Photos and images of Basra.
Originally, the BEIT NAMA House had been taken over and allotted to the General Medical Stores Depot. In July 1916, an Indian Medical Services (IMS) officer, Major MUNRO, was appointed in charge of converting it into a new Officer’s Hospital with a capacity of 100 beds. During July, equipment was landed and the place was cleaned by the Sanitary Section.
Wrecks in the Shatt-el-Arab:
Wrecks in the Shatt-el-Arab deliberately sunk by the Turks to block the channel. The Shatt-el-Arab is the principal stream of the delta of the Euphrates and Tigris after their junction.
P Boats on the TIGRIS:
British river steamers, known as ‘P Boats’ on the River Tigris below Amara. Each boat would typically have a barge lashed to each side to increase its carrying capacity for troops or equipment. This was standard practice in Mesopotamia during 1915 and 1916, when the number of river steamers was limited.
There were many small bridges constructed over the creeks in and around Basra:
‘MAP OF BASRA AND MAGIL’ [42r] (1/2)
Whiteley Bridge – Ashar Creek
Barratt Bridge – Ashar Creek
Baghdad Bridge – Ashar Creek
Dorset Bridge – Rubat Creek
Malerkotla Bridge – Rubat Creek
Nixon Bridge – Khandaq Creek
Lake Bridge – Khandaq Creek
Sapper Bridge – Unnamed creek/inlet
MacMunn Bridge – Unnamed creek/inlet
Riddells Bridge – Unnamed creek/inlet
No 3 British General Hospital:
The No 3 British General Hospital (BGH) arrived at Basra in November 1915 and was located close to the Beit Nama Officer’s Hospital.
The following is taken from the Medical History of the War, Volume IV, page 180.
The general hospitals had not arrived in Mesopotamia until after the battle of Sahil. On arrival at Basra “A” section of No. 3 British General Hospital was opened in the palace of the Sheikh of Mohammera, a large two-storied building situated on the right bank of the Tigris. The ground floor was somewhat damp and dark, but the first floor was bright and airy. When it was first opened all casualties were brought to it. The sick of the troops in Basra were collected daily at the main supply depot, a central point on the Shatt-al-Arab, whence they were brought to the hospital by steamer. The steamer on its return journey, carried patients who had been discharged from hospital and were rejoining their units. At the palace a wooden pier was constructed to facilitate the landing and the embarking of cases. The building itself could accommodate 150 patients, and the wards were at first used by both British and Indian sick and wounded. As the number of British troops increased only British casualties were accommodated in the buildings while the Indian troops and followers were treated in European pattern tents pitched in the compound of the palace. Considerable work was done to make the building conform to the requirements of a modern hospital. Fireplaces were made, the walls and floors of the operating theatre were covered with cement, a skylight was constructed and electric light was installed. As an extension was required reed huts were erected in the compound. At first there was a great shortage of bedsteads and the patients lay on mattresses on the brick floors of the palace or on the ground in tents. Local Arab bedsteads, costing one rupee each, were obtained and used until iron bedsteads were sent from India. A portable steam disinfector was used extensively to sterilize the clothing and bedding of the infectious cases and the garments of lice-infested men. Its capacity however was limited and it could not cope with all the work that required to be done.
The following is taken from One Hundred Years of Army Nursing by by John Hay Beith:
No. 3 British General Hospital, already mentioned, had been in operation in Basra, in a ‘palace’ belonging to the Sheikh of Mohammerah, since November 1915, and was now fully occupied with the care of the sick and wounded from Ctesiphon and Kut, who were being evacuated to India. Most of these unfortunate men were in a pitiable condition, for they had been conveyed some 200 miles or more in open barges, destitute for the most part of hospital comforts or sanitary equipment, and almost completely exposed to the weather. In addition to the war-wounded there were a very large number of cases of dysentery and malaria — an ominous sign of things to come when the great new campaign should be launched.
Eleven of the Sisters of the newly arrived No. 23 were immediately detached for hospital-ship duty, and sailed for Bombay at half an hour’s notice. Eight were left to assist the over-driven nursing staff of No. 3. The remaining seven, with their Matron, continued upstream to Amara.
SHIPS ON THE SHATT AL ARAB
Hospital Ships situated at the head of the Shatt-el-Arab. The junction of the Euphrates and Tigris. A view across the wide river delta at Shatt-al-Arab in Basra, with local boats on the water before several large buildings. There are ships to the left and hospital ships partly concealed by the large buildings. Copyright: © IWM.
Below is the river steamer SS SALIMI unloading supplies at Shaikh Saad on the River Tigris in April 1916. Copyright: © IWM.
Below is HMS Dalhousie at Basra. A starboard side view of HMS Dalhousie, painted white, from across the water at Shatt-al-Arab, with the ship moored at Basra. There are a few local boats moored in the centre of the composition, with buildings along the coastline in the background. Copyright: © IWM.
Many of the Hospital Ships were deep draught and unable to cross the Bar of the Shatt al Arab and get to the Port of Basra. In such cases, patients and troops had to be “transhipped” onto a ship with a shallower draught. Below is a photo of the H.M.T Royal George in the foreground and an unknown ship directly behind it.
Creeks & Rivers