Thursday 20 January 1916 – We Lost 216
In Mesopotamia the January days are hot, foggy and humid and the nights are below freezing. It is a season of heavy rain, the ground is a quagmire, and the rivers swollen. The weather is so bad just before that it severely delays the upriver movement of reinforcements and supplies. The Um-el-Hanna Defile is a narrow strip of dry land between the River Tigris and the great Suwaikiya Marshes – through which the British will have to pass to reach the besieged Kut. The mouth of the Hanna lies upstream of the Wadi, some 8 miles towards Kut-al-Amara from Sheikh Sa’ad. At noon the Turkish defenses at the Hanna are bombarded for 20 minutes.
The troopship Runic departs Australia for Alexandria, Egypt.
A British submarine sinks an Austrian destroyer in the Adriatic.
The British government buys 800,000 tons of wheat in Rumania.
Today’s losses include:
- The commanding General of the 34th Division
- The son-in-law of a Baronet
- A battalion commander
- The revolver champion of South Africa
- A member of the Worcester Cricket Club
- Multiple families that will lose two sons in the Great War
Today’s highlighted casualties include:
- Brigadier General Hugh Gregory Fitton CB DSO General Officer Commanding 34th Division dies of wounds received in action the previous day at age 52. While on a visit of instruction to the 16th Infantry Brigade, near Ypres, in company with the General Officer Commanding the Brigade, Brigadier General C L Nicholson, General Fitton is in the front line at night. Owing to a communications trench having been blown in, the party has to cross a bit of open ground and the night being bright they are spotted by a watchful sniper who shoots General Fitton through both thighs. He is the son-in-law of ‘Sir’ Alfred Hickman 1st
- Lieutenant Colonel Hugh Wilson Cruddas DSO (Dogras commanding 4th Suffolk Regiment) is killed at age 48.
- Second Lieutenant Hugh Durant DCM (Lancers) is killed at age 38. He is a veteran of the South Africa War and the revolver champion of South Africa.
- Lieutenant John Burrows Whitfield (Royal Engineers) dies of wounds at age 26. His brother will be killed in May.
- Second Lieutenant Dudley Mark Hayward Jewell (Royal Fusiliers attached Royal Engineers) is killed at age 22. His brother will be killed in May and both are members of the Worcester Cricket Club.