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charlie962

Mespot- PoW exchanges in 1916

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charlie962

As far as I know there were two exchanges of PoWs with the Turkish in  Mesopotamia in 1916:

 

"Exchange 1 "   -Immediately after the surrender of the Kut garrison on 29/4/16 there was an agreed exchange of PoWs. Because the Turkish were still trying to win the Indian vote, the vast majority exchanged were Indian ORS. The few British ORs were limited to very sick or wounded. Many legitimate cases were somewhat arbitrarily refused by the Turkish who clearly had the upper hand. The Turkish PoWs released by the British were fit men. I am uncertain whether they were released in Mespot or Egypt ?

 

According to the Diary of HS Sikkim, the ship used to take the PoWs down from Kut to Amara (?), she loaded over a period 2/5-9/5/16  the following-

   British Officers    4

   British ORs       149 edited 100

   Indian ORs    1,100 edited   980    (edited as result of re-checking war diary)

 

TheTimes published the Casualty List naming the 4 British Officers but of British ORs only listed 80 names. Looking at the regiments they seem to include all the Infantry and Artillery units but there are none from the Signals, RE/S&M, S&T.

 

Does anyone have any clues as to who are the missing British ORs ?

                                  -----------------------------------------------------

"Exchange 2"   -In Baghdad there were already a number of PoWs from the Relief Force.  When Kut surrendered, all the Kut Garrison troops were marched through Baghdad. Quite a number totally incapable of marching had been sent up from Kut on the Julnar and another boat. So the 'hospital' at Baghdad was full to overflowing and with totally inadequate medical facilities. When most of the Kut Garrison continued their terrible march into Turkey, there were still several hundred men left in Baghdad. The death rate amongst these was appalling. The Turkish finally agreed to another exchange but delays occurred ( in part perhaps the fault of India ?)  Eventually the men were loaded onto HS Sikkim (same as used for exchange 1) early August. At the last minute the Turkish said there were too many and removed 50 men. The ship sailed downriver but remained on the Turkish side for a month before negotiations were complete and she sailed to Amara. There is a good description of all this in Barber's  'Besieged in Kut and After' .  Unfortunately Sikkim's War Diary doesn't seem to exist for this period.

 

Generally there was talk of '350' men exchanged. This would include Indian ORS.

Looking at ADMS diary for Basra for 9/9/16 there is noted that "Sikkim arrived with 11 sick Officers, 131 sick ORs, 11 Medical Officers and 16 Followers from Baghdad... placed on Varsova for passage to Bombay."  Another reference ADMS Amara suggests these 131 ORs were all BORs.

 

The names trickled out in various casualty lists in Oct, Nov and Dec 1916. I can come up with a total of 94. This excludes the RWKs for whom I find no official Casualty List. But the QORWK Gazette gives a listing of 16 of those "released ..some time ago and are, we believe, doing well in India."

So I have a list of 110 names which is still shortof the possible 131 ?

 

Does anyone have any clues as to who are the missing British ORs ?

                                      -----------------------------------------------

 

I my researching for members of the Kut Garisson, there are a number of men from 'Kut' units who appear to have 'disappeared' from records in 1916 but reappear in 1917 in Mespot, India or even UK. It may just be that they went sick in Nov 1915 and escaped the Siege. But I wonder whether they could be some of the missing exchanges ? Unfortunately the absence of service records etc means I cannot verify this. Hence the need to find more authoritative and comprehensive lists of those Exchanged.

 

As a parallel thread has highlighted, Mespot casualty reporting was erratic.

I suspect that there may be something in FO files ?

I'd be grateful for help please.

 

Charlie

 

PS thanks to forum member PJS for the ADMS find !

 

 

 

 

 

Edited by charlie962

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PJS

Charlie,

 

Do you have these men on your list?

 

Kut-POWs.PNG.01eb8be3feea8981714050f5bb2dd3da.PNG

 

Kut-POWs-II.PNG.f06f218cd6f83bf1545b2553d1f32633.PNG

 

From "History of the 43rd and 52nd (Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire) Light Infantry", By Captain J. E. H. Neville

 

Peter

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charlie962

Peter- yes I have the book but thanks anyway and I am going to double check that I have them.

