Original Iraq War Saddam Hussein Silver Plated Serving Tray With Iraq Coat of Arms - From Basra Airport - Christofle Silver
Original Item: Only One Available. During the invasion of Iraq in 2003, U.S. soldiers captured and occupied Saddam Hussein's palaces. Much of the State Silver was taken by soldiers as "spoils of war" and brought back to the United States. However, some of it remained in Iraq, some was later returned, and those pieces were auctioned off by the Iraqi government many years later.
This particular serving tray was obtained recently and legally through Al Finjan Antiques in Baghdad, Iraq. These items were sold legally and do not violate Law No. 55 of 2002 For The Antiquities & Heritage of Iraq. Items such as this were legally obtained from an antiquities dealer with an exporters license in Iraq and are not considered “spoils of war”. A copy of the letter from Al Finjan Antiques as well as the translation is included in this purchase.
The Serving Tray is silver plated with a wave design around the edge. The tray retains most of the original plating and all of the artwork is still visible. The only damage or discrepancy would be the plating wear and tarnishing.
The face of the tray features a beautiful roll-stamped Iraq Coat of Arms that was used from 1965 to 1991. Roll Stamping is similar to Impression Marking, but involves a flat die and a round part. The flat die is pressed into the round part as it rolls across the periphery. Rolling a die over a part creates less stress since all of the pressure is not being applied to the marking area at the same time.
The bottom side of the tray has Christofle's stamping and hallmarks. The bottom of the tray reads:
Christofle is a goldsmith and tableware company, founded in Paris in 1830 by Charles Christofle. The company is known for having introduced electrolytic gilding and silver plating in France in 1842. The company was bought in 2012 by one of its shareholders, the Chalhoub family.
The hallmark on the left is the Goldsmith’s Mark (Depuis 1935) and the right hallmark is the Quality Hallmark that was used from 1935-1983.
The tray stands approximately 1” tall, the base is approximately 8” wide and the top is approximately 11 ½” across.
The plating does have the expected tarnish and would clean up and look lovely in your Global War on Terror collections.
Collectors should not buy pieces without a provenance — a history — and supporting documents. Export and import documents are particularly important in these cases. It’s critical to understand that this piece was legally exported from its country of origin, Iraq, and legally imported here. Included with this item is a copy of an original letter from a licensed antiquities exporter in Iraq with his store’s letterhead as well as a translation of the letter.
Siege of UK Bases In Basra
The siege of UK bases in Basra was conducted and maintained by the Mahdi Army in Basra for most of 2007. Following the reported major failure of the coalition forces, whose purpose was to stabilise Basra and prepare it for the turning over of security to Iraqi government forces, the city was overrun by insurgent forces from three different Iraqi factions including the Mahdi Army, and the British found themselves under major siege in their bases and capable of conducting only limited defence action in armoured convoys.
By this point in the war there were only two British bases left in Basra. One was on the outskirts of the city at the Basra Airport with a garrison of 5,000 personnel from all three Services, although mostly Army and RAF personnel. The second, which faced much of the fighting, was in the city center at Basra Palace, a former palace of Saddam Hussein, with a garrison of 700 soldiers.
The first British soldier to die in the city, following Operation Sinbad, was killed on 27 February while returning to the Shatt-Al-Arab Hotel.
The airport base was constantly hit, upwards of dozens of times a day, by mortar and rocket fire during the siege. Despite the weight of fire, there was relatively little disruption to operations, as considerable effort had been put into Force Protection measures. These included passive measures on the base, such as physical hardening of structures, and active measures, such as fighting patrols conducted by RAF Regiment squadrons in the Base's ground defense area, beyond the perimeter.
The Uti Triangle, a flat zone combining open wasteland, marsh and clustered buildings, was being used by the Mahdi Army (Jaysh al-Mahdi) to launch mortar and rocket attacks on both the airport and the palace. Aggressive patrolling activity had denied the militias the opportunity to use the airport's ground defence area for launching anything other than a small number of rockets. However, this may have had the effect of forcing the militias to use firing points that were further away, which meant that larger rockets, with correspondingly larger warheads were used.
More than 300 rockets hit the airport in the two months between June and August. Sniper attacks were also a deadly and common occurrence for British service personnel as well as IED attacks on patrols that were going out of the bases. The IED attacks and organised ambushes also hit convoys from the airport that were transporting food, fuel, ammunition and other equipment for the palace. Convoys were primarily used for this task because helicopters were at high risk from being shot down.
On 3 September under the cover of darkness and without any media attention, the British Army withdrew from Basra Palace to the airport, leaving their last foothold it had in the city. Basra was abandoned to the militias.
At the end of March 2008, the situation in the city led to an Iraqi troop surge into the city and the 2008 Battle of Basra. This operation, 'Charge of the Knights', eventually led to an estimated 210 JAM killed, 600 wounded, and 155 captured.
British forces remained in control of Basra Airport until 2009 when it was handed over to Iraqi civilian control. Number 7 RAF Force Protection Wing and No. 15 Squadron RAF Regiment were the last British forces to leave. An interesting historical coincidence saw the same units being the last British forces to leave Camp Bastion, Helmand, Afghanistan, in November 2014.
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