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U.S. Marines honor British Soldiers in WWI Cemetery in Kut, Iraq

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U.S. Marines honor British Soldiers in WWI Cemetery in Kut, Iraq

Old 22nd Apr 2003, 16:46
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Thumbs up U.S. Marines and Sailors honor British Soldiers in WWI Cemetery in Kut, Iraq

AP Article

Associated Press Writer

KUT, Iraq (AP) -- For a day, U.S. Marines traded their rifles for rakes, to care for the final resting places of British soldiers who fought and died in another campaign, more than 80 years ago.

The graves of World War I soldiers at Kut War Cemetery were overgrown with tall weeds. No one has cared for them since before the 1991 Gulf War when Britain closed its embassy in Iraq.

After U.S. Marines were told of the cemetery by British journalists, more than enough volunteers stepped forward Monday to help pull the weeds and gather trash.

"It's the best way to show support to our British allies and friends, and their support means a lot to us," said Navy Yeoman 2nd Class Daniel White of West Valley City, Utah, one of the Construction Battalion engineers who helped clear the plots.

Broken gravestones litter the grounds; some near the entrance have been stacked together to form a makeshift bench. The tombstone of Lance Cpl. H.J. Gentry, of the Middlesex Regiment, lies amid a sloping mountain of trash that residents had thrown into the cemetery from a nearby alley. He died Oct. 13, 1918.
Other gravestones are inscribed in Sanskrit, tribute to the Indian troops who fought alongside the British in the Mesopotamian campaign.

The allied forces, led by Gen. Charles Townshend, thought they would make a quick advance to Baghdad. But the British-led forces were caught in a 147-day siege at Kut, where 11,800 soldiers finally surrendered to Turkish forces on April 29, 1916.

British forces renewed their northern push in 1917, recapturing Kut and making it to Baghdad, about 100 miles to the northwest, on March 11. Over four years' of war, some 31,000 British and Indian soldiers had died from fighting or disease.

On Monday, Marine Capt. Peter Charboneau was marking the names and locations of gravestones on a makeshift map. Local Iraqis, some wearing the Marines' chemical weapons gloves as gardening gloves, were helping out for $2 apiece.

"We would like this to be a place of rest," said Charboneau, of Ticonderoga, N.Y., a controller with Marine Air Support Squadron 1. He assured residents that U.S. forces would find another place for the children to play soccer.

Hussein Kadem Zambul, a math teacher who lives across the street, said the vandalism and neglect were not indicators of any anti-Christian sentiment.

"Islam is not against Christianity. We have one God," he said.

He said the town's impoverished people had taken some stone and other materials from the cemetery out of dire need under Saddam's harsh rule.

"How do you expect the government to care for graves when it treated the people like animals?" he asked.

May they rest in peace for eternity.

Last edited by Check 6; 23rd Apr 2003 at 01:51.
Check 6 is offline  
Old 22nd Apr 2003, 19:24
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My Grandad fought at the re-taking of Al Kut, artillery. He liked telling of how they rafted the guns up river at night, knocked 7 bells out of the Turkish support lines and paddled back under a hail of small arms fire.

What goes around .....?!
Green Flash is offline  
Old 22nd Apr 2003, 21:49
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A very touching tribute really.
Tigs2 is offline  
Old 22nd Apr 2003, 22:14
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I know that if the situation where reversed, The Royal Marines would be down on their hands and knees weeding and raking in the mid day sun.

This is what makes the US/UK alliance so strong, as many have found out to their peril

May they Rest In Peace now and forever more
T_richard is offline  
Old 23rd Apr 2003, 16:46
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Lupus Domesticus
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Might I humbly suggest that it is truly time the 'smilies' board included an icon for "Respect".

Maybe a salute, or a hand on heart?

Just a thought.

For the Fallen

They went with songs to the battle, they were young
Straight of limb, true of eye, steady and aglow
They were staunch to the end against odds uncounted
They fell with their faces to the foe
They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn
At the going down of the sun, and in the morning,
We will remember them.

Laurence Binyon
(1869 1943)
BlueWolf is offline  
Old 23rd Apr 2003, 20:29
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Don't forget the locals


Lost British graveyard found in Iraq

The Royal British Legion has welcomed news that a lost graveyard for World War I dead has been found in central Iraq.
The cemetery at Al Amara, built for those on the Mesopotamian Expeditionary Force, has been discovered by the banks of the Tigris river.

