Topic: AIF - Cars
1st AUSTRALIAN ARMOURED CAR SECTION, AIF
THE BATTLE WITH THE KURDISH BANDITS
Below is a transcription from a manuscript submitted by Captain E.H. James called "The Motor Patrol". It is lodged in the AWM as AWM 224 MSS 209. This is Part 2.
THE BATTLE WITH THE KURDISH BANDITS - Part 2
While this little running fight was taking place, the men on the caravan who had been held up were yelling with glee and excitement and when they saw their late aggressors lying on the ground they rushed up to our chaps and began patting them on the back while the Armenian who came with us was apparently a hero for all time among his compatriots.
By the time the shooting was over and we had collected the spoils to return to the people who had lost it, and had picked up one of the brigands who was only half dead to take back to the town, it was getting dark. So we thought it was time to get back to make our report. We turned for home again and the caravan followed along after us.
Before we reached Ain Tab however, we were met by a large crowd of the townspeople coming down the road to meet us. They had heard all the shooting down the road and this noise had been increased by the echoes in the mountains as each shot was repeated backwards and forwards from hill to hill until it must have sounded like a general engagement to the people in the town. We felt quite elated on reaching the town to be told that the tribe we had exterminated had been preying on travellers for years and they had been a thorn in the side of the Turks right through the war even interfering with their army transport.
Hitherto, all attempts to trace or run them down had been ineffective with the result that they had got bold enough to attack quite large convoys. We handed over the wounded man to the Turkish Authorities and we heard afterwards that they had their own methods of dealing with him. They put their "third degree" across him and got information as to the village he came from and where they kept their loot etc. Anyhow, we believe the man died a day or so afterwards.
After this little episode the Australians were looked upon as quite a lot of little tin gods by the Turks and local inhabitants. The Turkish Commandant wished to have the members of the Patrol decorated with a Turkish medal of some description, but of course it was not allowed for British troops to accept decorations from an enemy country. However, he insisted on the writer accepting as a souvenir a decoration of his own, which he had received from his own Government.
After tea that evening the sentry in front of No. 1 Light Car Patrol's quarters was surprised to see a large deputation arrive headed by the interpreter or the "Interrupter" as he was known by the troops. He explained to the sentry that the deputation consisted of the principal Armenians of the town and the head man or patriarch who had come down to express their thanks to the men who had delivered their countryman from the brigands. He also explained that it was the custom there to express their gratitude by their head man kissing the victim on the forehead. At this there was much amusement among the rest of the troops who were lining up to see what the excitement was all about.
The Commandant was appealed to, but he only grinned and said that the ordeal must be gone through otherwise the town would be offended for evermore. One man suggested that he would go through with it if they sent their daughters up instead, but apparently that was not allowed. Finally the five victims were lined up by their mates, while the patriarch solemnly carried out his duty to the accompaniment of yells of laughter from the onlookers. After it was over it was discovered that one of the men had bribed a substitute to take his place by offering him his week's issue of rum. The Ain Tab scrap was the last shooting the Patrol did although shortly afterwards a detachment was sent up into the mountains to augment No. 7 Patrol (The Scotties) who were at Marash as it was rumoured that the Inhabitants in that district were talking of rising up and driving the small British garrisons back into the Sea. However, the threat was never put into execution.
Further Reading:The Australian Light Horse - Structure
Citation: 1st Australian Armoured Car Section - THE BATTLE WITH THE KURDISH BANDITS - Part 2