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By Frances Casey, Project Manager

Ten years ago this month, the UK mobilised 45,000 troops and combined forces with the United States, Australia and Poland in an invasion of Iraq which sought to depose the Ba’athist government of Saddam Hussein. On 20th March 2003, following an air-strike on the Iraqi Presidential Palace the previous day, coalition troops entered Iraq by land and water. The invasion was named ‘Operation Iraqi Freedom’ by the United States. The UK Ministry of Defence (MOD) assigned it the computer generated name of ‘Operation TELIC’. This followed MOD policy to allocate non-political names to operations.

Today, the invasion and subsequent conflict is commonly known as the Iraq War. For UK forces, the war lasted for 6 years and 2 months, with UK combatant troops withdrawing on 22nd May 2009, whilst US troops withdrew later, on 18th December 2011. The war deployed 15,000 more UK troops than the 30,000 involved in the Falklands War and the UK suffered 179 service personnel casualties over the period of the war.

Glenrothes civic memorial includes Iraq War casualties, Glenrothes (IWM 56533 ©Mark Imber)

To date, we have recorded 76 memorials commemorating the Iraq War. These include new memorials that have been created for the purpose, such as a memorial erected in memory of Black Watch casualties at Balhousie Castle and a stone of remembrance to six members of 849 Aircrew who were killed when two Royal Navy Sea King helicopters collided on 22nd March 2003. Both of these memorials were erected in the UK during the war.

The names of Iraq War casualties have also been added to existing war memorials, including those in Workington, Cumbria; East Cowick, Yorkshire; Warrington, Cheshire; and Bridgend, Wales. A new civic memorial of six standing stones has been erected in Glenrothes, Scotland which includes the names of two casualties from Iraq. The town of Glenrothes was established in 1948 and the memorial is the first commemoration for casualties of the town.  

Specific units have created new memorials or added the names of Iraq casualties to existing memorials. Casualties have been added to the Explosive Ordnance Disposal Unit memorial in Warwickshire and in Edinburgh, the regimental memorial to the 2nd Dragoons (Royal Scots Greys) lists the names of casualties of the regiment from the Boer War (1899-1902) to the Iraq War (2003-2009).

Civilian casualties of the Iraq War are also commemorated by memorials. In St Brides Church, Fleet Street, in London there is a memorial to the 18 journalists ‘who lost their lives while covering the war in Iraq AD 2003’. The roles listed on the memorial include cameramen, translators, a sound recordist and news correspondents. Amongst those named is ITN Middle East Correspondent Terry Lloyd, who was shot by US forces on 22nd March 2003, as he reported on the invasion.   

Memorial to UK service personnel killed in Iraq Operation TELIC, National Memorial Arboretum (IWM 59914, ©IWM 2011)

The national memorial to UK Service casualties of the Iraq War was unveiled in the National Memorial Arboretum, Staffordshire on 11th March 2010. This memorial takes the form of a wall mounted with 179 plaques with the name, regiment, date of death and age of each of the UK Service personnel and the one MOD civilian that died.

The original memorial wall was built in 2006 by troops stationed in Iraq, and had stood outside the HQ of Multi-National Division (South East) in Basra airbase. During the war, the wall and the plaques were a focus for remembrance for those serving. As discussions took place in 2008-9 to withdraw troops from Iraq, securing the future of the memorial was a concern for both families and troops, and it was decided to dismantle the wall when the troops withdrew. The bricks used for the original wall were found to be too soft for the UK climate, so a new memorial was devised which used the original bricks as the foundation and core of a memorial wall enclosed by marble.

The wall commemorates those Iraq War personnel who died as a result of accident or illness as well as those who died in the direct line of fire. It also lists members of the Coalition Forces who were killed whilst under UK command during the six years of conflict.

Ten years on, and number of memorials to the Iraq War is likely to increase. New memorials to casualties of the war are still being erected and the names of casualties continue to be added to existing community and regimental memorials. 

This is a blog by Project Manager Frances Casey

A beautiful hand-illustrated First World War Roll of Honour from the Lake District village of Levens has been discovered in an attic in the village. The Menin Gate, Menin Road and Arras Road are all illustrated above the inscription to men of the village, and a detailed scene from Railway Wood, Ypres, 1917 can be seen below the names.

