

    You can imagine our excitement early in the morning, lying outside an Eastern town, the sun rising, a Mosque standing very high in the background, and large buildings on the river front on one side and palm groves on the other.
    Disembarked at 9:15 a.m., and got all equipment on side. The next question was food, but how were we to get it ? Some went to the bazaar and bought tinned fruit, but Lawson and myself said it must be stew, and stew it was, with dumplings. I do wish I could have taken a snapshot when preparing the meal, but what did it matter - we must have food ? The officer was very busy rushing about to find billets, and you can imagine how pleased we were to be able to stay in a town and see the wonderful sights.
    At last the officer came back and told us to prepare for a very short march and carry our kits.
    Our billet consisted of a native house with no roof, and rats. We were quite happy and knew we should soon make ourselves comfortable. Next day we changed our billet to a very fine house at the end of the bazaar. This, indeed, was luxury. We made several raids on the bazaar where things were fairly cheap. That day, Ash and I suggested a bath, but how were we to get one ?
    We were informed that the Turkish Baths were out of bounds, and that no other baths were in the town.
    After a great deal of trouble, we managed to get into a Turkish Bath. No soap was provided, so we soon had a row with the owner, who was an Arab. Of course he couldn't understand English nor we Arabic. At last we decided to have a proper Turkish bath for eight pence, and we were carted away into a cellar. I quite thought my last hour had come. I let Ash go first, and if anything went wrong, I could fly out, but all turned out well, and we thoroughly enjoyed our first bath in the East and walked home, proud of our clean knees.
    When we told the boys what had happened, there was great excitement, and they all wanted to go.
    The rations we were getting were splendid, and we enjoyed some good meals, eggs especially, as they were so cheap.
    Our daily orders were very simple, meeting all the river boats with wounded, and assisting to take them off, and disinfecting the ship.

    February 2nd 1916

    Had received orders to go up the line, which, of course, was not very cheerful. All my kit got ready, I proceeded to the riverside, with 28 sweepers, Issa Khan, who acted as bodyguard, and a few tools. Embarked on S.S. A.3, 12:30 p.m., the officer arranging about rations. I felt very sick leaving all the others behind and longed for a chum to speak English.
    Sailed at 2 p.m., and the boys gave me three hearty cheers, and I needed them, for I felt quite broken-hearted.
    One Indian rushed up at the last moment, and handed me a large fish which had just been caught. Santo Ram was chosen for my servant, and to do my cooking, and did all he could to please me.
    Trouble started at 4 p.m. when the sweeper-in-charge reported no atta had been issued, and that was their principal meal. We had drawn rations for 10 days, and it was impossible to get any more. The men of the Bengal Ambulance chummed up with me, and, of course, I was very pleased, as they had no end of food. The first night we slept on deck, but Issa Khan, who slept next to me, woke me up at every hour to give me figs. I couldn't understand where he was getting them, but discovered a sack of same, belonging to the Bengal Ambulance, were by his head, and he had cut out a hole in same, and was getting handfuls. I knew it couldn't last for long, otherwise the bag would be empty. Slept well.
    Another day on the boat with some lovely sights. The Persian Hills seemed to get nearer and nearer, and then, all at once, they disappeared again.
    My chums invited me to dinner that evening, and, of course, it was an Indian one. The cooking was excellent, but, oh, how hot was the curry. Shells were bursting some miles away, and we realised that war was still on.
    It was my first experience of warfare in the East - how lovely it all looked with the shells bursting against the Persian Hills.
    We arrived at Wadi, but did not embark that evening. Up very early next morning, and discovered a Taube flying over us, but, thank goodness, it did not drop any bombs.
    Reported at A.D.M.S. for orders and had to wait several hours, a usual thing in the Army. At last a message came through, and I had orders to proceed up the lines. Not a very cheerful job. Was lucky enough to obtain two Indian garries and crossed the pontoon bridge to Oral, and reported to the 113th Indian Field Ambulance. The major was extremely kind, and gave us all something to eat and drink before going up the lines.
    All in readiness to proceed, but, unfortunately, I did not know the way and had no compass.
    Sergt. Kelly came on the scene and took me up, which was six miles, and the sun baking.
    However, we arrived safe. Reported to another A.D.M.S., who was astounded to find no officer and the remainder of section. Of course, I could see there was a mistake, and tried to explain, but it was useless, and I couldn't even return. He told me to camp there for the night, but they had no tents, so had to sleep in the open. Oh dear, how I wished I was back in France. No lights at night and tents had to be down by 6 a.m.
    Next morning I was informed I had to go straight into the trenches with the natives, and do medical duties. I had to wait for a convoy, otherwise it would not be safe - on account of Arabs.
    Pouring with rain, the outlook was not at all pleasant.
    At 9 a.m. sighted a convoy, and made straight for them, and after following them for several miles, discovered they were not going my direction. However, it was too late to go back, so thought it best to go and chance meeting any Arabs.
    Reached Headquarters about 2.30 p.m. and reported. Was told it was impossible to remain there and to go another two miles and report at 112th Indian Field Ambulance. Oh dear, is the journey ever coming to an end ?
    Reported at 112th I.F.A., and found they could not provide any tents, and only thing to do was to dig trenches and cover with ground sheets.
    Still pouring with rain, but still we had to dig and make our homes.
    When all was finished, discovered we had no water and it was quite impossible to get any, unless we marched at least 8 miles, so none of us felt disposed to do so, and went to bed, hungry, cold and wet. Would have given five shillings for a cup of water.

