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British heavy guns on a railway mounting at the moment of firing

British heavy guns on a railway mounting at the moment of firing

Photographed in Mesopotamia for the War Office

 

12 December 1915

It was now seen that every effort would be made to pierce our line of defence, and every available man was sent up into the front-line or reserve trenches. The Oxford and Bucks Light Infantry and part of the Norfolks were placed in the mud fort by the river's edge or along different points of the firing line, which was otherwise made up with Ghurkas and other Indian native regiments.

13 and 14 December 1915

Things went on much the same these two days: a few attacks were made at different points, one being especially strong in the village we held (on the opposite bank of the river), facing Kut. This failed, and in fact the enemy were driven back a short distance.

15 December 1915

The Turks, seeing that they could not succeed in piercing any part of the line, now centred their attention on the fort. They shelled it until they had made large holes in the walls, and then their infantry advanced and made several daring attempts to get in. The Mobile Battery that had their guns inside did some good work, and the combined efforts of both artillery and infantry succeeded in keeping the enemy at bay. Several artillery duels took place almost every day.

16 December 1915

A couple of shells dropped into the hospital and one of them killed one man and wounded two others as they laid in their beds. This was thought to be due to bad marksmanship more than intentional, as hardly two shells pitched in the same place. Sometimes the points aimed at would not be hit at all.

17 - 21 December 1916

Things went on much as usual during these few days, and we could see the Turks working at their sap-heads. One of these was discovered quite close to our trenches, and a start was made at once to counter-sap them. It was a tough job but it was carried through with great success.

We now began to lose a lot of men by the snipers of the enemy using rifles that were fitted with telescopic sighting. They were able to bring down almost every man who appeared in the open or showed himself at all, even at a good distance behind the firing line. In a good many instances, men were shot in the head as soon as they got at the loopholes in the trenches.

22 December 1915

Now another attempt was made to get in by way of the fort. A battery of 40 pounders that the Turks brought into play soon knocked fresh holes in the walls and blew away what had been repaired. The infantry then attacked in masses, and this time they succeeded in getting inside, however not before many of them had been laid out.

23 December 1915

The enemy still held a part of the fort, and had also penetrated into the front line in one place, but a very determined effort on the part of some of the Oxfords ended in the Turks being driven back from both places. Those of the enemy who did actually enter the British trench were shot or bayoneted.

24, 25, 26 December 1915

Again the fort was attacked, both by day and by night, and during the intervals of artillery duels, the Mobile battery lost a lot of men, and their four guns were more or less put out of action. The enemy's infantry got almost around the fort, and again succeeded in gaining a footing inside, but were soon driven out again.

We had several casualties, but the enemy being on the attack all the time and in massed formation, lost very heavily. They made no attempt to bury their dead or remove the wounded, except those in the immediate vicinity of their trenches. Their losses were stated to be about 3000 during these three days.

 

British Field Ambulances drawn by mules
British Field Ambulances drawn by mules were used in the deserts of Mesopotamia

 

The text on this page is the copyright property of Mark Bale

 

 

 
 
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