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Remembered Today:

Asst Surg. George C West IMS d.12/02/1916

christine liava'a

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christine liava'a

Remembering Today:

Asst Surgeon George Cyril WEST, Indian Medical Service, who died aged 23 on 12.02.16. Kut War Cemetery, Iraq


Initials: G C

Nationality: Indian

Rank: Assistant Surgeon

Regiment: Indian Medical Service

Age: 23

Date of Death: 12/02/1916

Additional information: Son of Alfred and Ellen West, of Saharanpur, Meerut, India.

Casualty Type: Commonwealth War Dead

Grave/Memorial Reference: H. 7.



Country: Iraq

Kut War Cemetery is on the northern edge of the town, at the point where the Baghdad road enters it, 800 metres from the river.

In April 1915, the Indian Expeditionary Force 'D', which had landed at Fao the previous November, began its advance inland with the intention of clearing Turkish forces out of south-west Iraq. Amara was occupied in early June and the advance continued along the line of the Euphrates to Nasiriya, and along the Tigris to Kut, which was taken on 29 September. The advance to Baghdad was resumed on 11 November, but was brought to a standstill against the strong Turkish defences at Ctesiphon on 22-24 November. By 3 December, the force, comprising chiefly the 6th (Poona) Division of the Indian Army, was back in its entrenched camp at Kut, where they were besieged by Turkish forces. Heavy casualties were suffered in desperate but unsuccessful attempts to reach the town and raise the siege in January, March and April. The garrison was forced to capitulate on 29 April 1916 and nearly 12,000 men were taken prisoner, many of whom later died in captivity.

The town was reoccupied by Commonwealth forces in February 1917 and at the end of June it became an administrative, railway and hospital centre. Kut War Cemetery was made by the 6th (Poona) Division between October 1915 and May 1916 and was increased in size when graves were brought in from other sites after the Armistice. The cemetery now contains 420 First World War burials.

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christine liava'a


MEERUT, a city, district and division of British India, in the United Provinces. The city is half-wa.y between the Ganges and the Jumna, and has two stations on the NorthWestern railway, 37 m. N.E. from Delhi. Pop. (1901), 118,129. The city proper lies south of the cantonments, and although dating back to the days of the Buddhist emperor Asoka (c. 250 B.c.) Meerut owes its modern importance to its selection by the British government as the site of a great military station. In 18o5 it is mentioned as a ruined, depopulated town. The cantonment was etablished in 1806, and the population rose to 29,014 fri 1847, and 82,035 in 1853. The town is an important centre of the cotton-trade. It is the headquarters of the 7th division of the northern army, with accommodation for horse and field artillery, British and native cavalry and infantry. It was here that the first outbreak of the Mutiny of 1857 took place. (See IN0IAN MuTINY.)

The DISTRICT 0F MEERUT forms part of the upper Doab, or tract between the Ganges and the Jumna, extending from river to river. Area, 2354 sq. m. Though well wooded in places and abundantly supplied with mango groves, it has but few patches of jungle or waste land. Sandy ridges run along the low watersheds which separate the minor channels, but with this exception the whole district is one continuous expanse of careful and prosperous tillage. Its fertility is largely due to the system of irrigation canals. The Eastern Jumna canal runs through the whole length of the district, and supplies the rich tract between the Jumna and the Hindan with a network of distributary streams. The main branch of the Ganges canal passes across the centre of the plateau in a sweeping curve and waters the midland tract. The Anflpshahr branch supplies irrigation to the Ganges slope, and the Agra canal passes through the southern cbrner of Loni pargana from the Hindan to the Jumna. Besides these natural and artificial channels, the country is everywhere cut up by small water-courses. The Burh Ganga, or ancient bed of the Ganges, lies at some distance from the modern stream; and on its bank stood the abandoned city of Hastinapur, the legendary capital of the Pandavas at the period of the Mahabharata, said to have been deserted many centuries before the Christian era, owing to the encroachments of the river.

