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Last Updated: Sunday, 14 November, 2004, 20:12 GMT
Poignant memories for Black Watch
By David Loyn
BBC News in Camp Dogwood, Iraq

There can be few more moving places to be on Remembrance Sunday than with army at war which has taken casualties.

UK troops at Camp Dogwood
UK troops held a Remembrance Service in the central Iraq camp

The Black Watch battle group, which was re-deployed quickly from southern Iraq and has lost men in their controversial move into the American zone in central Iraq, have still taken time to share Remembrance ceremonies.

Many men have been wearing poppies when they go out on patrol in Warrior Fighting vehicles, to man road blocks and conduct raids on Iraqi homes.

On 11 November itself, they gathered on a patch of desert in front of a double line of reinforced sand barriers, which protect the headquarters of their base, Camp Dogwood.

The format took a familiar form, with two minutes silence, preceded by the Last Post and ended with the Reveille played on a bugle.

Losses suffered

After the losses here, there was a poignancy to the words which signalled the bugler: "At the going down of the sun and in the morning, we will remember them," when read by the commanding officer Lt Col James Cowan.

The echo of "we will remember them" rumbled across the sand from lines of men standing with their heads bowed.

In the worst attack they have faced here, three soldiers and their interpreter were killed by a suicide car bomber shortly after they arrived.

Black Watch troops
The troops had earlier marked 11 November

Another died in a separate suicide bomb, and a fifth was killed by a roadside bomb.

The Black Watch lament Flowers of the Forest, which followed the silence during the ceremony, can hardly ever have been played to a more attentive audience.

After the lament, a simple wreath of poppies was laid against the defensive wall, only yards away from a mortar line which has daily been throwing shells out into the Iraqi countryside.

At 1100 on Remembrance Sunday itself, there was a simple communion service taken by Aled Thomas, a padre with a surprisingly Welsh lilt for such a Scottish regiment.

He preached a sermon with memories of World War I, and he prayed for "this land of Iraq, for its people, the Christians in this land, and for all who suffer."

Poignant memorial

But beside the formal rituals, the most poignant Remembrance memorial is not in the main camp, but in a forward operating base set up in a former biological and chemical weapons factory on the other side of the Euphrates river.

In the sand among ruined buildings under the Saltire flag of Scotland is a simple soldier's shrine laid on the sand.

The names Stuart, Marc, Tuks, Kev, Scott, and Paul are written on a piece of cardboard.

Above each is an individual red poppy, and mounted on the cardboard is the distinctive red hackle, a spray of feathers, worn only by the Black Watch.




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