Wednesday, January 03, 2007

All My Yesterdays

This gives access to a telling twenty minute film about Iraq made in 1953. Whilst it is a romanticised, sanitized British Pathe News "propoganda" film; it does show something of the great potential of Iraq then and now.

I undertook my National Service at the RAF Movements Unit in Basra in 1955 and 1956. The film shows the docks in Basra which I visited at least once a week. There is coverage of one of the railway staions in Baghdad. I visited the equivalent in Basra on almost a daily basis. The buses are of a style that is recognisable, whilst the plane shown at the start and the close is not unlike the RAF Hastings in which I flew into and out of Habbaniya. At the time Habbaniya was a huge RAF base close to Fallugah, containing some 3,000 troops.

When I arrived the British bases were British Crown Territory and were on land we held sovereignty over. Many Iraqis fear that there will be attempts by Britain and America to extend such practices into the future. It is important for us to show that when we go we do so fully.

Above all it is the people of Iraq who appear throughout the film, but not in the context in which I saw exploited labourers and people living in poverty. I attempted to explain some of this in the first half of the item I posted under the title "Then and Now".

I thank Iraqi Mojo for presenting this historical material. In April I flew the length of Iraq from Arbil in the north, past Baghdad and Basra. Whilst in 1956 as I flew to be demobbed, we went out over Iraqi Kurdistan then via Ankara. The closing and opening sequences of the film bring back these memories. In between, there is much more which transports me to my yesterdays.

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