Charles Townshend achieved international fame, as a captain, when he commanded the besieged garrison at Chitral (now Pakistan) in 1895. As a result, he became known as 'Chitral Charlie'.Decorated by Queen Victoria and lionised by the British public, his passage up through the Army was assured and, in 1916, he was given command on 6th Indian Division and sent to Mesopotamia. Here he won a series of stunning victories as his ill-supported division swept all before it in a devastating advance up the River Tigris. He triumphed brilliantly at Kurna, Amara and Kut but then, against all the tenets of military common sense, he advanced up the River Tigris to take Baghdad.By now over-reached, he was confronted by a determined Turkish foe. His Division was depleted and exhausted. Townshend withdrew to Kut, where he was besieged and forced into a humiliating surrender. The mis-treatment of the British POWs by the Turks only added to Townshend's shame.This fascinating and objective biography examines Townshend's controversial conduct during and after the siege and assesses whether his dramatic fall from grace and popularity was fair.N S 'Tank' Nash CBE, is a retired brigadier.
His highly amusing 'Sustainer' articles in military journals attracted a wide following. He is the author of K Boat Catastrophe (Pen and Sword, 2008). He lives near Edinburgh.