 

It is in the attached where Neville lacks detail-

Bulman was Border Regt and I have him

Follows was Leicestershire Regt  and  I have him

Shopland was Somerset and I have him

 

Sanderson is interesting.ex Border Regt 2956 attd OBLI, I had picked him up as Kut but haven't found a casualty list reporting him exchanged so he is not in my list. However he was discharged with Silver War Badge 12/12/17 so clearly must have been an exchange.   Can anyone find him on an exchanged list please ?

I already have him on CasLists 24/6 and 29/8/16 but these say PoW and nothing about an exchange.

There's no surviving Service Record for him though FMP has one of those misc bits of paper that I will try to decypher.

 

It might lead to others ?

 

 

Edit:

For the Regulars, I have them all except

Oakes (or Oaks) Arthur Charles 8478- I have no other reference to him other than Neville, and an old Militia Atttestation.

However he was on the Persian Gulf Cas List 18/1/16 as wounded, suggesting he could have been one of the wounded held inside Kut during the siege and could have been a candidate for later exchange but ???  I shall try to trace his discharge.

 

Martin, Philip Wm, 9336-  noted by Neville as 'exchanged and erroneously reported died'.  CWGC have him on Basra Memorial as 'died whilst PoW' 4/9/16. Soldiers Effects have him as died 4/9/16 Shamrun Camp. My interpretation of all this is that he did actually die- he was on the exchange boat Sikkim which had been  tied up at Shamrun for three weeks waiting clearance to cross the lines, clearance that was given 4 days later. That said, he was not on my list but can now be added!**

 

**Editedit- This leads me to sheet ICRC R50528 which lists half a dozen others reported died at Kut lateAug early Sept 1916. It makes sense that these were all on Sikkim. So I have a few more to follow up.

 

Late edit edit edit. R50528 includes Elliott 8952 Dorsets whose service file survives and has good paperwork trail corroborating the above supposition.

 

A good prompt, Peter. Thanks

 

 

Charlie

 

Edited by charlie962

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PJS

Charlie,

 

I came across the article below yesterday and what struck me was that the author appears to have written several pieces about Kut and seems have access to some reference material not readily available to the rest of us. I thought that perhaps if you contacted him he may be able to provide you with any Turkish military documentation on the PoW exchanges. Admittedly, a bit of a wild card but you never know what might turn up ...

 

THE_SIEGE_OF_KUT_AL_AMARA_ON_THE_100TH_ANNIVERSARY_AND_THE_DEFEATS_OF_THE_BRITISH_RELIEVING_FORCE_IN_MEMORIES.pdf

 

I was particularly struck by this reference:

Turkish General Staff (1996). Türk Silahlı Kuvvetleri Tarihi ("History of the Turkish Armed Forces") 1908-1920, Vol. 3, Chapter 6, Ankara: Turkish General Staff Military History and Strategic Studies Directorate Publications.

 

Peter

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charlie962

Peter, I am always impressed by thesources you unearth. Many thanks.  I shall look at this with great interest.

 

 

Just to show where I am at the moment, here is a chart by unit and CasList or other source.

               1294228772_KutExchangesSummaryforGWF.JPG.f3a2f25a0c475f5e4a2c9cc19c33e0bb.JPG          

A reminder that the target total BORs for

   Exchange 1   is  149   100  edit on rechecking war diary Sikkim

  -Exchange 2   is  131

                 Total     280  231

 

But I note that the Parliamentary Commission report on PoWs said that at the time there were some total 274 PoW exchanges or escapees.

 

I have appended the total number of men at Kut (approx) so that some idea of potential omissions can be gained. (Note not all exch2 were exKut)

-  I think the RFA/RGA exch 2  looks very light

-  There seems to be a complete absence of RE/Sappers&Miners and Supply and Transport. These would be Indian administered and might explain why I cannot find them on UK published Casualty Lists ? How can I trace these ?

 

Charlie

 

              

Edited by charlie962

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JulianR

This might not help but Lt.-Col E.W.C. Sandes, R.E. wrote in Kut and Captivity with the Sixth Indian Division, about his experiences commanding the Divisional Bridging Train, but how much it will tell you about POW exchanges I do not know.

