Mesopotamia: sinister claim Germans’

Failure at Verdun

Sensational statements are denied

THE absence of news from Mesopotamia is not only disappointing, but it is suggestive of grave possibilities.

We know from an official communique that General Gorringe was on Sunday making preparations for an attack on Sanna-i-Yat.

On the day, according to a Turkish report, Gorringe, following a preliminary heavy artillery preparation, launched an attack from the right bank of the Tigris, and after fierce fighting for half a dozen hours he was repulsed with heavy loss.

The Turks assert that in the evening they counted in front of their trenches over 3,000 corpses; and that of all the British units engaged the 13th British Division, which had fought at the Dardanelles and is exclusively composed of English soldiers, suffered most.

Making due allowance for the enemy’s gross exaggeration there is reason to fear that our troops have suffered a decided check, even if they had no such disastrous defeat as the Turks assert.

If it is so, it again postpones indefinitely the relief of General Townshend at Kut-el-Amara, where he and his little army have been besieged for 127 days, defending against a large enemy force, with powerful artillery, in what has been described as a mere warren of mud hovels in a loop of the Tigris.

The natural difficulties of the relieving expedition are great.

As stated in the South Wales Argus on Wednesday, the flooded condition of the Tigris, due in a very large measure to the heaviest snowstorms in the river’s watershed experienced for six years, hampers operations.

The Press Association mentions that the river is above the level of the land and the water probably percolates through the bunds unevenly, and may even be let out by the enemy intentionally in certain places.

As to the western area, this morning’s telegrams add little to what appeared in the Argus on Wednesday.

The message from Verdun then published indicated the complete failure of the German assaults on Dead Man Hill and the minor attacks on other points of the French front, until, as the semi-official report of this morning states, the enemy on Tuesday night was out of breath, and had an “off” day on Wednesday, probably to calculate his enormous losses.

A German communique yesterday reported a successful attack on the British positions north east of Albert, a small detachment taking 20 prisoners and one machine gun.

British Headquarters admit that the Germans gained a footing in our trenches, but they were quickly driven out, and other attacks were repulsed, leaving 25 dead behind them.

It has now been established, says the official report, that the gallant fighting of the Canadians in the neighbourhood of St Eloi has inflicted heavy losses on the enemy during the past week.

A recent telegram from Australia spoke of a statement having been made in the Commonwealth Parliament to the effect that a brigade of Australian heavy artillery was actually fighting at Verdun.

Other rumours suggested that British guns and British troops were actually taking part in the battle. These statements are officially announced to be without foundation.