Persia – 1918

Persia was seen as a new experience for most as it was part of the world where British troops had previously never been. Due to Russian resistance to the Turks, British leaders were very reluctant to remain in Persia; however it seemed that an intervention would be both inevitable and unavoidable. Amongst the Fourteenth Division, who had arrived in Persia, were the 1/4th Hampshire. In order to avoid having to face Turkish forces, the British hoped to restrict their intervention. They would do this by dispatching a small military mission which would be used to organize and train the local forces to resist any Turkish advance.

The first mission, of whom Hampshire was involved in in Persia, was to assist in the removal of a survey party and an Australian wireless detachment associated with the Russians. In order to rescue the survey party the Battalion moved around between Qasr I Shririn, Khaniqin, Sar I Pol and Pai Tak. However their journey was made incredibly difficult due to bad roads and ‘strange’ weather conditions. In this case Hampshire were ordered to improve the state of the roads. The Battalion remained there until February, where their duties included guard and piquet duty, escorting, convoys and more road work providing that the weather conditions allowed them to do so.

Under Lieutenant Fisher, troops moved on to Jangali. Except from some light fire from snipers, very little opposition was met. However in July 1918 100 Hampshire’s along with other troops, including Ghurkhas, infiltrated Resht using armoured vehicles, burning houses and clearing the town. After occupying Jangali, the men met little opposition and August brought peace terms from the Jangali leader.

After spending half the war in the Middle East, in January 1918, the 1/4th Hampshire entered into Persia to support the White Russians and in order to secure the oil wells in Baku, or at least deny them from the enemy. A small detachment under Lieutenant Fisher went to Baku as part of Dunsterforce. Dunsterforce was a force created late in 1917, and was made up of around 1,000 elite men from Britain, Australia, Canada and New Zealand. In August, C Company occupied Krasnodovsk (modern day Turkmenbashi), in Turkmenistan, before moving East toward Merv (now called Mari).

It was estimated that the troops including the 4th Hampshire would be needed to remain in Persia long after fighting had ended in Europe, however the 6th Hampshire were also seen to be involved in a major operation leading up to the Final Advance. Under the command of General Marshall, they advanced up the Tigris where they burnt a village and suffered some casualties. However after this the 6th Hampshire saw no more fighting and were also ordered undertake railway construction and road making.