It was found by the Royal Irish Regiment, who on Easter Sunday will say prayers at the cemetery for those who died and for the current armed forces.

The site had been protected by its Iraqi keeper, who received death threats from Baath officials.

Hassan Hatif Moson, a 40-year-old father of seven, told the Daily Mail, in a pooled despatch from Iraq: "The old regime, they threatened my life and my job but I never gave up.

"I could not permit the graveyard to be ruined - local people have tried to break in here to drink late at night and also to steal the carvings.

"I always believed that one day the British would return."

The cemetery, which includes two Victoria Cross winners, was abandoned by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission after the last Gulf War.

Jeremy Lillies, head of public affairs for the Royal British Legion, said: "This is very good news. It is extremely good to hear that this chap has stuck to his guns in the face of a great deal of intimidation to keep the place in as good order as he could do.

It is quite remarkable what Mr Hassan has achieved - this place has been better tended than some of the war graves in France

He said the Commonwealth War Graves Commission had a warehouse full of new headstones in Baghdad, but their distribution had been delayed by the war.

The headstones at Al Amara were plundered by an earlier Iraqi regime in 1937.

But Mr Hassan kept the memorial polished, saved the masonry from looters and cut the grass.

He worked without pay since the last Gulf war and kept all the documents relating to the graveyard since he took the keeper's job in 1977.

That thoughtfulness will enable thousands of British families to trace the final resting place of their loved ones.

Royal Irish Commanding Officer Lt Colonel Tim Collins led a team of officers in search of the cemetery after hearing about it from local people.

He said: "It is quite remarkable what Mr Hassan has achieved - this place has been better tended than some of the war graves in France.

"He has shown great respect to the British and courage in the face of the Baath regime by carrying this burden of the empire."

The two Victoria Cross recipients are Royal Naval Lt Commander Edgar Cookson and Lt Colonel Edward Henderson of the North Staffordshire Regiment.

The condition of Al Amara was in contrast with another British military cemetery near Basra, which was found in a state of disrepair.

It contained hundreds of soldiers and officials who died over a series of campaigns from 1880 onwards

I don't know what other Mil contributors think, but I believe this man deserves the appropriate civilian honour from this government.
Old 23rd Apr 2003, 23:56
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Certainly. I believe there is a procedure for granting British citizenship in such cases, last used for the remaining workers of the British Embassy in Kabul. (the ones who took some convincing even to let the Paras into the compound..there's dedication for you) Good that somebody thought to mention him.
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Old 24th Apr 2003, 00:28
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Bluewolf. What a wonderful post on this thread. Thank you I feel good that I have read it. Perhaps this poem may also be appropriate. Best wishes FEBA

The Soldier

If I should die, think only this of me:
That there's some corner of a foreign field
That is for ever England. There shall be
In that rich earth a richer dust concealed;
A dust whom England bore, shaped, made aware,
Gave, once, her flowers to love, her ways to roam,
A body of England's, breathing English air,
Washed by the rivers, blest by suns of home.

And think, this heart, all evil shed away,
A pulse in the eternal mind, no less
Gives somewhere back the thoughts by England given;
Her sights and sounds; dreams happy as her day;
And laughter, learnt of friends; and gentleness,
In hearts at peace, under an English heaven.
Old 24th Apr 2003, 05:25
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Non Mil Myself

He deserves a pension from us, we would not desecrate a grave of theirs and he guarded our brethren.
LordGrumpy is offline  
Old 24th Apr 2003, 19:04
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Thumbs up Back Salary would be Appropriate

If he was doing the work, back pay would be the least that should be done.
RatherBeFlying is offline  
Old 24th Apr 2003, 19:39
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FEBA, well said; indeed, these poems from the past, the art and enduring legacy of many an unsung philosopher, they are as cognac for the soul.

Through them, in our private moments, as if in the quiet contemplation of a late evening, we can reflect on the stark humanity of simple truths expressed by complex men. And women.

May the aforementioned humbly honourable individual receive the reward and recogniton he so rightly deserves; and may his unsung charges forever rest in peace.

And to fellow PPRuNers; tomorrow perhaps, in a quiet corner of rural New Zealand, in the half light of early morning, I may see you at the Cenotaph, when the Dawn Parade honours the memory of the ANZACs.

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Old 25th Apr 2003, 00:06
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Blue Wolf,

Well said; I could not have put it better.
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