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'B 299. Mesopotamia. Note on Demobilisation by Civil Commissioner, Baghdad.' [‎2r] (3/8)

The record is made up of 4 folios. It was created in Dec 1918. It was written in English. The original is part of the British Library: India Office The department of the British Government to which the Government of India reported between 1858 and 1947. The successor to the Court of Directors. Records and Private Papers.


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AdmimstraUve Considerations.
]0. ll the assumptions in the foregoing paragraph represent to anv de^iee- the ^
probable line of policy to be pursued by Government, it follows that the efficiency
of the means of transportation and communication in Mesopotamia will be, no less
than the size and composition of the garrison, a matter of Imperial concern; and it
will be necessary, when discussing post-war administration, to provide for the
retention of effective Government control over the means of transportation developed
by military agency An office of the British Government and, earlier, of the East India Company. in this country during the present war, and for their further
development with due regard to strategical requirements. . .
Thus when the Civil Administration is called on to take over the existing
Directorate of Railways it should do so not as a domestic matter but on behalf ol th(
Imperial Government; it should be required to keep such reserves of material as
may be decided on, and to build such additional lines and sidings as are needed lor
military purposes. . „
In consideration of these obligations being fulfilled the railway lines, rolling
stock and other assets might be handed over to the Civil Administration at a lowei
rate than would otherwise be the case.
I am assuming that in the case of railways, works, power plant and other assets
of the kind erected in the country and required for post-war purposes, they will be
assessed and handed over at a valuation to the Civil Administration, which will hand
to the Treasury an equivalent of Mesopotamian Bonds in lieu, the interest and
sinking fund on which will be payable annually. ^
It is abundantly clear that ii this country is to be given a good stait, all these
assets should be handed over to it. „ . i i i
It would pay the Imperial Government, as a matter ol business, to hand them
over for one quarter of their book value, for the cost of dismantling the partly used
plant, shipping it, storing it and reassembling it, will be very great, and will involve
further deterioration; and meanwhile the plant will not be earning money and all
the monev spent in preparing sites, foundations, embankments, accommodation, &(*.,
will be lost. Left in situ in working order, there is little doubt that it will earn
enough to pay working expenses, interest and sinking fund on a reduced estimate ol
capital value.
11. If the above assumptions are correct, no railway material will be returned to
India, and the demobilisation of railway staff would consist of the transfer to the
-Civil Administration cf the Directorate, and the continuance in civil employ of
all men willing to remain. The Railway Directorate would have to continue to
recruit staff from India and probably from Europe for some time to come.
Directorate of Telegraphs.
12. The considerations advanced in paragraphs 10 and 11 mutatis mutandis
to telegraphs. This Directorate is already quasi-civil; it is at present staffed and
administered from India ; it is a matter for consideration of Government whether it
should not be amalgamated with the Indo-European Telegraph Department^ and
o-iven by international arrangement powers to run a line ol telegraphs from Baghdad
to the Mediterranean, thus connecting India with the United Kingdom more effectively
than was possible through Russia and across Europe.
The powerful wireless installations at Basrah and Baghdad would be taken over
by this Directorate; the numerous smaller installations being stored in Baghdad, as a
strategic reserve, on the principles advocated in paragraphs 5 and G supra.
A Telegraph Department with effective control over main lines of communication
up the Persian Gulf Historically used by the British to refer to the sea area between the Arabian Peninsula and Iran. Often referred to as The Gulf or the Arabian Gulf. and Mesopotamia would be a great Imperial asset; commercially
it would probably, like the Indo -European lelegraph Depaitment, pay.
Inland Water Transport.
13. Until there is through communication between Amarah and Baghdad by rail
a considerable volume of military river-borne traffic will be required, but railway
communication once effected it seems unlikely that the Iigiis will be used to aii\
great extent bv Government lor the transport ol troops oi mateual, except peihaps
fuel oil and bulk kerosene, coal, and, in times of high river, railway and building

About this item


Note on demobilisation by Arnold Talbot Wilson, Civil Commissioner, Baghdad (enclosed in letter to the India Office The department of the British Government to which the Government of India reported between 1858 and 1947. The successor to the Court of Directors. , No 20517, dated 28 September 1918).

The note gives details on the two areas that demobilisation would need to cover, namely the repatriation of the fighting force and the transference to Civil Government of those parts of the military administration that could be used for national benefit.

The note is broken down into a number of sub-headings:

  • Strategical and Political Considerations: Including the proposal of the need for a mobile military force, comprised wholly of British troops, that could react to any instability or disturbances caused by the previous decade of war, and which could protect India and support reforms in other countries.
  • Maintenance in Baghdad of Troops and War Material: outlining proposals for the use of horses, mules, skilled individuals within British units, and mechanical transport for the civil administration of the country.
  • Directorate of Telegraphs: regarding the question of whether or not to amalgamate it with the Indo-European Telegraph Department.
  • Inland Water Transport: regarding the current usage of water transport for military purposes and the likelihood that once railways have been established it would only be required for fuel supplies and building materials.
  • Medical Services: The need to evacuate the medical building established during war-time; the ongoing need for some of the temporary services during demobilisation; and those buildings that might be of use to the civil administration including sanitary and water installations and hospitals.
  • Works Department: Effect of the department's work on the civil population, including electric lighting and water installations and the need for it to be taken over by the civil department.
  • Remounts; Veterinary Services; Irrigation and Agriculture; Surveys; Stationary Department; Graves Registration
  • Royal Air Force: The need to maintain a wing of the Air Force in Baghdad; and regarding the other supplementary activities that could be developed including surveys and postal services.
  • Royal Navy: That there would be no need for a naval detachment after the war
  • Repatriation of Prisoners of War now interned in India: 25,000 turkish prisoners of war in India, with about 5,000 being inhabitants of Iraq, and a further 5,000 expected to wish to be repatriated to Iraq. The likelihood of many working for the labour corps, and arrangements with the civil administration for security of those who cannot be realised without guarantees.
  • Indian Immigration: Need for a definite policy regarding the question as there may be a number of requests to remain in Iraq as cultivators.

The Appendix (folio 4) lists includes summaries of a number of related documents to be consulted:

  • Memorandum by the Civil Commissioner Baghdad (Arnold Talbot Wilson) to the Chief of General Staff, General Headquarters, Mesopotamia, No. 18791, 8 September 1918
  • Memorandum No. A/2120/31, 26 September 1918, from the Deputy Adjutant-General, General Headquarters to the Civil Commissioner, Baghdad
  • Observations by the General Officer Commanding-in-Chief (undated)
Extent and format
4 folios

The file contains three copies of the note.

Physical characteristics

Foliation: The foliation sequence commences at the first folio and terminates at the last folio; these numbers are written in pencil, are circled, and are located in the top right corner of the recto The front of a sheet of paper or leaf, often abbreviated to 'r'. side of each folio. The copy of the note marked '46' is the one which has been foliated.

Pagination: The booklet also contains an original typed pagination sequence.

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English in Latin script
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'B 299. Mesopotamia. Note on Demobilisation by Civil Commissioner, Baghdad.' [‎2r] (3/8), British Library: India Office Records and Private Papers, IOR/L/PS/18/B299, in Qatar Digital Library <> [accessed 24 April 2019]

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