| At the outbreak of war the British, together with Indian troops, resolved to protect oil supply in the region by occupying the area around Basra at Abadan. This evolved into a series of campaigns towards Baghdad against the Turkish forces as Mesopotamia (modern Iraq) was part of the Ottoman Empire. Meetings in late 1914 and into 1915 led the Viceroy and Indian government at Simla to reconsider the limited involvement of troops and they decided to order further advances with a view to securing the Shatt-al-Hai, a canal connecting the Tigris and Euphrates river and potentially capturing Baghdad. The British government disagreed and wished to conserve forces for the Western front. The Viceroy was given permission to act as it wished, but told in no uncertain terms that no reinforcements should be expected.|
The initial success experienced by the British and Indian forces quickly disintegrated in the face of Ottoman opposition. The Siege of Kut-Al-Amara began on 7th December with the besieging of an 8,000 strong British-Indian garrison in the town of Kut, 100 miles south of Baghdad, by the Ottoman Army. These campaigns produced few tactical benefits, indeed the catastrophic defeat at Kut in 1916 was a major setback. Badhdad was eventually taken in March 1917.
The conditions in Mesopotamia were dreadful. The climate, sickness and disease produced large losses in addition to battle casualties. About as many men died of disease as were killed in action. The Mesopotamia front was part of a strategy hoping for success at lower cost than the Western Front but no decisive victory was achieved.