Just a reminder: Postings will be sparse during my current two week vacation.
In Part I of this post, I explained the background of the fact that at the outbreak of World War I, the Ottomans still retained a small garrison at Doha, Qatar, and at the neighboring al-Bida‘ Fort. Part II described the dramatis personae on the British and Qatari sides, and the orders given to the key players, Major T.H. Keyes, British Political Agent in Bahrain, and Commander Viscount Kelburn of the HMS Pyramus. For the actual events at Doha, the best approach seems to be to quote extensively from Major Keyes' account of the affair sent to Percy Cox:
From Major T.H. Keyes, I.A. [Indian Army], Political Agent, BAHRAIN To the Hon'ble Lieut-Colonel Sir Percy Cox, K.C.I.E., C.S.I., Political Resident in the Persian Gulf, BASRAH
Bushire 23rd August 1915
I have the honour to report that H.M.'s Ships "Pyramus: and "Dalhousie" arrived at Bahrain on the 18th instant, when your 1633-B of the 16th instant was delivered to me by the Commander of the "Pyramus" [Commander the Viscount Kelburn].
2. As there were no Tangsiri [= Tangistani] boats in Bahrain, I left the same afternoon in "Pyramus", arriving off Doha early on the 19th. Large numbers of boats were leaving Doha that morning, as the second fishing was just commencing. While "Pyramus" was negotiating the difficult entrance to Doha bay, I went away in an armed cutter and examined all boats that were under sail, but found no Tangsiri boats among them.
3. "Pyramus" having anchored within 2,000 yards of Doha Fort while "Dalhousie anchored out of range of the Turkish guns, I sent my interpreter ashore to fetch Shaikh Abdullah [‘Abdullah bin Jasim Al Thani, Ruler of Qatar].The terminology of British Imperial officers at the height of the Empire is telling. Qatar still had an Ottoman garrison and would not be a British protectorate until 1916, yet Keyes sent to "fetch" the ruler. I am reasonably sure that when a foreign warship pus into Doha today, no once sends to "fetch" Sheikh ‘Abdullah's great-great-grandson, Sheikh Tamim. Keyes continues:
The shaikh arrived on board in the early afternoon, and assured us there were no Tangsiri boats in his port, and that none had been there for some time, but said that he believed that some Turkish deserters had joined the Tangsiris with several rifles and large quantities of ammunition. He vehemently denies having sent Rais Ali any ammunition [See Part Two] and said that he only sent him 8 cloaks in exchange for the ten hawks Rais Ali had sent him. From independent enquiries which I instituted in Doha and Al Bida I am inclined to believe his version of the affair.
|Doha about 1904 (Lorimer's Gazeteer)|
|Doha Fort Today|
Keyes' report continues:
4. We then proceeded to discuss the question of the Turkish fort. Shaikh Abdulla [sic, Abdullah elsewhere in the report] informed me that there were two officers and forty men with two guns and one mountain gun at the Fort. Entrenchments could be sen around the Fort, the emplacement of the mountain gun could be easily distinguished, and also two objects which we took to be the emplacements for the field guns. All of these in the entrenched line.
I requested Shaikh Abdullah to place the following alternative before the Turkish Commandant:
(a) That he should surrender, when the officers would be allowed o retain their swords and be treated in the manner indicated in your letter sent by Abdul Jabbar Effendi.
(b) That he should vacate the fort leaving the guns intact in which case I would hand the Fort [inconsistent capitalization in original] over to Sheikh Abdullah, on the latter;s agreeing to look after the Turks, I insisted on an answer by 7 a.m. the next morning and Shaikh Abdullah agreed to settle the matter during the night, though he was very anxious to have ten days for the negotiations.
I promised him 5,000/- [Rupees] if he arranged the surrender of the Fort without a hitch and gave him to understand that if he failed the Fort could be taken by H.M.'s ships. I may add that the Shaikh was under the impression that "Dalhousie" was a trandport.As noted in Part II, HMS Dalhousie had been a transport in the Indian Marine Service, but four guns had been added to her.
On the morning of the 20th I landed with Commander Viscount Kelburn. On learning from Shaikh Abdullah that the Turks had fled in the night, we proceeded to the Fort which was first occupied by a landing party and searched, and then formally handed over to Shaikh Abdullah.
Besides the three guns in the trenches there were 14 rifles, about 8,000 rounds of ammunition, 500 projectiles, some casks of black powder, tents, great coats, and odds and ends of stores in the Fort. Three old muzzle loaders had also been used for revetments. The cordite charges for the guns and the breech blocks had been removed At Shaikh Abdullah's request I gave him the rifles and unfortunately promised all the rifle ammunition. Shortly after this a blue-jacked discovered 105 cases of mauser ammunition in a magazine about 100 yards way. I handed this over to the Shaikh subject to your approval.
"Dalhousie" sailed for Charbar that afternoon and "Pyramus" for Bahrain ...The remainder of the report deals with the question of the location of the Tangistani dhows. In subsequent correspondence, Cox asked for clarification as to whether the full 5,000 Rupees had been paid and whether it was possible to get the Sheikh to hand over the 105 boxes of Mauser ammunition. Keyes noted he had paid 3,000 Rupees and promised to send the other 2,000 from Bahrain, which was done along with a request for the 105 boxes, which seem to have been delivered.
Thus the Ottoman presence in Qatar came to an end.The following year Sheikh ‘Abdullah signed a Protectorate agreement with the British, handing over responsibility for foreign affairs and defense. The Protectorate lasted until independence in 1971.
|Sheikh ‘Abdullah bin Jasim|
|Sir Terence Humphrey Keyes|
|Commander Viscount Kelburn|