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Neil Clark

Baghdad North Gate Cemetery, Iraq

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Neil Clark

I have been playing on Google Earth and found this patch of land in Baghdad that looks as though it could be a CWGC cemetery? Bearing in mind that lots of Ashford's Great War casualties still lay all over Iraq (5th Buffs), I thought I would try and ascertain what condition the cemetery is in and what is the Commission's intent regarding these men's graves? I suspect that many graves and memorials to the missing have been completely destroyed or at the very least badly damaged. It makes me very sad to think that these local men are laying all over Iraq in unkempt graves like this...

Is anyone able to confirm that the patch of land I have identified is indeed Baghdad North Gate Cemetery?

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Terry Denham

Neil

I can't confirm you have the right spot but re your other comments.

Many of the nineteen CWGC cemeteries/memorials in Iraq are now in a poor state of repair though some have been tidied up where possible by British and US troops. CWGC, as in all cases like this, plays a waiting game. One day they will return and make the necessary repairs - as they did in Lebanon and Russia.

The main memorial, the Basra Memorial, has been declared 'no longer fitting' since the damage it sustained when Saddam moved it from its original location to its current site. CWGC is waiting to see how the situation pans out before deciding how to replace it. Meanwhile they have a Roll of Honour on display in their HQ.

Their timeframe is 'in perpetuity' and so they will bide their time but something will be done as soon as it is possible. Oddly, new headstones for many of the Iraq graves were produced and still sit somewhere in Italy. Saddam gave permission for them to be erected but later events put a stop to that.

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Neil Clark

Thank you Terry. I have asked my son to take some good photos of any British or Commonwealth monuments he happens to come across when he starts his tour of Iraq in June. Not sure if he will get the chance to do it but it's worthwhile asking him I'm sure. Since the Gulf Wars I haven't seen many really good photos of all these memorials.

I wonder if it's worthwhile writing to the CO's of the infantry regiments that are going on tour asking if they can supply some up to date photos? I suspect the commission may have already done this? It's a great shame that these men's graves are in such an appalling state. As I have stated above, the reason for my interest is that many of the men whom I have researched are buried throughout Iraq (Mespot) - Most were 5th Buffs.

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Greg Bloomfield

Neil

I can confirm that it is North Gate cemetery. I haven't seen it for about a year now but it was in a bit of a state last I saw of it although I didn't linger in the neighbourhood as the locals are a tad unsympathetic to Great War tourists. I've got a couple of my lads in there so I would naturally have loved to have gone for a wander, perhaps another decade or two!

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Neil Clark

Greg,

I know where you're coming from.... It upsets me to think these men's graves are being neglected like this. I did think it looked like a cemetery... Thanks.

Terry,

Has the commission ever thought about bringing all these guys home? I realise that it wouldn't be easy but in the circumstances I feel it would be preferable to the present situation. There are of course many examples where the bodies have been removed and then placed in a different cemetery so it wouldn't be the first time. Without getting too deeply into politics, the future of Islam/Christian relations is NOT looking at all good. It would be interesting to gauge forum members feelings regarding doing this. Depending on responses here, I might start a new thread asking for opinions...

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Greg Bloomfield

Unless things improve out of all recognition, people would die attempting that so its a non-starter.

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Neil Clark

Greg,

I wasn't suggesting it be done right now!!!! ONLY when the security situation allows...

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Guest Falco

Is there any update on the condition of the North Gate Cemetery as it`s been a year since anyone last enquired ?

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Mr Bush
Is there any update on the condition of the North Gate Cemetery as it`s been a year since anyone last enquired ?

Hi,

I am presently posted to the Australian Embassy in Baghdad and as luck would have it we celebrated Anzac Day this year at North Gate Cemetery. I consider myself very lucky to have been in Baghdad this year as we haven't celebrated at the cemetery before and are unlikely to do so again for a few years as the element of surprise is no longer with us. The ceremony was excellent except for the fact the Turks weren't represented. This was especially annoying as the Turkish Embassy is less than 25m outside of the perimeter.

Having visited CWG around the world I was very disappointed to see North Gate as it has been neglected for many years now, although understandably. Hopefully as things settle down there will be opportunities for it to be refurbished. As you can see from the sign, in theory it has been under refurnishment since 1996 but a lot has happened since then.

I have attached some photos including General Maudes Grave and I have a few more generic photos but unfortunately due to security we didn't have a lot of time to wander around. To give you a taste i have downloaded a number of very small photos. I am happy to email better copy versions if you desire.

Cheers

Jonathan

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Drummy

Thank you for sharing these pics, it is such a shame that these graves are in such a condition, hopefully one day it will be restored, is it secured from further damage?

