Battle of Basra (1914)

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Battle of Basra (1914)
Part of Mesopotamian Campaign of Middle Eastern theatre (World War I)
Date November 11–21, 1914
Location Basra, Southern Iraq
30°25′N 48°01′E / 30.417°N 48.017°E / 30.417; 48.017Coordinates: 30°25′N 48°01′E / 30.417°N 48.017°E / 30.417; 48.017
Result British victory
Territorial
changes
British capture of al-Basra
Belligerents
United Kingdom British Empire
 Ottoman Empire
Casualties and losses
500 casualties 1,300 casualties
For other battles of Basra, see Battle of Basra (disambiguation).

The Battle of Basra was a battle of World War I which took place south of the city of Basra (modern-day Iraq) between British and Ottoman troops from November 11 to November 21, 1914. The battle resulted in the British capture of Basra.

Background[edit]

After the capture of Fao by the British, the Ottoman army began to converge on Basra. The British had the mission of securing the Persian oil fields by capturing Basra, and they advanced up the river towards Basra.[1]

The battle[edit]

On November 7, 1914, British troops began the march from Fao to Basra.[2] The Ottomans attacked the British camp at dawn on November 11, but were defeated.[3] The Ottomans prepared defensive positions at Saihan, and on November 15 the British attacked. The Ottomans were beaten, suffering 250 casualties and the British continued to advance.[4] The main Ottoman position was at a place the British called Sahil. The Ottomans had 4,500 soldiers dug in near some palm groves and an old mud walled fort. On November 19, the British advanced with two brigades of British and Indian infantry, some artillery and cavalry. Their advance was hampered by a rain storm, which made movement difficult. Ottoman fire, both rifle and artillery, was inaccurate. The British and Indian troops pressed on and when they came close the British artillery finally found the range, bringing fire directly upon the Ottoman trenches. The mud walled fort fell, and with that the entire Ottoman force got up and ran.[5] Due to the condition of the ground, the cavalry was unable to pursue. Ottoman losses were maybe 1,000; the British and Indian troops lost 350.[6] On the river, the British gunboats encountered a launch with a deputation from Basra to tell the British that the city had been abandoned by the Ottomans, asking for troops to occupy it and stop looting.[7] Several battalions were loaded on the gunboats and on November 21, the Indian troops of the 104th Wellesley Rifles and 117th Mahrattas occupied Basra.[8]

Aftermath[edit]

The capture of Basra was a major step in protecting the Persian oilfields and refineries. However, the ambiguity of the mission would lead to mission creep that would lead the British to advance up the river.[9]

References[edit]

  1. ^ A.J. Barker, The First Iraq War, 1914–1918, Britain's Mesopotamian Campaign,(Enigma, New York, 2009; originally published in 1967 as The Bastard War(US)/The Neglected War(UK)), 26.
  2. ^ Corp., American. "Battle of Basra 1914." Encyclopedia Americana. University of Michigan, MI: American corp., 1965.
  3. ^ A.J. Barker, The First Iraq War, 1914–1918, Britain's Mesopotamian Campaign,(Enigma, New York, 2009; originally published in 1967 as The Bastard War(US)/The Neglected War(UK)), 26.
  4. ^ A.J. Barker, The First Iraq War, 1914–1918, Britain's Mesopotamian Campaign,(Enigma, New York, 2009; originally published in 1967 as The Bastard War(US)/The Neglected War(UK)), 27.
  5. ^ A.J. Barker, The First Iraq War, 1914–1918, Britain's Mesopotamian Campaign,(Enigma, New York, 2009; originally published in 1967 as The Bastard War(US)/The Neglected War(UK)), 28.
  6. ^ A.J. Barker, The First Iraq War, 1914–1918, Britain's Mesopotamian Campaign,(Enigma, New York, 2009; originally published in 1967 as The Bastard War(US)/The Neglected War(UK)), 28.
  7. ^ Charles Townsend, Desert Hell, The British Invasion of Mesopotamia (Harvard Univ Press, Cambridge, Mass, 2010), 33–34.
  8. ^ A.J. Barker, The First Iraq War, 1914–1918, Britain's Mesopotamian Campaign,(Enigma, New York, 2009; originally published in 1967 as The Bastard War(US)/The Neglected War(UK)), 29.
  9. ^ Charles Townsend, Desert Hell, The British Invasion of Mesopotamia (Harvard Univ Press, Cambridge, Mass, 2010), 37–38.