Jump to content
The Great War (1914-1918) Forum

Kut Death March


Andrew Smith
 Share

Recommended Posts

G'day All,

My Great Uncle was captured when the Kut Garrison capitulated on April 29th, 1916. He and 13000 others were then forced to march over 700 miles to Anatolia. He ended up dying on the Ottoman Empire's version of the death railway near the Tarsus Mountains.

I have recently been given extracts of a diary of one of the AFC men captured with my uncle. I have never read a first hand account of the "death march" that goes into detail as this mans diary does. The writer in detail talks of the beatings of those unable to march, how one sergeant complained that men were being left behind to die and was given 15 lashes. Others were beaten because they had trouble keeping up and as a result of those beatings they dropped and never rose again.

Are there any other first hand accounts of the death march from Kut??

Were any Turks ever charged with crimes after the war, and did any Turk including Kemmel ever apologised? I discount his speech regarding Australians who fell are now sons of Turkey as an apology.

The only plus is that they were not Armenian or Russian, those poor souls suffered terribly as "Guests of the Unspeakable".

Regards,

Andrew.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

For a "popular" published account of Kut & the march/captivity see

Rusell Braddon The Siege (Jonathan Cape, London 1969) and later reprints/paperback editions.

LST_164

Link to comment
Share on other sites

For a "popular" published account of Kut & the march/captivity see

Rusell Braddon The Siege (Jonathan Cape, London 1969) and later reprints/paperback editions.

LST_164

Its not a good book, I have read it and was throughly disappointed.

Andrew

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Ah, one man and his dog Spot. "Townshend's concern for the welfare of his dog [spot] was considerably more in evidence then that for his troops. He even made a successful appeal to the Turkish commander that the animal should be spared the rigours of captivity and returned to Basra" Norman F. Dixon

Nice for the dog, not so for the men who were given "injections of brandy coloured fluid" and beatings.

Not many Englishman did survive that march, so I would think there would be very few eye witness accounts. The Indians may have written some though.

Alan

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Hi Andrew

Below is a list of some books written by POW's on the Kut death marches:

BISHOP, H.C.W.

A Kut prisoner / by H.C.W. Bishop. - London : John Lane, the Bodley Head, 1920. - xiii, 244p., 11

leaves of plates: ill., frontis., maps ; 20cm. (On active service series).

Our Classification: 23(=41)/3 [ Bishop, Harry Coghill Watson]

HARVEY, F.A.

The sufferings of the Kut garrison during their march into Turkey as prisoners of war: 1916-1917 / [by

F.A. Harvey; edited by J.S. Hewick]. - Ludgershall, Wiltshire : Adjutants Press, 1923. - 80p. ; 20cm

SANDES, E.W.C.

In Kut and captivity: with the Sixth Indian Division / by Major E.W.C. Sandes, M.C., R.E. - London :

John Murray, 1919. - xii, 496p., 25 leaves of plates (some fold.): ill., frontis., maps, plans, ports. ;

WHITE, T.W.

Guests of the unspeakable: the odyssey of an Australian airman - being a record of captivity and

escape in Turkey / by T.W. White. - London : John Hamilton, [1928?]. - 320p., 18p. of plates: ill.,

facsim., ports. ; 23cm.

Another good source is:

TREATMENT OF BRITISH PRISONERS OF WAR IN TURKEY

Treatment of British prisoners of war in Turkey - Delhi : Government Printing, n.d. - 46p. ; 22cm.

There were trials held in Istanbul in 1919/20 on the war crimes committed by the Turks against the Armenians and the POW's. Unfortunately the transcripts of the war crimes tribunals are in Ottoman Turkish and no English translation is available. It was recently translated into modern Turkish by Prof. Vahakn Dadrian and Taner Akcam and published in Turkey (only about a month ago).

The Armenian, Greek and Assyrian civilians who were targetted for extermination have received no apology from the government of Turkey either. They are still waiting!

Regards

David

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Hi Andrew

I'm reading 'Guests of the Unspeakable' at the moment (which I would presume you have already read), and as well as Sandes 'In Kut & Captivity' (that David has just mentioned), White also refers to E.O. Mousley's 'Secrets of a Kuttite'.

Out of interest, are you able to disclose the name of the AFC man captured with your G/uncle?

Cheers, Frev

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Its not a good book, I have read it and was throughly disappointed.

Andrew,

What was it that disppointed you so?

