Battle of Sharqat Begins

The Battle of Sharqat (October 23—30, 1918) was between the British and the Ottoman Empire at the Mesopotamian Campaign in World War I, which became the final conflict that ended as a result of the signing of armistice.

Anticipating a Turkish armistice following the defeat of the Ottomans in Palestine, British Premier David Lloyd George ordered Sir William Marshall, Commander-in-Chief on the Mesopotamian front, to remove any residual Ottoman presence from that theater by twin advances up the Euphrates and Tigris rivers, and capture the oil fields near Mosul on the Tigris. There was a lack of available transport, after a large amount had been supplied to Dunsterforce for its advance across Persia, so Marshall persuaded the government to limit the advance to the Tigris Front only.

An Anglo-Indian force comprising of the 17th Indian Division and 18th Indian Division and the 7th and 11th Cavalry Brigades led by Sir Alexander Cobbe, left Baghdad on October 23 1918. In just 39 hours they covered 120 kilometers (77 miles) to the Little Zab River, where the Ottoman Sixth Army, led by Ismail Hakki Bey was awaiting them. The Sixth Army has been weakened due to lack of replacements. His forces consisted of the XVIII Corps consisting of the 14th and 46th Divisions, and the XIII Corps consisting of the 2nd and 6th Divisions.

Seeing his army's rear threatened, Hakki Bey withdrew another 100 kilometers (60 miles) to the north to Sharqat, where Cobbe attacked him on October 29, sending the 11th Cavalry Bde to pin the Turkish front while the 17th Infantry Div came up to support them. The 17th were delayed in arriving, and the cavalry were shelled by Turkish guns overnight. In the morning the 13th Hussars charged the hill where the guns were, and made a dismounted charge up it with fixed bayonets. They took the guns. Hakki Bey was aware of the peace talks at Mudros, and decided to spare his men rather than fight or break out. He surrendered on October 30th.[1] The 18th Div advanced on Mosul, 50 miles further north, and were 12 miles short of the town when the armistice was declared.

On November 1st, 1918, Mosul was peacefully occupied by the 7th and 11th Indian cavalry brigades, after the British forces ignored the request of the Turkish Commander-in-chief, Ali Ishan, to withdraw to the positions they had held at the armistice.

The final action fought on the Mesopotamian Front, the Battle of Sharqat saw British regional Commander-in-Chief Sir William Marshall secure control of the Mosul oilfields north of Baghdad.

Activity on the Mesopotamian Front had been muted in the months leading up to the action fought at Sharqat. However Lloyd George's government in London ordered Marshall to remove as much remaining Turkish influence from the region as possible in the weeks immediately prior to the anticipated Turkish armistice, as had earlier been achieved in Palestine.