'Kurds who fought on the side of the Assyrians at Urumia', 1918
Photograph, World War One, Caucasus, (1914-1918).
The Baku oil installations were deemed vital to the Allied war effort so after the Russian armies in the Caucasus collapsed following the October Revolution (1917), the British attempted to bolster the Allied position there by despatching a military mission called Dunsterforce.
Dunsterforce officers trained local levies in order to oppose the Ottoman army and various Turkish backed-tribesmen. The British found it difficult to work out who among the myriad tribes and faiths in the region were allies or enemies. Leith-Ross noted that the Kurdish group shown here, called the 'Shekoik…fought with the Christians against the Shiah Moslems, but later they proved traitors and were shot. They look like the treacherous people they actually were'.
From an album of 334 photographs compiled by Major W Leith-Ross, Army Staff and 13th Frontier Force Rifles, 1918-1920.
NAM Accession Number
National Army Museum, Out of Copyright
National Army Museum, Study collection