Just found this, thought it was a very interesting little bit of lost history...
British cemetery in Iraq rededicated
Submitted by: Headquarters Marine Corps
Story Identification Number: 20035191268
Story by deployed forces
AL KUT, Iraq(May 8, 2003) -- Marines from Service Platoon, 2nd Marine Expeditionary Brigade Headquarters Group, held a rededication ceremony at Kut Cemetery in Al Kut May 8.
In April, Marines from Task Force Tarawa visited the small plot of land believed to be the final resting place for soldiers who fought in World War I as British troops sought an alternative route to the center of the Ottoman Empire. With Gallipoli a failing battle - the British decided to approach via Mesopotamia - now modern day Iraq.
The troops landed in Umm Quasr and moved north to Baghdad through the Tigris River valley. North of Al Kut but south of the capital, the British troops found they could push no further. They fell back to Kut where they were besieged for approximately six months. Many found their final resting place here.
The cemetery was overgrown with weeds and littered with trash. The headstones have been weathered and damaged; some were not visible due to the dense vegetation, some had toppled over and were broken.
The Marines of Task Force Tarawa felt the condition of the cemetery was appalling and decided to do something about it.
Eventually, the Marines restored headstones, cut the grass, removed the weeds and picked up the trash.
Lt. Gen. James T. Conway participated in the May 8 rededication. Some British soldiers also attended the event.
AL KUT, Iraq - Marines from Service Platoon, 2nd Marine Expeditionary Brigade Headquarters Group, raise the British flag at Kut Cemetery during a rededication ceremony in Al Kut May 8. Marines from Task Force Tarawa worked to repair the cemetery in April.
Photo by: Lance Cpl. Andrew P. Roufs
AL KUT, Iraq - British soldier Andy Wright, with 1st Black Watch, and Maj. Jim Pritchard, from Marine Heavy Helicopter Squadron 464, play the bag pipes at Kut Cemetery in Al Kut before the May 8 rededication ceremony. Marine with Task Force Tarawa decided to repair the cemetery for British soldiers believed to have fought in World War I, after discovering its decrepit condition.
Photo by: Lance Cpl. Andrew P. Rouf
AL KUT, Iraq - An honor guard from Service Platoon, 2nd Marine Expeditionary Brigade Headquarters Group, posts on the steps leading to Kut Cemetery in Al Kut during the May 8 rededication ceremony. Marines with Task Force Tarawa decided to repair the cemetery for British soldiers believed to have fought in World War I, after discovering its decrepit condition.
AL KUT, Iraq - Lt. Gen. James T. Conway, Maj. Gen. Brimms, Adm. Kubik, Maj. Gen. S. Roberts and Bishop D. Conner are at Kut Cemetery in Al Kut for the May 8 rededication ceremony. Marines with Task Force Tarawa decided to repair the cemetery for British soldiers believed to have fought in World War I, after discovering its decrepit condition in April.
AL KUT, Iraq - Cpl. Joseph McAdams, from Winter Park, Fla., with the 1st Marine Division Band, plays taps at Kut Cemetery during the May 8 rededication ceremony. Marines with Task Force Tarawa decided to repair the cemetery for British soldiers who fought in World War I, after discovering its decrepit condition.
Hi res pictures athttp://www.usmc.mil/marinelink/mcn20...6?OpenDocument
Anyone know any more about the Brirish Troops laid to rest here??
RIP to my British brothers in arms!
Wow, that was a good little story. Thanks!!
Great to see that & THANK YOU USMC for honouring our fallen Soldiers
Means a lot to those who do know about it & also have family there.
It's the least we can do for our fallen allies who shed blood along side our troops/ Marines.Originally Posted by steel bonnet
Got to express my thanks and appreciation to our American friends .
Concerning British cemeteries/graves in Iraq I think there are quite a few sites, although I think the most prominent is the Basra War Cemetery.
"Their Name Liveth For Evermore," says the hopeful inscription on a monument, one of the few signs that remain to show that this dusty, overgrown patch of wasteland is Basra War Cemetery.
