Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Back To Basra

It is over 50 years since I undertook my National Service in Iraq. I was stationed at a small Movements Unit in Basra on the banks of the Shatt-al-Arab river.

My main work was liaising with Iraqi State Railways (I had been a railway clerk before my call-up). In Iraq, I undertook arrangements to move troops by rail between Basra and Baghdad, and also saw that RAF equipment which had arrived in the docks in Basra was moved by rail to Baghdad. From Baghdad, personnel and materials were moved on to the large RAF base at Habbaniya.

I regularly rang the railway station to make arrangements via Abdul Sahib. He would respond to me in Arabic, until he quickly reflected how I had initially pronounced his name.

Abdul Sahib's children and grandchildren could well be amongst today's railway workers at Basra, who are currently on strike for a review of their pay and also want back-payments of bonuses they are entitled to. They certainly deserve to win this tussle to attempt to improve their quality of life.


Adfero Affero said...

Have Googe Alerted Gordon 'Lenin' Brown in the last week or so.
Today your post One up on Gordon Brown appeared! Fascinating to see you have an Iraq connection. Spent 53-58 in Baghdad as a boy and am still in love with the place and people.
For two years battled on with
(and its variants B2 and B3) but slowly gave up posting in disgust at the way things turned out.
I was for the invasion even though I knew it was neo-colonialism. Several posts are about my life there. Quite a few links to interesting things like the Nairn buses and this:

I never for gave Bliar for lying to the British people.

Harry Barnes said...

adfero affero,

I was in Iraq from early 1954 to October 1956 during my National Service and was 18 to 20. I served at the Movements Unit in Basra, but also went to Habbaniya with trips to Baghdad. I have been blogging for less than a year. Iraq is one of my topics. The longer pieces are -
(a) A daily series of six posts from 3 to 8 April on a visit I made to Iraqi Kurdistan last year. It has links to other items.
(b) Four consecutive posts as a history of the Iraqi Communist Party, starting on 19 April.
(c) -

Some of my material on Iraq is on the "Labour Friends of Iraq" Website. There is a link to it in right-hand column of my blog. Just type in "Harry Barnes" on that web.

I will carefully examine your material.