Tanks a lot

This is a cut and paste of the email I sent to my closest friends on Jan 21.

Just a quick one to say that I'm still having fun> out here in the middle east, currently on a 5 day> break for the Eid holidays. Went to visit a graveyard of tanks yesterday, a remnant from the Gulf War in 1992.

The Americans decided in their infinite wisdom to take out all the tanks in the Iraqi army as they tried to flee back to Basra, knocking them scatty with uranium rounds and vaporising the contents i.e. the humans. Me and my best mate out here, Richard had read about this legendary "tank graveyard" on the net and heard> rumours of it around the school but nobody seemed to know where it was. Ian, the music teacher, had sent us on a merry old chase last weekend, giving us a rumour of where it was, which we chased up to no avail, but after a week studying aerial maps and scouring the internet we got a fair idea where to look.

Typing the words "Kuwait tank graveyard" into google got us really excited as it turned up these amazing aerial photos of devastation, showing mashed up tanks for miles. We had to see this.

Some studys have shown that the place is still fairly radioactive, and rumour abounded that the place was shut off to the public and no photos were allowed. Andy and Rich set off with cameras and T-shirts. Gerry and Cathy took the dog in another car. Seemed like a nice place for a walk.

After an hour driving through the desert we decided to fill up the car at a fairly remote service station. As me and Rich filled up with cheap fuel (that's erm...9p a litre to you back home....*ahem* full tank for 4 quid) Gerry took Dfer (that's "D" fer Dog) out for a piss in the ruined building next door.

On closer inspecion among the rubble it was clear that this place had been the site of a pretty brutal gun battle during the war, and the kuwaitis had been too lazy too tidy up since. Bullet holes riddled the concrete walls and the middle section of the roof had caved in, probably as a result of a mortar. Shotgun shells lay scattered around the ruins, testament to the brutality of man, and stray dogs picked through the bones of the building. This was my initiation to the aftermath of war.

I suppose that "war tourism" is in bad taste but in Kuwait, where there is precious little tourism and even less taste I don't suppose that matters.

We u-turned out of the petrol station and headed off-road where we thought the tanks were. Ended up in the desert in the middle of a minefield, surrounded by mines and dust as far as the eye could see. No tanks. So we done the sensible thing and let the dog off the lead and had lunch.

After a number of wrong turns we were on the verge of giving up. Getting out of the cars in exasperation we were looking over the map when, by a stroke of luck, this US marine drove up and asked us what we were looking for.

What a character this guy turned out to be! Giving us directions he added in Texan tones, confident to the point of arrogance, "Look man this place is off-limits to civilians, but whatever you decide to do man, I couldn't give a shit, after all we shot those guys up over 10 years ago it's no secret"

We headed there with added resolve.

5 hours after we had left the house in the morning we found it. The tank graveyard was hidden behind large burms, piles of sand built up for the express purpose of preventing people from seeing what was inside. Over the burms you could see the remains of tanks and heavy ordanance if you craned your necks. The army checkpoint at the end of the road and the signs saying "no photography" didn't help lift our spirits.

We initially drove past it once up to the checkpoint and went through. But seeing the tank graveyard from a distance was never going to be good enough. Me and Gerry wanted more.

Sod this we thought lets go over the edge. Gerry led the way, I followed shortly after. We had been warned of unexploded ordanance. I value my legs.

We parked up, Rich was too chickenshit to go over the top so him and cathy looked after the cars.

As we got closer to the tanks the sheer size of the graveyard struck me. We were gettin nearer to the site of a complete massacre. I was gobsmacked and completely lost for words.

As we walked around the yard, the sight was overwhelming. It was like being in a scrap yard but all the scrap was heavy ordanance and represented someones final resting place. The tanks were coffins without bodies. It was a graveyard. But the tanks were empty. Indescribable.

The camera went click click click and I went around with my jaw on the floor, always conscious that we were not supposed to be there and that we may get picked up at any time. We left after 20 minutes worried that the Black Hawk helicopter in the distance might have spotted us.

7 hours after we set off we were home. The pics are all here. What an amazing day.

Love it


Tarik - the Necro album is amazing especially track 3

Suzie - Me and the boss had the worlds biggest row despite my efforts. He's a tosser. So much for the new years resolution
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