The Great War Part 206, July 27th 1918

The Victories o f Progress in Mesopotamia 427 INDIANAN CONVOY CROSSING THE DUSTY DESERT. Indian troops with the British forces in Mesopotamia. The mule-drawn army transport carts raised clouds from the “deserts dusty face ”as the animals plodded steadily on. In oval above :British troops on the march through a dusty desert way in Mesopotamia. No doubt Falkenhayn selected the Euphrates line for his main movement of concentration because of the apparent facility of river transport from the Aleppo railway along the Upper Euphrates down to the country below Hit where the great waterway of the desert swerved within twenty-five miles of Bagdad. Immense however, were the difficulties of conveying material down the meandering Euphrates for some five hundred miles of bends and twists without proper modern craft. On the map General Maude was much farther from his bases than Falkenhayn was. But the great new British supplies of ice and water. Making their final movement undercover of night the troops completely surprised the heat-wasted Turks and in an action lasting from four till a quarter past eight o'clock in the morning of July nth ,captured the enemys advanced positions. Just as the final assault was about to be launched, under conditions that seemed to ensure a decisive victory, everything was thrown into confusion by the intervention of the hand of tropical Nature. As the barren hills occupied by the enemy blazed in the heat part of the sky-line darkened and a blinding sandstorm overwhelmed the contending forces. Visual observation was impracticable, while land wires and wireless instruments would not carry messages so that the Sandstorm stops direction of the harmonised movements a battle of the attacking forces became impos­sible. The operations had then to be abandoned and the alarmed half-vanquished Turks were able to strengthen their lines and obtain considerable reinforcements. Y etas soon as the heat abated General Maude prepared another attack upon the southern Turkish front at Ramadiya. Under Major-General Sir H.T. Brooking a stronger attacking force of two infantry columns and cavalry was again concentrated within striking distance of the Ram adiya dunes and canals. The Turkish position was very strong. It was based upon arise of ground known as the Mushaid Ridge, rising sixty feet above the desert plain and moated on the north by the Euphrates River and on the south by the engineering works in Lower Mesopotamia the new river­side railway line and the comparative abundance of engined river-craft made the British commander master of the situation. For he enjoyed the advantage of a central position with interior lines against the three Turkish forces about him by the Persian frontier north­ward the Tigris river-head north-westward and the Euphrates river-head westward. He could suddenly concentrate in superior force against separated enemy divisions although the Turks generally outnumbered his men. Often he was able to anticipate the movements of the German strategist and so quash them that Enver Pasha and the Young Turk camarilla refused at last to allow Falkenhayn to waste their forces alike in Palestine and in Mesopotamia. British leap Such was the superiority of British Ramon adiya means of movement that even in the most terrible period of summer heat, Sir Frederick Stanley Maude could speed his forces across the desert in a surprising way. On July 8th 1917 for example he made a leap up the Euphrates from Feluja, and at a distance of twelve miles from his outpost line, arrived within striking distance of the important Turkish entrenchments at Ramadiya. In spite of the fact that a heatwave of unexpected intensity made the desert intolerable an Indo-British attacking column traversed the flaming wilderness and engaged the enemy. In oidinary circumstances no troops could have survived the long quick march but the Indo-British force moved in an extraordinary way being partly transported by motor-vans and motor-lorries and provided with special salt lake of Habbaniya. About three miles behind this formidable ridge position the German engineers with the Turkish force had constructed a large crescent of main entrenchments extending about a mile round Ram adiya. The eastern front was protected by the valley canal of the Euphrates while the southern front was still more strongly reinforced by aline of large sand-dunes in which machine- gun positions had been constructed. ON A BAGDAD TRAMWAY ROUTE. Western locomotion adapted to Eastern ways. Indian troops travelling on small horse-drawn tramcars in the neighbourhood of Bagdad passing a compatriot sentry standing at ease at the wayside.
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