    February 7th 1916

    Still on my ten days' rations, but they were nearly all gone.
    Went and reported at Headquarters and received a terrible shock. A Taube came over and dropped bombs, not having any dug-outs, had to lie out in the open. One of the Indians got wounded, and was taken into a field ambulance.
    So far had not had any food since the previous morning, and was beginning to feel very weak.
    Returned to 112th I.F.A. and had to go with Colonel Browse and men to the well - eight miles away.
    I had one of the best and longest drinks in my life, and didn't realise until then how lovely water was. After receiving instructions as to the men's duties, went on to one of the outposts to see what sanitary arrangements had been made.
    Returned to the wells at 4:30 p.m. and after making necessary arrangements about water, started to return home. Of course, orders were not to return unless with a convoy, but one wasn't in sight, and thought it useless to wait, so decided to return. Had no idea how deceiving the country was. Of course, there were no landmarks, or any houses or trees, so went wandering on only to find myself in second lines of trenches. However the officer-in-charge was very good and sent a guide with me. We reached home about 7 p.m., very tired and sick of everything. My servant had made tea and fried some bully, &c., which was most acceptable. Arrangements were made that each day two natives had to fetch water in water bottles - that was all that was allowed for drinking, cooking, and washing, so you can bet there was not much washing done. Each day I had to report at Headquarters for orders, and was kept at it from 5 a.m. until 6 or 7 p.m. This work was carried on for four weeks, each day bringing different duties, but I was not allowed in either first or second line trenches.

    March 7th 1916

    Orders were given that we were leaving camp at 6 p.m. for an all-night march, and all our kits had to be carried.
    One day's rations were issued, which consisted of one tin bully, four biscuits, one bottle water, no tea or cocoa. The water on no account was to be touched unless orders given.
    Paraded at 6 p.m. Orders: no leaving ranks, no talking or smoking, if anyone falls out must be left behind, and do the best he could. It was a lovely night, and we were directed by a searchlight from the river.
    Nobody knew what was going to happen, or where we were bound for.
    10 p.m. first halt, and a much-needed one, especially carrying all kit.
    10:15 p.m. : Started again, and marched until 4 a.m., and when halt was given, all fell down and went fast asleep.
    5 a.m. I was sent for by the Colonel and gave orders that latrines had to be dug. Arrangements were made and put men on duty.
    9 a.m. Orders were given to march and away we went. An aeroplane came over and gave us the order. We marched until 2 p.m., and then made another halt. We were told that was the place for a dressing station, so made all arrangements.
    4 p.m. Oh, my God! What's happened ? The noise of guns and rifles is terrible!
    The attack had started. The infantry were going on splendidly. Bullets were dropping all around us, but the excitement was too much. At last, the Cavalry came dashing along and we knew that we were advancing.
    Orders came that we had to advance, so we packed everything up and dreamt of being in Kut the following day.
    10 p.m. Settled down again, but so hungry and thirsty, but wounded were arriving and must be attended to. Working all night attending to wounded until 5 a.m., and then I sat down and fell asleep. Noise of guns began to get worse, and seemed to be getting nearer. We were asking everybody for news and couldn't get any and had no idea of what was happening. Graves had to be dug for the dead - then orders were given to parade at 9 a.m. for a retreat.
    It was heart-breaking, so I dashed up a small hill to see if I could see what was really happening. I could see the Turks quite plainly rushing about, and our men retiring as quickly as possible.
    Again the Taube came over and dropped bombs all amongst us, but even the wounded didn't realise the danger, and it was impossible to do anything for them.
    Everything was ready to retreat and Colonel Sloane came dashing up on his horse, and said I was to be in charge of all waiting cases, and if any man fell out he was to be left.
    Still hungry and thirsty, hadn't tasted food for two days, and water bottle empty. My feet ached and were bleeding, but still I had to go on.
    Shells were dropping around us, but thank goodness, no one was hurt.
    One o'clock: our first halt, and we had only done about 4 miles. Seemed more like 40 miles. The wounded were in an awful state, and were begging for water, but still, we had none. On and on until 7 p.m., and then we reached Orah, a distance of 22 miles. The sights of boats helped us along, otherwise am sure we would never have reached it. On the march, one of our batteries halted and turned round and fired into the enemy, and one of the Infantry Rgts. took up a fresh position, and held the enemy for 12 hours before reinforcements arrived.
    On reaching Orah, I was greeted by several medical officers who gave me tea and biscuit.
    As the convoy came along, an officer who had received a wound in the leg, but had managed to march all day, looked across to me with hunger written on his face. I rushed across with some tea, but he refused it and asked for bread. I gave the tea to some wounded soldiers and rushed back to camp and got some bread and butter. When I gave it to him, he thanked me ever so much, and said it was the first bit of food for three days.
    Our day's work had not finished, but had to attend to the wounded which numbered over 600 and that was only one Field Ambulance.
    About one in the morning, I lay down in the open and tried to sleep, but it was useless, and by 5 o'clock my Indian sepoy got up and made me some tea. So far had not had any rations for 3 days, and my stomach was like a lump of lead.
    I made enquiries about ration, but could not get any satisfaction.
    At 9 o'clock a message came for me from A.D.M.S., and I had to go immediately, a distance of 3 miles. The Colonel thanked me for all the good work I had done and said I must be knocked up, but was sorry that our Field Ambulance must go up again that afternoon.
    I must have looked very sad, and had a beard of 4 days' growth. He took pity on me and got me transferred to 113th Indian Field Ambulance.
    It was a day of rejoicing, for my luck changed, and I met my good friend, Sergt. Kelly. A tent was given us, and how pleased I was to have a roof over my head.
    We started well by having an excellent feed - curry and stewed pears; seemed almost too good to eat - and a most delightful sleep in the afternoon. Tea was served at 6 o'clock, and a good drop of tea, but just as we were enjoying it a shell came over and burst right over our heads. "Mercy, what's that" ? and a dash for helmets when small pieces came through the tent.
    The major started rushing about and said "everybody in their tents!" I was ordered to rush across to my men who were at the other end of camp, and found all three tents empty. Two men were sitting round a fire making tea, and didn't care if 30 shells came over. Well, of course, orders must be obeyed, and after some great deal of talking, I got them in the tents when another one burst and a large piece flew right by my head, so near that I felt the draught. I dropped into the tents for a minute, and the Indians wanted me to stay, but I said, "No, if I am to be killed I will with an Englishman." I dashed across to my tent and frightened poor Sergeant Kelly. He said I was as white as a ghost and the wet was pouring off me.
    A wireless message was sent to say they were shelling a hospital, and the reply came, "Shift in 24 hours." That, of course, meant more work. However, we slept the night peacefully, and prepared for a new home.

