The Norfolk Regiment in November: Northcote & the Battle of Ctesiphon

Each month staff at the Royal Norfolk Regimental Museum look back to what the Norfolk Regiment was doing 100 years ago, and tells their story through objects from the museum’s collection. See previous blog posts here.

A well with wooden lifting gear, taken by G B Northcote in Mesopotamia, 1915

A well with wooden lifting gear, taken by G B Northcote in Mesopotamia, 1915

Before November 1915, Norfolk’s 2nd battalion had fared reasonably well in Mesopotamia. The Allied 6th “Poona” Division (of which the 2nd Norfolks were a part) had won a string of small victories against the Ottoman Empire, advancing across open country to successfully defend the areas rich oil fields. Captain G B Northcote had been present throughout, and documented his travels with a wonderful collection of photographs.

Arabs on a riverbank - probably the Euphrates. taken by G B Northcote

Arabs on a riverbank – probably the Euphrates, taken by G B Northcote

November 1915 saw Norfolk’s 2nd battalion suffer a severe loss however, at the battle of Ctesiphon. The action took place as the Allies advanced on Baghdad.

At Ctesiphon, the Ottomans were waiting under the command of the inspirational Colonel Nurredin. They were dug in along an inpenetrable line of trenches, had amassed their artillery and had obstructed the Tigris River with barricades and mines, making the Allied gunboats redundant.  Both sides fought bitterly for three days, attacking and counter-attacking. The Ottoman forces repulsed the Allied advance and eventually forced their retreat.

Camoflauged Turk trenches, in and around Ctesiphon

Camouflaged Turk trenches, in and around Ctesiphon. G B Northcote

Ctesiphon sparked the first real switch in momentum during the Mesopotamian campaign, swinging the pendulum toward the Ottomans.  It proved to be a severe reverse for the Allies, who fell back toward Kut Al Amara. Northcote himself was killed during the days fighting. Today, these photographs immortalise his journey across Mesopotamia in 1915. A journey that ended at Ctesiphon.

Unfortunately for the Norfolk’s, December would provide no respite…

Coracle boat on the Tigris, G B Northcote

Coracle boat on the Tigris, G B Northcote

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One thought on “The Norfolk Regiment in November: Northcote & the Battle of Ctesiphon

  1. Pingback: The Norfolk Regiment in April: Lodge Diaries – Norfolk in World War One

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