A tribute to the valiant men and women who laid down their lives
in the Second World War, the Madras War Cemetery 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
Stone of Remembrance greets the visitor to the Madras War Cemetery
with the words from the Book of Ecclesiasticus 'Their
Name Liveth For Evermore'. Then there is the Cross of
Sacrifice, which is set up on an octagonal base bearing a bronze
sword upon its shaft. These two monuments are common to all
large CWGC cemeteries.
The Madras War Cemetery honours 855 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. There is also a memorial commemorating a merchant
seaman who was buried elsewhere. The Cemetery also has three
non-world war graves.
is also a Memorial to soldiers who died in the First world war
between, 1914 - 1918. It is known as the Madras Memorial.
The Madras Memorial has all the 1,039 men who died in the First
World War inscribed on it. This was done, because the permanent
maintenance of the graves of these men in various civil and cantonment
cemeteries was not assured", says N Rajaram who is the
caretaker of both the Madras War Cemetry and St. Mary's Cemetery.
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, one for Malaya and
one for Poland. The Madras Memorial honours 936 men from the
forces of United Kingdom and 103 from undivided India.
The St. Mary's Cemetery, which belongs to St. Mary's Church
Fort, contains the Commonwealth burials of both World Wars.
There is one Commonwealth War Grave in the adjoining St. Patrick's
Cemetery and also one non-world war burial. Of the First World
War casualties buried here, 17 served for the forces of United Kingdom
while 6 were from undivided India. Of the Second World
War casualties in this cemetery 75 are from United Kingdom,
19 from India, 3 from West Africa, 1 from East Africa, 1 from Southern
Rhodesia and 1 from Burma.
Rajaram who is caretaker of both Cemeteries says, "It costs
approximately around Rs 50,000 every month to maintain the cemetery.
November 11th, Armistice Day, which signifies
the end of the Second World War is celebrated every year.
Wreaths are laid at three places - the Stone of Remembrance, Cross
of Sacrifice and at the First World War Memorial. The bugle
is sounded after the wreaths are laid, then the Guard of Honour
reverse arms, after which the bugler sounds 'Just Rest'. At
the end of the bugle, 2 minutes of silence is observed. Then
the bugler sounds 'Rouse'. This is the way in which the graves
are honoured. There is also a small prayer service.
Every year a prominent personality is invited to grace the occasion."
Prominent visitors include the Prince of Kent and Princess
Contact Person: N Rajaram, Caretaker.
Address: Madras War Cemetery, Nandambakkam, Chennai 600 089
Phone: 234 0966
|Author :Joseph Pradeep Raj R
Photographs : Leslee Lazar