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Baghdad North Gate reinternment records


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I'm trying to pin down that last elusive bit of an intriguing story. A great uncle was with the RFA and taken prisoner at Kut. He is buried in the Baghdad North Gate Cemetry. I've got a copy of his death certificate which gives his date of death 28-8-1916, place of death Turkey, cause of death Enteritis whilst prisoner of war. I know that the Red Cross recovered bodies after the war for reinternment in CWGC cemetries. I understood that the Red Cross had records in their archives which they would search for a fee. When I contacted them they stated they could find no record. I have contacted the National Archives who also claim that they have no records. This leaves the question, where did the General Register Office get the information on the death certificate? These details must be hidding somewhere.

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  • 4 months later...
I'm trying to pin down that last elusive bit of an intriguing story. A great uncle was with the RFA and taken prisoner at Kut. He is buried in the Baghdad North Gate Cemetry. I've got a copy of his death certificate which gives his date of death 28-8-1916, place of death Turkey, cause of death Enteritis whilst prisoner of war. I know that the Red Cross recovered bodies after the war for reinternment in CWGC cemetries. I understood that the Red Cross had records in their archives which they would search for a fee. When I contacted them they stated they could find no record. I have contacted the National Archives who also claim that they have no records. This leaves the question, where did the General Register Office get the information on the death certificate? These details must be hidding somewhere.

I've done quite a lot of work on one of the Artillery units captured at Kut, 5th Hampshire Howitzer Battery, including the individual fates of its members.

It took quite a long time for any information on the garrison to reach home, very little being passed by the Turks. The prisoners exchanged immediately after the surrender, and sent down river by the Turks, were able to give some information on the situation at the end of the siege, but the remainder of the garrison were by then embarked on the terrible march into Asia Minor which resulted in so many deaths and disappearances. A second prisoner of war exchange took place in September 1916, but most of these men had travelled no further than Baghdad and so were also largely ignorant of the conditions on the march. It was some months before the prisoners reached their camps in Turkey, and slowly began to send and receive letters through the Red Cross. This was probably how the bulk of information reached home. The American Embassy in Constantinople also made efforts to gather information, and to aid prisoners, prior to American entry in the war, and this was also the means of transmitting some news (examples can be seen in the Foreign Office correspondence files at The National Archives). In many cases however it was not until the few survivors were repatriated at the end of the war that news of their less fortunate fellow prisoners was received.

Few service records of men from the unit in which I am interested have survived, but in those of one man who died in captivity there is a death certificate produced by an Asistant Surgeon of the Indian Medical Department who tended his fellow prisoners.

He too died of enteritis in a Turkish prison camp and this is recorded on the document. If your man's papers have not survived though then I fear that it will be difficult to track any public record of his fate in captivity. If however he happened to serve in 1/5th Hants Howitzers then I may be able to help through information culled from local newspapers and the private papers of the Battery commander. What was his name?

Bart

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  • 11 years later...
Dan Wheeler

Hi, I'm trying to research my Great Grandfather, Driver Thomas W. C. King of the 1/5th Hants Howitzer Battery who, as I understand from the CWGC record, died from enteritis on 22nd August 1916. As I understand, his name is recorded on the Baghdad (North Gate) War Cemetery, but whether he was buried there I do not know. Any further information regarding my Great Grandfather would be much appreciated.

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voltaire60
1 hour ago, Dan Wheeler said:

Hi, I'm trying to research my Great Grandfather, Driver Thomas W. C. King of the 1/5th Hants Howitzer Battery who, as I understand from the CWGC record, died from enteritis on 22nd August 1916. As I understand, his name is recorded on the Baghdad (North Gate) War Cemetery, but whether he was buried there I do not know. Any further information regarding my Great Grandfather would be much appreciated.

 

Good Afternoon Dan Wheeler. Welcome to Great War Forum.

 

    Your Great Grandfather died as a prisoner of War of the Turks.  I am not sure but he was likely a prisoner after the fall of Kut in 1916 (Zap Wikipedia for that one).  A great many British and Empire POWs died-  If you look at the Commonwealth War Graves Commission entry for him, take a look at the documents digitised with it.  His remains were removed from a graveyard where he died- Baghtche- and "concentrated" (that is,brought in from small,isolated cemeteries ) at Baghadad- He is there but his remains could not be individually identified and the memorial will say "Buried near this spot"  The burial report from him gives some details- It is in larger format on CWGC

 

image.png.bab1923b3fa21214521a13e5ec106116.png

 

   The cemetery details for him give some more information on what happened:

 

