The British High Commission yesterday marked the 2021 Act of Remembrance at the Commonwealth War Graves Cemetery in Fajara.
The service was held in the presence of representatives from the Gambian Armed Forces, Gambian Police Force, faith leaders, and members of the diplomatic corps, and the public.
After the guests observed a two-minute silence, poppy wreaths were laid by the high commissioner, minister of defence and the deputy CDS to remember not just the war veterans who defended our democracy and freedom, but all those who risk their lives in the name of peace and freedom.
High Commissioner David Belgrove stated: “Today, we remember those who died in the First and Second World Wars and those who died in more recent conflicts, defending freedom, maintaining stability and providing humanitarian support for those most in need. We will remember them. We remember too our remaining Gambian veterans from WWII. We are also saddened that they are fewer in number, with the passing of Yorro Keita earlier this year. We remember their contribution with gratitude.
“What is important is not the name or the exact date, but that we gather, to honour and remember those who paid the ultimate sacrifice, fighting tyranny, defending democracy and freedom. Gambian soldiers fought bravely alongside British and Allied soldiers in both World Wars. Of particular note is the battle of Mowdok, in Burma, where the 1st Battalion The Gambian Regiment was honoured. As part of the 81st West African Division they did a great deal to turn the tide of war in Burma. The bravery of those soldiers – all of whom were volunteers, is remembered with pride, together with that of the Forces of other Commonwealth Countries. That close relationship continues to this day, with UK and Gambian armed forces training together for peacekeeping and stabilisation operations.
“As we rapidly approach elections here in The Gambia, it is time to celebrate hard won freedoms and democracy but also to remember the constant need to defend and maintain those rights, and never forget how fragile peace becomes, if we fail. I should like to take this opportunity to honour all of those who risk their lives in the name of peace and freedom, especially the uniformed personnel here today
“I want to thank you all for coming here today. I also want to give special thanks to staff members of the British High Commission who put a tremendous amount of effort into organising today’s service and also to the team of gardeners who maintain this cemetery to the highest standards deserving of those who are commemorated here.”
The Fajara Commonwealth War Graves Cemetery is funded and cared for by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission. It is open daily to the public as a place of quiet reflection and remembrance.