30 May 2017

War graves gardener picked for Invictus Games

Wayne (Harry) Harrod, a CWGC gardener who cares for war graves at a military cemetery in Cambridge, has been selected as a non-traveling reserve to represent Great Britain in cycling at this year’s Invictus Games.

 

The games will be held in Toronto, Canada, over the period 23-30 September. 

A former Colour Sergeant in the 1st Battalion The Royal Anglian Regiment, Harry (as he likes to be known) had a leg amputated in 2004 after he was hit by a 10 ½ ton Spartan tracked reconnaissance vehicle. He stayed in the army until 2011 before joining the CWGC via the Poppy Factory’s mentoring programme in 2012. The programme enabled Harry to work with the CWGC while studying for his horticultural diplomas from the RHS. He’s now responsible for more than 1,000 war graves at Cambridge.

Harry initially got into cycling to keep fit and ease the cost on commuting, but as the months went by he started to do more and more miles. He now averages more than 150 miles a week and more than 200 when he’s training for races.

During 2016 Harry rode in a number of marathon cycling events – raising funds for The Poppy Factory and Blesma – the British Limbless Ex-Service Men’s Association.

Speaking about his selection, Harry said: “To be selected as a reserve is just unreal. Invictus is important to me, as it deals with serving personnel and veterans who are able to use the rehab and care it affords as a natural progression to a better quality of life after service.

“Since January I’ve been through a series of seriously tough training camps where your performance was always monitored. Competing and testing at the camps with fellow cyclists with various injuries has been very humbling and it is not just about the cycling – rehab and personal wellbeing is also a big part of it. I’m pleased to report I’m doing all right!”

The Invictus Games use the power of sport to inspire recovery, support rehabilitation and generate a wider understanding and respect for wounded, injured and sick servicemen and women. The international event, created by HRH Prince Harry, sees wounded, injured or sick armed forces personnel and their associated veterans take part in multiple sports – from athletics to wheelchair basketball. Named after Invictus, Latin for ‘unconquered’ or ‘undefeated’ the event was inspired by the Warrior Games, a similar event held in the United States. The first Invictus Games took place in 2014 at the Olympic Park in London.

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In this video Edward Toms, now 96-years-old, who was badly wounded in the battle but returned in 1954 to take part in the opening ceremony for the El Alamein Cemetery and Memorial, speaks about the horrors he witnessed and the work of the Commission.

20 October 2017

Casualties of El Alamein

Troops from many nations fought side by side in the deserts of North Africa at the Second Battle of El Alamein in October 1942. Ahead of tomorrow’s commemoration at El Alamein War Cemetery marking the 75th anniversary of the battle, here are the stories of some of those who lost their lives.

Colour footage of the building of El Alamein Memorial has recently been discovered in the CWGC archive. The footage is now part of a display about the Commission’s work in Egypt at the El Alamein Museum, which has undergone a complete renovation to mark the battle’s 75th anniversary, thanks to a collaborative effort between many nations, with the encouragement of President Sisi. Here is a sneak peek of the footage.