Maj Gen Charles Townshend

Discussion in 'Military Biographies' started by liverpool annie, Jan 13, 2009.

  1. liverpool annie

    liverpool annie New Member

    Major General Charles Vere Ferrers Townshend (21 February 1861 – 18 May 1924) KCB

    Was a British Indian Army officer who led the ultimately disastrous first British Expedition against Baghdad during World War I and was later elected to Parliament.

    Townshend was born into a family with strong ties to the British army. He was a descendant of Field Marshal George Townshend, 1st Marquess Townshend (his great great grandfather), whom he wrote a book about. Educated at Sandhurst, Charles served in the Sudan Expedition of 1884, the Hunza Naga expedition in 1891, and was the garrison commander during siege of Chitral Fort in the North West territories in 1895, for which he was awarded the CB. He transferred to the British Egyptian army and again fought in the Sudan at the Battle of Omdurman in 1898 (he was awarded the DSO for his efforts).
    Townshend achieved the rank of Brigadier General in 1909, and Major General in 1911.

    With the outbreak of World War I, he was put in command of the 6th Indian Division. This large military force was one of the best of the military units of the Indian Army - though it was under-equipped by the standards of the regular British army. The 6th Indian was sent to Mesopotamia in early 1915.

    In May 1915 Gen Sir John Nixon, GOC the Mesopotamian Expeditionary Force, sent Maj Gen Charles Townshend up the Tigris with a divisional-sized force. Townshend took Kut in late September, but his communications were fragile. Under political pressure to take Baghdad, Nixon ordered Townshend forward - checked at Ctesiphon, he fell back on Kut. (In 1895 Townshend had successfully defended the outpost of Chitral on the North-West frontier and hoped to repeat the achievement )

    Townshend was encircled on 7 December. Relief attempts failed in January and March 1916, and, his supplies exhausted, Townshend surrendered with 10, 000 men in late April. His defeat dealt a serious blow to British prestige. Many of Townshend's soldiers perished in their harsh captivity. He himself lived in comfortable confinement in a Black Sea resort, and received a knighthood during his captivity. Although he was well received in 1918, he was rightly given no further military employment.

    After the war, he resigned from the army in 1920 and wrote a book My Campaign in Mesopotamia (1920). He stood as an Independent Conservative candidate in a by-election in Shropshire and was elected to a term in Parliament as Member of Parliament (MP) for The Wrekin (1920-1922). However, as reports surfaced about how badly his troops had suffered at the hands of the Turks (more than half of the soldiers who surrendered died in Turkish captivity), his reputation lost all its lustre. Military experts attacked him for not beating the Ottomans at Ctesiphon, for his passivity during the siege of Kut, and for his inaccurate reports which lead to the hasty first relief expedition. He died in disgrace 18th May 1924 in Paris

    ( When his will was published in 1924 - Townshend's worldly wealth at the time of his death was found to have amounted to a mere £119 )

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  2. liverpool annie

    liverpool annie New Member

    I thought this maybe of interest also .... !

    Hero of the Siege of Kut

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