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British Minister discovers the story of Khartoum War Cemetery

09 March 2012

British International Development Minister Stephen O'Brien took the opportunity to lay a wreath of remembrance for fallen Commonwealth soldiers while in Khartoum last week.
Mr O'Brien completed an official visit to Sudan with a guided tour of the Khartoum War Cemetery courtesy of Carl Milburn, Honorary Supervisor of the site. He was briefed on the work of the Commonwealth war Graves Commission in the region and took the opportunity to thank the local Sudanese staff who tend the graves and provide security for the site.
Mr O' Brien said he was both humbled and inspired by the visit.
"I was pleased to be able to take the opportunity to visit the wonderfully tended Khartoum War Cemetery to lay a wreath in honour of all these Commonwealth servicemen who gave their lives in Sudan so far from home.
"The bravery of those who are remembered in the cemetery is both humbling and inspirational. The Khartoum War Cemetery is a beautiful and fitting tribute to their sacrifice."
During the visit, Mr O' Brien was also made aware of the stories of  a number of men decorated for Gallantry or distinguished service in Sudan, several of which are outlined below.

Sergeant Graham Leslie PARISH GC of the Royal Air Force was posthumously awarded the George Cross for "gallantry of the highest order". Parish was the navigator on a plane which crashed after attempting to return to base after an abortive take off in Sudan on the 16th of September 1942. Most of the crew managed to get clear as the bomber burst into flames but one man had suffered two broken legs and was trapped. Parrish attempted to rescue him. The bomber was engulfed and neither Parish or the passenger survived but when their charred bodies were recovered it was clear that Parish had carried him eight yards from the blocked emergency door to the rear turret in the hope of rescuing him, rather than save himself by climbing out through the astrohatch. 
Frederick Hamilton MARCH GC, MBE was an Australian soldier and adventurer.
March served in the Middle East during the First World War and he received the Empire Gallantry Medal, then the highest civilian gallantry award in the British Empire, for his conduct during the assassination of the Governor-General of Sudan, Sir Lee Stack. He was involved with the Sudanese Ministry of Agriculture during his later working career. On the publication of the warrant creating the George Cross (GC) by King George VI, in January 1941, all holders of the EGM were instructed to return that medal, and it was replaced by the GC. March worked on military road-building projects in Sinai and Palestine in the Second World War. 
Sir Douglas NEWBOLD. entered the Sudan Political Service in 1920.
Newbold's first post was the nomad district of Dar Kababish on the fringe of the Lybian Desert. From 1932 to 1938 he was Governor of Kordofan. From 1939 until his death in 1945 he was Civil Secretary of Sudan. He was closely involved in the process of democratisation that led up to the independence of Sudan in 1956.