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Last Updated: Tuesday, 3 June, 2003, 22:51 GMT 23:51 UK
Marines bring home statuesque souvenir
Statue of Saddam Hussein
The statue has been put up in the officers' mess at Norton Fitzwarren
Marines from Somerset have brought home an unusual souvenir of their time in Iraq - an eight-foot statue of Saddam Hussein.

The men of Taunton-based 40 Commando found the two-tonne sculpture while they were fighting in a town near Basra.

And when they left the country they decided to bring it home with them.

The solid brass creation - similar to one torn down by US forces in Baghdad, symbolising the end of Saddam's reign - now has a new home in the officers' mess.

'Humorous curio'

Statue of Saddam Hussein being pulled down
The toppling of a statue of Saddam symbolised the end of his reign

Major Ross Preston said: "We took the statue from a town in the south east of Iraq.

"We brought it into an area we had secured nearby just for humour, as a bit of a curio.

"Then we realised we could potentially bring it back to the UK, so we did, as a memento of our time in Iraq."

And the statue is sure to prove something of a talking point.

"He is going to reside in the officers' mess at Norton Fitzwarren," said Major Preston.

Talking point

"He seems to be pointing towards something, so I suspect an irreverent sign of some description will be hung from his arm.

"We haven't quite decided what to do with him, but I am sure there will be plenty of debate."

The statue has attracted the attention of the Foreign Office and customs.

But 40 Commando say the statue is neither an antiquity nor a national treasure and probably would have been smashed if left in Iraq.

The BBC's Jon Kay
"They want to use it as a signpost to the tennis courts"

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