The comparatively high latitude and elevated position of Meerut make it one of the healthiest districts in the plains of India. The average temperature varies from 57 F. in January to 8~ in June. The rainfall is small, less than 30 in. annually. The only endemic disease in the district is malarial fever; but small-pox and cholera occasionally visit it as epidemics. The population in 1901 was 1,540,175, showing an increase of io.6% in the decade. The principal crops are wheat, pulse, millet, sugar-cane, cotton and indigo, but this last crop has dedilned of late years almost to extinction. The district is traversed by the North-Western railway, and also contains Ghaziabad, the terminus of the East Indian system, whence a branch runs to Delhi, while a branch of the Oudh & Rohilkhand railway from Moradabad to Ghaziabad was opened in 1900.

1911 Encyclopedia

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christine liava'a

Indian Medical Service

The history of the Indian Medical Service (IMS) dates back to 1612 when on the formation of the East India Company into a joint stock business, the Company appointed John Woodall as their first Surgeon General. Under him, medical Corps officers (mainly civilians) were recruited more or less on individual contracts. The company expanded activities in various part of the country necessitated the formation and maintenance of regular bodies of troops in India. As a consequence, they commenced employing Military Surgeons from 1745 onwards. It was not until 1764 that these Surgeons were made into regular establishment of the company’s armies. Thus the Bengal Medical Service was formed in 1764, the Madras Medical Service in 1767 and the Bombay Medical Service in 1779 for the three Presidency Armies of Bengal, Madras and Bombay respectively. Three medical services were in due course combined into one Indian Medical Services (IMS) in Apr 1886 under a Surgeon General to the Govt of India. The designation was later changed into the Director General, Indian Medical Service. In 1913, the appointment was designated as the Director of Medical Services in India.

Until the First Word War the IMS was pre-dominantly civil in character, but gradually from 1912 onwards those employed in civil duties became less and less in number. Indianisation of this service commenced from 1915 onwards. Sarjoo Coomar Goodeve Chauckerbutty was the first Indian to enter the service as Assistant Surgeon on 24 Jan 1855.

Until Burma was separated in 1935, the IMS was catering for the civil and military needs of Burma also. During this period, the IMS was assisted by the members of the Indian Medical Department (IMD) and Indian Hospital Corps (IHC).

The idea of re-organising the medical services into a separate Medical Corps exclusively for the Defence Services was first conceived in 1939 with the out break of World War II and with the formation of Indian Army Medical Corps in 1943, the extinction of the IMS as such was merely a matter of time, on 14 Aug 1947 the service was finally wound up.

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Date: April 23, 2003

"Marines restore neglected cemetery Brits killed in Iraq by Turks in WWI

By BURT HERMAN Associated Press writer

RESTORING CEMETERY. U.S. Marines of Task Force Tarawa record tombstone names in hopes of restoring the Kut War Cemetery in Kut, Iraq, some 100 miles south of Baghdad. The Kut War Cemetery is the resting place of British and Indian soldiers killed in battle against the Turks during their push toward Baghdad in World War I. Since the first gulf war in 1991, the cemetery has fallen into disrepair with most locals using it as a football field and a dump.

KUT, Iraq — 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.

Children had been using the cemetery’s open field to play soccer, while other residents dumped their garbage there. Nearby is the city’s main market, where open sewers run in narrow canals between stalls selling Syrian chocolate, Iraqi-made cigarettes and live chickens.

The sign marking the cemetery was covered with graffiti, and an iron cross that once adorned the obelisk in the middle of the grounds was removed by Saddam Hussein’s regime. Its whereabouts are unknown.

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.

The shocking defeat was one of the British military’s greatest humiliations. About 4,250 prisoners later died during the journey to Turkish prisoner-of-war camps.

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.

“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.

