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New Granite Block for Remote Burial Site

29 May 2012

The Commonwealth War Graves Commission is to place a granite block, weighing half a ton. on one of the most remote war graves in the United Kingdom.

Six airmen are buried on Ben More in the Western Highlands - so far from any human habitation that even the Commission's supervisor in Scotland, Iain Anderson, had never been there before.

Iain walked the five miles uphill from the hamlet of Inchnadamph, north of Ullapool, with David Whalley, a mountaineer and guide, to inspect the grave site where the airmen died when their Avro Anson crashed in April 1941. Iain said:  "I wouldn't have found it easy to get there without David. It really is miles from anywhere. You need to be a good map reader to find the site because it's easy to miss. And the weather can change very quickly in the Highlands so you need to know what you are doing."  

The remoteness of the grave explains why the six airmen have what the Commission calls an alternative commemoration. In 1941 it was decided to bury them at the crash site, but the Commission could not guarantee to commemorate them there. Apart from on foot, the only realistic way to the site is by helicopter.

The Commission's pledge is that all the fallen of the two World Wars will be commemorated in perpetuity. When it is not possible to guarantee the commemoration at the grave, an alternative commemoration is arranged. In this case a plaque has been placed in the churchyard at Inchnadamph.

At the crash site the grave is marked by a cairn, and the Commission is concerned to preserve the integrity of the grave, so it has been agreed that a granite stone - weighing six hundred kilograms - will be inscribed and placed over the airmen's last resting place.

The issue is getting the stone up the hill. A number of options are being considered but the Commission's UK Director, Barry Murphy, was clear that it would happen. "We are ordering the stone," he said. "It's just a matter of how and when we get it up there."