    March 11th 1916

    Removed to new quarters at Orah. Boiling hot day and very little water. Got attached to new officer, Capt. Kapur, and did the sanitation on water side.
    Fixed up 3 large destructions for burning all manure in area. Disinfected malalias in various places as several cases of small-pox had broken out.

    March 12th 1916

    Taking men out for duty in the morning, and a Taube came over and dropped bombs but no one hurt. Doing duties until March 18th.

    March 19th 1916

    Orders given at 11 a.m. for going up lines. Everything ready and started at 2 p.m. Word was given that a mail had arrived, so I rushed to a field p.o. to find that 4 letters were waiting me, the first I had received since being up the lines.
    Arrived at Camp Suma at 7 p.m., put up tents and made ourselves comfortable for the night.

    March 20th 1916

    Oh dear, how ill I was feeling and as weak as a kitten.
    Went out with Capt. Street to the wells to pick up kits only about one mile from the tents.
    Came back and was too ill to go out.

    March 21st 1916

    Reported myself with dysentery and was inoculated and told to rest. However, the work had to be done, so it was impossible to rest.

    March 25th 1916

    Orders came along, and I had to go with Capt. Sweet in the trenches to attend to the Connaught Rangers.

    March 28th 1916

    We marched about 11 miles during the heat of the day, and immediately went on duty. An attack was in progress, so had plenty of wounded to attend to. Our supply of bandages had finished so only had first field dressings.
    This went on for 5 days during which time we hardly had any rest, and sleep was almost impossible. Our rations consisted of bully beef, biscuits and water. It was impossible to make tea, as fires were quite out of the question.

    March 31st 1916

    Returned to 113th I.F.A. and found out I had been reported as missing. Capt. Sweet had no business to claim me, and as he had done so he hadn't reported it.

    April 1st 1916

    Returned to Camp Suma and decided to have a rest.
    Every day we were shelled, but nothing seriously happened.

    April 4th 1916

    Orders were given to shift and we paraded at 4 p.m. Major Bradley was in charge and led the four field ambulances.
    Unfortunately, he lost his way, and went too much to the right, and we were observed by the enemy who intended giving us a very warm time. They sent over about 42 shells (shrapnel), and we had to lie in the open. This lasted about 3 hours, but, fortunately no damage was done to us, but one of our batteries close by fared badly.
    At last we started again, and at last got to Thorneo Mullah. Orders were given that no lights or fires, so again we had to go without tea. After placing the transport into position, we settled down for the night, slept with all clothes on and in the open; at 1 o'clock, Major Bradley came along and said all transport must go back at once, otherwise at sun rise the enemy would observe and we should draw fire.
    So off we started, pitch dark, and only the stars to guide us.
    After going about one hour, one of the garries broke down, and we were stranded on the desert, afraid that the Arabs would attack us.
    At last everything in working order, so off we started.
    Could not find the place given so decide to put up for the night. Slept on garry and was very tired.

    April 5th 1916

    4 a.m. What's happening? Terrific fire and the bursting of shells, like the lights of the West End of London, and the smoke like a thick fog. The great bombardment had started, and such a wonderful light. This lasted about 4 hours, and then the Infantry started.
    One gun came along and the men begged for water, said they hadn't any for 2 days. They had sent over one thousand shells and were taking up a new position.
    6 p.m. Orders came, and we had to return to Thorneo Mullah, and got there about 8 p.m.
    We were provided with dug-outs so had a real good sleep.

    April 6th 1916

    All going well and the attack still on. I had to go into the trenches with Capt. Kapur to attend to 47th Sikhs The work was very hard as such a large number were wounded.

    April 7th 1916

    At 7 a.m. a shell came over and killed Capt. Kapur who was only 3 yards away. I rushed to him, but it was too late and carried him to the Aid post. Sent word to the Headquarters that he was killed, and to send someone to give me assistance, but it did not arrive for at least 18 hours, during which time I had to do all first aid myself.