Levens Roll of Honour (ukniwm 61491, ©Stephen Read)

When the Roll came to light, the Levens Local History Group set about trying to find out more about it and the men commemorated, but so far the mystery has deepened. Most of the men named were in the Border Regiment and according to the Group’s research it appears that this regiment did not play a prominent part in Ypres in 1917, and the men are not commemorated on the Menin Gate which is a memorial to the missing of Ypres, so why choose these illustrations for the Roll?

The illustration of the Menin Gate does help date the Roll of Honour though, as the Gate was unveiled in 1927, so the Roll must have been created around or after this time. It is signed Jackson Art Studio on the right hand lower corner but, as yet, the Levens researchers have not found any information about this company. If you have any ideas or come across anything in your research to help solve these mysteries let us know and we will pass on your thoughts to the Levens Local History Group, who are continuing with the search and would welcome any leads.

 

By Project Assistant, Annette Gaykema.

We have had two emails recently from an employee at the Tower of London, informing us that two memorials we had listed as missing were in fact located in the Tower of London. The 38th Jewish Battalion, Royal Fusiliers memorial was believed to have been lost when the Great Synagogue, where it was originally housed, was destroyed with a direct hit in the Second World War.  

Similarly, the Royal Fusiliers Roll of Honour was believed to have been destroyed when the Guild Hall was bombed in the Second World War.

Both of these memorials have now been found at the Tower of London, but what remains a mystery is whether they were salvaged from bomb wreckage and eventually given to the Royal Regiment of Fusiliers Museum which opened at the Tower of London in 1962, or whether they were moved to the Tower for safe keeping prior to the London Blitz.

The Castle and Regimental Museum, Monmouth, is a small volunteer-run museum which tells the story of the Royal Monmouthshire Royal Engineers (Militia). The museum displays a wide range of artefacts relating to the Regiment, which can trace its origins back to the militia of the sixteenth century. It also holds the records of the Regiment, which cover the
period 1786-1976, and contain much fascinating information on the Regiment and on the men who served in it.

Among the records in the archive are several Regimental rolls and some very detailed enlistment registers, which record not just names and ages of recruits, but where they came from and their height and physical appearance and occupation. Information from these has been put online as a searchable database, so that family historians and others can look for individuals who they think may have been members of the Regiment or its predecessor, the Monmouthshire Militia.

So far, information from an enlistment register for 1786-1816 and a (much less detailed) Regimental Roll for 1914-1916 is online – over 3000 names in all. A further 3500 should be available shortly.  It’s worth noting that members of the Regiment didn’t just come from Monmouthshire.  Those listed in the early enlistment register came from various parts of south Wales and the West Country; by the First World War, the Regiment was drawing recruits from all parts of England and Wales.

The website can be found at http://www.monmouthcastlemuseum-archives.org.uk.  As well as the database of members of the Regiment, it has information on the archive and a selection of some of the fascinating photographs in the museum’s collection.

The Formation Parade of The Mercian Regiment took place on 1 September. The new regiment is the result of the merger of The Cheshire Regiment, The Worcestershire and Sherwood Foresters Regiment and The Staffordshire Regiment. These regiments can trace their origins to the late seventeenth or eighteenth centuries and boast distinguished histories, with battle honours in the Peninsular and Crimean Wars, India and many other places, even before the twentieth century.

The UKNIWM has over 300 records of memorials referring to the predecessors of The Mercian Regiment. Perhaps the most notable is the tall, domed tower to The Sherwood Foresters at Crich in Derbyshire.  It stands on the summit of Crich Hill, nearly 300 metres above sea level, making the tower visible from three counties.  

The memorial tower was opened in 1923 by General Sir Horace Lockwood Smith-Dorrien, colonel of the Sherwood Foresters.  A memorial to Smith-Dorrien was added to the tower after his death in 1930.  It concludes with the lines,

“Whosoever leads such a life/ need not care upon/ how short warning/ it be taken from him.”

The 1st Battalion The Royal Anglian Regiment has set up a fund to raise money for a permanent memorial to members of the regiment killed while serving in Afghanistan and to provide assistance to severely injured soldiers and their families.  The battalion has over 600 soldiers deployed in the northern sector of Helmand province, where some of the fiercest fighting has taken place.  Nine soldiers have lost their lives and over 50 others have been wounded.

Read more about the memorial fund

A local micro brewery has come up with an unsual way to help raise money for the memorial fund with their ‘Buy the Boys a Beer’ campaign.   This enables members of the public to purchase a bottle of beer which is sent, with a personal message label, to returning soldiers at the battalion headquarters at Purbright.  For each bottle purchased, a donation is also made to the memorial fund.

Watch report from BBC News