Commonwealth War Graves in Iraq.


Now with the impending assualt on Iraq and hopefully overthrow of Saddam Hussien, will the CWGC (Commonwealth War Graves Commission) have access to the numerous cemeteries around Kut and Basra that have been untended for years?

Anyone any clues?
I'm fairly sure that if my gang gets the chance to call in with some suitable cleaning materials and scrubbing brushes, we'll be tidying up as is appropriate.


I've spoken to the planners about this only this morning.  An Army spokesman said:

"It's not the top of our priority list, and falls somewhere beween winning the peace and setting up Pirate CD sellers outside all the bases".

His colleague added "Fighting for peace is like fcuking for virginity."


Scribbler- hope that was sarcasm, those are the graves of soldiers, we aren't fit to bull their boots. So hopefully someone will have it slightly higher in the priority than Sky satelites contracts that the MOD wont pay for!


Q numbers: Sarcasm?  It needed clarification?

Speak for yourself, and speak your mind young man.  I always do.

What's your source for the war graves in neglect story?




In Iraq there are a total of 54,053 CWGC graves Commonwealth war dead buried or commemorated at 13 locations in Iraq. The majority of these casualties occurred during the Mesopotamian campaign against the Ottoman Turks in World War One.

Maintenance became difficult during the Iran-Iraq war in the 1980s but continued until the onset of the Gulf War in 1990. Since 1996 Commission staff have made a number of visits to Iraq and some renovation work was possible before the resumption of bombing in 1998 brought further delays. These and the effects of two wars and years of sanctions have left all of the cemeteries in need of attention and although there has been considerable damage to the fabric of the cemeteries, there has been no threat to the land or disturbance of the burials.
Following persistent visits since 1998, full agreement to resume work was received last December after a meeting between the Commission's Director-General, Mr Richard Kellaway, and the Iraqi Minister for Foreign Affairs, Dr Naji Sabri al Hadithi. The Commission plans a rolling maintenance programme in Iraq with the full agreement and co-operation of the Iraqi authorities.

Work is already underway at the largest of the Commission's cemeteries in Iraq, Baghdad (North Gate) War Cemetery, where a new perimeter fence has been installed and construction of a caretaker/watchman's quarters has begun. This will be followed by a major horticultural and structural renovation programme. More than 500 headstones have been shipped to Iraq with United Nations approval - just the first phase in a major headstone replacement programme.

Members of the Commission's staff recently visited to check on the progress made by contractors working at Baghdad (North Gate) Cemetery. They also visited the Commission's other sites in Iraq to identify what action needs to be taken.

The Commission takes a long term view of the situation in Iraq and although we have suffered many setbacks we faced similar difficulties in the Lebanon some years ago. As a result of the long civil war Beirut War Cemetery became a wilderness but it was rebuilt by the Commission and is now an oasis of remembrance and peace in a bustling industrious city. The task is much greater in Iraq because of the number and spread of the cemeteries but the Commission wishes to reassure the public that it will do everything in its power to restore the graves to a fitting standard

The above statement is taken from and shows there is still alot of work required, although it appears the Iraqi Government have honoured passed agreements to maintain the Cemeteries.
Saddened by the sight of the British War Graves cemetery in Mosul, Northern Iraq.  C4 last night showed a documentary (only recorded in the last few weeks)  on Iraqis sites of historical importance.  The British film crew changed upon this cemetery.  All the gravestones have been smashed to pieces, and there was even a hermit living in the cemetery who has built his home out of smashed headstones.  The presenter (clearly saddened by what has happened) looked at one of these headstones, and it was inscribed Bombardier D O'Connor, RA.  

Any comments/thoughts on this?


I saw that programme last night, I was quite disgusted by the whole thing. Clearly the Iraqi minder also felt awkward, I hope none of these soldiers relations were watching.

It would appear from one of the previous posts that the WGC has plans to sort out these problems.

Interesting that the Iraqis had aparently built hardened aircraft shelters next to these ancient monuments, clearly in the hope that they would not be targeted.


As the CWGC quote said, they are trying to repair the cemeteries, and 500 new headstones had been ordered to go to Iraq.

I didn't see the C4 prog, but am disgusted to read how these places are being desecrated!

Its hard to imagine how the graves in the following countries are fairing:

Eritrea: 953 Graves
Cuba: 3
Sudan: 395
Zimbabwe: 542
Lebanon: 1705
Iran: 551


Surely if Blair want UK support just use this desecration as an example and the British public would demand Husseins over-throw!

It must be time to repatriate the remains to safe location.


I too saw the C4 documentary and in common with everyone else who uses ARRSE I was saddened by the images of the military cemetary in Mosul. Hopefully it won't be damaged further if a new war does start and no doubt once the fighting has stopped and the surrounding area made safe then the nearest British Unit will make a start on tidying and repairing the cemetary.

I've also heard a rumour going around at work following the documentary that there are British war graves in Kazakhstan of all places. Can anyone shed any light on this? Is it just a rumour.  



Like I said, Blair should sight this as a reason to bomb the Iraqis back to the stone age- the desecration of British soldiers war graves is beyond the Pale.- Bet he hasn't even thought about it!


I am told by those in Basra the CWGC cemetery is wrecked and will need major refurbishment and the CWGC warden still tries to make what is left presentable (which isn't alot). The troops have given him some food and water for his trouble.

Anyone any Int on the Baghdad memorial and Cemetery?
A different Basra site I think, but it restores my faith.

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."

'Good news'

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.

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