HISTORY INFORMATION

In 1914, Baghdad was the headquarters of the Turkish Army in Mesopotamia. It was the ultimate objective of the Indian Expeditionary Force 'D' and the goal of the force besieged and captured at Kut in 1916. The city finally fell in March 1917, but the position was not fully consolidated until the end of April. Nevertheless, it had by that time become the Expeditionary Force's advanced base, with two stationary hospitals and three casualty clearing stations. The North Gate Cemetery was begun In April 1917 and has been greatly enlarged since the end of the First World War by graves brought in from other burial grounds in Baghdad and northern Iraq, and from battlefields and cemeteries in Anatolia where Commonwealth prisoners of war were buried by the Turks. At present, 4,160 Commonwealth casualties of the First World War are commemorated by name in the cemetery, many of them on special memorials. Unidentified burials from this period number 2,729. The cemetery also contains the grave of Lieutenant General Sir Stanley Maude, Commander-in-Chief of the Mesopotamian Expeditionary Force, who died at Baghdad in November 1917 and the memorial to the 13th Division which he commanded. A memorial to the 6th Battalion Loyal (North Lancashire) Regiment was brought into the cemetery from the banks of the Diyala River in 1947. During the Second World War, Baghdad was again an objective of Commonwealth forces. The 20th Indian Infantry Brigade reached the city from Shaiba by the Euphrates route on 12 June 1941 and the 21st Indian Infantry Brigade, part of the 13th Duke of Connaught's Own Lancers, together with the 157th Field Regiment, Royal Artillery, arrived on 19 June via the Tigris. An advanced base was established later near the city and remained in use until 1946. Most of the 296 Commonwealth servicemen of the Second World War buried in the cemetery died of illness or by accident when serving with PAIFORCE. Again, a number of the graves were brought in from other burial grounds. Within the cemetery is the Baghdad (North Gate) (Khanaqin) Memorial, commemorating 104 Commonwealth servicemen, 437 Polish soldiers and 3 Arab Legionnaires of the Second World War buried in Khanaqin War Cemetery which, owing to difficulty of access, could not be properly maintained. The North Gate Cemetery also contains 127 war graves of other nationalities from both wars, 100 of them Turkish, and 41 non-war graves.

 

 

  In addition, Baghtche is mentioned in a previous thread on Great War Forum about POWs after the fall of Kut, which you might find useful:

 

image.png.cfa5c1d8234ac8cd7fed812314225e6b.png

 

On top of that FIBIS- the  Families in British India Society have a first class website full of very good information about this and anything related:

 

   Just head for this section of their website.  One of our GWF colleagues is very involved in this site and will likely pick up any queries here if you post them

 

Prisoners of the Turks (First World War)

Good Luck!!

 

Pip,pip.

 

 

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According to the missing person enquiry recieved from a Mr King, Waveney Villa, Esplanade, Ventnor, Isle of Wight, your man was part of the Kut Garrison, captured at the fall of Kut.

https://grandeguerre.icrc.org/en/File/Details/351841/3/2/

 

I normally defer to @charlie962 on all things Kut Garrison related and the conditions on the subsequent march deep into Anatolia for the other ranks, the prisoners use as slave labour on the Berlin-Baghdad railway, and their subsequent neglectful treatment in rudimentary camps.

 

Peter

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charlie962
48 minutes ago, voltaire60 said:

I am not sure but he was likely a prisoner after the fall of Kut in 1916

Indeed he was. After being taken prisoner at the surrender of Kut in April 1916 he will have completed that long march into Turkish captivity.  He probably arrived at Bagtche in July 1916 and would have been put to work on the Berlin-Baghdad Railway. A large number of PoWs died at Bagtche about the same time. Harrowing descriptions of treatment of PoWs and lack of medical care are highlighted in the Court Martial trial of Assistant Surgeon William Fratel, Indian Medical Dept, who was the sole British/Indian medical representative there for a crucial couple of months.

 

If you search on this forum for "William Fratel" and you will get some detail. eg here

 

Charlie

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charlie962

King also has a surving partial service record here on FindmyPast. The first page is a copy of his death certificate, showing the original burial at Bagtche before reinterrment by CWGC at Baghdad. You will see that it was signed by William Fratel who noted that "he died peacefully". I'm afraid that was far from the truth, as the trial demonstrated.

 

Charlie

 

edit- Note the death cert is dated 1918, when Fratel scrambled to try to 'fill the gaps' retrospectively

Edited by charlie962
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Dan Wheeler

Thank you all very much for the prompt and detailed responses to my request for information. I really do appreciate your time and efforts. This has given me many avenues to explore...

Once again, many thanks to you all

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charlie962
18 hours ago, charlie962 said:

The first page is a copy of his death certificate, showing the original burial at Bagtche

I'm afraid the idea of a numbered grave at Bagtche as proposed by the death certificate was also not true. Hence why when reinterred at Baghdad he could not be individually identified. At least he had a known place of burial which was more than many. 

 

charlie

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