Local Casualties of a Forgotten War in Iraq

In advance of our next evening talk on April 15th 2021, we reproduce here the article by Wendy Pearse from the society’s Journal No 18 published in 2003.

Map of the Middle East showing Iraq, formerly Mesopotamia

Wendy Pearse had done some research on the experiences of Sergeant Frederick Smith of Ascott in the First World War. She realised that the campaign in Mesopotamia (now Iraq) in which he was involved was one of the longest in British history, was virtually unknown to her. The campaign included the Siege of Kut, a name not readily recalled by many when thinking of decisive World War One battles.

Wendy imagined that Fred Smith was probably the only man from this area who was part of this obscure theatre of war. But the more she read about this totally disastrous, badly planned and well concealed episode of the Great War, she discovered that an appreciable number of men from around the Wychwood area were involved.

These were men of the regular army, members of the 1st Battalion Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire Light Infantry who were serving in the Indian Army before the war, and were sent directly from India, initially to help secure the oilfields of Mesopotamia during the latter part of 1914.

The full article, with local names is available here as a PDF