Monday, April 2, 2012


SECRETS OF OLD PROTESTANT CEMETERY (2008) Secrets of Old Protestant Cemetery (2008, Libsc)) may hold the key to unlocking the riddles of the remains of Richard Somers and the men of the USS Intrepid. Written in Arabic, with many photos, diagrams, maps and charts, a large part of Secrets is dedicated to the American war, the battles at Tripoli and the graves of the men of the Intrepid, though most of the book concerns research into the identity and mainly European background of the fifty or so other persons buried at the Old Protestant Cemetery.

An old, square brick and cement walled compound allegedly built by the British in 1830 around the already existing graves, reported to be those of American sailors killed in battle at the turn of the previous century, Old Protestant Cemetery has been completely restored since this book was published in 2008, and is now apparently being developed as a tourist attraction.

As this book is written in Arabic, and therefore reads from right to left, and what would normally be back to front, there is a very handy 13 page index in English, which directs to the necessary passages we are interested in.

Since I can’t read Arabic and must have them translated, I did make a quick perusal of the book and found a few old black and white photos that I had not seen before, as well as some pertinent maps and charts. The photos are all black and white and not very clear.

One photo of a marker on the wall is inscribed:

IN MEMORY OF FIVE AMERICAN SAILORS WHO WERE MEMBERS OF THE VOLUNTEER CREW OF THE UNITED STATES SHIP INTREPID UNDER THE COMMAND OF LIEUTENANT RICHARD SOMERS WHEN SHE WAS BLOWN UP IN TRIPOLI HARBOR ON SEPTEMBER 4, 1804 (p. 352 Secrets)

Unfortunately, most of the footnotes and references are to internet web sites, many no longer working, and it does not appear, as previously reported, that this is a complete report.

As the two Americans reported in the 1970s that one of the graves was inscribed as containing a victim of the "assassins," and there is no reference to the assassins in this book, it cannot be complelte. But it does have more information, maps and charts than compiled anywhere else in one place, it is the authorative study of the cemetery from the Libyan perspective.

This is the relevant references in the English index that I will have translated and report on first.

[And Many Thanks to Nuri for sending me this fabulous book]

Wheelus Field Officers Wives Club 115 USNI – 119, 140, 287
USNI Proccedings – 287
USS Intrepid 347, 352
USS Spokane 300 Somers – 262, 352, 355, 357, 663
Somers Point – 357
Somers 357
Spokane 297, 300, 343
Spokane cl 120, 297
Star Trek 283, 662
Stephen Decatur 259
Stewart 80, 265, 425, 444, 446
Richard Somers 262, 352, 355, 325
Orray Jr. 558
Orray Taft – 295
Peleg Wadsworth 325, 361
Peter Leslie 187
Peter Penner 264, 355
Philadelphia 255, 347
Midshipman 357
Mustapha 119, 120, 123, 140, 259, 265, 268, 287, 301, 306, 308, 364, 558
Naval Institute 119, 140, 287
Navy Yard 262, 278
Joseph Israel 262, 325
Karamanli 53
Intrepid 258, 300, 327, 352, 660
James Simms 263, 355
Henry Wadsworth Longfello 363
Cowdery 131, 268, 347
Edward Preble 258, 262
Burchis 119, 120, 123, 140, 259, 265, 268, 287, 301,306, 308, 364, 558
Barry 357
Barry 58
American Sailor 347
American Sailors 352
A nest of Corsairs 429, 441

Map of the interior of the Old Protestant Cemetery in Tripoli showing each grave crypt.

2 comments:

عبدالحكيم الطويل said...

You should at least mention the author's name who protected the site from demolition by his personal means: Abdulhakeem Amer Tweel, Libyan from Tripoli, you should thank him at least with a word for his efforts to make all those valuable information reach you "freely".

Bill Kelly said...

I can't read Arabic but tried to contact the author via other Libyans and he wasn't interested in talking to me. Would still like to do so if you could convince him. Thanks, Bill Kelly