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OUTRAGE: Veterans’ families furious as graves of British WWI heroes left to rot

Апрель 26, 2016    
OUTRAGE: Veterans’ families furious as graves of British WWI heroes left to rot

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WAR graves for thousands of British Army heroes who made the ultimate sacrifice during World War One have been left overgrown and abandoned, it has emerged.

Headstones of the young men who died on the battlefield in Iraq between 1914 and 1918 are now inundated with mud, weeds and grass.

The Commonwealth War Cemetery in the southern city of Amara, close to the border with Iran, was the final resting place of more than 4,600 British soldiers.

But it has now taken the form of abandoned scrubland where locals dump their rubbish and children play.

The cemetery, which includes two Victoria Cross winners, was abandoned by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission (CWGC) after the last Gulf War.

CWGC blames the "current climate of political instability", saying it is "extremely challenging for the Commission to manage or maintain its cemeteries and memorials located within Iraq".

The Cross of Sacrifice, which is installed in all war cemeteries of more than 40 graves, has been reduced to a pile of rubble.

Amara War Cemetery contains 4,621 burials from the First World War, more than 3,000 of which were brought into the cemetery after the Armistice.

Most of the headstones were removed in 1933 after it was discovered that salts in the soil were causing them to deteriorate.

A wall was then erected with the name engravings of those buried there.

Barbara Heyburn from Ashford, Kent, whose grandfather lies in the Amara cemetery, told The Times: "Those soldiers didn't choose to go to war. They were told to. They ended up losing their lives and nobody remembers them."

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A nearby cemetery for 5,000 Indian soldiers who died in the same war has been turned into a funfair.

While another British graveyard near Basra has been turned into a football pitch despite the remains of 2,906 British soldiers resting beneath the soil.

CWGC states on its website: "The Commission continues to monitor the situation in Iraq and once the political climate has improved to an acceptable level the Commission will commence a major rehabilitation project for its cemeteries and commemorations."

UKIP defence spokesman Mike Hookem said the destruction of the British and Indian cemeteries was "all to symbolic of an Iraq which has fallen to rack and ruin since the American-led invasion which had no real exit strategy".

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The MEP added: "The memorials for those 27,000 British soldiers — and their Indian counterparts who were vital Commonwealth allies in the First World War — have fallen by the wayside as Iraq itself is overrun with lawlessness and violence.

"The Commonwealth War Graves Commission and the Ministry of Defence cannot justify prioritising these graves because to repair them would cost lives themselves as anti Western forces control areas of the country."

The MoD was contacted by Express.co.uk for a comment.


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