Tuesday, 11 October 2016


On the 1st July 1916 the Battle of the Somme commenced and is still being fought on the Western Front one hundred years ago this month.

Whilst researching the Manchester Corporation Tramways Memorial Plaque, which is dedicated to the 310 MCT employees who never came back, I was looking for employees who died during October 1916.

I came across one whose name is remembered on the Basra Memorial, Iraq.

I was intrigued, as most of the employees fought and died on the Western Front or at Galipolli. So using the Commonwealth War Graves Commission website I found at least four more employees who are remembered on the Basra Memorial.

They are as follows: Robert James Ferguson, a driver with MCT, who fought with the 1st Battalion Manchester Regiment. He was Private 32109 and died on the 8/03/1916.Panel 31 & 64

Harold Arthur Holme, a trolley boy with MCT, who fought with the 8th Battalion Welsh Regiment. He was Private 37252 and died on the 6/12/1916.Panel 24

Thomas McElroy, a handyman with MCT, who fought with the King’s Own Scottish Borderers. He was Private 15376 and died on the 10/08/1917.Panel 7

The employee who died in October 1916 was James Anthony Borking, a guard with MCT, who fought with the 1st Battalion Manchester Regiment.

James was the husband of Elizabeth Ann Borking and they lived at 13 Pembroke Grove Chorlton-cum-Hardy.

He was Private 23433 and died on the 26/10/1916 aged 40.

Panel 31 & 64 Basra Memorial Iraq Historical Information

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.

The memorial was designed by Edward Warren and unveiled by Sir Gilbert Clayton on the 27th March 1929.

Location Information;

Until 1997 the Basra Memorial 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.

The Basra Memorial is now located 32 kilometres along the road to Nasiriyah, in the middle of what was a major battleground during the first Gulf War.
Casualties are listed under the regiment they served with in rank order. The Panel Numbers quoted refer to the initial panel dedicated to the Regiment.

If a further panel is quoted, this refers to the Prisoners of War panels.

Visiting Information NOTE: 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.

Alternative arrangements for commemoration have therefore been implemented anda two volume Roll of Honour listing all casualties buried and commemorated in Iraq has been produced. These volumes are on display at the Commission's Head Office in Maidenhead and are available for the public to view,

©Martin Logan 2016

Pictures; sourced by Martin Logan from the Commonwealth War Graves Comission

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