    April 12th 1916

    Returned to Thornea Mullah and very glad, Found that 2 officers and 3 Sub. Asst. Surgeons had been killed, and generally speaking, our ambulance had had a very rough time.

    April 13th 1916

    Was sent out with Sergt. Underhill to find some dead horses which had been reported. We were about 3 miles from camp when suddenly shells began to drop - discovered the Arabs were attacking. We rushed back to find they were all ready to retire, but fortunately, one of our batteries turned their guns on them, and the 34th Sikhs went out and made them retire.

    April 14th 1916

    Returned to Sandy Ridge, all with a very downhearted feeling, as our second attempt to relieve Kut had failed.
    The heat was now intense, and quite impossible to be out during daytime.

    April 15th 1916

    At Sandy Ridge and intend making ourselves comfortable. Quite close to the River Tigris, so we could clean all our clothing and have a bath.
    Went out with Sergt. Kelly and inspected some of the Old Turkish trenches, also saw a lot of prisoners making incinerators. Called at the Field p.o. only to find no letters for me.

    April 17th 1916

    Another attack had started, and I was ordered up to the 1st. Aid Post with Capt. Sweet. The shell fire was terrible and we lived in fear. At mid-night we were ordered to return, and very pleased to.
    On arriving at field ambulance, they were over-run with wounded, and we had to set to and help.

    April 18th 1916

    Attack still on and over 600 cases passed through our hands.
    Bandages, splints, &c had run out, and we got about 30 Indians working making bandages, and as fast as they were made, so they were used, and in many case men's shirts were torn, and used as bandages. One poor chap was brought in with a shrapnel wound in the foot and 12 bayonet wound in the body. He remained perfectly still whilst being dressed, but begged for water. The Major said No; however, I just managed to give him some when the Officer wasn't looking.
    The next few days were very quiet, only a shell dropping occasionally.

    April 18th 1916

    Cholera has started and we had to erect a separate hospital.
    Capt. Wells was in charge and I had to attend to all the water and disinfect all garries.
    I was feeling very ill at the time, but it was impossible to give up. Cholera was still getting worse, and we were losing about 80 percent. It was a terrible job, as food stuff was so scarce.

    April 28th 1916

    The Sanitary sections arrived and I was only too glad and some of them could relieve me.
    Walker took over my job at the Cholera Camp and I went on Water duties at Headquarters.
    We were heavily shelled and had to retire for the night in dug-outs.
    All day we could see large volumes of smoke in the direction of Kut and couldn't understand what it all meant.
    Our guns were very busy continually firing.

    April 29th 1916

    We received the bad news of the fall of Kut and took it very badly. Everybody was walking with head down and not a smile. It was a terrible blow to our General, but he had done all that was possible and if only we could have got the necessary reinforcements we should have been able to relieve Kut. But there's one great thing to consider: If only the Turks had known what few men we had, they could have driven us right back.
    Great praise should be given to the Manchesters and Connaught Rangers, who fought like men and suffered every hardship.
    For several days our work was of general routine and just attended to wounded and sick cases that were coming in.
    The cholera was still very bad and required a great deal of attention.
    I had been relieved of the duties by Walker and unfortunately he was not strong enough to carry on and was very soon taken ill. He was transferred to No. 8 Field Ambulance where he received medical treatment.

    May 2nd 1916

    Headquarters shifted to Abu Ruhman about 2 miles away. I was instructed to attend twice daily, early morn and evening, to inspect the drinking and if necessary medically treat same and do the ordinary sanitation. This was done until May 10th., when I was instructed to attend the 1st. Manchesters in the trenches and do disinfection.
    Had to go about six miles, and what with sun and dust it was unbearable.
    On the way back next day I came across one of the R.E. lying in the open hopelessly ill. He had been lying there for hours waiting for assistance, and had lost his dispatches and revolver.
    Helped him along to 1st. Aid Post and discovered he had cholera.
    Returned to 113th. I.F. Ambulance 9:30 p.m.

    May 13th and 14th 1916

    Did duties at G.H.Q.

    May 15th 1916

    Received orders to attend with the Medical Officer in the trenches with 47th Sikhs.

    May 16th, 17th, 18th and 19th

    Did duties at G.H.Q. and trouble began.

    May 19th 1916

    Attended G.H.Q. with Lieut. Hill and fixed up a special tamboo to destroy flies. Came over very ill, and had to lie down. On the way back to camp, I completely collapsed and was picked up by some Indians and taken to 135th Indian F.A., where I remained for 7 days and treated for dysentery,
    Returned to Sanitary Section on May 24th., who had shifted about 7 miles and were within 4 miles of Kut, a position we gained, and retired on March 7th.

    May 25th to June 3rd 1916

    Did duties at G.H.Q. and also attended to the special sanitation for Gen. Gorrings camp.

    May 29th 1916

    Col. Sloan sent for me and thanked me for all the work I had done, and promoted me to full corporal on the field.

    June 4th 1916

    Was still feeling far from well, and could not manage any food. Had got terribly thin, and was suffering. On my way back from G.H.Q. everything seemed to go black, and I don't remember any more until I came to and found myself in a field ambulance , with my officer watching over me.

