|Gen. Sir Arthur Barrett|
|Süleyman Askeri Bey (Turkish Wikipedia)|
The overall commander of British forces in the area was General Sir John Barrett with the 6th Poona Division.
Süleyman Askeri decided to attempt to retake Basra by an end run to the west, through a British position at Shaiba fort, where about 7,000 men under Brigadier General C.I. Fry with the 18th Indian Infantry Brigade was stationed.
|Shaiba Fort and British Camp, 1915|
|Mesopotamia 1915 (West Point)|
Once it became obvious that there was a threat to Shaiba, the second in command of the 6th Poona Division, Major General Charles Melliss was sent to reinforce Fry at Shaiba. Defeated by the flooded ground, he returned to Basra and eventually reached Shaiba by boat. Melliss was the ranking officer on the scene and took command,
|Gen. Fry and Staff|
|Gen Charles Melliss|
That left the Ottoman regular forces. On the morning of the 14th it was discovered they had withdrawn to the nearby Barjisiyya woods. Fighting lasted from midmorning until 5 pm. As things seemed desperate and the British artillery was running out of shells, the 2nd Dorsets lunched a bayonet charge and carried the Turkish position. The Ottomans retreated upriver, never to threaten Basra again.
But the British learned the wrong lesson. Convinced the Turks were poorly organized, they decided to advance up the rivers and try to take Baghdad. General Sir John Nixon took command of a reinforced force in Mesopotamia, and General Sir Arthur Barrett yielded command of the 6th (Poona) Division to General Charles Vere Townshend, who would soon make a name for himself. Unfortunately that name would be Townshend of Kut the man who surrendered more British Empire troops than anyone else up to that time.
A couple of key links:
There's a great collection of photos from Shaiba at this site honoring the Indian Army.
The Indian Army report can be found as"Report on the Operations in the Vicinity of Shaiba 12th-14th April 1915. Simla: General Staff India, 1915," at the Qatar Digital Archive. The detailed maps unfortunately do not reproduce well,