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Battle of Baku

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Battle of Baku
Part of the Armenian–Azerbaijani War &
Caucasus Campaign
Baku az vs.jpg

Ottoman artillery bombarding the city.
Date26 August 1918 – 14 September 1918[1]
40°27′N 49°47′E / 40.450°N 49.783°E / 40.450; 49.783
Result Ottoman–Azerbaijani victory
 Ottoman Empire

Flag of the Centrocaspian Dictatorship.svg Centrocaspian Dictatorship
Armenian Revolutionary Federation Flag.gif
United Kingdom United Kingdom
Russia White Russians

Baku Commune
Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic Russian SFSR
Commanders and leaders
Ottoman Empire Nuri Pasha
Ottoman Empire Mürsel Bey
Ali-Agha Shikhlinski

Flag of the Centrocaspian Dictatorship.svg General Dokuchaev[2]
Flag of the Centrocaspian Dictatorship.svg
Colonel Avetisov[1]
United Kingdom Lionel Dunsterville
Armenian Revolutionary Federation Flag.gif
Hamazasp Srvandztyan[3]

Stepan Shaumian Executed
Grigory Korganov Executed
Islamic Army of the Caucasus
14,000 infantry
500 cavalry
40 guns[1]
Flag of the Centrocaspian Dictatorship.svg
Baku Army
6,000[1]to 9,151 infantry.[4]
40 guns[1]
United Kingdom Dunsterforce
5,000 infantry
1 artillery battery
3 machine gun section
3 armored cars
2 Martinsyde G.100 planes[1]
Russia Bicherakhov detachment
Casualties and losses
Flag of the Centrocaspian Dictatorship.svg
Baku Army: 4,000
United Kingdom British Empire: 200 [1]

The Battle of Baku (Azerbaijani: Bakı Müharibəsi, Turkish: Bakü Muharebesi, Russian: Битва за Баку) also known as the Liberation of Baku was a battle in World War I that took place between August–September 1918 between the OttomanAzerbaijani coalition forces led by Nuri Pasha and BolshevikDashnak Baku Soviet forces, later succeeded by the BritishArmenianWhite Russian forces led by Lionel Dunsterville and saw briefly Soviet Russia re-enter the war. The battle was fought as a conclusive part of the Caucasus Campaign, but as a beginning of the Armenian–Azerbaijani War.[5][6]

YouTube Encyclopedic

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  • ✪ The Defence of Baku - The Adventures of Dunsterforce Part 2 I THE GREAT WAR Special
  • ✪ The Run For The Baku Oil Fields I THE GREAT WAR Week 205
  • ✪ The First World War - The Battle Of Baku
  • ✪ Bakü Muharebesi:Gün Gün(Harita)