    June 5th 1916

    At 3:30 a.m. I was put in an ambulance and carted away, about 17 miles to Sandy Ridge reaching there about 9:30 a.m. Had not had anything to eat or drink, and was simply starving. 2:30 p.m.: At last something coming round, but, oh, it's only milk and very little at that.
    I remained in the F.A. until the 11th., where we embarked on the river-boat P.3 for the Base.
    On the evening of the 10th. a Taube came over and caused much excitement. Soon afterwards shells came whizzing over, 6 in all, and the last one found its object. It caught the ammunition barges that were lying alongside, and there were some terrible explosions. Could see all manner of things flying in the air, and a great number of men were killed. The heat was now intense, and how I longed to get away for a quiet rest - had just 4 1/2 months in the firing-line, and at it almost day and night.
    There were eight of us in a tent, with only one blanket each and no beds. It was wicked under those conditions.
    Left at 9 a.m., marked with jaundice , and it was so lovely steaming down the river, although we were packed on the boat, and had to sleep on deck, which is no pleasure at night.
    I was quite pleased with the thought of going back to Armarah, where I knew I should get careful attention, hot baths and some good food.
    Arrived at Armarah at 530 p.m., and much to my disgust, the doctors would not let me get off, saying I was too ill, and must go to Basrah.
    I begged of him to let me go, but he was most determined and said No. I nearly cried as I was much attached to this place.

    June 13th 1916

    Left very early for Basrah, feeling very depressed.

    June 14th 1916

    Arrived Basrah at 4:40 a.m., and was admitted to 3A General Hospital. Oh, dear, what a place, and over-run with rats, but to be put into a bed with white sheets was like being in Heaven. It was eleven months since I had been in a bed.

    June 15th to 23rd 1916

    At No. 3A General Hospital, Basrah, having a good rest and fairly good food.
    At 11:30 p.m. on January 23rd. I was carried on S.S. "Karadinace", which is a Turkish transport boat, and remained on deck. We sailed at 12:30 a.m. to the river and lived on milk and biscuits. The heat was terrible, and being so many patients on board it was impossible to get about - in fact, most of the chaps had to go without food.

    June 26th 1916

    Came alongside Hospital Ship "Devanha" and got transhipped. Oh, what a treat to get into a comfortable bed with nice surroundings. At nine o'clock we were served out with cocoa and bread, the best meal I had received for at least 9 months.

    June 27th 1916

    All going along very happily, and thoroughly enjoying the trip. The sea was lovely and calm, and we were allowed to be on deck. The heat was intense, but on much boats special accommodation was provided.

    June 28th 1916

    I was ordered chicken, and my word! didn't I enjoy it. So much so I was ill for the remainder of the day, and strict orders were given that I was to be put on milk and soda. It was a terrible blow to go back on milk as I thought I was mending, being able to eat solid food. However, the doctor thought otherwise, and kept a very keen eye on me.

    June 30th 1916

    Still at sea and having a good time. On deck every day and sometimes playing cards.

    June 30th 1916

    Went down below and had dinner, which consisted of rice and custard. After the dinner, had my usual nap, but somehow didn't seem to wake up.
    About 7 p.m. I found the Sister, Doctor and orderly round me, putting ice on my chest and head, and suddenly changing to hot water bottles. Gave me quite a fright and found I could move.
    The orderly was posted at my side all night and wouldn't allow me to speak. Suddenly I went right off again, and don't remember any more until I found myself lying in No. 17 General Hospital at Bombay. At first I thought I was home in England, but soon realised it wasn't so when I saw the Indian boy rushing about.
    The doctor was very kind to me and said I had a most wonderful constitution, to which, of course, I replied, and said it was Welsh air.
    I asked him if he had notified my parents to which he replied no, and said I was going to England to tell them myself.
    Of course, the very thought of going to England was heavenly, and of course, didn't do me much good.

    July 7th 1916

    Embarked on S.S. "Devanha" for Blighty, and put in a most comfortable ward on upper deck. Tales flying round that we were bound for England, and everybody most happy.
    I was allowed eggs and chicken, but took great care not to eat too much in case I should get ill and put back on milk. The weather was very rough, being monsoon time.
    Everything was done for our comfort - having concerts, cards and all sorts of games. The heat was terrible, and it was quite impossible to get about during day-time.

    July 14th 1916

    Aden sighted with cheers. Small boats came alongside, selling all kinds of goods, feathers, &c. Some more men were put on board, marked for England, so we were quite sure we were going there. Sailed away next morning and still very happy.
    We passed the Twelve Apostles at 9 a.m. 15th July.
    The heat seemed to get worse, and found it almost impossible to sleep.
    There was a good bath-room in our ward, and I made good use of it, on an average of 3 baths a day.
    One night I found it quite impossible to sleep and thought of the bath.
    At 11 p.m. I went to the bath-room and filled the bath with water and laid in same until I went to sleep. The night orderly came around at 12 o¹clock, and not seeing me in bed, thought perhaps I was in the lavatory. He came again at 2 a.m. Still not finding me in bed, he became worried. He searched all over the place and as the last resource, looked in the bath-room and found me asleep. Luckily, the plug was not water-tight, and there was only about 4 inches of water, otherwise I should have been no more. Of course, he was very angry and said he would report it to the doctor.

    July 18th 1916

    Arrived at Port Suez and picked up water and stores.

