The photograph below was published in the Western Times on 12 April 1918. It suffers from all the defects of a photograph reproduced in a newspaper at that time but nonetheless, it is still possible to pick out the men's features - notice how many of them are smoking.
This group left Cullompton in 1914 with other Volunteers, later re-named the 1/4th Battalion. They first sailed for India, landing at Karachi on 11 November 1914, then were attached to the 36th Indian Brigade. On 2 March 1916 they landed at Basra with the 41st Indian Brigade, and remained in Mesopotamia for the rest of the war. Initially, they were there to protect British oil interests but the nature of the conflict changed when it was realised that it might be possible to weaken Germany by impeding its alliance with Turkey.
Our army was ill-equipped and under-manned and, in spite of many bravely-fought actions with considerable loss of life, no real progress was ever made in the region. Medical conditions were horrific and it could take two weeks to get an injured man to a hospital.