The unique and spectacular Great War Mesopotamia Campaign April 1916 to April 1917 Attempted to Relieve Kut Assault on Sanniyat 22nd April 1916 Distinguished Conduct Medal, bombing raid on an advanced enemy sapped in trenches near Sanniyat 6th September 1916 Second Award Bar and Battle of Istabulat 21st April 1917 Third Award Bar, and triple Mention in Despatches and Russian Cross of Saint George 4th Class group awarded to Sergeant William Logan, 2nd Battalion, Royal Highlanders - the Black Watch. Logan from Helensburgh near Glasgow, and a veteran of the fighting on the Western Front during 1914 to 1915, would go on to see service with the 2nd Black Watch in Mesopotamia during 1916 and 1917, and in a period of one day short of a year was decorated seven times! All of his awards are gazetted. He is the only recipient of three D.C.M.’s for the Mesopotamian Campaign, out of 10 such recipient’s of this honour during the Great War, he being also the only such recipient to receive all awards for the same theatre of operations. Logan’s first award of the D.C.M. came during the failed attempt to relieve Kut on 22nd April 1916 in the attack on Sanniyat when he took charge of a party of men after the officers of his company had all become casualties. He also assisted a wounded officer, under heavy fire, to a place of safety. His second award came for the trench warfare operations at Sanniyat on 6th September 1916 when he was ordered to reconnoitre and grenade an advanced saphead. This was ably led by him, who did not allow his party to throw bombs until they had seen some of the enemy. After the bombs exploded the party withdrew, two being wounded before reaching friendly lines. It seemed certain that the damage done to the enemy was considerable. His third and final D.C.M was awarded for the Battle of Istabulat on 21st April 1917 which was fought near to Baghdad. At a critical moment he led forward a party of bombers under heavy fire, and controlled them with great skill until wounded. By his marked gallantry, courage and coolness he materially assisted in repelling a counterattack and in recapturing a redoubt. Logan’s Russian Cross of Saint George 4th Class had been announced in his Battalion War Diary in February 1917, and was gazetted in May of that same year. Remaining on service post-war, he was out in India when he deserted and made his own way home in 1922, and was dismissed the service.
Group of 5: Distinguished Conduct Medal, GVR 1st type bust, with Second Award and Third Award Bars; (2702 CPL. W. LOGAN. 2/R. HDRS.); 1914 Star with original sew-on Clasp; (2702 PTE. W. LOGAN. R. HIGHRS.); British War Medal and Victory Medal with Mention in Despatches Oakleaf; (2702 PTE. W. LOGAN. R. HIGHRS); Imperial Russia: Cross of Saint George, 4th Class, reverse officially numbered: ‘807686’. Mounted swing style for wear on old ribbons.
Condition: official correction to naming on third, but of matching impressed style to fourth so issued out at the same time, overall Good Very Fine.
Provenance: Major J. L. R. Samson Collection, Glendining’s, June 1991 (purchased from A. D. Hamilton & Co., December 1985); Dix Noonan Webb, March 2007.
William Logan was born on 19th January 1894 in Helensburgh, near Glasgow, Scotland, the son of James Logan, a general dealer, and his wife, Mary Ann Logan, nee Campbell. Logan, owing to his service number, would appear to have been a pre-war regular soldier, who with the outbreak of the Great War saw service as a Private (No.2702 later No.2744784) with the 1st Battalion, Royal Highlanders - the Black Watch but arrived out on the Western Front with the British Expeditionary Force from 20th September 1914, the main body of his battalion having landed there back on 14th August. As such Logan would have fought in the Battle of the Aisne and in the First Battle of Ypres during October to November 1914. His battalion went on to fight in the Battle of Aubers Ridge in May 1915, but it is believed that at some stage he returned home prior to August 1915, either invalided or sick.
Whilst at home and in Edinburgh on 5th August 1915, he took the opportunity to marry Annie Rutherford, of Craig Villa, Cardenden,, Fife, she being the daughter of one John Rutherford, a coal miner, and his wife Annie, nee McGill.
Logan who was shown as a Corporal at the time of his marriage, then found himself posted to the 2nd Battalion, which having also seen service on the Western Front, was then being posted to Mesopotamia, where he saw service from December 1915 as part of the 21st Brigade in the 7th (Meerut) Division. Logan would remain with the 2nd Battalion for the rest of the war. His story out in Mesopotamia specifically between April 1916 and May 1917 is nothing short of remarkable, he was decorated no less than seven times in this period!
