Soldiers patrol along a street during a security operation in Basra
Soldiers patrol along a street during a security operation in Basra, 420 km (260 miles) southeast of Baghdad August 29, 2010. REUTERS

The International Business Times is marking Remembrance Day with a series of forgotten stories of war.

In 2003 the U.K. supported the U.S. invasion taking responsibility for Iraq's second city of Basra. Things went badly from the start.

It's now a year and a half since British troops were pulled out of Iraq.

In this annual period of remembrance, not only will thoughts be with the men and women who lost their lives in the two World Wars, which claimed millions of lives, but they'll also be with those who died in recent conflicts, and their families.

From March 18, 2003, when the British Parliament voted to go to war in Iraq alongside the Americans, until the British withdrawal in July 2009, 179 British service men and women were killed in action in that country.

The main action for the British saw was in and around the southern city of Basra.

Very early in the war, on April 6 2003, British forces entered Basra and attempted to take control.

Before long, as the spring warmth turned to summer heat, the British were struggling to maintain law and order.

Initially British forces wore soft-top berets, to show their intentions were peaceful. As tensions in the city rose and the number of insurgents grew, this gimmick was swiftly abandoned.

Supplies of fuel and electricity were limited and tempers flared under the fiery glare of the hot summer sun.

Riots broke out. Hostility between locals and the occupying forces reached a pinnacle on Aug. 14 2003, when 29-year-old Captain David "Dai" Jones of 1<sup>st Battalion, The Queen's Lancashire Regiment, was killed after the military ambulance he was traveling in was hit by a roadside bomb.

Shortly after his death, on Aug. 23, three Royal Military Police officers died when their jeep was ambushed by insurgents as they drove through the street.

September came and Operation Salerno, which saw British military storm hotels in the city, attempting to find and detain members of insurgent groups.

After capturing nine men they found with weapons, fake IDs and military clothing, one of the darkest moments of the Iraq war took place.

British soldiers subjected the detainees to illegal interrogation techniques - torture - including hooding, sleep deprivation, beatings, denied food or water, put in stress positions and subjected to white noise.

One of those detainees, Baha Mousa, was a 26-year-old hotel worker with a wife and two children.

He died while in custody of the British military, after being tortured.

A public inquiry into his death was launched after Corporal Donald Payne, one of the soldiers involved in the abuse, was the first ever British soldier found guilty of a war crime in 2006.

"My judgment is that they constituted an appalling episode of serious, gratuitous violence on civilians, which resulted in the death of one man and injuries to others," said Chairman of the inquiry Sir William Gage.

A court martial in 2006 of the military personnel involved in the torture heard from the commanding officer Colonel Jorge Mendonca that troops were under an incredible amount of pressure.

He claimed they had to work 18-20 hour days, under constant threat of attack and suffered under the intense heat.

Every day the British struggled to keep control of the streets.

Hard-line Islamists were patrolling the city, dishing out brutal punishments for what they saw as un-Islamic behaviour.

Their supposed justice includes executing a woman who wore tight jeans and another for not having a husband.

The Insurgency grew larger still and the British found themselves under daily attacks.

Operation Sinbad, which started in September 2006, attempted to create stability in Basra amid the chaos.

Some insurgents who had infiltrated Iraqi security forces were weeded out, while engineers attempted to rebuild some of the destroyed infrastructure that had suffered under sustained bombardment from battling forces.

However any successes were short lived.

In February 2007 the British military was under siege at its base, at Basra Palace, in the city.

Insurgent numbers had swelled, attacks intensified, and there was little option but to retreat to the base.

For months the base was under daily attack from the city. Rockets and bullets rained down on the soldiers holed up in the palace.

The point came when they could take no more.

On Sep. 3 2007, the British withdrew to an airport on the outside of the city.

A full withdrawal took place on Dec. 16 when Iraqi security forces were handed control of Basra and the province in which it lay. This looked like a total defeat.

"I think it was a huge mistake to pull out of Basra and to go out to the airfield and to leave the people of Basra to be subjected to the Iranian surrogates who brutalised them, intimidated them, terrorised them," General Jack Keane of the U.S. Army told the BBC.

Another damning indictment came from the Iraqi police chief left behind to pick up the pieces in a city ravaged by occupation and lawlessness.

"They left me militia, they left me gangsters, and they left me all the troubles in the world," Major General Jalil Khalaf told the Guardian.

He also claimed that the British military, when arming Iraqi troops, were inadvertently arming Shia militia groups who had infiltrated the Army.

This left them better equipped than much of the city's Iraqi security forces, Khalaf added.

The Ministry of Defence points to what it sees as successes from its occupation of Basra.

Facts and figures from its website proudly state such details as 73% of Basrawis now having access to piped water, comparing with 23% before British forces were within the area.

Another is that before 2003, only 49% of 13-16-year-olds attended school, whereas now it is 57.9%.

"British troops should never have been deployed to Iraq in 2003 in the first place," says Professor Richard Keeble of the University of Lincoln, who has written extensively on the Iraq war.

"This was an illegal occupation which provoked a massive response from the local population.

"Since the collapse of the Berlin Wall in 1989, the Western elites have been desperate to legitimise the vastly over-resourced military/industrial/media complex in a series of unnecessary military adventures in impoverished countries.

"In response, local groups have used both non-violent and guerrilla tactics to resist the invaders.

"The retreat from Basra is one of the inevitable outcomes."