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'B 299. Mesopotamia. Note on Demobilisation by Civil Commissioner, Baghdad.' [‎4v] (8/8)

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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into Trans-Oaucapia or the Caucasus. Tu this connection, and with reference also to
paragraph 9 (5), T do not think it would be possible to retain all the mechanical
transport that we shall shortly have in the country in peace time; such an amount
could not normally be usefully employed, and it is very doubtful if any Government
would agree to keep up 32 companies of Ford vans and the large number of Peerless
lorries in peace time. I am doubtful also whether all available surplus motor
transport could be profitably employed by the Government in carrying goods on
behalf of private firms for some time after the war. Ford vans are not economical
enough for commercial use.
I do not think it feasible or desirable to keep up a garrison of entirely British
troops in Mesopotamia. Such a garrison would entail the provision of hill stations,
and would h? handicapped by considerations of health. The provision of an entirely
British garrison of the size suggested (two divisions) might also be difficult, taking
into consideration our probable responsibilities in other parts of the world.
With reference to paragraph 9 (4), it is clear that all raw material should be
stored under the best possible conditions, and this is done now as far as possible. It
is open to question whether we should retain as large a reserve of ammunition in
peace time as we have now, since modern ammunition deteriorates quickly and it
would be difficult to obtain a turnover.
With reference to paragraph 13, the development of irrigation and the utilisation
of the waters of the Tigris and Euphrates for that end will have to be considered.
River navigation by steamers of any size will undoubtedly be affected, and the
establishing of through railway communication will also be an important factor.
T am particularly impressed with the importance of the last paragraph. If the
Indian agriculturist is to be encouraged, he must be protected until he is settled.
This is a point that must be treated with especial care ; Indian labour questions in
Africa and other countries emphasise the necessity. If the Indian is introduced he
should at lirst be confined to such areas as are newly brought under irrigation, and
where the Arab or other population is either very scanty or does not exist. It would
appear advisable in the first place to encourage more Arabs to settle on the land.
With the remainder of the remarks of the Civil Commissioner, which I have read
with the greatest of interest, I am in general agreement.

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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'B 299. Mesopotamia. Note on Demobilisation by Civil Commissioner, Baghdad.' [‎4v] (8/8), British Library: India Office Records and Private Papers, IOR/L/PS/18/B299, in Qatar Digital Library <> [accessed 22 September 2019]

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