from an official report
'Wounded in Mesopotamia'

In the Middle-East

a view of Kut-al-Amara


Early in 1915 British troops attacked the Turks after a landing in the Persian Gulf. An advance was made to Kut but this was besieged by the Turks. A fierce battle was fought at Ctesiphon on November 22, 1915. The awful conditions of the sick and wounded is described in the following passage.


Dec. I was standing on the bridge in the evening when the Medjidieh arrived. She had two steel barges, without any protection against the rain, as far as I remember. As this ship, with two barges, came up to us I saw that she was absolutely packed, and the barges too, with men. The barges were slipped, and the Medjidieh was brought alongside the Varela. When she was about 300 or 400 yards off it looked as if she was festooned with ropes. The stench when she was close was quite definite, and I found that what I mistook for ropes were dried stalactites of human fasces. The patients were so huddled and crowded together on the ship that they could not perform the offices of nature clear of the edge of the ship, and the whole of the ship's side was covered with stalactites of human faeces. This is what I then saw. A certain number of men were standing and kneeling on the immediate perimeter of the ship. Then we found a mass of men huddled up anyhow—some with blankets and some without. They were lying in a pool of dysentery about 30 feet square. They were covered with dysentery and dejecta generally from head to foot. With regard to the first man I examined, I put my hand into his trousers, and I thought that he had a haemorrhage. His trousers were full almost to his waist with something warm and slimy. I took my hand out, and thought it was blood clot. It was dysentery. The man had a fractured thigh, and his thigh was perforated in five or six places. He had apparently been writhing about the deck of the ship.

Many cases were almost as bad. There were a certain number of cases of terribly bad bedsores. In my report I describe mercilessly to the Government of India how I found men with their limbs splinted with wood strips from "Johnny Walker" whisky boxes, "Bhoosa" wire, and that sort of thing.

Major R. Markham Carter, in Mesopotamia Report