2017 Act of Remembrance organised by the British Embassy Banjul, took place on
Sunday 12 November at the Fajara Commonwealth War Graves Cemetery.
The service was conducted in the presence of Gambian veterans and their families, representatives from the Gambian Armed Forces, Gambia Police Force, The Gambia Navy, faith leaders, dignitaries and members of the public.
During the ceremony, the assembled guests observed a two minute silence and laid poppy wreaths to commemorate all those who, during the two World Wars and other conflicts since, sacrificed so much to secure and protect our freedom.
2017 is a particularly poignant year as it marks 100 years since the Battle of Passchendaele, when the fields of Flanders witnessed one of the bloodiest episodes of the First World War. After approximately 100 days of heavy fighting, an estimated 245,000 allied and 215,000 German casualties fell. In the words of HRH Prince Charles “We remember it not only for the rain that fell, the mud that weighed down the living and swallowed the dead, but also for the courage and bravery of the men who fought”.
The ceremony at Fajara was also an occasion to the important contribution made by the West African forces during both World Wars. In her address to those present, Her Excellency Sharon Wardle, the British Ambassador, paid a special and heartfelt tribute to the Gambian veterans and families and remembered those of their comrades in arms who are sadly no longer with us.
The Ambassador noted that in May 1945, while Britain was awash with street parties and bonfires to celebrate Victory in Europe Day, thousands of miles away, British and Commonwealth Armed Forces were still fighting in Burma, Singapore and Thailand – the longest campaign of the war. Continuous fighting raged for three full years and it wasn’t until August 1945 that an armistice was reached in the Far East and World War II finally ended.
Soldiers from The Gambia played a critical role in the Burma Campaign and helping to bring an end to the war. The history books recount, with the utmost admiration, the reputation of Gambian soldiers as the most outstanding and respected of fighters, who never left their wounded or dead in the hands of the enemy. The ceremony provided an opportunity to salute, honour and thank them.
The ceremony was made possible thanks to the hard work and dedication of the Commonwealth War Graves Commission gardening team and British Embassy staff. The Fajara Commonwealth War Graves Cemetery is funded and cared for by the Commission (www.cwgc.org). It is open daily to the public as a place of quiet reflection and remembrance.