|Walter S. Delamain|
I've also noted that even before the British declaration of war on the Ottoman Empire on November 5, 1914, the British were moving, declaring martial law in Egypt on November 2 and bombarding the Turkish forts at the entrance to the Dardanelles on November 3. Those were the first British shots fired at Turkey (the Russians, who declared war three days earlier, were already inside Turkish territory in the Caucasus; I'll be discussing that soon.)
|Fao to Basra, 1914|
On that same November 6 a century ago, Delamain landed a small force on the Fao Peninsula, to suppress the guns at and around the fort at Fao. This first British landing force to set foot on Ottoman territory consisted of about 600 men, including one company each from the 2nd Dorsets (2nd Battalion, Dorsetshire Infantry), the 20th Punjabis (20th Duke of Cambridge's Own Infantry/"Brownlow's Punjabis"), and the 117th Mahrattas, along with some Royal Marines from the HMS Ocean, the only British battleship present but with too deep a draft to enter the Shatt, and at least two mountain guns. They landed a few miles north of the Turkish fort on the morning of the 6th, The small Turkish force put up some resistance and held out until the British brought up heavier artillery; the last resistance surrendered on November 8.
Meanwhile, the bulk of the landing force headed for Sanniyeh (Saniyya), more or less opposite the Abadan refinery (see map above). They encountered multiple problems: a lack of docking facilities, marshy ground, high winds, and no true landing craft, and it took two days, November 8-10, to land the troops. Fortunately they met no immediate resistance. The bulk of the Turkish forces in the region were in Basra, mostly scattered battalions from various regiments; this would soon change.
|Gen. Sir Arthur Barrett|
On the 12th, Barrett arrived in the gulf with another of Force "D"'s brigades, the 18th, and elements of the 6th Division divisional troops; on the 14th he took command, and Delamain resumed command of the 16th Brigade.
The first week of the Mesopotamian campaign had reinforced every stereotype the British held about the "Sick Man," the Ottoman Empire, and about "the East" in general (though the bulk of their troops were Indian Army). The Ottomans were unprepared to defend Basra and it, too, would soon fall, leading the British to assume it would be relatively easy to go on to Baghdad. (Do the British use the term "cakewalk?" Did they in 1914?) But they would find that Kut lay on the road to Baghdad.