This is our story of the life of William Arthur FRASER.

Wednesday, 14 May 2014

Dunsterforce, 1918

Upon his return to France he is asked to volunteer for a secret mission and it is not long before he returns to England and with other officers from his 3rd Division, gathered at the Tower of London as a chosen member of a “hush –hush” expedition.

With the collapse of the Russian front in the Caucasus, as the Bolsheviks returned home to support the Revolution in October 1917, the area was left in turmoil and open to an advance by the Turkish and German forces. It was vital that they could not access, not only the ports for supply of oil, but also to open a supply route through Central Asia via Afghanistan to the rich natural resources of India.

In order to avoid this strategic catastrophe Major General Lionel Dunsterville formed a force specifically from the Dominion troops, whose characteristicss he admired. Commanders such as the Australian General Birdwood  were asked to supply “good officers, with strong characters, adventurous spirit, especially good stamina, capable of organising, training and eventually leading irregular troops.” Brigade commanders were asked to suggest names of NCOs who showed strong leadership attributes who had already proven themselves in the field. Consequently Lieutenant Fraser became a Temporary Captain in the British Imperial Army.

Arriving first in  Mesopotamia at Basra and then proceeding to Baghdad in March 1918, then on to Hamadan and Baku where he remained in the “Dunsterforce”, (basically carrying out the same type of training our special forces are involved in today,) until the end of the year. He was specially mentioned in Sir Douglas Haig’s despatch in April 1918.  When it was disbanded he became a member of the NORPER Force – Irregular Northern Persian Force. These soldiers were never certain whether they were dealing with friend of foe and were consequently were always on guard throughout their time in the area.

After returning to Cairo he left from Suez to return home per the “Lancashire”on 19th February 1919 to a family he hardly knew.

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