This is Part two of our Christmas special about one of the most forgotten theaters - and most forgotten actions of the war. Today we’ll see some of the real chaos of the Caucasus post-Russian revolution, and some real adventure by the Caspian Sea. I’m Indy Neidell, welcome to part two of this year’s Great War Christmas Special- the adventures of Dunsterforce, the Hush-Hush Army, as written by General Lionel Dunsterville. In part one, we saw the force try and fail to reach Tiflis - Tbilisi - or Baku, but gain Cossack allies, nearly be taken by the Bolshevik Red Guard, provide essential famine relief, and have those Cossack allies help stymie Mirza Kuchik Khan, would be ruler of Persia. When we left off, Dunsterville was at the port of Enzeli, on the Caspian Sea making deals with the local Bolshevik committee, and Colonel Bicherakov and his Cossacks - claiming they were Bolsheviks - were hoping to stop the advancing Ottomans by taking the Kura Bridge together with Bolshevik controlled Baku’s local Red Army. If the Ottomans captured Baku they would have big stores of oil to run the Caucasian railway and the Black Sea shipping. They would also have control of the Caspian Sea and an open door to Afghanistan and Asia. On the other hand, if the British could secure Baku, this would close the door to central Asia for the enemy, stop the local railways, and gain control of the Caspian Sea. By mid July, Dunsterville from Enzeli was in daily contact with the Social Revolutionaries in Baku and it seemed that soon they could bring off a coup against the Bolsheviks and set up a pro-British government. He finally got news of Bicherakov, but all hope of securing the bridge was gone, as the Red Army there, who were revolutionaries and not soldiers, just wouldn’t do its job. They gave ground without firing a shot and Bicherakov could only count on his men, so he fell back to Baku. So the Bolsheviks then realized Bicherakov isn’t really one of them and are trying to push him into the arms of the Turks. He figures this out and soon abandons the town entirely and heads to Derbend. This turns out to be a bad decision because if he had waited for just a few days for the Dunsterforce to arrive then Baku would never have fallen. Dunsterville’s men were now trickling in from Mesopotamia, but Kuchik Khan’s Jangalis were going to try a new attack. They did this July 20th at the Battle of Resht, on the Enzeli road. They sent their best men to attack the British detachment based outside of town, while simultaneously taking the town. The attacks on the detachment were beaten off, and of the 2,500 Jangalis attacking, 100 were killed and 50 or so taken prisoner. The British took 50 casualties roughly, but the now Jangalis held the town. Two days of street fighting and aerial bombardment cleared them out, the entire road to the Caspian was now open, and Mirza Kuchik Khan began to sue for peace, but Enzeli had to be secured. So Dunsterville invited the Enzeli Bolshevik committee of three to Kasvin and arrested them on charges of complicity with the Jangalis, the only thing for which they could theoretically be arrested, since they had killed a bunch of Russians on the road, and that was certainly against Persian law. He had a letter from 19 year old committee member Babookh congratulating Kuchik Khan on his attempts to beat the British and promising future support as proof. If this isn’t all complicated enough, on July 26th came the coup in Baku and the new governing body was the Centro-Caspian dictatorship, who called Dunsterville for help. He had now established control over Enzeli Port, which the locals apparently had no problem with, and managed to secure one 1,000 ton ship there - the President Kruger that could hold 800 men - and two smaller ships at Baku, three of the best ships on the Caspian. Headquarters was transferred to the Kruger August 10th. Dunsterville took down the Red flag and put up the Russian flag, but the locals were worried that this was counter revolutionary activity. He assured them this was not the case, but he was not a revolutionary either, so they compromised by flying the Russian flag upside down. This meant that the force sailed the Caspian under the Serbian flag since the locals weren’t aware that it’s the same as the Russian flag upside down. So you now had a British General sailing on the Caspian Sea, aboard a ship named after a South African Boer President of partly German descent, sailing from a Persian port, under a Serbian flag, to assist a body of Armenians in a revolutionary Russian town against the Turks. You genuinely cannot make this stuff up. Dunsterville arrived in Baku the 17th to find a city on the verge of starvation. The population of the oil city was around 300,000, mainly Armenians, Tartars, and Russians, with smaller colonies of Georgians and Greeks, and even smaller numbers of British, French, and Americans. The countryside was totally barren except for the avenues of trees grown in the city with the new water supply and the surrounding villages, which were basically oases. The Five Dictators - yep, five - requested a meeting with Dunsterville, just after he sent his force of some 900 men to the front lines. He describes them as intelligent, zealous, and around 30 years old. “The idea of five Dictators seemed to me absurd, and I suggested their choosing one of their number as a single Dictator” but that didn’t happen. Gotta point out that unlike many European leaders of his age and era, Dunsterville did not think of other races and cultures as inferior, his problem here was their lack of training. Of the local Armenians he writes, “He was not a soldier, but just an ill-fed... factory hand. A rifle was pushed into his hand and he was told to go and fight. He had no equipment, no proper instructors, no