Hinaidi RAF Peace Cemetery - Then and Now
The Hinaidi RAF Peace Cemetery (now known as Ma' Asker Al Raschid RAF Cemetery) has long been abandoned and has to date seemed to have 'fallen between the cracks' with regards maintenance of the headstones and the security of the site. Below are two photographs taken from the south-east corner of Plot 3 and facing towards the north-west corner of the cemetery. The first was taken in the early 1930s and the second in 2020. At the bottom of this webpage is a photograph of the cemetery taken in late 1923, viewed from the opposite direction with the camera at the north-west corner of Plot 3, looking towards the southern cemetery boundary fence.
My thanks to Bill Palmer of the 55 Squadron RAF Association for giving me permission to use the 1930 photograph (reproduced immediately below this text), taken from the association's photographic archive. It should noted that 55 Squadron suffered more than any other RAF squadron in the deaths at Hinaidi, with a total of 25 burials. For more information on 55 (Bomber) Squadron, take a look at its excellent website.
Ma'Asker Al Raschid RAF Cemetery (formerly Hinaidi RAF Peace Cemetery) c1930
Ma'Asker Al Raschid RAF Cemetery (formerly Hinaidi RAF Peace Cemetery) 2020
Headstone of LAC Robert Raw (Aircraft Deport Iraq)
Cliff Thornton kindly sent me a photograph of the headstone for LAC Robert Raw's grave, Plot 2, Row A, Grave 3. The photograph was taken shortly after he was buried (2nd June 1935) and is looking west towards Plot 1. Note that the unused grave (Plot 1, Row D, Grave 3) is evident by the lack of a headstone immediately behind Raw's grave. A photograph is also provided of the wreath placed on his grave and the badge given to Robert Raw when he undertook his apprenticeship training at the Technical Training School at RAF Halton.
Buried at Mosul Prior to Being Moved to Hinaidi
Bill Palmer sent me a photograph that he received as part of an enquiry to the 55 RAF Squadron Association. At first glance it appeared to be showing the final resting place of a 55 Squadron sergeant/pilot and an aircraftsman from 6 Squadron at the Hinaidi RAF Peace Cemetery. Upon further examination, especially as the headstones for the two graves were side by side though the men were killed nine months apart, I realised that this was not a photograph of Hinaidi, but of the RAF Cemetery at Mosul. Sergeant/Pilot Charles Dicks was killed taking off from Mosul whilst conducting the regular mail run between Mosul and Baghdad in DH9A Serial No: 9911 on the morning of 27th July 1924. AC2 Edward Barber was the observer in a 6 Squadron DH9A Serial No: 4961 on the 18th April 1925 when the aircraft exploded in mid-air during a bombing raid near Mosul due to a petrol leak. Barber and his pilot Flying Officer Rupert Pontifex of 6 Squadron were both killed. The three men were initially buried at Mosul but their bodies were exhumed at a later date and re-buried at Hinaidi. Though the photograph below only shows details of two men, it is highly likely that the partially visible third headstone is for FO Rupert Pontifex.
Headstone of LAC William Bartlett (6 Armoured Car Company)
Peter Reichelt recently contacted me regarding a photograph he found in his father's collection - a snapshot taken in the nineteen-twenties, while the Hinaidi RAF Peace Cemetery (later renamed the Ma'Asker Al Raschid RAF Cemetery) was still part of the Hinaidi Cantonment, under the protection of the Royal Air Force. The men standing behind Willian Bartlett's headstone (Plot 3 Row H Grave 4) are dressed in the uniform of the RAF Armoured Car Companies. On the right in the photograph is the headstone of Flying Officer Ellis Reid of 1 Squadron RAF (Plot 3 Row H Grave 5) and the headstone on the left is for Alexander Noble (Plot 3 Row H Grave 3), a private in the Bedfordshire and Hertfordshire Regiment. Peter has kindly permitted me to reproduce the photograph here. To see the exact location of each of these graves, please click HERE to see a diagram of the cemetery.
Funeral and Headstone for AC1 David Oldfield, RAF Aircraft Depot, Baghdad
It is not clear how Aircraftsman First Class David Oldfield died, though it was most certainly due to a disease or illness that was contracted whilst he was serving with the Royal Air Force Aircraft Depot in Baghdad. In looking at the burials at Ma'Asker around that time, apart from aircraft flying accidents, the causes of death included Malaria, acute Appendicitis, Typhoid, Septicaemia, Heatstroke and Sandfly fever. Living conditions on the base at RAF Hinaidi were difficult, mainly due to the hot and unforgiving climate.
Ma'Asker Al Raschid RAF Cemetery (formerly Hinaidi RAF Peace Cemetery) c1923
The following photograph was taken from approximately half-way along the western perimeter of the cemetery, with the camera focussed on the grave of Flying Officer Lionel Hooton and pointing in a south-easterly direction towards the southern perimeter fence. The graves in the photograph are of Plot 3, with only Rows A through F used. This would date the photograph to the latter part of 1923 (refer to Grave Sequence / Breakdown for more details).
F/O Hooton was one of twenty-three Royal Air Force pilots buried at Ma'Asker who were WW1 veterans, representing over the years some thirty-nine RAF squadrons. Four were official wartime flying 'aces' and many had been decorated for bravery and courageous acts during the Great War.
I have added some of the grave numbers on the photograph below which can be cross-referenced with the other charts and diagrams on this website. Two of the headstones can be seen in later photographs (also included on my website in the Ma'Asker RAF Cemetery pages):
1. Private Barnabus Brown Plot 3 Row B Grave 4 - this headstone survives to this day, though it has been damaged over the years. It is one of the few headstones for which a recent photograph has been taken, though it is hoped that more photographs will become available once restoration work has commenced on the site. Click here to see the image.
2. Private Andrew Rae Plot 3 Row E Grave 1 - this headstone can be seen in the photograph further up this page showing the funeral procession for AC1 David Oldfield, who died in August 1930. Note how much had been achieved regarding the standardisation of headstones and the beautification of the cemetery in the 7 years since the first photograph was taken. Note also that all of the grave allocations in Plot 3 had been filled by February 1929.