 

Julian

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charlie962

Thank you both for those replies.

 

I'm sure the India Office records will have something but unless it is online I cannot get at it. I shall look at this and also similar links Maureen has previously provided.

 

Sandes's book has been very useful for a lot of detail and it was from his book that I took the approx total garrison figures.

 

 

Just going back to Neville's book on the OBLI. I see he has Pte Nestor (8812, John Sidney) as 'escaped' although Nestor appears on the casualty list of 'exchanged'.  Does anyone have any further info on this man ?

 

Charlie

 

Edited by charlie962

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charlie962
On 31/01/2019 at 14:12, PJS said:

Turkish General Staff (1996).  etc

Peter,

I have read his document. Always good to read a summary from a different angle.Of course one never agrees entirely with the other side but basically he is correct, the Turkish won at Gallipoli and won again by capturing the 6th Division at Kut and it was a big knock-back for British prestige. I don't agree that Ctesiphon was quite the Turkish 'victory' in the way that he portrays and that the failure of the Relief Force efforts was due to Townshend's failure to attempt a breakout from Kut. But what do I know ?

I suspect the sources at Turkish General Staff level will not be delving into individual soldier's names? And the article is very much at a summary level.

 

One of the future interesting archives to be uncovered is that touched on recently in another thread- the digitisation of Turkish Red Crescent Archives. I hope Trajan is going to keep us well informed !!

 

Charlie

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charlie962

My figures for target number of PoWs in Exchange 1 were overstated. I've now transcribed Sikkim war diary and see that I have double counted 49 BORs who were off loaded then re-loaded.  So I have edited my posts 1 and 5.  But I am still adrift.

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PJS
16 hours ago, charlie962 said:

Peter,

I have read his document. Always good to read a summary from a different angle.Of course one never agrees entirely with the other side but basically he is correct, the Turkish won at Gallipoli and won again by capturing the 6th Division at Kut and it was a big knock-back for British prestige. I don't agree that Ctesiphon was quite the Turkish 'victory' in the way that he portrays and that the failure of the Relief Force efforts was due to Townshend's failure to attempt a breakout from Kut. But what do I know ?

I suspect the sources at Turkish General Staff level will not be delving into individual soldier's names? And the article is very much at a summary level.

 

One of the future interesting archives to be uncovered is that touched on recently in another thread- the digitisation of Turkish Red Crescent Archives. I hope Trajan is going to keep us well informed !!

 

Charlie

 

Charlie,

 

I took the liberty of contacting the author and asked him for "any" official Turkish military information that he may have regarding the two PoW exchanges. I have received a response this morning that he will look into it and let me know ...

 

Peter

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charlie962

Peter, you are a good man.

Charlie

 

PS you are probably good at answering my other post here ?

Edited by charlie962

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charlie962

Exchange 1

As a result of transcribing Sikkim War Diary I see she unloaded each day and transferred cases to 7th Div ADMS. 7th Div ADMS War Diary confirms this and as well as giving me some further pointers, confirms the total numbers, viz:

     4 British Officers

 100 British Other Ranks

983 Indian Other Ranks

 

So this confirms I am looking for 20 BORs

 

Charlie

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charlie962

There is a useful summary table  of Exchange 1 in the Corps level War Diary. It is by rank, not by unit unfortunately. I shall try to compare for clues  But that already tells me that in the 100 there were two Petty Officers and a Conductor; I have no Navy or Indian IUL or S&T in my list so these are three of the missing 20.

Charlie

 

I would post the table here but Forum Rules don't allow ?

Edited by charlie962

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charlie962
Posted (edited)

I have just stumbled across this fascinating digitised file held at BL

 

Dated Nov 1916 (edit -actually original Sept 1916) it is an Intelligence summary of interviews with the exchanged PoWs from Baghdad plus a printed account by Lt McNeal RFA of his experiences of PoW Treatment by the Turkish. A lot of detail to go through and interesting to see the true state of awareness of the Military Authorities at this date.

 

This quote from McNeal stands out:

1858726889_KutRFAMcNealLieutsurvival.JPG.b69bd87c1151a64487c0fa88c826070c.JPG

 

Charlie

 

Edited by charlie962

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seaJane

Rather horribly right, wasn't he?

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