decent officers, and no regular arrangements for food supply... under such circumstances no troops could be expected to display a high standard of valor.” Plans were begun for possible evacuation of the town and it was heavily shelled the night of the 23rd. Still, machine guns were reorganized and the Armenian town defenses were gradually shaped up. A peace was signed with Kuchik Khan back at Enzeli, who then became their sole contractor for rice, which was a big boon for Baku. The Turks had, however, attacked Mud Volcano near Baku the 26th and inflicted heavy losses, including killing the British major who was charged with wiring the front, but they failed to break through and take the town. It was obvious that the great assault was soon to come. The main problem everywhere though, was the delay between agreement and action. Everything was done by committee and every single man had a say. Every battalion has a committee, and so does each company in the battalion, and committee meetings are held during action. But once they’ve reached a decision, they have no power to enforce it, because of course the men do not consider themselves bound by such a decision if they don’t personally support it. Dunsterville says that all of this “freedom” put a stop to any enterprise and that much of Russia is longing for any form of government that will restore a semblance of law and order. He also says of those fighting the revolution, “Revolutionaries are quite the least brotherly people toward each other that the world contains, and constitute a living refutation of their fundamental doctrines.” The Turks again attacked August 31st. Troops from the town kept in reserve could have easily counterattacked and carried the day, but this they did not do. Dunsterville by now despaired of the situation- though he says that retreating to the heights south of the railway line could save the city and port, but the local men have to be willing to actually fight, and they weren’t. He was asked to attend a Council of War that evening. There were the Five Dictators, the Armenian National Council, workman’s delegates, soldiers’ and sailors’ delegates, and peasant deputies. General Dukuchaiev, the local C-in-C, gave an address on his strategy and summed up his remarks. Even as he was concluding, a sailor rose and gave his views. He spoke for an hour and then proposed plans the exact opposite of the C-in-C. Then the Armenian National Council proposed a third set of plans. Then the Dictators had their plans, then other speakers. An exasperated Dunsterville left at 0100, while they were still talking. He decided that the situation was unsalvageable and the next afternoon met the Dictators to tell them so. The Hush-Hush army has done all the fighting, but the men came to help fight, not do ALL the fighting, and he won’t sacrifice their lives needlessly, so he will soon leave Baku. He advises the Dictators to send out a flag of truce and sort out peace terms before an invasion can happen, and not waste time making speeches and resolutions. The Dictators are thunderstruck, as if the idea of the fall of Baku had never been a possibility for them. Later, Dunsterville returned to HQ and found the various committees all passing resolutions as fast as they could. While it is ludicrous, he points out that the ludicrous situation is not really their fault and would likely arise to a certain extent after any revolution. By this time, though, it should be noted that a big part of the town was eager to replace the Dictators with something else. At 0400 September 14th, the final assault on Baku began, and the local troops for the most part did not fight, were immediately overrun, and evacuation seemed the only option. However, the Dunsterforce managed to check the advance at 0800, though counterattacking proved impossible. They couldn’t fight the whole enemy alone, so the order was given for retirement to commence at 2000. The sun set, and the fighting had died down after 14 hours as both sides were exhausted. The sick and wounded were aboard ship shortly after dark and they made for Enzeli. By 2200, troops and guns were aboard the Kruger. Two Dictators arrived and demanded the British return to its fighting line positions. Dunsterville says that after 14 hours fighting with no relief or support that’s not possible. The Dictators say they will sink the ships. Dunsterville says, “I hope not.” They made it safely to Enzeli. Fewer than 1,000 men had kept a force ten times their size at bay for nearly a month. The local Baku artillery had actually been great but it was the Dunsterforce that had held the town. Casualties had been 180, about a 5th of the force. Once beyond Enzeli, the adventure of the Dunsterforce comes to an end. Here are a few of Dunsterville’s words about revolution: “It is extremely easy to break down an existing form of government, but to build up anything substantial in its place is a matter of considerable difficulty... and a long period of disorder must ensue during which the best efforts of the best men will not suffice to prevent ridiculous situations from arising.” That’s pretty short but sweet, and it certainly helps explain the Baku situation in the summer of 1918, a situation of absurdity following revolution. We thought this two-part tale of revolution, chaos, and adventure might make a bit more upbeat Christmas special than last year’s and hope you enjoyed it. But don’t forget, a lot of people died here, from all sides, and even post revolution; they were still casualties of the Great War. I definitely encourage you to read “The Adventures of Dunsterville” and you can find a link to that in the description below. If you missed part 1 of our Dunsterforce adventure, you can click right here for that. Don’t forget to subscribe, see you next time.



