Taukkyan War Cemetery, Burma/Myanmar
|The main memorial has a central round 'atrium' |
and two large columned wings.
My grandfather’s youngest brother, Walter Alexander (‘Bunny’) and his stepfather, John Rowley, both served in Burma, and both died there. I don’t believe Rowley has a grave, and I know Bunny definitely doesn’t, so their names on the memorial are the closest thing they have, and none of the family has been able to visit it before now. Rowley was a friend of Bunny, and married my widowed great-grandmother. He was a Yorkshireman with the 2nd Battallion King's Own Yorkshire Light Infantry; Bunny joined them, though he never set foot in England in his life. The KOYLI suffered terrible casualties during the war, losing nine men out of every ten. Rowley promised my great-grandmother that he wouldn’t leave Bunny, who was just 18 when he joined up and 21 when he died, behind. Rowley kept his promise in the saddest possible way, and so I wanted to put a little cross at the memorial for both of them.
|Every one of these columns is covered with names|
|Bunny and Rowley.|
|I wrote Bunny and Rowley's names on the back of|
this little cross, and left it near their face of the memorial.
We found Bunny and Rowley easily, and Spring, asked the gardener if it was okay for me to place my little cross nearby. He said yes. We made sure we got photos for the family.
After that, I took a walk round the graves. They’re split by religion, as different sections of ground are consecrated to different faiths, and then within those sections the dead are grouped by regiment, so soldiers lie beside their comrades. I liked the fact that there were flowering plants on the graves, and that butterflies fluttered around. The place was neat and tidy, but it was also beautiful and peaceful. Going to the cemetery was a sad, sober occasion, but I found consolation knowing that Bunny is, in a way, with his friend and comrades, and has such a tranquil place where he’s remembered.
|Looking at the memorial from one end, out across the |
graves of some of the Indian soldiers.
All photos copyright PP Gettins.