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Remembrance Day unveiling for new memorial in Georgia

08 November 2014

Sixty-eight Commonwealth casualties who died in Georgia during the First World War are to be honoured on Remembrance Day, with the unveiling of a memorial that has been reinstated at their original burial site.

The men commemorated by the new memorial were part of a British force sent to Georgia in 1918. At the end of the war it was not possible to mark or commemorate the war dead in the country - instead their names were engraved on a memorial at Haidar Pasha Cemetery in neighbouring Turkey.

The new memorial will be unveiled by the British Ambassador to Georgia Alexandra Hall Hall, General Sir Garry Johnson, KCB, OBE,MC and  John Nicholls, the CWGC's Operations Manager for Georgia.

The British Ambassador said: "This memorial is a fitting tribute to those brave men of the Commonwealth who paid the ultimate sacrifice and we thank the Commonwealth War Graves Commission and the council of the Municipality of Batumi for their help in making it a reality.  To dedicate this memorial on Remembrance Sunday is very special, but to dedicate it on Remembrance Sunday in this year of commemoration of the 100th anniversary of the beginning of World War 1 is the ultimate honour.  

The UK enjoys an extremely strong relationship with Georgia and the presence of our Georgian colleagues, friends and local authorities is a testament to that. Georgian soldiers have stood shoulder to shoulder with British service personnel in Iraq & Afghanistan and this demonstrates the uniquely special bond which exists between all of those who serve in the armed forces." 

The memorial at Batumi British Military Cemetery, has been designed and built by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission (CWGC) - the organisation responsible for the commemoration in perpetuity of all Commonwealth war dead of the two world wars.

John Nicholls, the CWGC's Operations Manager for Georgia said:  "Almost a century after they died, it is fitting that we are gathered here on Remembrance Day to dedicate this new memorial and to remember these men.

"The construction of the memorial has involved staff from across the CWGC and was completed in time for today's remembrance service. It has only been possible thanks to the support of many individuals and organisations - including the Georgian government and British Embassy - and on behalf of the Commonwealth War Graves Commission I would like to thank them all for helping us to realise this important remembrance project."

Designed by CWGC Architect, Barry Edwards MBE, the memorial takes the form of a rectangular screen wall, with two wings on each side that surround a rectangular paved area. The design is intended to "welcome" visitors to inspect and read the names inscribed on the Vratza stone panels.

Click here for the full media release.