The gravestones were scattered and smashed and the memorial book looted before the British soldiers occupying southern Iraq since March got round to salvaging what they could.
"We started at five in the morning a couple of weeks ago," said Captain Sean Lumley of 19 Mechanized Brigade. "We went in with several vehicles, including a forklift truck, to get it done in one day because of the security risk."
They carted their load back to their base on the banks of the Shatt-al-Arab waterway in one of ousted leader Saddam Hussein's huge palace compounds.
There the headstones and memorial plaques that testify to Britain's military past now sit in long lines of wooden palates on a footpath.
"After pain, the rest," says the motto on the headstone of Royal Artillery Bombardier E. Cotton, who died aged 28 on February 7, 1943.
"K. Kawka - 11th May 1943 - Polish Forces," says another headstone a little further along, a reminder of the Poles who fought alongside the British in World War II while their country was occupied by Nazi Germany.
The plaques that were saved also bear long lists of Indian soldiers who died fighting for their then imperial masters in both world wars. They have a smaller graveyard of their own, also looted and abandoned, across the road from the British one.
The British cemetery contains hundreds of soldiers who died when their army seized Basra in 1914 in the early days of a campaign that eventually took all of Iraq from the Ottoman Turks.
Nearly three decades later the British again invaded, this time to fight the Iraqi forces who had allied themselves with Nazi Germany.
And in March this year the British were back, to help the Americans topple Saddam.
The war cemetery may be ruined, but the fallen soldiers' names are not forgotten. Captain Lumley says he managed to catalogue whose body lay where as the wrecked gravestones were carted off.
"This is one of the few graveyards from World War I where we still have the records. The war graves record office in London was bombed by the Germans in World War II," he said.
The cemetery was maintained by a local caretaker, but its decline began after the 1991 Gulf War and accelerated in the orgy of looting that followed the arrival earlier this year of coalition troops.
The Commmonwealth War Graves Commission hopes to restore Basra War Cemetery but its officials say their plans are on hold until stability returns to post-Saddam Iraq.
In the meantime, the gravestones and memorial plaques will remain for safekeeping with the dead soldiers' contemporary colleagues.
In comparison to the thousands lost in previous campaigns here, the British forces suffered only a handful of dead in the latest battle to seize and hold southern Iraq.
Their bodies have been flown home to be buried in Britain. But their friends and colleagues still in theatre have honoured them by naming some of their bases or other facilities after them.
That's one of the downsides of the British Empire, everywhere we go there are British War Cemetaries.Anyone know any more about the Brirish Troops laid to rest here?
There are about 51,000 British troops buried in Iraq mainly from the 1st and 2nd World War's.
Iraq was a British colony for many years.
It was the same in Afghanistan which was also a former British Colony. There are about 25,000 British soldiers and camp followers buried there.
The British soldiers buried in these cemetaries in the Middle East however were not all British, I think vast quantity's were Indian.
British remember war dead in Afghan cemetery:
"An RAF Regiment gunner stops to pay his respects at the graves of British Servicemen from the nineteenth century, buried in Kabul's British cemetary"
A good sign of faith from soldier to soldier. Regardless of nationality, all soldiers speak the same language and share the same burdens.
May those men continue to rest in peace.
A very nice touch of class from the USMC...thank you.
Yeah there are also polish military cementaries in northern iraq from WW2...duriing war there were 200.000 polish soldiers in iraq (Evacuated from Soviet union via Iran then moved to palestine and to itally where they fighten till the end of war...
I was one of the Marines who cleared the British Cemetary in Al Kut. I have many pictures of the cemetary and headstones. I tried to document as much as possible. From what I heard the cemetary was destroyed soon after its rededication.
Some of these tales of being overgrown contradict a story I had been told previously.
I'm sure there was a story before about soldiers coming across a war cemetary shortly after the invasion which had been well tended and looked after by the Iraqis? Does anyone remember anything like this?