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Isolated First World War graves in India reached and restored

10 April 2015

First World War casualties are being commemorated at their graves in India for the first time since 1947, the culmination of a ten-year project spearheaded by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission (CWGC).

The first of 100 CWGC headstones going into the ground this month at Meerut Cantonment Cemetery in northern India was installed today (pictured below).

Until now, the fallen have of course been commemorated, but remotely on collective memorials at Delhi War Cemetery, Kirkee War Cemetery and Madras War Cemetery.

By the end of 2015, 2,486 First World War graves  will be restored and CWGC headstones installed.

CWGC headstones are widely recognised for representing among the most poignant and fitting tributes to the sacrifices made by Commonwealth servicemen; they are uniform, with no distinction made on account of military or civil rank, race or creed.

In 2005 the CWGC revisited the decision made in 1947 to alternatively commemorate many Commonwealth war casualties buried in remote inaccessible sites across India. It was established that improvements to roads and  infrastructure made it possible to reach many previously of these isolated sites. Where sites were now accessible and local maintenance could be implemented, the decision was taken to revert commemoration to the war casualties' burial place. 

The CWGC will ensure the graves are maintained and looked after in perpetuity, along with those of the other 1.7million Commonwealth servicemen and women in its care.

Keneilhouzo Sekhose, CWGC Sector Manager, India said:"Meerut Cantonment Cemetery was chosen as the first Indian site to receive replacement headstones as it contains the most world war burials."

"This cemetery, along with the other cantonment burial grounds in India, is not owned by the CWGC. However, we will work with our partners in India to ensure the headstones are preserved to the same standard as the other CWGC graves and memorials we look after in over 150 countries."

Full press release available below: