Today is Veteran’s Day in the USA and Remembrance Day in most of the Commonwealth nations. It’s a time to remember and reflect on those who paid the ultimate price to fight tyranny and preserve liberty.
During my last trip to Sri Lanka we made a 2 day stop in the east coast community of Trincomalle, a place I had not been to before because it was at the center of the Civil War. Trincomalle is a pretty town with one of the world’s greatest natural harbors. As such, it is a popular destination for diving.
I made a point of visiting the Trincomalee British War Cemetery (a.k.a. Trincomalee War Cemetery) situated on the north end of the city, constructed as a resting place for World War II casualities. It’s a beautifully maintained place — far more so than most parks in Sri Lanka — as much a garden as a cemetery. We had a chance to talk to a member of the family who is in charge of maintaining the Cemetery. He had great pride in his work and how it was a positive portrayal of Sri Lanka’s appreciation for the lives lost in preventing a Japanese invasion of their island.
Trincomalee was a strategic Naval & Air-Force Base of the British and Allied Powers during World War II. After the fall of Singapore it became a naval base of importance to maintaining shipping in the Bay of Bengal and Indian Ocean. On April 9th, 1942, the Trincomalee port came under attack by the Japanese. A British war ship anchored in the harbor was destroyed during the attack, killing 368 soldiers and injuring many. Some of those bodies lie in this small cemetery.
On the withdrawal of United Kingdom Forces from Ceylon it became the property of the Ceylon Government, who in turn granted the British ownership of the cemetery in perpetuity. The maintenance of this British military cemetery is paid by the British Government. The Cemetery contains remains of 364 causalities of the combined services from England, Ceylon, India, Canada, France, Holland, New Zealand, Italy, East Africa, South Africa, Burma and Pakistan. The graves cover one hectare of land and every one is marked with the name of the of the soldier and the division of the military in which he served. A few non-war graves are those of men of the Merchant Navy whose death was not due to war service, and of civilians some of whom were employees of the British Admiralty.
I took time to read many of the headstones. What was especially interesting were some of the personal phrases the families of the fallen had etched on these markers at their base, just above the ground. Take a look at some of these at the bottom of this post.
(Click on thumbnails to enlarge, right arrow to advance slideshow)