First World War disaster general's medals go under the hammer

THE campaign medals of a Scottish general, who killed himself after being blamed for one of the worst military disasters of the First World War, are to go under the hammer this month.

General Sir Beauchamp Duff, a former chief of staff to Lord Kitchener and the commander in chief of the British forces in India, committed suicide in 1918 because he could not live with the shame of being held partly responsible for a failed British offensive against Turkish forces in Mesopotamia - present-day Iraq.

The attack on Baghdad by 9,000 troops of the 6th Indian Division in 1915 ended in catastrophe when the remnants of the British invasion force were surrounded, and three attempts to relieve the trapped British and Indian troops also ended in failure, at the cost of 23,000 lives.

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General Charles Townsend, the leader of the British force, was exonerated. But General Duff, whose family seat was at Hatton Castle near Turriff in Aberdeenshire, was censured by the 1917 Royal Commission into the disaster, together with Sir John Nixon, the commander in chief of the Mesopotamian expeditionary force, and Lord Hardinge, Viceroy of India.

General Duff's honours, which include the Defence of Ladysmith medal, will be sold at Sotheby's in London on 18 July.