Publicity currently about the dead of World War I is certainly creating a great interest in visiting the war cemeteries of that conflict and rightly so.
However much of that interest is focused around Belgium and France but there are soldiers of a later World War who’s fighters and dead were spoken of even at the time as the ‘forgotten army’!
And many of these are to be found thousands of miles away and far from the shores of Europe, America or Africa at the Taukkyan War cemetery in what was in 1944 Rangoon.
Now called Yangon a short ride from its centre will get you to the final resting place of many often aged just around 20 years old and a huge memorial to all those Allied soldiers of many nations killed in the Burma conflict during World War II.The buried as they are in tropical red earth of what they knew as Burma and now today we call Myanmar.
British, Canadian, Nigeria, India and West African soldiers lie side by side in this neatly and well-preserved cemetery with 6,374 simple brass plaques marking graves of soldiers, airmen and sailors. Sadly some 867 are unknown!
On the main memorial are the names of 27,000 service people who died in the Burma campaign fighting the Japanese but were never found!
The large cemetery is around 40 minutes drive from the city centre and today is a place of pilgrimage for travellers from many of the countries already listed.
Although many that fought in that conflict would be in there 90’s now but many of them would be surprised at the age range of the visitors. One young woman in her 20’s from Indonesia was studying history at college but took time out from her holiday to visit the cemetery whilst in Yangon.
A couple from England James and Sarah Madden were on their honeymoon to Myanmar were also drawn into making a special visit to the cemetery. Jame’s interest was in that of Capt Michael Allmand VC who went to the same school in Yorkshire, Ampleforth College that he attended too.
7 holders of the VC are buried in the Taukkyan War Cemetery, which, was opened in 1951. Here are buried victims of the various battles from over the whole of Burma and were later brought to be interred in battle groupings where every it was possible.
The Commonwealth War Graves Commission looks after the cemetery, which with its neatly lined grave markers and the large multi-columned memorial that carries the 27,000 names listed in regiments or squadrons but here they are certainly not forgotten like they were back in 1944/45!
With tourism very much on the increase in Myanmar and with more recent political change visiting the country is so much easier than it was for many years when it was under strict military rule.
With Yangon being almost the main gateway into the country for many of its tourists hopefully they will take a short time out of their holidays to visit this cemetery where they will help these forgotten to at last be remembered!
Sedona Hotels Yangon
My travel plans took me to Yangon via Singapore Airlines hub at Changi in Singapore. I stayed at the Sedona Hotel in Yangon near to the Royal Palace.