I’ve been spending a lot of time in cemeteries lately.
I’ve volunteered to assist The War Graves Photographic Project which, in association with the Commonwealth War Graves Commission (CWGC), aims to photograph the graves or memorials of every military casualty since WWI. In this way, family members who are unable to visit the graves of their loved ones due to the location can at least obtain a photo.
It’s an immense task as you can imagine. So far over 1.7 million named graves and memorials have been recorded.
Here in Malaysia, there are more than 6,500 graves in over 30 locations which are under the care of, or are known to, the CWGC. Most of these are from WWII and from the Malaya Emergency period. The list also includes police casualties and dependents of military personnel. Some are in dedicated CWGC cemeteries such as those at Taiping and Labuan while others are in civil cemeteries. My involvement is to locate and photograph those graves in Malaysia which have not already been covered.
You might consider this a rather morbid pastime (and it is unpaid) but I think it is worthwhile. As well as providing a photographic record, this work helps to correct errors or misspellings in the Ministry of Defence’s lists which might otherwise prevent genealogists from tracing their relatives.
The Kuala Lumpur cemetery at Cheras Road is a civil one but the CWGC graves are in separate section which you can see in the background of the photo below (behind the hedge).
The CWGC graves are well maintained by Bangladeshi gardeners. Mr Faisal here is seen plucking a weed from the immaculate lawn.
Buried here are British, Indian, Gurkha, Australian, New Zealand, East African and Malaysian soldiers, sailors, airmen, police, civilians and dependants.
The Sarawak Rangers were a small force of Iban trackers whose jungle skills were employed to seek out Communist terrorists during the Emergency. General Sir Gerald Templer, the Commander-in-Chief at the time, described the Ibans as the world’s best jungle trackers.