Grave Restoration at Habbaniya War Cemetery
The Daily Telegraph (UK) recently published an article on the grave restoration works currently nearing completion at the Habbaniya War Cemetery, 60 miles west of Baghdad. In returning the two hundred and ninety headstones back to their former glory (173 WW2 burials and 117 non-world-war burials). In December 2018, the Commonwealth War Graves Commission commissioned stonemasons at its operations base in Beaurains, France, to produce new headstones for all of the graves (non-world-war burials as well as WW2 burials). According to the article, this work was able to be carried out following an improvement in the political stability and security situation in Iraq. The fact that the war cemetery at Habbaniya lies inside an Iraqi military air base makes it a secure place to carry out repairs. Local contractors started work in Iraq in March 2019 and the cemetery restoration is nearing completion. This is encouraging news for the abandoned Hinaidi RAF Peace Cemetery in southern Baghdad where three hundred and one non-world-war graves have been in desperate need of protection and restoration for many years. Like Habbaniya, the cemetery at Hinaidi lies inside an Iraqi air base and like Habbaniya, the 301 non-world-war burials being for 197 Royal Air Force personnel, 73 British Army personnel (including the isolated grave of Sir Gilbert Clayton, British High Commissioner to Iraq in 1929), 2 Royal Navy personnel and 29 civilians. Pictured above is a photograph taken of the Hinaidi RAF Cemetery c1925 (with the grave of LAC John Bliss of No 6 Armoured Car Company - who died from multiple burns on the 7th October 1924) when only half of the first Plot had been used. Bliss's burial was the 122nd at Hinaidi.