Primary Documents - Sir Charles Townshend's Communiqué on the Siege of Kut, 28 April 1916

Sir Charles Townshend Reproduced below is an extract from the third of Sir Charles Townshend's official communiqués to his garrison at Kut, dated 28 March 1916.  Under siege from Turkish forces following the failure of the overly optimistic British advance upon Baghdad towards the close of 1915 - although Townshend himself had long held reservations about the plan - his communiqué was intended to sustain the inevitably flagging morale of his garrison troops in the wake of the failure of a further British relief operation.

The garrison - chiefly comprised of native Indian troops - eventually surrendered to Turkish forces at the end of April 1916 (the day after he issued this final communiqué), and was widely regarded as a heavy humiliation to British influence in the region.  Townshend's reputation, although initially intact, was subsequently tarnished when news emerged of the Turkish mistreatment of his troops, and he died in some disgrace in 1924.

Click here to read Townshend's first communiqué dated 26 January 1916; click here to read his second communiqué dated 10 March 1916; click here to read the official Austrian report into the siege; click here to read a British memoir of the final days of the siege.

Communiqué from Sir Charles Townshend to the Kut Garrison, 28 April 1916

...These considerations alone, namely, that I can help my comrades of all ranks to the end, have decided me to overcome my bodily illness and the anguish of mind which I am suffering now, and I have interviewed the Turkish General-in-Chief yesterday, who is full of admiration at "an heroic defence of five months,"' as he puts it.

Negotiations are still in progress, but I hope to be able to announce your departure for India, on parole not to serve against the Turks, since the Turkish Commander says he thinks it will be allowed, and has wired to Constantinople to ask for this, and that the Julnar, which is lying with food for us at Magasis now, may be permitted to come to us.

Whatever has happened, my comrades, you can only be proud of yourselves.  We have done our duty to King and Empire; the whole world knows that we have clone our duty.

I ask you to stand by me with your steady and splendid discipline, shown throughout, in the next few days for the expedition of all service I demand of you.

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

The German word "U-Boat" was derived from "Unterseeboot" (undersea boat).

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Primary Docs