The Ottoman Caucasus offensive in 1918.
The Ottoman Caucasus offensive in 1918.

In 1917, the Russian Caucasus Front collapsed following the abdication of the Tsar. On 9 March 1917, the Special Transcaucasian Committee was established to fill the administrative gap in areas occupied in the course of the war on the Caucasian front by the Russian Provisional Government in the Transcaucasia. This administration, which included representatives of Armenian, Azerbaijani and Georgian groups, did not last long. In November 1917, the first government of the independent Transcaucasia was created in Tbilisi and named the Transcaucasian Commissariat following the Bolshevik seizure of power in St. Petersburg. On 5 December 1917, this new "Transcaucasian Committee" gave endorsement to the Armistice of Erzincan which was signed by the Russians with the command of the Ottoman Third Army.[7] Russian soldiers mainly left the front and returned to their homes. A number of Russian troops left for the Persian Campaign, contrary to the rules of the Armistice.[1] General Nikolai Baratov remained in Hamadan and at Kermanshah, a Russian colonel named Lazar Bicherakhov remained with 10,000 troops. Both forces were supplemented by British liaison officers.[1]

In 1918, the British invited the Armenians to hold out and picked officers and non-commissioned officers to form an "advisory" force, organizing them under the command of Lionel Dunsterville at Baghdad.[8] It was named the Dunsterforce.[8] The military goal of Dunsterforce was to reach the Caucasus via Persia while the Persian Campaign was active.[8] The British planned to organize an army to be recruited from the Armenians and other pro-Allied elements that still existed in the Caucasus.[8] On 10 February 1918, the Sejm gathered and made the decision to establish independence. On 24 February 1918, the Sejm proclaimed the Transcaucasia as independent under the Transcaucasian Democratic Federative Republic. The Transcaucasian Commissariat was anti-Bolshevik in its political goals and sought the separation of Transcaucasia from Bolshevik Russia. On 27 January 1918, the British mission Dunsterforce set out from Baghdad with officers and instructors to the region.[1] Dunsterforce was ordered to keep the Caucasus-Tabriz front intact and put a stop to Enver Pasha's plans.[1] On 17 February, Dunsterforce arrived at Enzeli; here they were denied passage to Baku by local Bolsheviks, who cited the change in the political situation.[1]

On 3 March 1918, the Grand Vizier Talat Pasha signed the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk with the Russian SFSR. The Treaty of Brest-Litovsk stipulated that the border be pulled back to prewar levels and that the cities of Batum, Kars, and Ardahan be transferred to the Ottoman Empire. Between 14 March – April 1918, the Trabzon peace conference was held between the Ottoman Empire and the delegation of the Sejm.

On 30 March 1918, the tenth day of Trabzon peace conference, the news of the internecine conflict & massacre of Azerbaijanis and other Muslims in Baku and adjacent areas of the Baku Governorate arrived. The following days witnessed the inter-ethnic warfare referred to as the March Days. It resulted in the massacre of up to 12,000 Azerbaijanis by the Bolsheviks and armed Dashnaks in the city of Baku and other locations in the Baku Governorate.[9][10][11] While before the "March Days" Azerbaijani leaders claimed autonomy within Russia, after these events they demanded only independence and placed their hopes no longer in the Russian Revolution, but in support from Ottoman Empire.[12]

On 5 April 1918, Akaki Chkhenkeli of the Transcaucasian delegation to the Trabzon peace conference accepted the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk as a basis for more negotiations and wired the governing bodies urging them to accept this position.[13] The mood prevailing in Tiflis (where the assembly located) was very different. Tiflis acknowledged the existence of a state of war between themselves and the Ottoman Empire.[13] Shortly after, the Third Army began its advance and took Erzerum, Kars and Van.[1] The situation was especially dire in the Caucasus, where Enver Pasha had wanted to place Transcaucasia under Ottoman suzerainty as part of his Pan-Turanian plan.[1] This would give the Central Powers numerous natural resources, including the oilfields of Baku. The control of the Caspian would open the way to further expansion in Central Asia, and possibly British India.[1]

On 11 May 1918, a new peace conference opened at Batum.[14] At this conference Ottomans extended their demands to include Tiflis as well as Alexandropol and Echmiadzin through which they wanted a railroad to be built to connect Kars and Julfa with Baku. The Armenian and Georgian members of the Republic's delegation began to stall. Beginning on 21 May, the Ottoman army moved ahead once again. The conflict led to the Battle of Sardarapat (21–29 May), the Battle of Kara Killisse (1918) (24–28 May), and the Battle of Bash Abaran (21–24 May).

