Saddam Hussein's 'bronze buttock' to be auctioned in Derby
- 12 October 2011
- From the section Derby
A chunk from the Saddam Hussein statue famously toppled in central Baghdad in 2003 is to be auctioned in Derby.
The 2ft (0.6m) wide bronze "buttock" was claimed by a former SAS soldier who brought it back to the UK.
Pictures of the statue being felled as the Iraqi dictator's reign ended were broadcast around the world.
Now Nigel Ely, who used a sledgehammer and crowbar to grab the unusual memento, hopes its sale will raise money for charity.
Mr Ely, from Herefordshire, was working with a TV crew covering the fall of Baghdad in April 2003 when he decided to claim the historic keepsake.
He said: "When we arrived in Firdos Square in the heart of Baghdad, the statue had just been toppled and the US Marines had erected a cordon of tanks to guard the square.
"But I wanted a piece of the statue - and when I mentioned to the marines that I was an old soldier and with the press they told me, 'No problem, buddy - help yourself'."
Arrested and searched
Finding the bronze statue face-down, the ex-serviceman enlisted the help of a marine armed with a crowbar and a sledgehammer to cut out half of the despot's backside.
He said: "I only wanted a piece big enough to put in my pocket, but I ended up with a chunk about 2ft square.
"I thought, 'What the hell am I going to do with this?'
"I threw it in the back of my truck and forgot about it until we tried to re-enter Kuwait, where the Kuwaiti army arrested us and searched us for plunder.
"The journalists with me had all their souvenirs confiscated, but when I said the buttock was vehicle armour to protect us from bullets and bombs they left it alone.
"The real pain came when I flew back to London a few days later. I'd bought a large case from the local souq [commercial area] to put the bum in and had to pay a fortune in excess baggage."
Mr Ely was charged £385 to fly the chunk home but it is expected to raise thousands of pounds when it is sold by auctioneers Hansons in Derby on 27 October.
Proceeds from the sale will go towards helping injured ex-servicemen from the UK and US.
Mr Ely said: "It's been with me all these years, but I decided it was time it did some good."