Rob.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Hi Andrew

I'm reading 'Guests of the Unspeakable' at the moment (which I would presume you have already read), and as well as Sandes 'In Kut & Captivity' (that David has just mentioned), White also refers to E.O. Mousley's 'Secrets of a Kuttite'.

Out of interest, are you able to disclose the name of the AFC man captured with your G/uncle?

Cheers, Frev

G'day Frev,

I am lucky enough to own a signed copy of "guests of the Unspeakable". My Uncle Will Lord was Tommy White's batman on the "Morea".

Tommy White was a friend of the family, he particularly helped my Father find work during the depression and he was always there to help my Grand mother. My Great Grand Parents were caretakers at Point Cook during the war and my father was born there in the caretakers cottage in 1916.

As for whose diary is it, well I cannot say yet but as there were only 2 AFC survivors from Kut, so you have a 50-50 chance of guessing whose it is. I have asked the mans son if it is alright to publish parts of it in an article I am writing for the Journal which is published by the Australian Society of WW1 Aero Historians. Once I get the okay from him, i will let you know who authored the diary.

Regards,

Andrew.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Andrew,

What was it that disppointed you so?

Rob.

G'day Rob,

While the book has some strong points such as painting the picture of the seige and the conditions the men endured, it never really painted the picture of what a complete bounder Townsend was.

Braddon refers to Townsend living the life while his men starved or marched but he used these references as a tool to shock rather than how Townsend disregarded his men and did not care as to how the men were suffering ........... but the most disappointing fact of all is that Braddon didn't crucify the b..tard.

There is no mention to how the Indian troops suffered a great deal more under the cruel hand of those animals who masqueraded as soldiers of the Ottoman Empire.

The other disappointing aspect of the book was the little written of the air drops of barley and wheat even millstones that the men of the Half Flight and RFC carried out, he disregards what am amazing feat this was in its day, considering the aircraft that were being used.

There was no mention of the ingenuity of the air mechanics under the direction of Captain Winfred Smith, who erected mills so the could produce flour.

There are aspects of the death march that are omitted but thats just me being picky.

I found it disappointing.

Andrew

Link to comment
Share on other sites

As for whose diary is it, well I cannot say yet but as there were only 2 AFC survivors from Kut, so you have a 50-50 chance of guessing whose it is. I have asked the mans son if it is alright to publish parts of it in an article I am writing for the Journal which is published by the Australian Society of WW1 Aero Historians. Once I get the okay from him, i will let you know who authored the diary.

Okay, so I'll take a punt and guess it's the one that writes a good letter to his sister - and lived to the ripe old age of 95 (amazing!)

So, it's probably the other one, right?

Would be really interested in reading your finished article - guess I'll have to join the Society (& then I guess it's a long wait until the journal will be published!)........

Cheers, Frev

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I've never seen it, but there's this book as well:

Johnston, M.A.B. & Yearsley, K.K. 'Four-Fifty Miles to Freedom', Edinburgh & London, William Blackwood & Sons, 1919.

In his "War Books", Cyril Falls wrote: Captains Johnston and Yearsley were captured at Kut and confined at Yozgad in Anatolia. They escaped with several other British others, wandered for five weeks, and reached the coast, where they got hold of a boat and finally reached Cyprus. This is a very good story. The ingenuity and care with which the escape was prepared, the strange vicissitudes of the long road to freedom, the encounters with villagers, shepherds, and gendarmes, make it all breathlessly exciting.

Aubrey Herbert's 'Mons, Anzac and Kut' tells some of the story of the pre-surrender negotiations with the Turks, though does not cover the death march itself. This can be downloaded off the internet.

Other books and articles that cover the treatment of POWs of the Turks in detail - some refer to prisoners who survived the march from Kut:

Foster, J. R. 'Two and a half years Prisoner of War in Turkey'. National Archives & AWM, Canberra.

Halpin, J. 'Blood in the Mists', Sydney, Macquarie Head Press, 1934.

Halpin, J. 'Captives of the Turk', in 'Reveille', Sydney. 1 Mar 1934, 1 Apr 1934, 1 May 1934, 1 Jun 1934, 1 Jul 1934, p25, 26. p48. p?. p29. p15..

Halpin, J. 'Praise of the Turks. A 'Captive' in Reply', in 'Reveille' Sydney. 1 Aug 1934, p 6.

Luscombe, L. H. 'The Story of Harold Earl - Australian', Brisbane, W. R. Smith & Paterson, 1970.