    July 19th 1916

    A Taube came over and dropped bombs, but no damage done.
    Orders were given to disembark as in hospital ships we were allowed to pass through the Suez Canal.
    We were put on a Hospital Train on the 20th. and went to Alexandria. It was my first experience of Egypt, and I was most interested in all I saw. A naval officer who was in the same carriage knew all about Egypt and explained various places.
    Arrived at Alexandria 4 p.m., and put into a motor and taken to 19 B.G.H., where again every kindness was shown. Was taken at once to a ward and ordered to bed immediately. Luckily, I came across a very comfortable corner where I met a chap who was on the same boat, so we soon got chums.

    July 21st 1916

    The doctor came round in the morning, and took full particulars of our cases, but I said I wasn't supposed to be in a hospital as I had been marked for England. No notice was taken, and the Sister said I was to remain in the hospital until a ship was sailing.

    July 24th 1916

    A large car was brought to the Hospital, and I was one of the lucky ones to go out for a ride. It was a treat and was quite pleased to be able to see the sights of Alexandria. The native quarters were all so very strange.

    July 26th 1916

    I was again picked out for another outing.
    A special train was ordered and about 40 of us went to Esbekiah Gardens and were entertained at tea by ladies.
    Tea over we went sight-seeing, and not one of our parks in England can touch the wonderful sights.

    August 8th, 1916

    I was taken before a Medical Board for inspection, and found that I was medically fit and marked for duty. All hope of going to England was cancelled. So felt very downhearted. Was sent to the detail camp at Mustapha and back to the hardships of Army Life, living in tents with no beds and only one blanket. I was still under medical treatment, receiving medicine three times daily.

    August 10th 1916

    Photograph of E. E. JonesGot a pass and visited Alexandria. The shops, &c. were all so interesting, and the "beer" good. Went to a café, and had a big dinner, like good old times. Had photo taken.
    Visited the casino. After many weary hours returned to Camp at midnight, feeling very tired.
    Put on duty next day - Goodness! how I wished I was back in Mesop. All day long you are kept at it from 6 a.m. until 8:30 p.m., with only a few minutes rest. Of course, not being very strong it began to tell on me, but I was not anxious to report sick.

    August 25th 1916

    I was detailed to join another sanitary section at Kantara. A whole day's journey in the train - no money or cigarettes. The most miserable journey ever experienced. Kantara is situated on the side of the Suez Canal, and all covered with sand. Arrived at the section at 4 p.m., feeling very much knocked, having to carry all my kit about 3 miles in the broiling sun.
    Soon made myself very comfortable and found that I had got attached to a very good section and quite a nice lot of men. The food was excellent, and you imagine how I enjoyed a good meal, not having had one since I left the hospital, except those taken in a café.

    Allenby, Edmund Henry Hynman, First Viscount Allenby of Megiddo (1861-1931)

    Born Nottinghamshire, England. Served on Kitchener's staff and in the field in South Africa during the Boer War.  Commanded the cavalry division (later cavalry corps) in the BEF, August-November 1914, then V Corps and then Third Army (October 1915).
    Replaced Sir Archibald Murray as commander, British Forces in Egypt, (June, 1917).  Allenby employed a surprise attack at Beersheba to win the third Battle of Gaza (31 October 1917) and pushed forward to Jerusalem, where the Turks were routed at Junction Station (13-15 November) and the water supplies captured, and entered Jerusalem on 10 December 1917.
    Allenby's troops were systematically re-shipped to France, leaving him without reinforcements, causing the failure of his attack on Amman in March and April 1918 - eventually enough troops were made available from Australia, New Zealand, India and South Africa, along with the Arab Army, to allow the resumption of offensive operations in July and August 1918.
    The Turkish front-line was destroyed at Megiddo (Armageddon) on 19-21 September 1918, and Allenby's forces pursued the Turkish troops and prevented any re-organisation.  The capture of Damascus (1 October), Homs (16 October), and Aleppo (25 October) indicate the speed and mobility of his offensive.  Further, the complete domination of Palestine and Syria was the major factor in causing Turkey to capitulate on 30 October 1918.
    High Commissioner of Egypt (1919-19 25).
    Contributed by Dr Robert Griffith Jones, e-mail.
    Russia mobilised 12 million men during the war; France 8.4 million; Britain 8.9 million; Germany 11 million; Austria-Hungary 7.8 million; Italy 5.6 million; and the USA 4.3 million.
    - Did you know?


                                 "Nickson Saheb

    General Sir John Nixon

    John Nixon (Indian Army officer)

    From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
    Sir John Nixon
    Sir John Nixon.jpg
    Sir John Nixon
    Born16 August 1857
    Died15 December 1921
    St. Raphaël, France
    AllegianceUnited Kingdom United Kingdom
    Service/branchIndian Army
    Commands heldBangalore Brigade
    7th (Meerut) Division
    1st (Peshawar) Division
    Southern Army, India
    Northern Army, India
    Battles/warsSecond Anglo-Afghan War
    Second Boer War
    World War I
    AwardsKnight Commander of the Order of the Bath
    Lieutenant-General Sir John Eccles Nixon (16 August 1857–15 December 1921) was senior commander of the British Indian Army. He gave the orders for the ultimately disastrous first British Expedition against Baghdad during the First World War.