After travelling via Egypt, the 2nd Battalion landed at Basra in Mesopotamia on 31st December 1915, and on its arrival at Basra it immediately found itself transferred to river transport for a move up the Tigris, where it journeyed up to Ali-el-Gharbi and disembarked there on 5th January 1916, this being some 50 miles from Kut, for which the 2nd Battalion was to form part of the attempted relief. The following day it marched some 20 miles before reaching camp, and on the following day, 7th January it fought in the Battle of Sheikh Saad. This attack was a disaster, with the British attacked along both sides of the river bank, with the 21st Brigade on the British right, therefore the left bank, with the 2nd Black Watch being the left hand battalion of the brigade. There were no forward trenches, and the British artillery was unable to accurately target the Turkish trenches. The assault was gallantly made but due to the heavy fire, could not get close to the Turkish trenches and that evening, the 2nd Black Watch withdrew having suffered just under 400 casualties.
Despite the British force having suffered heavy casualties, ultimately the Turks withdrew abut 7 miles to a position on the River Wadi which ran into the left bank of the Tigris, a couple of miles south of Hannah and the Suwaikiya Marshes. This position was assaulted on the 13th January, the main assault being carried out by the 28th Brigade, as a result of which the 2nd Black Watch only suffered 32 casualties before the Turks withdrew towards Hannah. The assault however did not achieve its objective of cutting off and destroying the Turkish force.
By now the 2nd Black Watch only numbered around 250 men and on 21st January took part in the first attack on Hannah. Advancing a little after 8 am, they were met with heavy fire but succeeded in reaching the Turkish trenches. However, the flanking battalions had failed to achieve their objectives and the Turkish counter-attack eventually drove back the Black Watch to the British trenches where they were relieved that evening, having suffered some 181 casualties. By now the 2nd Black Watch were so reduced in numbers, that they were amalgamated with the 1st Seaforth’s to form a composite Highland Battalion, and attached to the 19th Brigade. By now the British force under General Alymer had realised it would require a stronger force to relieve Kut, and the Highland Battalion was afforded a respite from fighting and marching, whilst the relief force awaited reinforcement.
February and March 1916 were largely spent in preparing positions and Hannah was finally captured on 5th April, when it was discovered that the Turks had withdrawn to positions at Falahiyeh and Sannaiyat, still between the Suwaikiya Marshes and the left bank of the Tigris. The smaller position at Falahiyeh was captured the same day.
On 6th April, 19th Brigade was amongst the force that then attacked Sannaiyat, believing it to be lightly defended. This, however, was not the case and the attacking forces suffered heavy casualties advancing in the light across open ground with no cover, and failing to reach the Turkish trenches. The Highland Battalion itself suffered some 198 casualties.
The Highland Battalion itself was not involved in subsequent attacks on Sannaiyat over the next few days, which were also costly failures. With the position of the besieged garrison at Kut now critical, it was decided to make one final assault on Sannaiyat on 22nd April 1916. The assault was made by the 19th Brigade alone on a frontage of around 300 yards, with the Highland Battalion on the left. The Battalion went over the top at 7 am, into waterlogged ground, cleared the Turkish first line and went on to the second. Suffering heavily from the enemy fire, the remnants continued towards the Turkish third line, having lost nearly all their officers. However, with virtually no bombs left and with rifles choked with mud, they were forced to fall back all the way to their starting trenches. That evening a truce was agreed which allowed many wounded to be brought in. The Highland Battalion had suffered some 573 casualties in the assault on the 22nd April 1916. The attempts to relieve Kut had been a costly failure and on 29th April 1916, the garrison surrendered.
It was for the assault on Sanniyat on 22nd April 1916 that the then Corporal Logan won the first of his three Distinguished Conduct Medals. The award would be announced in the London Gazette for 20th October 1916.
The citation reads as follows: ‘For conspicuous gallantry and initiative in taking charge of a party of men, and controlling their fire, after the officers of his company had all become casualties. He also assisted a wounded officer, under heavy fire to a place of safety.’
In addition, Logan was awarded a Mentioned in Despatches for gallant and distinguished services in the period between 19th January to 30th April 1916, as put forward by Lieutenant General Sir Percy Lake in his Despatch of 24th August 1916, the award being announced in the London Gazette for 19th October 1916.
As of July 1916 the War Diary for the 2nd Royal Highlanders details Logan as being one of two grenadiers with No.2 Company.
