Kuala Lumpur’s Lesser Known Cemeteries

I was looking at an old, pre-war map of Kuala Lumpur the other day and noticed a number of cemeteries that I was not familiar with. I searched for them on Google Maps and found that some are still in existence so I went along to have a look.

Since today is Remembrance Sunday it seems appropriate to share a few photos.

Loke Yew Road Buddhist Burial Ground

The names of those buried in this small cemetery would appear to be mainly of Sri Lankan origin.

There are two military graves in this cemetery – Private H.M. Karunaratne and Private T.B. Somadasa, both of the Royal Pioneer Corps (Ceylon).

KARUNARATNE_HMSOMADASA_TB

These graves are known to the Commonwealth War Graves Commission but since they are considered as ‘non-war service burials’ they do not receive the same treatment and are probably seldom visited, unlike those in the immaculately maintained Cheras Road Cemetery.

These soldiers died on 3rd July 1948 and 21st June 1948 respectively. The Malayan Emergency commenced on 16th June 1948 so it seems likely that they were among the early casualties.

There is another possibility. A newspaper article from earlier that year reported how all 800 men from the Ceylonese Royal Pioneer Corps were confined to barracks under an armed guard of Gurkhas following serious rioting in Kuala Lumpur. It seems they were recruited under British Army pay scales but after Ceylon became independent on 4th February 1948 they were switched to new terms with lower pay, which would have been enough to provoke the riot. Another newspaper article in early June 1948 tells how 10 soldiers from this unit were to appear on a court martial charged with mutiny, a serious offence with potentially fatal consequences. Of course these articles may not be connected with the two graves but the timing is about right.

Christian Cemetery, Loke Yew Road

Simon Christian Marbeck

Simon Christian Marbeck

Next to the Buddhist graves are some Christian headstones. The old map named this the Roman Catholic cemetery. After checking a few names on the internet, and judging by the faded photos on some of the headstones, my guess is that this cemetery was used mainly for people of mixed race, or Eurasians as they were called under the racially segregated colonial system.

This cemetery is also the resting place of hundreds of unknown victims of World War Two whose small headstones are marked only with a number.

Unmarked Grave at Loke Yew CemeteryUnknown WWII Graves

Kuala Lumpur Japanese Cemetery

Directly opposite the unknown war graves is the Kuala Lumpur Japanese Cemetery which has been in existence for more than 100 years on a plot of land granted to them by the British colonial administration. It is a gated and well tended cemetery with a notice board listing the graves and their locations (in Japanese only). The caretaker, Billy, very kindly showed me around.

Old Gates to the Japanese Cemetery, Kuala LumpurJapanese Cemetery Kuala Lumpur

Flight JA8051 Crash Victims GraveJapanese War Dead Memorial, Kuala Lumpur

He pointed out the grave (bottom left) of the 34 victims of Japan Airlines Flight JA8051 which crashed into a hillside in 1977 while trying to land at KL airport during a thunderstorm. The stone on the right commemorates Japanese servicemen who died during the War. Since some of them might be responsible for the unknown graves in the field opposite, the less said about them on Remembrance Day the better!

Protestant Cemetery Venning Road

The old map shows a Protestant Cemetery just behind the Railway Administration Building on what was Venning Road (now Jalan Perdana). An Islamic Centre (Komplex Pusat Islam Malaysia) now stands on this site. Presumably the graves were relocated long ago, perhaps to Cheras Road Civil Cemetery.

Kuala Lumpur (Ampang Road) Mohammedan Cemetery

Hidden from view behind the Maya Hotel and just a short distance from KLCC is a surprisingly large Muslim cemetery, which on my old map, and on the Commonwealth War Graves website, goes by the archaic name ‘Mohammedan’. There is another British non-war serviceman from the Malayan Emergency buried here, a Corporal Ajetumbaya Mlumbe of the 1st Battalion King’s African Rifles who was killed on 12th March 1953. Unfortunately I was unable to find his grave but his sacrifice is not forgotten.

Ampang Road Muslim Cemetery

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25 Responses to Kuala Lumpur’s Lesser Known Cemeteries

  1. Razla says:

    i think the “Kuala Lumpur (Ampang Road) Mohammedan Cemetery” is where the late P. Ramlee was buried. (and also Saloma his wife)

  2. Chris says:

    Thank you for this information. I was walking around the old Christian Lok Yew cemetery this morning. What a shame it’s so neglected.

  3. carsam says:

    Hi David,
    Yes really a morbid subject on war grave yards let alone grave yards but nevertheless, its has rich War Memorials
    I have actually passed by this Loke Yew Cemetery & noticed the small headstones but never dropping in to have a look but your pictures said it all.
    Is there a Hindu Crematorium there in Jalan Gajus ? I remember there were Indian Bread Vendors there near the Japanese Cemetery. Is the Japanese Cemetery open to the public ?
    I also remember reading somewhere there was an old grave near Masjid Negara.
    Have you come across it ?

