In December of 1915 37th Dogras, their complete contingent of mules and yet another regiment, were crowded on to the British India's steamer Muttra. They set sail from Karachi (located at waters edge of the Arabian Sea, directly below the "Pakistan" label in map,) and made the several day sail north west to water's edge of Metsopotamia (Iraq). En-route the vessel grounded three times but managed to break free. On arrival in Iraq the men were transshipped to smaller river going vessels to continue their move north to the area where the Battle an Hanna would take place. (shown by red indicator above)
The overall campaign would see some 650,000 British/Indian troops playing a roll in the very creation of what is today known as Iraq, but the going was very costly for all sides. The Dogras would soon discover this while playing a role in the attempts to save the British/Indian garrison at the town of Kut al Amara, about 120 miles south of Bagdad. It had become completely surrounded by the enemy Ottoman forces. Some 10,000 troops were being held hostage as were about another 6,500 civilians. It's commander sent out the cry for help... and thus our man John and others were being dispatched.
About 30 miles south there was a place known as the Hanna Defile, a small piece of land between the Tigress River and the Suwaikiya marshes. It had to be captured by the British India Army before they could advance on Kut al Amara. But a day before the attack against very well placed machine guns, the British fired considerable shelling but this did not result in any significant destruction.
The next morning... 21 January 1916... John's 37th Dogras moved forward but it was after a night of heavy rains. The advance was through mud-soaked open fields to their front, and over dead man's land for some 600 yards. The advance was very bloody and costly.
It was during the heat of the battle that John, as the medical officer for the 37th, volunteered to go out under heavy fire, not once by numerous times to treat not only his unit's wounded, by those also from other units and aiding in their recovery from the battle lines.
For this event he received not one or two or three... but four completely separate Mentions in Dispatch. (He had 6 MID's by the end of the war.) He was also awarded the Turkish Order of St. George, said to be equivalent to the British Commonwealth's Victoria Cross. The British also awarded John with the VC itself. The above painting depicts his tending to the wounded that day. Note the arm patch. He was wounded in both arms and even took a third wound, but continue till dark doctoring the troops till they were all dealt with before he accepted medical relief himself.
John continued to serve till war's end. And much more, to be noted in a follow up blog on Wednesday. His full name was John Alexander Sinton, and at the end of his name you can add the post-nominal initials of... VC (Victoria Cross,) OBE (Officer, Order of the British Empire,) DL (Deputy Lieutenant,) FRS (Fellow of the Royal Society ...and the only person in the world entitled to display the letters VC and FRS,) Hon MD (medical Doctor with Honors,) Hon D SC (doctor of Science,) MB (Bachelor of Medicine,) BCH (Bachelor of Surgery,) BAO (Bachelor of Obstetrics,) and DPH (Department of Public Health,) In addition he served as a JP and High Sheriff of Tyrone, received 6 MID's (Mentions in Dispatch, each being equal to yet another bravery award,) and finally the Russian Order of St. John.
Here is the London Gazette awarding of John's Victoria Cross...
(second column is on another man's award)
Back on Wednesday with more on John.