First World War CentennialFirst World War Centennial

Siege of Kut

After failing to take Baghdad in 1915 and being driven back, British General Sir Charles Townshend, at the head of the sixth division of the Indian army, retreated to Kut Al Amara, a town on a loop in the Tigris. Townshend decided to stay there, despite the difficulty of bringing supplies in. Turkish forces led by German General Colmar von der Goltz surrounded them on December 7 and began besieging Kut. Within a few months, the British started to run very low on food. Several attempts were made by British forces downstream to break the siege, without success. On the final attempt, British forces were repulsed at Sannaiyat on April 22. On April 24 the Turks captured a boat on the Tigris River carrying 270 tons of food by stretching a cable across the Tigris. Townshend was now out of options and surrendered his 13,000 remaining troops on April 29, 1916. For the British, this would be their most embarrassing defeat of the war.