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Prussian Armorial Taken at the Fall of Baghdad, 1917

A First World War polychromed wood Prussian armorial plaque taken as a trophy of war during the Mesopotamia Campaign at Fall of Baghdad on 11 March 1917. Period inscription verso ‘Mar - 11 - 1917 Baghdad'. Shield height 28cm (11in).

After the surrender of the British garrison at Kut (Iraq) on 29 April 1916, the British Army in Mesopotamia underwent a major overhaul. Its new commander Lieutenant-General Sir Frederick Maude received reinforcements from India, constructed of a military railway from the coast to Basra and beyond, and collected boats on the Tigris. Maude proceeded cautiously in early 1917, advancing on both sides of the river, overcoming Ottoman resistance and retaking Kut on 24 February. Three days later, Maude's corps reached the Diyala River thirty-five miles south of Baghdad. The charg√© d’affaires at the Austrian Embassy reported that the Germans were reacting badly to news of the Turkish defeats and were showing open hostility to their erstwhile allies. Amidst the general panic a German officer acting as jihad agent was lynched.

The Turks, despite feeling they had been left in the lurch, resisted the initial British assault on 9 March, causing Maude to order an outflanking movement. Khalil Pasha, General Field Marshal Colmar Freiherr von der Goltz’s successor as the Turkish 6th Army’s commander, responded by mirroring the move and left a single regiment to hold the original Diyala River defences. The British crushed the Turkish regiment with a sudden assault on 10 March, unnerving Khalil Pasha who ordered his army to retreat north to Baghdad. The Ottoman authorities ordered the evacuation of the city at 8 p.m. the same day. The British followed close on their heels and took Baghdad without a fight on 11 March - thus ending the Kaiser’s dream of an empire extending from Berlin to Baghdad.

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