Long Road to Baghdad Trilogy
The trilogy began as a conversation with a survivor and veteran of the campaign, Christopher Marley. He volunteered to fight in the First World War, little thinking he would be sent to Mesopotamia. He participated in the British Forces triumphant march into Baghdad in 1917, where he promptly contracted typhoid, fell into a coma and was issued with a death certificate by overworked medical staff in a military hospital. The orderly in charge of the burial party thought Christopher’s corpse didn’t look “quite right” so it was set it aside for the next party. When Christopher eventually came round it was to find that as a dead man he was no longer entitled to rations or uniform. It took six months for him to be restored to his regiment’s roster. I am indebted to him for his account of a side show war that cost 97,000 British casualties.
Long Road to Baghdad – Book One in the Long Road to Baghdad series
Mesopotamia, 1914: in the Middle East tension escalates between the British and the Arabs. Misfit Lieutenant Harry Downe is sent to negotiate a treaty with a renegade Bedouin Sheikh, Ibn Shalan, whose tribe attacks enemy patrols in Iraq and cuts their oil pipelines. Desperate for arms, Shalan accepts British weapons but needing to save “face” demands that in return, Harry accepts his daughter Furja as his bride. The secret marriage leads to a deep love, to the anger of Shalan, his tribe and the disgust of Harry’s fellow officers. But war looms, and the horrors of the battlefield threaten to destroy Harry’s new found happiness, and transform his life and that of his closest friends for ever.
Long Road to Baghdad is a vivid, moving, historically accurate account of a conflict between East and Western Empires, based on the wartime exploits of war hero Lieutenant Colonel Gerard Leachman.
British Colonel Gerard Evelyn Leachman CIE DSO in Arab dress (1880)
Winds of Eden – Book Two in the Long Road to Baghdad series
December 1915. Following heavy casualties, General Townsend withdraws his exhausted troops to the town of Kut Al Amara, Iraq. His orders to engage as many Turkish troops as possible in a siege. A relief force is hastily assembled, among them Charles Reid, Tom Mason, and Michael Downe. For each, the advance is personal. Charles returns to the country where he lost the love of his life. Tom’s brother John, an army surgeon, awaits execution. Michael’s brother Harry, an army intelligence officer, is missing, after disappearing on his last mission. Short of everything except sick and wounded, reduced to eating their horses, the garrison is repeatedly thrown against the might of the Turkish guns. The men wonder if they will ever see home and their wives again. For their families, the strain reaches breaking point as they wait for news from the front. As the death toll rises, the British War Office faces the unthinkable: defeat for Townsend and his 10,000 men.
Scorpion Sunset – Book Three in the Long Road to Baghdad series
1916, Mesopotamia. The Turks order prisoners taken after the fall of Kut to march hundreds of miles to Baghdad. The men are weak from starvation after the five-month siege, with many suffering from dysentery, scabies, and malaria. They lack medical supplies – and the hot weather begins. Hundreds of men die on the march, the stragglers killed by Arab tribesmen; those too ill to move, abandoned to die. But the tide of war turns when the British march victorious into Baghdad. Taking control of Mesopotamia, the British discover they do not have the resources to govern it, but peace treaties are signed and the POWs taken after the fall of Kut who survived the death marches and imprisonment are released into an uncertain world. Among them is medical officer, Major John Mason, his health ruined and spirits broken. His old friend Charles Reid is more optimistic as love blossoms. Harry Downe is occasionally sighted living with his Bedouin wife’s tribe: but how much of his past does he truly remember? Harry’s journalist brother Michael seeks answers amidst the ruins of war as their friends and comrades struggle to survive in the aftermath of the conflict.