Madras War Cemetery

Madras War Cemetery

Whenever I passed through Mount Poonamalle Road , the Monument on the right just before the Chennai Trade Centre attracted my attention. I could see a name board “Madras War Cemetery” in English and ” Saamraajya Yuddha Kallaraigal” in Tamil. One Sunday , I went inside the Madras War Cemetery. In the entry I saw a plaque

Madras War Cemetery

The Madras War Cemetery, a tribute to the valiant men and women who laid down their lives in the Second World War, was set up in 1952 by the Imperial War Graves Commission, which is now known as the “Commonwealth War Graves Commission” (CWGC). The Cemetery is maintained by the CWGC in partnership with the Indian Government.

Madras War Cemetery

The Stone of Remembrance greets the visitor to the Madras War Cemetery with the words from the Book of Ecclesiasticus ‘Their Name Liveth For Evermore’, designed by Sir Edward Lutyens, who also designed New Delhi (New Delhi, even now is called Lutyen’s Delhi)

The Madras War Cemetery honors 857 men and women of the Commonwealth forces and one Polish airman who died during the war of 1939 – 1945. It has been a kind of second burial for these armed forces personnel, who died in the line of duty at different places while serving in various units during the war. Most of the graves were brought together from civil and cantonment cemeteries in the South and East of India. The Cemetery also has three non-world war graves.

Of the 857 war graves in the Madras War Cemetery, 659 served for the forces of United Kingdom, 110 served for the forces of West Africa, 49 for the forces of undivided India (India before partition), 17 for the forces of Canada, 14 for the forces of Australia, 5 served for the forces of New Zealand, one for Burma (Myanmar), one for Malaya and one for Poland.

Madras War Cemetery

The Cemetery has a war memorial, called the ‘Cross of Sacrifice’ and designed by Sir Reginald Blomfield; these vary in height from 4.5m to 9m, depending on the size of the cemetery.

Madras War Cemetery

Each cemetery is made up of rows of white gravestones; unlike French or German graves, these are not shaped like crosses, but are, instead, rectangles with rounded tops. However, each gravestone is marked with a cross, except for those where the deceased was known to belong to another religion, in which case, another symbol is provided. The graves are also marked with the name, rank and unit symbol of the soldier.

Madras War Cemetery

Each cemetery has a plaque that explains in which war the soldiers died and provides some background history.

Mr Munuswamy, Gardener, Madras War Cemetery

Mr Munuswamy the Gardener at Madras War Cemetery told me that in a year about 5 to 6 families from abroad come to pay their respects to their forefathers in memory of whom Tomb Stones are erected at Madras War Cemetery.

(with inputs from the website of Commonwealth War Graves Commission

4 Comments so far

  1. B a l a j i (unregistered) on August 13th, 2006 @ 8:57 pm

    Today as I was passing thru the War Cemetry, I thought I should go in one day and find out more abt it.

    It was a pleasant surprise to see a post related to it on the very day

  2. Rajkumar (unregistered) on August 14th, 2006 @ 9:07 am

    Good coverage… worth publishing in brit journals

    This sems to be the cleanest and best maintained spot…in Chennai even better than healthcare centers.
    calm, serene…wish even the spaces where people are alive are kept like this

  3. phantom363 (unregistered) on August 15th, 2006 @ 2:39 am

    the commonwealth war graves commission does a good job in maintaining numerous cemetries all over the world. wish someone did the same to the church of scotland cemetry behind the jail. i read a few years ago about how rundown it is. someone should write about this to the commonwealth war graves commission, as most of those buried here are people from the british isles and many were in the forces.

  4. MADELEINE ARMSTRONG (unregistered) on August 19th, 2006 @ 3:37 am

    a RELATION OF MINE IS BURIED IN THE CEMETERY.His name is Louis Rice.(Schiavo)There is also an inscription relating to him in St Josephs cemetary Moston manchester England.Has anyone a photograph they could forward. god bless

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