BASRA INDIAN FORCES CEMETERY
BASRA INDIAN FORCES CEMETERY
- Identified Casualties:
The Basra Indian Forces Cemetery lies on a side road about 300 yards off the main road from Basra town to Shatt-al-Arab, which is on the civil airport at Maqil, half way between the two and contains war graves of both world wars. The cemetery is exactly opposite Basra War Cemetery of which it once formed a part.
This cemetery is currently not open to visitors. 1.5 km of security fencing has been erected to secure the boundaries of the cemetery during renovation work.
Whilst the current climate of political instability persists it is extremely challenging for the Commission to manage or maintain its cemeteries and memorials located within Iraq. However, a two volume Roll of Honour listing all casualties buried and commemorated in Iraq has been produced. These volumes are on display at the Commission's Head Office in Maidenhead and are available for the public to view.
Before considering a visit to Iraq the Commission strongly recommends that you check the advice given by the Foreign & Commonwealth Office on the travel section of their website:
During the First World War, Basra was occupied by the 6th (Poona) Division in November 1914, from which date the town became the base of the Mesopotamian Expeditionary Force.
Casualties of the Indian Forces were buried in this cemetery during the First World War but their numbers and names were never recorded; the plots of graves in this cemetery are therefore marked by two memorials of a general nature, one to the Hindus and Sikhs and the other to the Indian Muslims.
Also buried in the cemetery are 75 Turkish prisoners of war who are commemorated on a memorial to 278 Turkish soldiers buried at Basra and elsewhere.
During the Second World War Basra was the scene of fighting from 2 - 7 May 1941 when Iraqi forces were driven from the town, which then became a base for Commonwealth forces.
Most of the Second World War graves within the cemetery were transferred by the Commission to this burial ground from Shaiba Indian Army War Cemetery, which was originally intended to be a permanent cemetery and into which the Army Graves Service had moved graves from other burial grounds in Iraq and Iran. However, Shaiba is some distance from Basra in an isolated spot and owing to the climate and the nature of the soil it became evident that permanent maintenance of the graves there would be impossible.
Basra Indian Forces Cemetery now contains 292 burials of the Second World War, 12 of which are unidentified. There are also 25 non war graves, 10 of them unidentified.
Within Basra Indian Forces Cemetery will be found the Basra Cremation Memorial which commemorates 1,032 soldiers of the army of undivided India who died in Iraq and Iran during the Second World War. Their remains were cremated in accordance with their faith.
Directly opposite the Indian Forces Cemetery is Basra War Cemetery, which contains burials of both wars, and the Basra (Tanooma Chinese) Memorial.