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Ozzie

The first photo is very poignant. The modern day and well equipped soldier in a war zone, with the graves of WW1 in the background, and the slouch hat and , I assume, .303.

Kim

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Chris Henschke

I can see the Turkish Embassy flag behind the remains of the Cross of Sacrifice in the second row image. Perhaps they were woken yet again by Australians at dawn.

Chris Henschke

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Icenitribe
Hi,

I am presently posted to the Australian Embassy in Baghdad and as luck would have it we celebrated Anzac Day this year at North Gate Cemetery. I consider myself very lucky to have been in Baghdad this year as we haven't celebrated at the cemetery before and are unlikely to do so again for a few years as the element of surprise is no longer with us. The ceremony was excellent except for the fact the Turks weren't represented. This was especially annoying as the Turkish Embassy is less than 25m outside of the perimeter.

Having visited CWG around the world I was very disappointed to see North Gate as it has been neglected for many years now, although understandably. Hopefully as things settle down there will be opportunities for it to be refurbished. As you can see from the sign, in theory it has been under refurnishment since 1996 but a lot has happened since then.

I have attached some photos including General Maudes Grave and I have a few more generic photos but unfortunately due to security we didn't have a lot of time to wander around. To give you a taste i have downloaded a number of very small photos. I am happy to email better copy versions if you desire.

Cheers

Jonathan

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Oren

Hi friends,

 

I have a family member buried over there in North Gate War cemetery in Baghdad.

 

2nd Leutenant Ellis Ralph Ashton, buried at location 23.B.13 over there.

 

My family are frustrated because we never saw his grave even.

 

Any help will be much appreciated.

 

Big respect to you & all dear fallen soldiers.

 

Many thanks in advance,

I'm on my email.

 

Cheers,

Oren Ashton.

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kenf48

Hello Oren and welcome to the forum

 

Generally it’s not a good idea to post your email on this open forum so I have hidden your post.  The forum has a personal message system which you need five posts to use. Neither the originator of this thread nor ‘Mr Bush’ have visited the forum for some time.  The thread dates from 2009, according to the CWGC website refurbishment was completed in 2012. https://www.cwgc.org/find-a-cemetery/cemetery/57303/baghdad-(north-gate)-war-cemetery/

It may be worth your while contacting them.  

 

You may have a better response if you specify your query in a separate thread in the ‘soldiers’ sub-forum.

 

Ken

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charlie962
12 hours ago, kenf48 said:

You may have a better response if you specify your query in a separate thread in the ‘soldiers’ sub-forum.

Ken, this man died in 1942 thus not for this forum ??

Charlie

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Maureene

I knew an Australian Army soldier (sadly since died)  who was in Iraq about three years ago, at an American base about 30km from Baghdad. From what I gathered, the security situation during the five or so months he was there was considered so bad that they weren't even allowed to leave the base, so visiting Baghdad, or the cemetery, was impossible.

 

I would expect the cemetery has deteriorated since 2009, and I would be surprised if anyone was currently able to obtain photographs,

 

Cheers

Maureen

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kenf48
7 hours ago, charlie962 said:

Ken, this man died in 1942 thus not for this forum ??

Charlie

 

Thank you, 2nd Lieut Ashton is indeed outside the scope of the forum.  I think we can leave this thread open as updates such as Maureene's are valuable but as you say my advice as to the soldier's forum is wrong.

 

Ken

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Creafield
Posted (edited)

Greetings All

 

I have been communicating with the Australian Embassy in Baghdad about my ambition to visit Reginald Gelme (OK - be near to where he is buried) at Basra War Cemetery. This person was very helpful and sent me this document regarding North Gate Cemetery documenting a visit in March 2019.

 

It's from an Australian perspective, but interesting period photos. Originally an 11Mb Word document, converted to RTF it was 140Mb (too big) so converted to PDF and only 1.5Mb. If anyone wants the 11Mb Word document the message me..

 

Philip C

PS - Finished my book on the 334 Old boys from Sydney Grammar School who lost their lives in the Great War. A labour of love for 10 years, very pleased with the result and honours their memory. Reginald Gelme was one.

VISIT TO NORTH GATE WAR CEMETERY.pdf

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DSC_1877 copy (Large).jpg

Edited by Creafield
corrected spelling error!!!

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Creafield

I apologize for the 'in your face photos'. They were meant to be small, as per the photos at the top … what went wrong??

Philip C

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charlie962

Philip

They are not 'in your face' and many congatulations on completing such a book. You are to be envied that the Australian records are well preserved  and digitised and accessible but even so 334 soldiers is a huge amount of work.

 

Charlie

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