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Storming of the Ottoman Fort Fao - Al Faw Peninsula

Updated: Nov 7, 2023

Unit/ Formation: Royal Marines

Location: Iraq

Period/ Conflict: World War I

Year: 1914

Date/s: 6 November 1914

The Fao Landing occurred from the 6th to 8th November 1914 when British forces attacking the Ottoman stronghold of Fao and its fortress on the Al Faw Peninsular.

The landing was met with little resistance from the Turkish defenders who fled after intense shelling. It was the first military operation of the Mesopotamian Campaign and first amphibious landing of World War I.

To protect their Persian Gulf oil facilities, the British decided to capture the Ottoman-controlled section of the Persian Gulf coast. The Fortress of Fao was the main Ottoman fortress on the Persian Gulf coast and to Anglo commanders seemed like the logical jumping off point for any Ottoman attack on British oil facilities. The British assigned Indian Expeditionary Force D (IEF D) which consisted of the 6th (Poona) Division.

The initial landing force was a contingent of Royal Marines from the HMS Ocean and British Indian troops of the 16th (Poona) Brigade under Brigadier General W.S. Delamain. The British sloop HMS Odin shelled the Turkish positions near the old fortress of Fao, silencing the enemy batteries and clearing the way for the landing force.

A six-hundred strong force came ashore in the shallow, muddy waters with two mountain guns in tow and faced little resistance. The combined British and Indian force captured the poorly prepared Ottoman positions swiftly, seizing a large amount of largely undamaged material including several artillery guns, many of them still in position and loaded.

The rest of the Force sailed on to a place where they could safely disembark, at Sanniyeh.

Considerable difficulty was encountered as there were no barges, tugs or small boats suitable, and land transport was poor. These were factors that remained throughout the Mesopotamia campaign.

Evidently, the weak Ottoman garrison was abandoned by its soldiers when the fort commander known as the "Bimbashi of Fao Fort" was killed by a shell.

More here:

Fao Landing, Wikipedia

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