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Family recall tale of WW1 Iraq hero

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Auteur Bericht

Geregistreerd op: 2-2-2005
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BerichtGeplaatst: 01 Feb 2008 12:58    Onderwerp: Family recall tale of WW1 Iraq hero Reageer met quote

Het bericht is weliswaar uit 2003, maar ik breng het toch even onder de aandacht:

Family recall tale of WW1 Iraq hero

From the Swindon Advertiser, first published Saturday 10th May 2003.

THE Gulf War brought painful memories for a Trowbridge pensioner whose soldier uncle is buried in Baghdad.

As the battlefields in Iraq fell silent, Harry Fox, of Frome Road, remembered his mum telling him about the pain and suffering of the men who were caught up in intense fighting in the Middle East during World War One.

His uncle, also called Harry, was just 19 when he was taken prisoner and tortured, eventually dying of malnutrition and disease at a prison camp in Baghdad.

Mr Fox, 76, said: "I was named Harry after my uncle and find it my duty that all should remember the brave lad and all his comrades from the Siege of Kut."

Private Harry Andrews, who served with the 2/4th Wiltshire Regiment, was buried in a military cemetery at North Gate, Baghdad, and his name appears on a war memorial in Bradford on Avon. His father, George, a Boer War veteran, used to be the lock keeper in the town and the family lived in a cottage on the towpath which is now a tearoom. On December 12 1914, father and son left the town and boarded a ship for Bombay. After joining troops at a barracks in Poona, Private Andrews volunteered for a deployment to the Persian Gulf.

He arrived in Basra, Iraq, on August 24 1915 and sailed up the River Tigris, arriving at Kurna the following day.

Private Andrews was then attached to the Oxford and Bucks Light Infantry.

Mr Fox said: "They marched out to engage the Turkish Army at the end of a 20-mile hike in terrible heat and dust-laden winds.

"The glittering goal of this expedition was Baghdad itself, and the main obstacle and the battle that lay ahead was a place called Clesiphon, 18 miles south of Baghdad."

Turkish soldiers took up their positions along the River Tigris and fired at the 8,500 advancing troops, killing and injuring more than half of them.

General Townsend, the overall commander, was forced to retreat but the soldiers were exhausted and the enemy was catching them fast.

A siege, which started on December 9 and carried on into the New Year, was the beginning of the end for Private Andrews and his colleagues.

"With rations so low, they killed the horses and mules. Dogs from the Arab quarters were killed and eaten, even discarded boots were chewed," said Mr Fox. "Men were living skeletons and disease was rife."

In April 1916, British troops were forced to surrender and were made to march nine miles to Shamran.

Many of the soldiers died of exhaustion and ill-treatment. Men who fell were clubbed with rifles and had their throats cut. Once they reached Baghdad they were abused by the crowds as they were paraded through the streets. Private Andrews died on May 31, 1916.

Mr Fox's brother, Peter, visited the grave in the 1950s. After four years fighting in India, his grandfather returned alone to Bradford on Avon.

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