Lushington, R. F. 'A Prisoner With The Turks 1915 - 1918', London, Simpkin, Marshall, Hamilton, Kent & Co. Ltd, 1923.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Okay, so I'll take a punt and guess it's the one that writes a good letter to his sister - and lived to the ripe old age of 95 (amazing!)

So, it's probably the other one, right?

Would be really interested in reading your finished article - guess I'll have to join the Society (& then I guess it's a long wait until the journal will be published!)........

Cheers, Frev

Very good mate, but the you could be wrong.

As far as the society goes, I have just rejoined again after years in the wilderness, the more members the better, other wise it may have a similar fate to many RSL clubs ......... it will disappear as the members age and fly on to bluer skies.

Regards,

Andrew

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I've never seen it, but there's this book as well:

Johnston, M.A.B. & Yearsley, K.K. 'Four-Fifty Miles to Freedom', Edinburgh & London, William Blackwood & Sons, 1919.

In his "War Books", Cyril Falls wrote: Captains Johnston and Yearsley were captured at Kut and confined at Yozgad in Anatolia. They escaped with several other British others, wandered for five weeks, and reached the coast, where they got hold of a boat and finally reached Cyprus. This is a very good story. The ingenuity and care with which the escape was prepared, the strange vicissitudes of the long road to freedom, the encounters with villagers, shepherds, and gendarmes, make it all breathlessly exciting.

Thanks Bryn,

I have old copies of Reveille in the roof so I will have to drag them down and see if I have the issues you mentioned.

Andrew.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Hi Pals,

I have Johnston and Yeardsley's book. I will look at it if anyone wants to know what it contains.

Hot off the press is;

Captured at Kut: Prisoner of the Turks; The Great War Diaries of Colonel WC Spackman Tony Spackman (Ed); Pen and Sword; Barnsley; 2008; ISBN 978 18441 58737

I have not read it yet as it only arrived today.

Doug

Link to comment
Share on other sites

In Brigands Hands and Turkish Prisons 1914-1918; A Forder. This was also available on the internet but I have lost the link. I have it down loaded though

Doug

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 2 weeks later...
  • 3 months later...
Thanks Bryn,

I have old copies of Reveille in the roof so I will have to drag them down and see if I have the issues you mentioned.

Andrew.

Hello Andrew,

Have you been able to find these copies of Reveille?

Cheers,

Shahane

Link to comment
Share on other sites

G'day All,

My Great Uncle was captured when the Kut Garrison capitulated on April 29th, 1916. He and 13000 others were then forced to march over 700 miles to Anatolia. He ended up dying on the Ottoman Empire's version of the death railway near the Tarsus Mountains.

I have recently been given extracts of a diary of one of the AFC men captured with my uncle. I have never read a first hand account of the "death march" that goes into detail as this mans diary does. The writer in detail talks of the beatings of those unable to march, how one sergeant complained that men were being left behind to die and was given 15 lashes. Others were beaten because they had trouble keeping up and as a result of those beatings they dropped and never rose again.

Are there any other first hand accounts of the death march from Kut??

Were any Turks ever charged with crimes after the war, and did any Turk including Kemmel ever apologised? I discount his speech regarding Australians who fell are now sons of Turkey as an apology.

The only plus is that they were not Armenian or Russian, those poor souls suffered terribly as "Guests of the Unspeakable".

Regards,

Andrew.

Another one to try is Capt. J E H Neville's History of the 43rd and 52nd Light Infantry in the Great War Vol 1.

John

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Hi Pals,

I have Johnston and Yeardsley's book. I will look at it if anyone wants to know what it contains.

Hot off the press is;

Captured at Kut: Prisoner of the Turks; The Great War Diaries of Colonel WC Spackman Tony Spackman (Ed); Pen and Sword; Barnsley; 2008; ISBN 978 18441 58737

I have not read it yet as it only arrived today.

Doug

Other original letters for the campaign by WC Spackman are held in the National Army Museum archives. they cover his service with the 48th Pioneers and captivity post-Kut.

Cheers

Simon Moody

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Hello Gentlemen, if I may add just a bit of information. Ghost has mentioned Norman F. Dixon in passing. This author has written a book titled, "On the Psychology of Military Incompetence", Futura Publications,1985. He has a 15 pages chapter on the siege of Kut and Townshend.A good read to understand Townshend's incompetence, motives and lack of actions.

Joe

Link to comment
Share on other sites

here is photo of memorial plaque (Baghdad North Gate Cemetery) for those died in the of the Turks during the march from kut.

post-3604-1246982741.jpg

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
 Share

×
×
  • Create New...