    Early career[edit]

    Educated at Rossall School and then the Royal Military College, Sandhurst, Nixon was commissioned into the 75th Regiment of Foot in 1875.[1] He transferred to the Bengal Staff Corps in 1878 and then served in the Second Anglo-Afghan War.[1] He also took part in the MahsudWaziri expedition in 1881 and the Chitral Relief Force in 1895.[1] He was also appointed Chief Staff Officer of the Tochi Field Force in 1897.[1]
    Nixon served as a Cavalry Brigade Commander during the Second Boer War and then became Assistant Quartermaster General (Intelligence) in India in 1902.[1] He became commander of the Bangalore Brigade in 1903, Inspector General of Cavalry in India 1906 and General Officer Commanding 7th (Meerut) Division in 1908.[1] He went on to be General Officer Commanding 1st (Peshawar) Division in 1910 and General Officer Commanding-in-Chief Southern Army in India in 1912.[1]

    First World War[edit]

    Nixon was appointed General Officer Commanding-in-Chief Northern Army in India in February 1915.[1] Two months later he became Commander of an Expeditionary Force sent to Mesopotamia.[1] He ordered an aggressive plan to take Baghdad.[1] The British forces in India for nearly a century had operated with little or no direction from London. Following in this tradition, Nixon's aggressive stance in Mesopotamia was not submitted for approval from London. It was approved in New Delhi, and that was enough.
    Main article: Mesopotamian Campaign
    The advance into Mesopotamia met with initial success. The Ottoman forces, under the overall command of Khalil Pasha inBaghdad and more locally under Nur-Ud Din Pasha were not very well equipped and not well supplied. As far as the Ottoman leader Enver Pasha was concerned, Mesopotamia was the least important campaign in the theatre, so the Caucasus, theSinai, and the Dardanelles campaigns had priority when men and materiel were being allocated.
    From January 1915 until November, the British advanced up the Tigris and Euphrates rivers. The furthest advance was byGeneral Townshend's 6th Poona division which captured Kut on 26 September 1915. At this point, Townshend's forces were just about halfway between Basra and Baghdad and he wanted to halt. But Nixon ordered a continuation of the expedition and so the 6th Poona division headed up river. By this time the Ottoman Army had brought a retired military expert into command -Baron von der Goltz - and sent additional troops to defend Baghdad.
    General Nixon was sufficiently confident to embark with his headquarters company and proceed upriver, hoping to be in Baghdad by Christmas. However, in late November, when news reached him that Townshend's forces had fought an inconclusive battle at Ctesiphon and, too weak to continue, were retreating back to Kut, he turned back. His paddle steamer then came under attack from both sides of the river and ran aground. A sitting target, casualties mounted until the Commander in Chief of Mesopotamia ran up a white flag and invited his attackers to parley. They turned out to be Arabs who had changed sides as the tide of war had turned the Turks' way. Nixon had to pay over a huge sum before he was allowed to continue to Basra. Everyone on board the steamer was sworn to secrecy on pain of death.[2]
    Baron von der Goltz with his Ottoman army reached Kut a week behind the British. At this point, Townshend asked for permission to withdraw from Kut and, in another mistake, General Nixon refused. While Townshend's cavalry and some Royal Flying Corps assets were sent down the river, the vast majority of the 6th Poona division stayed and dug in at Kut.
    The issue of supplies for the defenders at Kut became critical. Once withdrawal became impossible, General Townshend reported that he only had enough supplies for a month. In fact, his garrison held out for five months, though at reduced rations. The supply problem caused Nixon to rapidly gather his remaining divisions and launch a hasty effort to break the siege.
    Main article: Siege of Kut
    The relief force, under the local command of General Aylmer began its efforts in early January, 1916. They forced the Ottomans out of two fortified positions (Sheikh Sa'ad and Wadi) while suffering significant casualties. However, the Battle of Hanna was a complete failure. The British troops never even reached the Ottoman defensive positions at a loss of 2,700 casualties.
    Nixon had to take the blame for the looming disaster at Kut and the inability of his army to rectify the situation and so he was removed from command (officially it was due to ill-health). He was replaced by General Sir Percy Lake (who would also fail to rescue the garrison at Kut and also be removed from command for his failure).
    In 1917, an official commission reported on the failure at Kut. Nixon was found principally responsible for the failure of the Mesopotamian Expedition.[1] This ended Nixon's military career and he died just four years later. He died in 1921.[3]

    The capture of Basra

    Basra in 1915

    Indian troops stop during the advance on Nasiriya

    Bain News Service, publisher
    Gen. Sir John Nixon & staff

    Bain News Service, publisher - Gen. Sir John Nixon & staff Print

    Gen. Sir John Nixon & staff 

    Despatch from General Sir John Nixon on the operations in ...


    From. General Sir John Nixon, K.C.B., A.D.C.,. General, Commanding Indian Expedi- tionary Force " D." To. The Chief of the General Staff,. Army Headquarters,.

    First World War 1914–1918: Mesopotamia in WW1

  • warletters.net/battles/mesopotamia/

    Despatch from General Sir John Nixon on the operations from mid April to September 1915, Second Supplement to the London Gazette, 4 April 1916, Issue ...
  • Mesopotamia, Tigris-Euphrates, 1914-1917, despatches ...

