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
"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
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
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.