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Seabees Restore British Cemetery in Iraq

Story Number: NNS030527-05

Release Date: 5/28/2003 3:25:00 AM

By Marine Col. Michael C. Howard, First Marine Expeditionary Force Engineer Group Operations

AL KUT, Iraq (NNS) -- A unique ceremony took place recently in the old Iraqi town of Al Kut, featuring a distinguished collection of senior military officers.

The event included U.S. Marine Corps Lt. Gen. James T. Conway, Commanding General I Marine Expeditionary Force and Brig. Gen. Richard E. Natanski, Commanding General Task Force Tarawa; British Maj. Gen. Robin Brims, Commanding General 1st U.K. Armoured Division; and the U.S. Navy Seabees' Rear Adm. Charles Kubic, Commander, I Marine Expeditionary Force Engineer Group and Commander 1st Naval Construction Division/Naval Construction Forces Command.

They and others participated in a rededication ceremony of an old World War I British military cemetery. The ceremony took place in an old part of the city on a lot occupied by 420 British graves dating back to 1914-1918. Also present were senior representatives of the British military chaplains and the Church of England.

The area was packed with U.S. Marines, British soldiers, Al Kut city officials and local Iraqi townspeople, making for a pleasant gathering of old allies and new friends. All were focused on honoring men who came to this area almost a century before and who made the ultimate sacrifice in fighting the Ottoman Turks, setting the foundation for Iraqi freedom.

Lost to history today, Great Britain fought a long and protracted military campaign in Iraq known as the British Mesopotamian Campaign of World War I (WWI). From the fall of 1914 through the fall of 1918, some 80,000 casualties were sustained by the British Army, of which 30,000 died. Of these, estimates are that 15,000 were deaths resulting from combat, while the other 15,000 were attributed to disease, mainly cholera.

One of Britain’s setbacks in the campaign was the loss of its entire 6th Division following an arduous siege by the Turkish Army here at Al Kut. Greatly outnumbered by the enemy in April 1916, the British unit was forced to surrender when it completely ran out of supplies. From Kut, the Turks forced the British (and many Indian Army) prisoners to march back to Baghdad. Most of the 10,000 prisoners did not survive the ordeal in 120-degree heat with little food and water. The Kut cemetery thus stood for decades as a memorial to the tragic reality of men pursuing their duty despite insurmountable odds.

Though the Kut British Military Cemetery was maintained for years by the British War Graves Commission and members of the local Kut community, the area was ordered desecrated and turned into a city dump by Saddam Hussein’s Baathist Party in 1991. This was simply punishment for Britain aligning herself with the United States in the first Gulf War.

With the recent capture and occupation of Al Kut by Marine Corps forces of Task Force Tarawa, a group of Marines and the Naval Mobile Construction Battalion (NMCB) 133 Seabees from Task Force Charlie of the Marine Expeditionary Force Engineer Group organized a clean-up and repair effort to restore the cemetery. Their motivation was to acknowledge the previous sacrifices of fellow warriors and to thank Britain for standing closely by the United States in Operation Iraqi Freedom.

The Seabee contribution by NMCB-133 focused on the unique reconstruction of the central memorial in the cemetery. This included re-fabricating the original steel cross that was mounted in masonry. Under the skillful expertise of Builder 3rd Class Clifford Ainsworth and Steelworker 3rd Class Kevin Lynch, a beautiful new and structurally strong cross was made and remounted. A brass plaque was attached to the backside of the memorial commemorating the occasion.

It was indeed a powerful, poignant moment when attendees snapped to attention, the British Army bagpiper played “God Save the Queen,” and the Union Jack was hoisted up the pole behind the memorial. Brims graciously acknowledged the heartfelt gestures of the Americans and the unique bond shared as allied nations committed to freedom.

Nothing marked the occasion better than the WWI quote by John Maxwell, now clearly inscribed on the Al Kut memorial.

“When you go home, Tell them of us, and say; For your tomorrow, We gave our today.”

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christine liava'a

George Cyril West is not mentioned in the Roll of the Indian Medical Service, which only covers commissioned officers of the Service

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