Southern Asia 1915: Niedermayer-Hentig Expedition

Even as the Allies were landing at Gallipoli, a German expedition was preparing to depart Constantinople for Kabul with the intention of persuading Afghanistan to invade British India. Britain responded with a cordon in eastern Persia, but failed to stop the Germans getting through. Although the Afghan Emir ultimately rejected the German advances, the mission undermined British prestige in the region.


British Protectorates in the Persian Gulf

The British Residency of the Persian Gulf maintains British India influence in a number of Gulf states. These states are nominally independent - and shown as such in most atlases from the period - but have all signed treaties guaranteeing British control over their foreign affairs.

The Sultanate of Muscat and Oman is the only one of these states with significant international relations, having obtained trade agreements with the US and France before it signed its treaty with Britain. Maps of the time often show Trucial Oman and even Qatar as regions of Oman.

Trucial Oman is the region to the west of Oman which collectively signed treaties with Britain. The sheikhdoms of this region are often called the Trucial States, and will become the United Arab Emirates. However at this time they have little unity, with no regional council until 1952.

Indian Empire

The British Indian Empire, also known as the British Raj, is comprised of a complex of presidencies, provinces, protectorates, and agencies. Only the top level subdivisions are shown here.

The area under direct British rule is known as British India and made up of presidencies and provinces - a presidency simply being the name for an older province.

Outside British India, but often included within the sphere of the presidencies/provinces, are the hundreds of protectorates or 'princely states'. These are indirectly ruled states, the largest being Hyderabad, Kashmir, and Mysore. The others are either collected into agencies - which may in turn contain other smaller agencies - or fall under the sway of the provinces.

Main Events

23 May 1915 Italian entry into WWI

Following the secret promises of territory made by the Allies in the Treaty of London, the Kingdom of Italy declared war on Austria-Hungary, entering World War I on the side of the Allies. This act occurred only 19 days after Italy’s denouncement of its membership in the Triple Alliance with Austria-Hungary and wikipedia

2 Jun–2 Oct 1915 Niedermayer-Hentig Expedition

Germany and the Ottoman Empire send a diplomatic mission to Afghanistan in an attempt to encourage Afghanistan to break with Britain and attack British India. The expedition, while nominally headed by the exiled Indian prince Raja Mahendra Pratap, is under the leadership of German Army officers Oskar Niedermayer and Werner Otto von Hentig. Entering Persia on June 2, the mission evades British and Russian forces to reach Kabul on October 2, finally securing an embassy with the Emir of Afghanistan on the wikipedia

9 Jun 1915 British occupation of Kamaran

British troops from Aden capture Kamaran Island, off the Yemeni coast, from the Ottoman wikipedia

2 Jul–7 Sep 1915 East Persian Cordon

The British set up the East Persian Cordon in Sistan in an attempt to prevent German and Ottoman agents, in particular the Niedermayer-Hentig Expedition, infiltrating Afghanistan. At the same time, the Russians implement their own cordon in northeast Persia, meeting the British in wikipedia

4–5 Jul 1915 Capture of Lahij

Ottoman forces from Yemen cross the frontier into the British Aden protectorates, capturing Lahij, capital of the Abdali Sultanate of Lahij. From here the Ottomans are able to conquer most of the Aden hinterland and besiege the strategic Aden Settlement wikipedia