On 26 May 1918, the federation dissolved initially with the Georgian declaration of independence (Democratic Republic of Georgia), quickly followed by those of the Armenian (First Republic of Armenia), and Azerbaijan (Azerbaijan Democratic Republic) representatives on 28 May. On 28 May 1918, Georgia signed the Treaty of Poti with Germany and welcomed the German Caucasus Expedition, seeing in the Germans protectors against the post-Russian Revolution havoc and the Ottoman military advances.[15] The government of Azerbaijan moved from Tiflis to Ganjak (or Ganja). At the same time, Germany turned to negotiations with the Soviet Russia and offered to stop the Islamic Army of the Caucasus in return for guaranteed access to Baku's oil. They reached an agreement on 27 August whereby Germany was to receive a quarter of Baku's oil production. The German government requested that the Ottoman Empire delay any offensive into Azerbaijan; Enver Pasha ignored this request.

In May, on the Persian Front, a military mission under Nuri Pasha, brother of Enver Pasha, settled in Tabriz to organize the Islamic Army of the Caucasus to fight not only Armenians but also the Bolsheviks.[1] Nuri Pasha's army occupied large parts of the Azerbaijani Democratic Republic without much opposition, influencing the fragile structure of the newly formed state. Ottoman interference led some elements of Azerbaijani society to oppose Turks.[16]

On 4 June 1918, Azerbaijan and the Ottoman Empire signed a treaty of friendship and cooperation, clause 4 of which held that the Ottoman Empire would provide military assistance to Azerbaijan, if such assistance was required for maintaining peace and security in the country.


The Ottoman Islamic Army of the Caucasus was under the command of Nuri Pasha. It was formed in Ganja. It included the Ottoman 5th Caucasian and 15th divisions, and the Azerbaijani Muslim Corps under general Ali-Agha Shikhlinski. There were roughly 14,000 Ottoman troops with 500 cavalrymen and 40 pieces of artillery.[1] 30% of the newly formed army consisted of Ottoman soldiers, the rest being Azerbaijani forces and volunteers from Dagestan.[16]

The Baku forces were commanded by the former Tsarist General Dokuchaev,[17] with his Armenian Chief of Staff, Colonel Avetisov.[1] Under their command were about 6,000 Centrocaspian Dictatorship troops of the Baku Army or Baku Battalions.[1] The vast majority of the troops in this force were Armenians, though there were some Russians among them. Their artillery comprised some 40 field guns. Most of the Baku Soviet troops and practically all their officers were Armenians of Dashnak leanings, and often outright Dashnaks. One of the Red Army commanders was the notorious Amazasp, who had fought as a guerrilla leader against the Turks, and for whom any Muslim was an enemy simply because he was a Muslim.[18]

The British mission, Dunsterforce, was headed by Major-General Lionel Dunsterville, who had arrived to take command of the mission force in Baghdad on 18 January 1918. The first members of the force were already assembled.[1] Dunsterville set out from Baghdad on 27 January 1918, with four NCOs and batmen in 41 Ford vans and cars.[1] The British troops in battle under Dunsterville numbered roughly 1,000. They were supported by a field artillery battery, machine gun section, three armoured cars, and two airplanes. He was to proceed through Persia (began from Mesopotamian Campaign through Persian Campaign) to the port of Anzali.


North Staffords, a contingent of the Dunsterforce, on the road to Baku.
North Staffords, a contingent of the Dunsterforce, on the road to Baku.
Armenian troops in a trench.
Armenian troops in a trench.

Outside city of Baku

On 6 June 1918, Grigory Korganov, People's Commissar of Military and Naval Affairs of the Baku Soviet, issued an order to the Red Army to begin offensive operations against Ganja.[18] Being unable to defend the independence of the country on their own, the government of Azerbaijan asked the Ottoman Empire for military support in accordance with clause 4 of the treaty between the two countries. The Baku Soviet troops looted and killed Muslims as they moved towards Ganja.[18] However many of the troops Shahumian requested from Moscow for the protection of Baku did not arrive because they were held up on the orders of Joseph Stalin in Tsaritsyn. Also, on Stalin's orders, grain collected in Northern Caucasus to feed the starving people in Baku was directed to Tsaritsyn. Shahumian protested to Lenin and to the Military Committee about Stalin's behavior and he often stated: "Stalin will not help us". Lack of troops and food would be decisive in the fate of the Baku Soviet.[20]

