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Kelly’s 12 Christmas Days – No 7, Mesopotamia 1916

December 18, 2016

The 105th Indian Field Ambulance had been on active service for over two years by time Christmas Day 1916 approached and was now based in Mesopotamia (present day Iraq), still with Thomas Kelly as its commanding officer.

It had been sent from Egypt to Aden where it was a the centre of fierce fighting. In early 1916 it arrived in Mesopotamia to help with the appalling crisis in the aftermath of the infamous siege of Kut, one of Britain’s great military disasters. Thousands of sick and wounded had to be evacuated and the 105th IFA was flat out for months.

By Christmas Day 1916 things had calmed down and it had moved to Nasariyah on the Euphrates River and been re-designated the 105th Combined Field Ambulance.

For the first time since the war started Kelly recorded in the official War Diaries that they were able to celebrate Christmas with some modest entertainment – improvised by themselves – and a Christmas lunch, albeit lacking anything that resembled a traditional Christmas meal back home. It was, however, a far cry from the horrors of the aftermath of the fall of Kut six months earlier.

The Kelly story is told in Fighting for the Empire.

Follow his remarkable life through 12 Christmas Days.

Next: No 8 – Mesopotamia, 1917

Previous: No 6 – Egypt, 1914

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