BASRA WAR CEMETERY
- Country Iraq
- Total identified casualties 2890 Find these casualties
- Casualties from First & Second World War
- GPS Coordinates Latitude: 30.53014, Longitude: 47.8205
Basra is a town on the west bank of the Shatt-al-Arab, 90 kilometres from its mouth in the Persian Gulf. The cemetery is about 8 kilometres north-west of Basra.
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. A number of cemeteries were used by the MEF in and around Basra; Makina Masus Old Cemetery was used from December 1914 to October 1916 and the Makina Masus New Extension was begun alongside the old cemetery in August 1917. These two sites formed the basis of the war cemetery. The site was significantly enlarged after the war when over 1000 graves were brought in from the following sites:- Ahwaz (Iran), Hakimiya, Maqil, Mohammerah, Nasiriya, Qurna, Shaiba and Tanooma.
The cemetery now contains 2,560 burials of the First World War, of which 76 are unidentified and 10 are non-commonwealth casualties (mostly Russian refugees). In addition, 6 casualties whose graves could not be found during the reburial phase were commemorated on special memorial headstones. However, in 1935 it was decided to remove all the headstones as the salty soil had caused them to substantially deteriorate. Instead, all the Commonwealth casualties were commemorated on a Memorial Screen Wall which was built in the same year.
The cemetery also contains the Basra (Tanooma Chinese) Memorial, commemorating 227 unidentified Singaporean Chinese casualties who were attached to the Inland Water Transport during the First World War. A panel in their memory was added to the screen wall when it became evident that their graves in Tanooma Chinese Cemetery could no longer be maintained.
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. Basra War Cemetery was used once again and after the war, further graves were brought in from other burials grounds in Iraq and Iran.
There are 364 burials from this war, plus a further 36 burials of other nationalities, most of which are Polish. About a third of the graves were concentrated in from the following sites after the war – Ahwaz (Iran), Amara, Andimeshk (Iran), Haft Khel, Khurramshahr (Iran), Manama (Bahrain), Masirah, Sharjah (United Arab Emirates) and Ur. In addition, 1 casualty known to be buried in Basra Jewish Cemetery was commemorated by a special memorial in this cemetery, plus there are 109 non-war graves.
Directly opposite Basra War Cemetery is the Basra Indian Forces Cemetery containing burials of both wars, and the Basra Cremation Memorial commemorating Indian casualties of the Second World War who died in Iraq and Iran whose remains were cremated in accordance with their faith.