India itself was not classed as a 'theatre of war' but Mesopotamia was (Code 5A according to army classification). As any medal entitlement dated from a soldier's actual entry into a theatre of war, it is possible to date John Edwards' arrival in Mesopotamia from his medal roll card as 25th August 1915.
In most accounts, Mesopotamian is regarded as a campaign peripheral to the major battles in France and Belgium. But this view should not detract from the atrocious conditions that soldiers in this arena had to withstand - heat, disease, starvation, thirst were ever-present. We cannot ascertain the exact circumstances of John's death on 16th January 1916 but it is highly probable that he was involved in the fierce fighting around the River Tigris and Kut Al Almara on that date. His death certificate states that he was killed in action but gives no details. His body was never recovered and he is commemmorated on the War Memorial at Basra.
The Basra Memorial commemorates more than 40,500 members of the Commonwealth forces who died in the operations in Mesopotamia from the Autumn of 1914 to the end of August 1921 and whose graves are not known. Until 1997 it was located on the main quay of the naval dockyard at Maqil, on the west bank of the Shatt-al-Arab, about 8 kilometres north of Basra. Because of the sensitivity of the site, the Memorial was moved by presidential decree. The move, carried out by the authorities in Iraq, involved a considerable amount of manpower, transport costs and sheer engineering on their part, and the Memorial has been re-erected in its entirety. It is now located 32 kilometres along the road to Nasiriyah, in the middle of what was a major battleground during the first Gulf War. It is worth noting that whilst the current climate of political instability persists it is extremely challenging for the Commission to manage or maintain its cemeteries and memorials located within Iraq.
|Basra Memorial in its new position.|
|The commemorative plaque on the Memorial.|
|John Edward's citation on the Memorial.|