The two armies now settled down into a period of trench warfare around Sanniyat and in mid July 1916, the Highland Battalion was broken up and the two original Battalions re-established, with the 2nd Royal Highlanders returning to the 21st Brigade. The summer of 1916 was spent alternating between tours of the trenches, enlivened by occasional raids, and periods of rest. Life was exceedingly hard due to the heat, poor food, insects and disease. Gradually over the summer and autumn, organisation improved almost the Allied force, commanded since July by Lieutenant General Sir Stanley Maude.
It was during one of the occasional trenches raids in the autumn of 1916, that the recently promoted Sergeant Logan won his Second Award Bar to the Distinguished Conduct Medal, this being earned for his part in a bombing raid on an advanced enemy sapped in trenches near Sanniyat on 6th September. This award is noted on page 241 of the Regimental History, along with an award with a similar citation to a Sergeant (No.1744) J. Anderson, who had led a similar raid the previous day.
Logan’s award, one of only 9 further award bars for the Distinguished Conduct Medal to his regiment for the Great War (this number also incorporating his subsequent third award), was announced in the London Gazette for 29th August 1917, and the citation reads as follows: ‘For conspicuous gallantry in action. A party was ordered to reconnoitre and grenade an advanced saphead. This was ably led by him, who did not allow his party to throw bombs until they had seen some of the enemy. After the bombs exploded the party withdrew, two being wounded before reaching our lines. It seems certain that the damage done to the enemy was considerable.’
Preparations were made for a renewed advance and the force brought up to strength. In December 1916, the advance began on Kut and in January and February 1917 fighting took place principally on the right bank of the Tigris at Mohammed Abdul Hassan, the Hai Salient, Dahra Bend and Shumran Peninsula. During this time the 2nd Royal Highlanders remained in trenches opposite Sanniyat with the goal of tying down the Turkish forces there.
Logan was then further decorated for this period when it was announced in the Battalion War Diary for February 1917 that he had been awarded the Russian Cross of Saint George 4th Class, this award being further confirmed and published in the London Gazette for 15th May 1917.
On 17th February, the Turkish positions at Sanniyat were again unsuccessfully assaulted but 2nd Royal Highlanders were only involved in covering the attack. The Sanniyat position was finally captured on 23rd February and the Turks were in full retreat, abandoning Kut the following day. The Battalion along with the rest of the Brigade continued the advance and on 11th March 1917, they reached Baghdad, which was captured without much of a fight.
When it was reported that a large force of Turks was at Mushaidie, 20 miles north of Baghdad on the railway, on the right bank of the Tigris, 7th and 13th Divisions were ordered to advance on the 13th March towards that place. On the 14th March the Battle of Mushaidie was fought, with 28th Brigade on the right of the railway and 21st Brigade on the left. The 2nd Royal Highlanders advanced at 3.30 pm to attack the enemy positions on a line of broken sandhills, halting to reorganise under cover about 1000 yards from the enemy position, the advance continued at 4.30 pm. The key position was Sugar Loaf Hill about 800 yards west of the railway and the Battalion suffered heavy losses as they advanced towards it, halting under cover some 200 yards from the enemy’s main position. Fortunately the advance on the right, now brought enfilade fire to bear and with the help of re-enforcements from the Seaforth’s and a barrage from artillery batteries that had been brought up, the Black Watch attacked again at 6.30 pm and carried their objective. Later that evening the Battalion advanced again a further four miles and Mushaidie itself was captured around 11.30 pm. Out of 543 who took part in the attack, the Battalion suffered some 230 casualties in killed and wounded.
Logan added a second award of his Mention in Despatches, this being including in Lieutenant General Sir Stanley Maude’s Despatch of 10th April 1917, which covers operations between 28th August 1916 and 31st March 1917, this award being announced in the London Gazette for 15th August 1917.
There followed a quiet month of rest and re-organisation before the Battalion with the rest of the 7th Division left Baghdad on 6th April and advanced north.
The Turks were next encountered entrenched across the Dujail Canal on the right bank of the Tigris, south of Itsabulat. The 7th Division had constructed strong points and trenches to enable artillery to be brought up and for the attack to be launched from a closer starting point. The Battle of Istabulat took place on 21st April 1917, with the covering batteries opening fire and the Battalion’s leading platoons advancing at 5 am, on the right side of the canal, nearest the Tigris.
