A SOLDIER from Aldershot delivering fresh supplies to troops in Iraq has also uncovered some family history dating back to 1916 in a Basra war cemetery.
Lt Rob Williams, 26, who is serving with 10 Transport Regt, found his great-grandfather’s headstone using an old map detailing the plot number.
Many of the gravestones in the cemetery were broken and others half-buried in rubble but Lt Williams was determined not to give up.
Helped by an Iraqi family, he tore through weeds and pulled back undergrowth to find L/Cpl Charles Williams’ chipped and mud-covered gravestone.
A South Wales Borderer, he died from dysentery after drinking contaminated water from his army canteen which had no purification tablets in it.
Charles, who left behind a wife and young son in Abergavenny, Wales, was buried alongside hundreds of other war veterans in the cemetery.
Lt Williams said: “It’s a rewarding moment, a great feeling. When I first came through and saw nothing in the cemetery except for a few smashed headstones, I was choked really. But this has made it all worthwhile. It’s an emotional and moving experience for me.
“My grandparents have sadly passed on, but it will nice to let my father know what’s here.”
He added: “What I’d like to see now is the cemetery restored to something like its former state.”
While Lt Williams is carrying out his duty to get fresh water to British troops in Basra, other members of 10 Transport Regt are taking on a new role — to distribute tons of humanitarian aid to the Iraqi people, who are also in need of simple supplies.
They are to take over the operation of distribution points from which fresh water and basic medical supplies will be issued.
Iraqis are also being handed materials to provide temporary shelter, such as plastic sheeting and blankets, as well as kitchen utensils so they are able to cook food.
Twelve centres, situated in areas thought to have the highest level of need, will see the distribution of 100,000 tons of aid, which was brought into the country through the port at Umm Qsar.
An MoD spokesman said: “These will effectively be secure compounds from which aid can be distributed properly. There have been a lot of people gathering at Umm Qsar because they realise this is where the aid comes into, so this is just to make sure it gets through to everywhere it is needed.”