Hinaidi RAF Peace Cemetery - 2019

The Hinaidi RAF Peace 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 itself (see aerial photograph below, taken in early 2019). With the confirmation in August 2019 from the office of the Defence Services Secretary that the MoD does own the site and that maintenance of the cemetery is managed on its behalf under a commercial agreement with the CWGC, it is hoped that in the near future, the site of the cemetery will be secured and that no further desecration of the graves will take place. It is encouraging to note that the refurbishment of the graves at Habbaniya RAF Cemetery (173 WW2 casualties and 117 men who were killed later in non world-war conflicts - a similar situation to the men who died and were buried at Hinaidi) is close to completion.

2019 Satellite Photograph of the Hinaidi RAF Peace Cemetery

Royal Air Force Casualties at Hinaidi RAF Peace Cemetery

Hundreds of British and Commonwealth Air Force personnel died whilst serving in Mesopotamia (now Iraq), from the 30th July 1915 when two men from the Australian Flying Corps were killed by Arabs after their aircraft was forced to land near Nasiriya due to engine failure, to the closing down of the last base at RAF Habbaniya on the 31st May 1959 when the British forces were finally withdrawn from Iraq. Due to the policy of the British Government at that time, no bodies were repatriated but instead were buried at various cemeteries in Iraq, with 301 burials at the Hinaidi RAF Peace Cemetery, re-named Ma'asker Al Raschid RAF Cemetery when the aerodrome at RAF Hinaidi was handed over to the Iraqi government.

 

In trying to determine the exact grave locations for two 6 Squadron men who died in a flying accident in 1922 (see the story on Flying Officer Edwin Ffoulkes-Jones), I contacted Dr Christopher Morris of the RAF Habbaniya Association who was able to provide some of the missing pieces of the jigsaw. Dr Morris also provided me with maps of Iraq (one as it was in the 1920's and another drawn in 1944) as well as a list of seventy-four Royal Air Force personnel who died whilst in service and were buried at the RAF Hinaidi military cemetery, located in the Zafaraniyah district to the south-east of Baghdad, between the Zafaraniyah road (the old route to Kut and Amarahnext) and Rashid airport. 6 Squadron was one of many Royal Air Force squadrons stationed in Iraq at one time or another and the squadron moved from Baghdad West to Hinaidi in October 1922. By taking the seventy-four names and comparing them with names on the 6 Squadron Book of Remembrance I carried out my own research with the kind assistance of Peter Burlton, researcher for the RAF Habbaniya Association, have now identified that 197 of the the total number of 301 graves at Hinaidi belong to Royal Air Force personnel, the remainder being for 73 British Army personnel, 2 Royal Navy men and 29 British civilians. 

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