On 27 June - 1 July 1918, in the battle near Goychay, the Ottoman Islamic Army of the Caucasus defeated the Red Army and started advancing towards Baku. At this point, earlier in June, Bicherakhov was in the vicinity of Qazvin, trying to go north.[1] After defeating some Jangalis, he proceeded to check the situation in Baku.[1] Returning on 22 June, he planned to save the situation by blocking the Army of the Caucasus at Alyaty Pristan'.[1] However, he arrived too late, and instead went farther north to Derbent, planning to attack the invading Army of the Caucasus from the north. At Baku, he left only a small Cossack contingent.[1] Beside the Russians, the Jangalis also harassed elements of the Dunsterforce going to Anzali on their way to Baku. Once defeated, the Jangalis dispersed. On reaching Anzali in late July, Dunsterville also arrested the local Bolsheviks who had sided with the Jangalis.[1]

On 26 July 1918, a coup d'état overthrew the Bolsheviks in Baku.[1] The new body, the Central Caspian Dictatorship, wanted to arrest Stepan Shahumian, but he and his 1,200 Red Army troops seized the local arsenal and 13 ships, and began heading to Astrakhan. The Caspian fleet, loyal to the new government, turned them back.[1]

By 30 July 1918, the advance parties of the Islamic Army of the Caucasus had reached the heights above Baku, causing Dunsterville to immediately send contingents of his troops to Baku, which arrived on 16 August.[1]

On 17 August 1918, Dokuchaev started an offensive at Diga.[1] He planned for 600 Armenians under Colonel Stepanov to attack to the north of Baku.[1] He would further be reinforced by some Warwicks and North Staffords, eventually taking Novkhani. By doing this, they planned to close the gap to the sea, and control a strongly defensible line from one end of the Apsheron Peninsula to the other. The attack failed without artillery support, as the "Inspector of Artillery" had not been given warning.[1] As a result of the failure, the remnants of the force retired to a line slightly north of Diga.[1]

City of Baku

The oil derricks of Baku shelled during the battle.
The oil derricks of Baku shelled during the battle.
Shortly before the Ottoman attack: Russian and Armenian soldiers near the front line.
Shortly before the Ottoman attack: Russian and Armenian soldiers near the front line.

While Baku and its environs had been the site of clashes since June and into mid-August, the term Battle of Baku refers to the operations of 26 August - 14 September.[1][21] On 26 August, the Ottoman Islamic Army of the Caucasus launched its main attack against positions at the Wolf's Gate.[1] Despite a shortage of artillery, British and Baku troops held the positions against the Army of the Caucasus. Following the main assault, the Ottoman forces also attacked Binagadi Hill farther north, but also failed. After these attacks, reinforcements were sent to the Balajari station, from where they held the heights to the north.[1] However, faced with increased artillery fire from Ottoman forces, they retired to the railway line.[1]

Over the period 28–29 August, the Ottoman forces shelled the city heavily, and attacked the Binagadi Hill position. 500 Ottoman soldiers in close order charged up the hill, but were repulsed with the help of artillery. However, the under-strength British troops were forced to retire to positions further south.[1]

29 August– 1 September, the Ottoman forces managed to capture the positions of Binagadi Hill and Diga. Several coalition units were overrun, and losses were heavy. By this point, allied troops were pushed back to the saucer-like position that made up the heights surrounding Baku.[1] However, Ottoman losses were so heavy that Mürsel Bey was not immediately able to continue his offensive. This gave the Baku Army invaluable time to reorganize.[1] Faced with an ever-worsening situation, Dunsterville organized a meeting with the Centrocaspian Dictators on 1 September. He said that he was not willing to risk more British lives and hinted at his withdrawal. However, the dictators protested that they would fight to the bitter end, and the British should leave only when troops of the Baku Army did.[1] Dunsterville decided to stay until the situation became hopeless. Meanwhile, Bicherakhov captured Petrovsk, allowing him to send help to Baku. The reinforcements consisting of 600 men from his force, including Cossacks, raised hope.[1]

