Capture of Qurna 3–9 December 1914


Map Code: Ax00377

On 22 November the British took Basra, forcing the Ottomans to retreat to Qurna. An initial British ground force landed 3 miles (5 km) from Qurna on the River Euphrates on 3 December. As the ground force neared the town, heavy fire forced them to retreat until 6 December, when reinforcements arrived. The decisive moment came when British troops faced Qurna across the Tigris and an Indian sepoy managed to swim the river with a wire hawser, then used as a ferry line for troops to traverse the river in large numbers. Before the Turkish garrison realized, it was surrounded. They surrendered on 9 December. Amongst those taken was the local commander, Subhi Bey. The capture of Qurna gave the British secure command of the Shatt-al-Arab region. The ease of this first campaign in Mesopotamia also engendered a degree of complacency in the British High Command, which would prove costly in future encounters.

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