The battle started as a contest between skirmishes, with platoons being deployed to deal with enfilade fire coming from across the canal. Shortly after 6 am nearly two miles had been cleared of the enemy and a charge was made to capture a redoubt and section of the enemy’s trenches. The redoubt had been taken by 6.15 am but the Turks launched a counterattack which succeeded in recapturing part of the redoubt. However, despite heave losses a renewed assault was launched against the redoubt but both were driven off. The Battalion lost a third of its strength in the fighting on the 21st amounting to 183 in killed and wounded. The following day it was found that the Turks had withdrawn and on the 24th the Battalion entered Samarrah, effectively ending the winter campaign 1916-17.
It was for his actions on the 21st April 1917 during the Battle of Istabulat that Sergeant Logan won his Third Award Bar to the Distinguished Conduct Medal, almost a year to the day after he had earned his first award back on 22nd April 1916. Logan is the only recipient of three awards of the Distinguished Conduct Medal to the Royal Highlanders during the Great War, and also the only one with awards all earned in Mesopotamia. He is one of only 10 recipient’s of three awards of this decoration for the Great War. Indeed Logan is one of only two men to receive three awards for the same area of conflict, the other such being a Sergeant Thomas Healey, Cameron Highlanders, who gained all of his awards during operations in the Sudan between 1882 and 1899. Healey’s award though spans a far longer period of conflict covering the Egyptian War of 1882 through to the reconquest of the Sudan and the local actions of that area. It is not for the same specific conflict, therefore Logan is unique in this aspect.
Logan’s third award of the Distinguished Conduct Medal was announced in the London Gazette for 1st May 1918, with the following citation: ‘For conspicuous gallingly and devotion to duty. At a critical moment he led forward a party of bombers under heavy fire, and controlled them with great skill until wounded. By his marked gallantry, courage and coolness he materially assisted in repelling a counterattack and in recapturing a redoubt. He has at all times proved himself an exceptionally fearless and efficient leader of men.’
Logan further to this added a third award of a Mention in Despatches, this being including in Lieutenant General Sir Stanley Maude’s Despatch of 15th October 1917, which covers operations between 1st April and 30th September 1917, this award being announced in the London Gazette for 12th March 1918.
There was little active fighting for the remainder of 1917, and in December the 2nd Royal Highlanders travelled back via Baghdad and Kut and on to Basra, where on 1st January 1918, they embarked for Palestine with the 7th Division.
Initially the Battalion landed in Egypt and went into camp near the Suez Canal. They remained in Egypt until being assigned to XXI Corps on the western flank of the Egyptian Expeditionary Force’s line north of Jaffa. next to the sea. Over the summer of 1918 the Battalion was alternately in trenches or reserve and rest. The only significant action came on 8th June 1918, the Battalion took part in an attack known as the Action of Arsuf to capture a position known as the “Sisters” which overlooked the Allied positions and this was carried out successfully.
In September 1918, General Allenby continued his advance and the Battle of Megiddo was fought on 19th September. Deploying in the early hours of the 19th, the bombardment commenced at 4.30 pm. The assault went in and for once everything proceeded just as planned, with each objective being secured on schedule and an advance of some 5,000 yards achieved. Casualties had been light, only 2 men killed and 21 wounded. Soon after 8 am a further advance of 4500 yards was made towards Kh Ez Zerkieh march, meeting little opposition. By 4.30 pm after a trying march of about 7 miles, Et Tireh had been reached and at 6.30 pm the El Medjel Hill was captured. The advanced continued over the coming days and by 21st September the Battalion had reached Messudieh Station and the overwhelming nature of the victory that the Egyptian Expeditionary Force had achieved was apparent.
The Turkish armies had been practically destroyed and 7th Division was sent to occupy Haifa and Acre, before moving on to Beirut, which was reached on 10th October 1918. After a short stop there, the Battalion continued towards Tripoli, reaching Ras el Lados on the 29th October. It was here, two days later that they received news of the armistice with Turkey.
Logan was one of the most decorated soldiers with his regiment and the entirety of the British Army for his actions during the Great War, having been decorated seven times. In March 1920 he would claim the Clasp and Roses to his 1914 Star along with his other campaign medals.
He opted to remain in service, and transferred back to the 1st Battalion, and in September 1919 went out to India. He would be allotted a new service number in August 1920. His battalion was stationed at Allahabad up to November 1922, but did not participate in any active operations on the North West Frontier during this period, and were solely used as garrison troops. It was at some point whilst stationed at Allahabad that Logan deserted and made his own way home to the United Kingdom, where he reported himself as a deserter at Queen’s Barracks in Perth sometime between the end of May and 14th October 1922. Tried by Court Martial, he was dismissed from the service.
Logan died at Kircaldy in Fife on 31st January 1951, his last known address being 21 Hazel Avenue.