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Bye Bye Basrah

Tom Lloyd Owen
Shat Al Arab Hotel,
17th Oct 2005
Dear All,
It has been a long old seven months for me and I thought I was finally going to be in a position to say I am coming home this week. I had got myself all geared up for my return when I was told that the plan had changed and I was not allowed home till the 25th! Thank God I love it here and wasn’t excited about coming home…
It is safe to say there is very little I will miss about this place, and so much I am looking forward to about not being here.
The people of Iraq have now passed their apparently most historic day in the voting for their referendum this weekend. So we can leave here safe in the knowledge that we have removed a system that was both effective and efficient and replaced it with one that is complicated, unreliable, laced in corruption, and bound to fail. You can see why we are all so proud to have spent the summer nurturing this fragile country through its democratic infancy, we are the modern-day empire builders, forever striving to spread the American way!
I hope that over the course of the last few months I have in some way brightened up Mondays for you, and even on occasion got a little bit of the turgid boredom I have suffered over to you in a light hearted tone. The pleasure I have received from all of your e mails, letters, and parcels have been invaluable. I apologise to anyone who I didn’t reply to, I wish I could blame the enormous stress and pressures of work, but laziness and an idle memory are a far more likely reason.
I mentioned many months ago a pretty silly idea I had about waterskiing down the Shaat Al Arab river. I never got round to it. I would like to plead operational security reasons, I would like to say it was too dangerous, they would be lies. I am sorry to say the real reason for my not achieving my aim was that the river smells of poo and it made me feel a bit sick.
See you all soon I hope.
As Ever, All My love
Tom Lloyd Owen

The Letter above is part of a series of letters I sent home from Basrah, Iraq in 2005 republished here for the first time since they got sent exactly 15 years ago (I will try and sync them with the real dates sent)

I suppose this was my very first attempt at blogging, before blogging was ever a thing!

I was a Captain in The British Army at the time and was in the middle of an unremarkable 7 month posting to Basrah surrounded by the remarkable men of the Coldstream Guards, my regiment for 7 years. I loved and adored my time in the Coldstream and look back at all the fun and silliness with incredibly fond memories. I hope these letters go some way to show the amusing side of our tour, they are not designed to be a factual representation of the hard work, pain and suffering that so many endured. They do not talk of the ultimate sacrifice made by too many of our soldiers during that extraordinary year.

Nulli Secundus.

The Coldstream Guards Capstar

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Bye Bye Basrah


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