Kut al-Amara

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Town in Iraq.

Kut al-Amara is approximately 100 miles (160 km) southeast of Baghdad on the left bank of the Tigris, opposite the mouth of the Shatt al-Hayy, the old canal connecting the Tigris with the Euphrates. The name Kut al-Amara, often shortened to Kut, derives from the Hindi word kot, meaning fortress.

Kut al-Amara's main claim to fameor rather notorietyis the decimation of several thousand British and Indian Allied forces stranded there during World War I by the advancing Turkish forces on 29 April 1916, after a five-month-long siege. The whole affair boiled down to a miscalculation on the part of the British commander, Major General Charles Townshend, who thought he could take Baghdad. Repulsed at Ctesiphon by the Turkish forces in late November 1915, Townshend was forced to retreat to Kut. In the end, after all attempts to redeem the situation failed, the Allied forces surrendered. According to the records, approximately 2,000 Allied soldiers lost their lives during the siege, and almost 12,000 were taken as prisoners of war.


Millar, R. W. Kut: The Death of an Army. London: Secker and Warburg, 1969.

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