|Panel 56 Basra
|The (1921) Masonic Roll of Honour 1914-1918
|The (1940) Scroll - WW1 Roll of Honour
Awards & Titles:
Family :Son of Dr. J. A. Menzies of Brunswick Square.
Education & Career :
Clifton College (School House)
- The First World War 1914-1918, World-wide.
|Unit / Ship / Est.: 97th Deccan Infantry
|Action : Mesopotamia
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.
Major V . G. Menzies to be Lieutenant-Colonel while commandinga Battalion. Dated 8th January, 1916.
From The Story of the 97th Deccan Infantry by MAJOR W, C. KIRKWOOD. O.B.E.
"It will now be necessary to follow the fortunes of the second party which advanced under the command of Major Menzies and Jemadar Chhaju Ram. This party, consisting of about thirty men entered the enemy’s first fine of trenches about fifty yards to the right of the first party, where they remained for some considerable time. But unfortunately they had no bombs, and when the Turkish bombing party came along the trenches they were forced to retire.
It was while tryring to organize a means to counter the Turkish bombers that Major Menzies was killed. The remainder of this small party was soon driven out by the Turkish counter-attack, and suffered many casualties while retiring. The third party to enter the Turkish trenches consisted of about ten or fifteen men under Captain R. Jenkins and Lieut. De Lisle with Subedar Gayani Singh and Jemadar Hanumant Singh. As this party approached the trenches, Captain Jenkins was killed and De Lisle and the two Indian officers severely wounded. De Lisle was last seen making his way in the direction of the river bank and it is thought that he succumbed to his wounds en route.
Only about seven of the third party reached the enemy’s trenches, where they remained until driven out by the Turkish counter-attack. They also suffered considerable casualties as they retired, and of the party only Havildar Hazari Singh and Naik Pran Singh, with one or two men, reached safety.
As far as it can be ascertained, the parties of the Regiment remained in the Turkish trenches for somewhat under an hour when the pressure of the Turkish counter-attack forced all troops of the 85th Brigade who had reached the enemy’s line to retire. They were driven back to their original front Une where they remained for the rest of the day. After dark they made their way back in pouring rain to trenches further in the rear where they remained for the night, and until 14*00 on the 22nd when they withdrew in company with parties from other units to the first line of transport. Here a roll call of the Regiment was called. Exclusive of the sick, and when all employed men within reach had been accounted for, only two British officers, three Indian officers and sixty seven Indian other ranks answered their names.
At 10*00 on the 22nd an armistice was asiked for by the British and parties of the 21st Brigade were sent forward to bury the dead. All the area over which the attack had taken place was searched for woimded but no bodies of the British officers of the Regiment were identified.
The following is a return of the casualties suffered by the Regiment during the operations on the 21st January 1916.
Killed .. 4
Wounded . • 5
Indian other ranks.
Killed . . . . 16
Wounded . . 129
Missing .. ..18
The only two British officers now remaining with the Battalion were Lieutenants O. Cox and S. B. Hauser both of the Army Reserve and upon them devolved the task of sending forward the names of those recommended for honours during the battle. Conspicuous amongst these names were those recommended by Subedar Major Dalpat Singh of the 6th Jats, an old officer of the 97th Infantry, who was sent with a draft to the 6th in France in 1914-15. On the morning of the 28rd he sent in a report of the gallantry displayed by Captain H. B. Leapingwell, Havildar Bichpal Singh and Havildar Rugnath Singh who, during the attack, were seen as already described to bayonet several Turks. For their actions these two non-commissioned officers were awarded the Indian Order of Merit.
Another officer, whose distinguished conduct must be recorded, is Subedar Ramkumar Singh who, during the battle, had established his machine gim in the enemy’s front line of trenches. When the Turks counter-attacked he remained at his post until the last moment, and then retired, but was so hard pressed that he was unable to get his machine gun tripod away. For his bravery on this occasion he also received the Indian Order of Merit.
|Lodge Name and No.
|Kitchener No. 2998 E.C.
|McMahon No. 3262 E.C.
6th July 1908
3rd August 1908
8th August 1908
The project globally acknowledges the following as sources of information for research across the whole database:
- The Commonwealth War Graves Commission
- The (UK) National Archives
- Ancestry.co.uk - Genealogy, Family Trees & Family History online
- ugle.org.uk - The records of the United Grand Lodge of England including the Library and Museum of Freemasonry
- Founder Researchers : Paul Masters & Mike McCarthy
- Researcher : Bruce Littley