Several years ago I came across a journal that my Grandfather had written during a two year tour of duty with the Army Audit Staff in Mesopotamia, now Iraq, in the early 1920's. It had passed down from him to my mother on his death and lay for years wrapped up in a cupboard. It consisted of about 950 loose brown pages, hand written in a flowing careful script, mostly in pencil. Accompanying it were two albums with more than 120 photographs from that period.
I have been slowly typing up the notes over several years! During that time I have marvelled at the detail he managed to put on paper. He was a conscientious diarist, an astute observer and wrote copiously and pointedly about everything around him. His journal provides not only a personal view of a Iraq as it was 100 years ago but also of the environment in which the British expatriate lived and worked.
Harry James Goulter Pearman was born in Teddington in 1881 and educated at his local general school. From there he won a Scholarship to Tiffin School in Kingston on Thames. He qualified for a scholarship to London University but for financial reasons could not take it because Tiffin School was in Surrey and he lived in Middlesex and grants in those days were not transferable.
He entered the Civil Service from school, went to Evening Classes and on taking the Entrance Examination to the Executive Class of the Civil Service, came first in his class. He started work in the War Office at the outbreak of war in 1914.
At the end of the war, Britain occupied a large part of Mesopotamia previously under Ottoman Empire control. Through a League of Nations mandate, Britain became responsible for administration of the new political entity of Iraq, created from the provinces of Mosul, Baghdad and Al-Basrah.
In 1920 my Grandfather was offered a tour of duty with the Army Audit Staff in Mesopotamia. The rank of Major was conferred prior to departure. On 1 October 1922, the recently formed Royal Air Force took over inter-service command of all British forces in Iraq and Army Audit Staff replaced by RAF staff during the next couple of months.
On returning to England he continued to work in the War Office and during the Second World War he became Director of Contracts in the Ministry of Supply.
He retired from the Civil Service in November 1945 to Hampton, Middlesex and died in 1962.