1–13 September, the Ottoman forces did not attack. During this period, the Baku force prepared itself and sent out airplane patrols constantly.[1] In his diary, Dunsterville reported the atrocities against the Muslim population perpetrated by Armenian militants.[22] On 12 September, an Arab officer from the Ottoman 10th Division deserted, giving information suggesting the main assault would take place on 14 September.[1]

On the night of 13/14 September, the Ottoman forces began their attacks. The Ottoman forces nearly overran the strategic Wolf's Gate (Azerbaijani: Qurd qapısı) west of Baku, from which the whole battlefield could be seen. However, their advance was halted by a counterattack. The fighting continued for the rest of the day, and the situation eventually became hopeless. By the night of 14 September, the remnants of the Baku Army and Dunsterforce evacuated the city for Anzali.[1]

On 30 October the Armistice of Mudros was signed by the Ottoman Empire. Ottoman forces left the city.


March days

On 9 March 1918, the arrest of General Talyshinski, the commander of the Azerbaijani division, and some of its officers all of whom arrived in Baku increased the anti-Soviet feelings among the city's Azeri population. On 30 March, based on the unfounded report that the Azerbaijani (Muslim) crew of the ship Evelina was armed and ready to revolt against the Soviet, the Soviet disarmed the crew who tried to resist [18][23] The three days of inter-ethnic warfare referred to as the March Days, which resulted in the massacre of up to 12,000 Azerbaijanis by the Bolsheviks and armed Armenian units in the city of Baku and other locations in the Baku Governorate. The March events, beyond the violent three-day period, touched off a series of massacres all over Azerbaijan.[24]

September days

In September 1918, a terrible panic in Baku ensued when the Ottoman Islamic Army of the Caucasus began to enter the city. Armenians crowded the harbour in a frantic effort to escape.[25] Regular Ottoman troops were not allowed to enter the city for two days, so that the locally recruited soldiers could massacre non-Muslims. This was permitted as revenge for a massacre of Azeris in March 1918.[26][27] It was the last major massacre of World War I.[28]


Memorial to the British soldiers in Baku.
Memorial to the British soldiers in Baku.

The British losses in the battle totaled about 200 men and officers killed, missing or wounded. Mürsel Bey admitted Ottoman losses of around 2,000.[1] Among the civilians the casualties of Baku's 80,000 person Armenian community were between 9,000 and 10,000, roughly equal to the number of Azeris massacred by Armenians and Bolsheviks during the March Days.[16] Altogether up to 20,000 Armenians were killed or deported.[29]

The capital of the Azerbaijan was finally moved from Ganja to Baku. However, after the Armistice of Mudros between the United Kingdom and the Ottoman Empire on 30 October, Turkish troops were substituted by the Triple Entente. Headed by General William Thomson, British troops of 5,000 soldiers, including parts of Dunsterforce, arrived in Baku on 17 November, and martial law was implemented on the capital of Azerbaijan Democratic Republic until "the civil power would be strong enough to release the forces from the responsibility to maintain the public order".

No oil from Baku's oilfields got beyond Tbilisi before the Ottomans and Germans signed the armistice.[1] By 16 November, Nuri and Mürsel Bey were ejected from Baku and a British general sailed into the city, headed by one of the ships that had evacuated on the night of 14 September.[1]


Memorial in Baku to the Ottoman soldiers who were killed in combat.
Memorial in Baku to the Ottoman soldiers who were killed in combat.

A memorial in Baku was established to the Ottoman soldiers, who were killed in combat. There is also a memorial to the British soldiers in Baku.

The battle is considered by many Azerbaijani scholars to be the most significant event that took place in Azerbaijan's history before it's incorporation into the Soviet Union. It also serves as an example for Azerbaijani-Turkish cooperation and friendship in their diplomatic relations.[30]

100th anniversary celebrations

Azadliq Square during the parade.
Azadliq Square during the parade.

