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'Mesopotamia Commission. Report of the Commission Appointed by Act of Parliament to Enquire into the Operations of War in Mesopotamia, together with a Special Report by Commander J Wedgwood, DSO, MP, and Appendices. London: HMSO, 1917.' [‎34r] (67/248)

The record is made up of 1 volume (122 folios). It was created in 1906-1918. 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 Documents collected in a private capacity. .


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A. The Vincent-Bingley Report and its Principal Conclusions. .
Land Transpor t [conclusion)
The original organisation orders of Indian Expeditionary Force “ D ” did not include any wheeled transport
for the sick and wounded. According to “ War Establishments, India/’ each field ambulance should have
been accompanied by 8 ambulance tongas, in lieu of which the original orders for this force allotted an additional
number of riding mules.
We have no evidence that these riding mules were ever used by the wounded, though
their presence on one occasion in a very restive state is recorded by a witness. They
are obviously useless for serious cases.
13. The Commissioners continue :—
The omission to send wheeled transport was probably due to the fact that operations for some time were
likely to be confined to the immediate neighbourhood of the Shatt-el-Arab. The history of the campaign
shows, however, that very shortly after the capture of Basra the operations extended to a considerable distance
from any river, and no satisfactory reason has been assigned for the failure to provide the ordinary form of
land ambulance transport for these operations. It is in evidence that on many occasions during the campaign
wheeled ambulances could have been employed. In fact, a few motors were used in the Ahwaz operations in
April and May, 1915, and again at Ctesiphon in November, and ambulance wagons of the English pattern were
employed with conspicuous success, to our own knowledge, in the operations up the Tigris in the beginning of
April, 1916. But throughout the campaign the usual form of ambulance transport has been the army transport
cart, that is, a small, springless cart made of wood and iron, drawn by mules or ponies, and ordinarily employed
for the carriage of supplies. When the evidence of the suffering caused by this means of conveyance, particu
larly in cases of fracture and severe injury, is considered, it is difficult to avoid criticising the action of those
responsible for this deficiency in severe language.
We entirely concur in this view\
We have been told that one or two motor cars were at the disposal of the General
Officer Commanding after the battle of Kut, and in the advance to Ctesiphon. We feel
strongly that a country which was practicable for cars for the General Officer
Commanding was equally practicable for motor convoys for the wounded. By April,
1916, a few motor ambulances were in use at the front, and Sir Beauchamp Duff’s evidence
is to the effect that ten were at the disposal of Force “ D.” We do not think they were
all in use at the front. On the other hand, telegrams before us show that the Turks had
twelve available at the front. We do not think it is creditable that in this matter the
provision by the Turkish Army, situated as it was, should have exceeded our own.
Medical Stoves and Efjwxpt/ienb
14. The arrangements for the supply of surgical and medical stores and appliances to meet the require
ments of the various units in Mesopotamia were, up to March, 1916, unsatisfactory. In the first place the
system of supply, laid down in the Medical Manual (War), India, was ill-adapted to meet the demands of a
large force operating 1,600 miles from India overseas. In the second place, owing to lack of river transport,
there was such delay and uncertainty in the delivery of these supplies, that medical officers have frequently
been hampered in their work. ^ J
For example, in the advance to Amara there was, if we are to accept the evidence
given us, a shortage of drugs, including castor oil, epsom salts, emetine, quinine and supply
of medical comforts, and the supply of lime juice and fresh vegetables was deficient.
We ourselves are convinced by the evidence before us that, though there was never
any general shortage of drugs, dressings, etc., at Basra, yet these and similar medical
necessities were on many occasions either in insufficient quantities or altogether lacking at
the front, when the need for them was great.
15. As regards electric fans, the Commissioners say (reporting in May, 1916)—
A certain number of fans were put into the general hospitals at Basra last year, but these were not sufficient
for all the wards, and none of the new hospitals there had up to the time of our leaving Basra been fitted with
these fans.
16. As regards ice, they say :—
We are informed that ice was available for all the hospitals in Basra during the hot weather of 1915, but
it certainly was not regularly available at Ahwaz, Nasariyeh or Amara, and up to the time of our departure
so far as we are aware, Government had not supplied any ice manufacturing plant to any station outside Basra.
17. The Commissioners add :—
This is a somewhat serious matter, as ice is not a luxury, but having regard to climatic conditions, an
absolute necessary for the treatment of the sick.
and we concur.
Preventive Sanitation.
18. On the subject of water supply the Commissioners say :—
Generally speaking, however, the only source of water supply at present is the nearest river, and we are
not satisfied that systematic and methodical attempts are made to render this water potable and innocuous
before it is used for drinking purposes.
(C 48—176,) r

About this item


A signed proof, folios 1-100, plus additional material, folios 101-124. The cover bears the signature of Sir Arthur Hirtzel, Assistant Under-Secretary of State. The report has been annotated in blue pencil at various points.


  • 'Part I. Preface.
  • 'Part II. Origin of Mesopotamia [Iraq] Expedition.'
  • 'Part III. Advance from Basra to Kurna.'
  • 'Part IV. The Advance to Amara [Al-'Amārah] and Kut [Al-Kūt].'
  • 'Part V. Correspondence and Telegrams as to Advance on Baghdad.'
  • 'Part VI. The Advance from Kut to Ctesiphon.'
  • 'Part VII. Operations for Relief of Kut.'
  • 'Part VIII. Armament, Equipment, Reinforcements, &c.'
  • 'Part IX. Transport.'
  • 'Part X. Medical Breakdown.'
  • 'Part XI. Causes Contributing to the Errors of Judgement and Shortcomings of Responsible Authorities.'
  • 'Part XII. Findings and Conclusions. Recommendations.'
  • 'Separate Report by Commander J Wedgwood, DSO, MP.'
  • 'Appendix I. Vincent-Bingley Report.'
  • 'Appendix II. Memorandum by Sir Beauchamp Duff.'
  • 'Appendix III. Colonel Hehir's Account of the Siege of Kut-el-Amara.'

Additional material:

  • Folio 101. Manuscript note [by Arthur Hirtzel] on net military expenditure.
  • Folios 102-109. Copy of the East India (Army Administration), Further Papers regarding the Administration of the Army in India , 1906.
  • Folios 110-115. Manuscript notes, titled 'Suggested redraft & amplification of second half of parag 1' [unknown hand].
  • Folio 116. A clipping from the Daily Telegraph , Wednesday 4 July 1917, featuring an article titled 'Mesopotamia. Ex-Viceroy's Statement. The Medical Breakdown.'
  • Folios 117-124. An expanded typescript version of Hirtzel's manuscript notes (folio 101).
Extent and format
1 volume (122 folios)

A table of contents can be found at folio 4v.

An index can be found at folios 93-97.

Physical characteristics

Foliation: the foliation sequence commences at the front cover with 1, and terminates at the last folio with 124; 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. An additional foliation sequence is present in parallel between ff 110-115; these numbers are also written in pencil, but are not circled. Pagination: the file also contains an original printed pagination sequence. The volume comprises a stitched pamphlet, and other stitched and loose-leaf material.

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'Mesopotamia Commission. Report of the Commission Appointed by Act of Parliament to Enquire into the Operations of War in Mesopotamia, together with a Special Report by Commander J Wedgwood, DSO, MP, and Appendices. London: HMSO, 1917.' [‎34r] (67/248), British Library: India Office Records and Private Papers, IOR/L/PS/20/257, in Qatar Digital Library <> [accessed 23 July 2024]

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