    • Hi Carsam,
      Thanks for your comments. I’m not sure if there is a Hindu Crematorium in Jalan Gajus. It is a residential street as far as I know.
      The Japanese Cemetery is gated and not open to the public but the caretaker lives on-site and his phone number is posted on the gate. If you ask him nicely he’ll probably be happy to let you look around.
      I have seen an old map of Kuala Lumpur showing that there used to be a Protestant cemetery close to Masjid Negara. I believe it is where Jabatan Agama Islam now stands. I guess the graves were relocated elsewhere.

      • carsam says:

        Thanks for your reply. Am returning to your website after a long absence.
        I will check if there is a old graveyard when I am in the vinicity of the Jabatan Agama. Didnt know there is a Jabatan Agama there though the observatory is located there. Thank you & happy grave hunting

    • Hi Carsam,

      Since I wrote my earlier reply I have found out a little more about the old cemetery located where Jabatan Agama Islam now stands. It was known as the Venning Road cemetery. When it was redeveloped, the graves there were exhumed and the remains were reburied in a single mass grave at Cheras Road Christian Cemetery close to the crematorium. An official there showed me the site of this grave which is marked only by a rather undignified metal sign which has faded and is almost illegible. The official told me that there is no list of the people whose remains are buried here.

      • Carsam says:

        Thank you David for spending your time looking for the information on the old graves at Masjid Negara. I was once at the Cheras cemetery looking for Sir Henry Gurney grave. I couldnt find it but a caretaker took me there. I should have asked him to point out this unmarked Venning Road grave too. It seems Malay Mail wrote about this grave in Masjid Negara. That’s how I came to know about it.
        By the way, David, are you aware that there is no war memorial graves for Malaysian Soldiers who died in the war. I have checked around & I was told normally the Heroes will be buried in their own Kampongs. There is one but only for that Regiment. The only very close memorial will be the Tugu Negara not like the Commonwealth War Graves Commission in Penang, Batu Gajah, Cheras, Taiping & Labuan.
        For the Police Officers who died in the Lahad Datu incursion, they were also honorably buried in their kampongs with Police Honours.

      • Hi Carsam, thanks for commenting. It’s a shame if there is no war graves memorial for all the Malaysian soldiers. I know there are cemeteries inside some of the army camps such as Port Dickson but I have not seen inside.

  4. Stu says:

    Thanks for this information. I always like to see lesser known parts of a city. I saw three war cemeteries marked on a map of KL I recently picked up, but they are quite obscured on Google Street View and I didn’t know how accurate the map was. Turns out they are the trio you mention on Loke Yew road. Thanks!

    • Thanks For commenting Stu. Glad the information has been helpful.
      David

    • Neil Anderson says:

      Stu, do you still have the map detailing the three war grave sites in KL? Or remember where you obtained it from?

      BTW – Managed to get DBKL to commemorate the site at Cheras Rd that the Venning Road Cemetery bodies were moved too. Only problem is there is a mistake on the Marble, but I am sorting this in the next few weeks.

      • That’s good news about the Venning Road commemoration. I don’t suppose the marble lists the names of those relocated graves?

      • Neil Anderson says:

        I have been told that there were over 100 bodies exhumed and buried in a mass grave at Cheras and unfortunately DBKL do not hold details of those moved. Very sad, but at least it is now being recognised in some way. I have a photo of the new memorial they have placed there, but as I said it has a very bad mistake on it at the moment…

  5. Neil says:

    Could you please let me know where you found the information about the WW1 Unknown soldiers graves from?

    • Hi Neil,
      I think you are referring to the ‘unknown victims of World War Two whose small headstones are marked only with a number.’ I think I obtained the information from my conversation with the caretaker at the Japanese cemetery. They may be the graves of civilians rather than soldiers.
      David

      • Neil Anderson says:

        This site has been sold to Indah water and with the development in KL being what it is, the cemetry will probably be gone soon. I have been trying to trace the details on the WW2 memorial here that is represented by all the headstones, it is referenced in several articles as being a WW2 memorial but I have been unable to confirm this 100%….

      • I see. I’m afraid I have no additional information on this cemetery. Perhaps DBKL could help.

  6. Hi Thrifty Traveller

    Just letting you know that I found the Christian Cemetery, Loke Yew Road on the way to Cheras War Cemetery. I had a hard time trying to find the war graves at Cheras but I made it there

    You have to go to the top of the cemetery to find the war graves section

    https://www.overlandmetalhead.com/-cheras-road-kuala-lumpur-war-cemetery.html

  7. Keith peris says:

    Do you know anything about a small Christian cemetery in Semenyih the graves look like the Dutch ones in Malacca.

    • Hi, yes I’ve seen a small cemetery right next to the busy road. I assumed that they were Indian Catholic graves but perhaps I’ll try and get a closer look next time I’m in that area.

  8. jenn says:

    How do I find the cemetery of someone who has passed away? I know she is buried either in KL or PJ. 😦

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