  • www.naval-history.net/WW1Battle1408Mesopotamia.htm

    The following Despatch from General Sir John Nixon, K.C.B., relative to the operations in Mesopotamia from the middle of April to the end of September, 1915, ...
  • The Siege of Kut-al-Amara, 1916 - First World War.com

  • www.firstworldwar.com/battles/siegeofkut.htm

    In this he was supported by regional Commander-in-Chief Sir John Nixon. ... blockade was set underway from Basra in January 1916, led by Sir Fenton Aylmer.
  • France, Egypt, Mesopotamia 1915-1916 - First World War.com

  • www.firstworldwar.com/diaries/edwinjones.htm

    After two stubbornly contested engagements both Fao and Basra were captured. ... Refusing to stop there, Nixon ordered the reluctant Townshend to continue ...
  • The Details



    Site Information

    Battles - The Siege of Kut-al-Amara, 1916

    British surrender in Kut to Khalil Pasha, 1916: Front row: Colonel Parr, General Townshend, Khalil Pasha.  Back row: Naum Bay, Captain W E T Morland, Naum Hava, Faud Bey.Following the signal (and, to the British at least, unexpected) failure of the Anglo-Indian attack upon Ctesiphon in November 1915 Sir Charles Townshend led his infantry force, the 6th (Poona) Division, on a wearisome retreat back to Kut-al-Amara, arriving in early December.
    Aware too that his force was exhausted and unable to retreat further Townshend resolved to stay and hold Kut, a town of key importance to the British presence in the region.  In this he was supported by regional Commander-in-Chief Sir John Nixon.  The War Office in London however favoured a retreat still further south; however by the time this news reached Townshend he was already under siege.
    Consequently the defence of Kut - sited in a loop of the River Tigris - was set in train ahead of the arrival of the besieging Turk force of 10,500 men on 7 December.  However Kut's very geographical formation in effect meant that Townshend and his men were effectively bottled up.
    Nevertheless the division's cavalry were despatched back to Basra the day before the arrival of the Turkish force (6 December 1915), since they were likely to prove of little use and yet a drain upon scarce resources during siege operations.
    Leading the Turks were Nur-Ud-Din and the German commander Baron von der Goltz.  Their instructions were straightforward if steep: to force the British entirely from Mesopotamia.
    Baron von der GoltzConsequently Nur-Ud-Din and von der Goltz attempted to pierce Kut's defences on three separate occasions in December; all however failed.  Thus the Turks set about blockading the town while despatching forces to prevent British relief operations from succeeding in reaching Kut.
    In Britain, as in India, the news of Townshend's setback had stunned the government which resolved to immediately send additional forces to the region, diverted from the Western Front.  Consideration was given to regard both Palestine and Mesopotamia as a single front.
    Townshend was led to expect rapid relief.  He himself calculated that there were enough supplies to maintain the garrison for a month (subsequently revised to two months and then to almost five), although this assumed full daily rations.
    Informed that a relief operation might take two months to assemble Townshend proposed instead breaking out and retiring further south: Nixon however insisted that he remain at Kut and therefore tie up as many Turkish forces as possible.
    In due course the first British expedition to raise the blockade was set underway from Basra in January 1916, led by Sir Fenton Aylmer.  Their efforts were repeatedly repulsed however with heavy loss, at Sheikh Sa'ad, theWadi and Hanna in January 1916 and again two months later in March at Dujaila.
    Sir Charles TownshendApril brought a further relief operation, this time led by the sceptical Sir George Gorringe.  Despite meeting von der Goltz and his Turkish Sixth Army, piercing their line some 30km south of Kut, the expedition ran out of steam and was abandoned on 22 April.
    With no further hope of relief - a final attempt by the paddle steamer Julnar to reach the town with supplies having failed - Townshend requested and received an armistice pending surrender talks on 26 April.
    The Turks agreed to send 10 days of food into the garrison while the six-day armistice was in effect.  While the talks were in progress the British took the opportunity of destroying anything of value in the town, aware of its imminent surrender.
    An additional 23,000 British casualties have been suffered during the relief efforts; the Turks lost approximately 10,000 men.
    Although Khalil Pasha, Baghdad's military governor, proved sympathetic to Townshend's offer of £1 million plus a guarantee that none of his men would be used again in fighting against the Ottoman Empire - effectively buying parole, he was instructed by Minister of War Enver Pasha to require Townshend's unconditional surrender.
    Enver PashaThis was duly delivered on 29 April 1916, the British having run out of food supplies and wracked with disease of epidemic proportions (and with entirely inadequate medical provisioning to meet it).
    It was the greatest humiliation to have befallen the British army in its history.  For the Turks - and for Germany - it proved a significant morale booster, and undoubtedly weakened British influence in the Middle East.
    Approximately 8,000 Anglo-Indian troops were taken prisoner (many weak through sickness), as was Townshend himself.  However whereas he was treated as something of an honoured guest (and ultimately was released to assist with the Ottoman armistice negotiations in October 1918), his men were treated with cruelty and routine brutality, with a significant percentage dying while in captivity.
    Baron von der Goltz meanwhile did not live to witness the conclusion of siege operations; he died ten days earlier of Typhus, although rumours persisted (unproven) that he was actually poisoned by a group of Young Turk officers.
    Click here to view a map charting operations in Mesopotamia through to 1917.
    Battles and Engagements of the Relief Operation
    Battle of SheikhOpened 6 January 1916
    Battle of the WadiOpened 13 January 1916
    Battle of HannaOpened 21 January 1916
    Battle of DujailaOpened 8 March 1916
    First Battle of Kut
    British troops entering Baghdad
    Opened 5 April 1916