This Day In History: Battle Of Khadairi Bend Takes Place (1917)

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After several months of preparations,  the British army launched a new offensive against the Turkish army in Mesopotamia (Iraq).  The new British commander  Sir Frederick Maude ordered an attack on Turkish forces at Khadairi Bend. This was to the north of Kut,  a strategic point in Mesopotamia. The British had previously occupied Kut, which is located on the Tigris River in southern Iraq. The British had suffered a devastating defeat at Kut. The British had advanced to just south of Baghdad but they had fallen back to Kut, where after a 10-month siege they had been forced to surrender. Maude had replaced a commander who had been deemed to be over-cautious.  He assumed command of the British army based in the Basra Province. It was composed of British and Indian troops. Maude was by no means a reckless leader but he was determined and he adopted a cautious but effective strategy. He had by the Fall of 1916, some 150,0000 men under his command and was determined to recapture Kut, not only for strategic reasons but to avenge the British defeat earlier in 1916.

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Turkish soldiers in Mesopotamia (1916)

Maude ordered his units to advance in the first week of January and he launched a series of diversionary attacks. He managed to maneuver the Ottoman Turks into the town of Khadairi Bend, on the Tigris. This was a heavily fortified town. It had been fortified on the recommendations of the German advisors to the Turkish High Command.  The British advanced on the town and they bombarded it for some time before they launched a full-scale assault. The battle was to last for over twenty days. The Turkish were under constant bombardment but they were able to stage several counter-attacks.   There were reports of hand-to-hand combat. The British continued their attacks and the town finally fell on the 29th of January, 1917.   The British victory was hard-won. It was only the first stage in Maude’s plans. He ordered his army forward and he met the Turkish army once more at Kut. He would later defeat the Turkish army at the Second Battle of Kut. After this victory, the Turks were in disarray in Mesopotamia and they were too far away to receive any German reinforcements.

The victory of the British at the Second Battle of Kut allowed them to move on to Baghdad. They were able to secure control of the city on March the 11th. They secured it with very little fighting. The Ottoman Turkish army was forced to retreated to the mountainous areas of Northern Mesopotamia. By the middle of 1917 the British had control of most of Mesopotamia.

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