Baghdad’s North Gate War Cemetery, where thousands of British soldiers are buried.
While I agreed to steer away from New York Times war coverage for a few days - admittedly it dominates other news links on this site - there are two articles from the past two Sundays that I want to include here. The first, from two Sundays ago, is an article where Dexter Filkins goes searching for Gertrude Bell’s tomb, and finds the old British diplomat buried with other foreign workers and soldiers in a British cemetery in Baghdad. The North Gate War Cemetery, described in detail in Jon Lee Anderson’s The Fall of Baghdad, is a strange scene: thousands of British soldiers, plus a few British diplomat-types (Britain’s 1920s version of the Coalition Provisional Authority), buried in a cemetery that, despite the presence of devoted caretakers, is always described as aged and overgrown. There are five other British war cemeteries in Iraq, and Filkins explores most in this article, stopping for a while at Kut, the site of the disasterous seige of 1916. Here’s Robert Fisk’s own description from the early days of the current war.
Some of Anderson’s description of the North Gate War Cemetery:
"Some of the headstones had broken off and lay toppled and neglected. Those still standing were etched with Christian crosses and the insignias of the dead men’s regiments: an elephant and palm for the Ceylon Sanitary Section, a castle standard for the Essex Regiment, an a stag’s head for the Seaforth Highlanders. On the headstone for 201775 Private S. Brown of the Dorsetshire Regiment, who died on September 28, 1917, at the age of twenty-five, were carved the words,"Peace, Perfect Peace." Many of the graves were anonymous and inscribed with the same message: "Four Soldiers of the Great War—Known unto God."
Yesterday, Sabrina Tavernise documented the injured civilians of Baghdad, whose numbers, stories, and suffering are never clearly presented, not least in the American media. First Filkins starts a thread of compelling, death-of-a-soldier stories, and now the Week in Review shows the Iraqi version of Eugene Richards photos for the Nation. The photographer of these Iraqi casualties is Farah Nosh of Getty Images. Included in the online post of "The Instant When Everything Changed" is a long slideshow of images and interviews (somehow I can’t lift a photo of a slideshow, or I’d include one here).