The 100th anniversary of Liberation of Baku (Azerbaijani: Bakının azad edilməsinin 100 illiyi) celebrated the centennial anniversary of the liberation of the city from Armenian-Bolshevik forces.[31] The anniversary was celebrated with a military parade on 15 September 2018 at Azadliq Square, with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev being the guests of honor.[32] The parade of the Baku garrison included cadets of Azerbaijani military academies, the Internal Troops, troops of the Land Forces, Air Force, Navy, the State Border Service, the National Guard and units of the Turkish Armed Forces.[33][34][35][36] The Turkish Air Force dedicated a video which was published on twitter to the anniversary.[37] A concert was also held in the Heydar Aliyev Center.[38]


See also


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x y z aa ab ac ad ae af ag ah ai aj ak al am an ao ap aq ar as at au av aw ax (Missen 1984, pp. 2766–2772)
  2. ^ The Diaries of General Lionel Dunsterville: 1911-1922
  3. ^ Anastas Mikoyan. Так было. Moscow: Vagrius, 1999; Ch. 2.
  4. ^ 6,000 regulars
    Lisa Smedman. Dunsterforce. Vancouver Courier newspaper.
  5. ^ Yale, William (1968) Near East: A Modern History p. 247
  6. ^ Dadyan, Khatchatur(2006) Armenians and Baku, p. 118
  7. ^ Tadeusz Swietochowski, Russian Azerbaijan 1905–1920, page 119
  8. ^ a b c d (Northcote 1922, pp. 788)
  9. ^ "New Republics in the Caucasus", The New York Times Current History, v. 11 no. 2 (March 1920), p. 492
  10. ^ Michael Smith. "Anatomy of Rumor: Murder Scandal, the Musavat Party and Narrative of the Russian Revolution in Baku, 1917–1920", Journal of Contemporary History, Vol 36, No. 2, (April 2001), p. 228
  11. ^ (in Russian) Michael Smith. "Azerbaijan and Russia: Society and State: Traumatic Loss and Azerbaijani National Memory" Archived 10 March 2011 at the Wayback Machine
  12. ^ Swietochowski 2004, pp. 119.
  13. ^ a b Richard Hovannisian "The Armenian people from ancient to modern times" Pages 292-293
  14. ^ Ezel Kural Shaw History of the Ottoman Empire and Modern Turkey. Page 326
  15. ^ Lang, David Marshall (1962). A Modern History of Georgia, p. 207-8. London: Weidenfeld and Nicolson.
  16. ^ a b c Swietochowski, Tadeusz (1985). Russian Azerbaijan, 1905–1920: The Shaping of National Identity in a Muslim Community. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
  17. ^ (in Russian) Довольно вредное ископаемое by Alexander Goryanin
  18. ^ a b c d Firuz Kazemzadeh. Struggle For Transcaucasia (1917—1921), New York Philosophical Library, 1951
  19. ^ (Pasdermadjian 1918, pp. 22)
  20. ^ Kun, Miklós (2003). Stalin: An Unknown Portrait. Central European University Press.
  21. ^ Comtois, Pierre. "World War I: Battle for Baku". HistoryNet. Archived from the original on 30 September 2007. Retrieved 19 July 2007.
  22. ^ Dunsterville, Lionel. "The Diaries of General Lionel Dunsterville, 1918". Great War Documentary Archive. Retrieved 10 January 2009.
  23. ^ Документы об истории гражданской войны в С.С.С.Р., Vol. 1, pp. 282–283.
  24. ^ F. Kazemzadeh. open citation, p. 73.
  25. ^ Christopher, Armenia, page = 260
  26. ^ Marshall, Alex (2009). The Caucasus Under Soviet Rule. Taylor & Francis. p. 96. ISBN 978-0-415-41012-0.
  27. ^ Milne, G. F. (4 January 1921). "War Office, 7th January, 1921". The London Gazette, Fourth Supplement. Retrieved 2 November 2012.
  28. ^ Andreopoulos, George(1997) Genocide: Conceptual and Historical Dimensions University of Pennsylvania Press, ISBN 0-8122-1616-4 p. 236
  29. ^ Coppieters, Bruno (1998). Commonwealth and Independence in Post-Soviet Eurasia. Routlege. p. 82. ISBN 0-7146-4480-3.
  30. ^
  31. ^
  32. ^
  33. ^
  34. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 15 September 2018. Retrieved 16 September 2018.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link)
  35. ^
  36. ^
  37. ^
  38. ^


  • Missen, Leslie (1984). Dunsterforce. Marshall Cavendish Illustrated Encyclopedia of World War I. Marshall Cavendish Corporation. ISBN 0-86307-181-3.
  • Northcote, Dudley S. (1922). Current History. New York Times Co. Retrieved 12 December 2008.

External links

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