HC Deb 26 February 1917 vol 90 cc1694-5

May I ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether he can make any statement regarding the military operations in Mesopotamia?


A Report has been received from the General Officer Commanding in Mesopotamia on the operations of 24th February and following dates:

"(1) The successful passage of the stream at Shumran on 23rd February was rapidly and effectively exploited during the following nights, our patrols pushing forward boldly and maintaining close contact with the enemy. Early on the morning of the 24th the ridge across the neck of the Shumran Peninsula was in our hands and it became evident that the enemy was in full retreat in the direction of Baghailah, twenty-four miles west of Kut-el-Amara. The Turkish depots and stores at many points were in flames, and strong rearguards, supported by artillery, had been disposed to oppose our advance.

By 8 a.m. a strong force of Cavalry had crossed the Tigris, and at once manœuvered to gain the flank of the Turkish line of retreat.

Throughout the day both our Cavalry and Infantry were heavily engaged, inflicting severe, but as yet unknown, casualties on the enemy.

(2) Meantime, our successes at Sanna-i-Yat were further pursued, and our Infantry proceeded to capture and secure in succession the Turkish fifth line of defences, the Nakhailat and the Suwada positions, finally reaching the line Ataba Marshmagasis.

Throughout the fighting our aeroplane squadrons have co-operated with invaluable results, freely using bombs and machine guns from minimum altitudes.

In the two days' fighting we have captured 1,730 prisoners, including at least one Turkish regiment commander and four Germans, four field guns, ten machine guns, three mine-throwers and a large quantity of rifles and ammunition.

As a result of these operations the whole of the enemy's positions from Sanna-i-Yat to Kut-el-Amara have been secured. Kut itself passes automatically into our hands.

As the fighting has now become of an open character and our forces are disposed on a wide front, it has not yet been possible to ascertain fully the extent of the Turkish losses in men and material."

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