|(handwritten) H[ouse] of Lords:
(handwritten) Original - with Autograph corrections WO/62.
4th. May 1916.
I am glad
that the Noble and Gallant Lord has afforded me this opportunity of paying
a tribute to General Townshend and his troops, whose dogged determination
and splendid courage have earned for them so honourable a record.
It is well
known how, after a series of brilliantly fought engagements, General Townshend
decided to hold the strategically important position at Kut-el-Amara,
and it will not be forgotten that his dispositions for the defences of
that position (handwritten)
place were so excellent and so complete that the enemy, notwithstanding
large numerical superiority, was wholly unable to penetrate his lines.
will not fail to realise how tense was the strain borne by those troops
who for more than twenty weeks held to their posts under conditions of
abnormal climatic difficulty, and on rations calculated for protraction
to the furthest possible period until as it
proved imminent starvation itself compelled the capitulation of
this gallant garrison, which consisted of 2,970 British and some 6,000
Indian troops with including followers.
and his troops in their honourable captivity will have the satisfaction
of knowing that, in the opinion of their comrades, which I think I may
say this House and the country fully share, they did all that was humanly
possible to resist to the last, and that their surrender reflects no discredit
on themselves or on the record of the British and Indian armies.
was of course made to relieve the beleaguered force, and I am not travelling
beyond the actual facts in saying that to the adverse elements alone was
due the denial of success; the constant rain and consequent floods not
only impeding the advance but compelling - in lieu of a
turning movement(handwritten)s - a
direct attack(handwritten)s on an almost impossibly narrow front. No praise
would seem extravagant for the troops under the
leadership of Sir Percy Lake and Sir George Gorringe, and that
they did not reap the fruit of their courage and devotion is solely due
to the circumstances which fought against them.
The last message
sent by General Townshend from Kut was addressed in these terms:-
"We are pleased to know that we have done our duty, and recognise
that our situation is one of the fortunes of war. We thank you and General
Gorringe and all ranks of the Tigris force for the great efforts you
have made to save us."
I think the
House, no less that the country at large, will endorse these words, and
I am sure that those who held - and those who strained every nerve to
relieve - Kut, have alike earned our admiration and gratitude.