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Father and daughter buried at Ma'Asker Al Raschid RAF Cemetery

The full extent of the tragic story of the Marks family only became known recently when Ron Workman (the grandson of Leonard Marks) sent me photos of Leonard Marks’ funeral and headstone. In the late nineteen-twenties Leonard Marks was a civilian electrician working for the Royal Air Force in the Works & Building Depot at RAF Hinaidi, Baghdad. At that time RAF Hinaidi was the centre of operations for all British Forces (Army, Navy and Air Force) in Mesopotamia, present day Iraq. Leonard lived on base with his wife Marie who gave birth to their daughter, Phoebe, on the 6th November 1928. Sadly, Phoebe died when she was only eight months old on the 17th July 1929 and was buried in the cemetery within the grounds of the RAF Hinaidi cantonment. At that time the cemetery was named the Hinaidi RAF (Peace ) Cemetery but the name was later change to the Ma’Asker Al Raschid RAF Cemetery. It is not known how Phoebe lost her life but Marie gave birth to another daughter some time between 1929 and 1934 and named her Dorothy. On the 11th September 1934 a local native employee was in dispute regarding pay with a fellow Works & Building Depot civilian contractor James White, when he pulled out a pistol and fired a number of shots, fatally wounding James White and seriously wounding Leonard Marks who happened to be working nearby. James White died that day and Leonard Marks succumbed to his injuries on the following day, the 12th September 1934. Leonard Marks was buried next to James White in the same cemetery as his daughter Phoebe, less than twenty yards away from her grave. Though the Marks family history is still being investigated, I am not yet aware as to how and when Marie Marks and her daughter Dorothy returned to England nor when Dorothy got married and gave birth to Ron. I have reproduced here photos of Leonard Marks’ funeral procession (with his wife Marie following the coffin carrying a wreath) and his headstone, the latter also showing part of Phoebe’s headstone in the background. I have also attached a press cutting describing the incident and a present-day photograph of Phoebe's headstone. Sadly, Leonard Marks' headstone is not one of the 74 headstones (out of 300 burials) that has survived decades of neglect at the Ma'Asker Al Raschid RAF Cemetery.


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