Great success in Gulf of Persia

Swamps take toll on health

WHILE awaiting the next report from Sir John French - nothing had come to hand at the necessarily early hours at which this summary is commenced - it may be well to glance at the progress of the operations in certain theatres of war from which greater events elsewhere have lately diverted attention.

What the old lady called “that blessed word Mesopotamia” has again been mentioned, for example, and we realise once more the number and magnitude of our commitments, the length of our arms and the wonderful adaptability of our troops.

For many months a mixed British and Indian force has been operating along the great rivers at the head of the Persian Gulf and under Sir John Nixon has carried the British flag into one of the few corners of the earth where our victorious banners have never before been seen.

Its record, it was pointed out the other day, is one of which the British Regulars who are taking part in the operations may well feel proud.

It is one which this morning may be quoted with peculiar appropriateness. It captured the important city of Basra, one of the greatest of Turkish seaports. It established itself, after two partially successful attempts, at the confluence of the Rivers Tigria as Euphrates.

It advanced so far up the Tigris that months ago a civil post office was actually established at Amara, a long stride along the road to Baghdad.

It penetrated over 100 miles along the swamps and shallow lakes of the Lower Euphrates, and, after a month of almost incredible toil, drove a fresh Turkish concentration headlong and established a new base.

The advance which ended in the battle of Nasiriyeh involved difficulties greater than those experienced by the late Lord Wolseley in the earliest efforts to reach Khartoum.

Another section of the force pushed up the River Karun to Altwaz in Persian territory in order to protect the all-important Anglo-Persian oil pipe line against tribal Attacks.

The troops engaged in some of these operations were occasionally in great peril. They repeatedly had to face surprise attacks. They endured great privations for the whole region with the summer one of the hottest places on earth.

The degree of sickness in the midst of the insect-haunted swamps in which they have often fought, has been necessarily high.

They faced all trials without complaint and whenever they came into touch with the enemy they have won in the end.

Of all the campaigns now in progress, that in Mesopotamia (one authority stated the other day) is the only one in which the Allies can claim continual success from the outset, unmarried by a single failure.

The area of Turkish territory conquered is already very great and includes large portions of one of the most fertile regions on earth.

Not only was the pipe line secured, the large Turkish forces absorbed by neither the European nor Caucasian theatre kept fully engaged, and numerous Arab tribes weaned from supporting the Sultan-great, as these achievements are-the crowning feat, so far, is that which formed the basis of the report submitted by the House of Commons by Mr Austen Chamberlain last night.