Sunday, November 11, 2007

Thatcher honours Commonwealth war dead

Today is Remembrance Sunday - when we read about the second world war, we usually hear about how Britain stood up and fought against Nazi Germany (and quite rightly so) and how after a while the Yanks would join in to save the butts of the British. We never get to read anything about the volunteers from other countries (such as India & Pakistan) who made great contibution in the fight against the Nazis in the media let alone from the British Monarch or her Government - so I was surprised to read this in the times online...

Taken from the Times, UK, November 9, 2007
By Jack Malvern

Baroness Thatcher attended a wreath-laying ceremony today to honour Commonwealth soldiers killed fighting for Britain.

Lady Thatcher was a guest alongside the Bishop of London, the Right Rev Richard Chartres and foreign dignitaries at the event held ahead of Remembrance Sunday at the Memorial Gates on Constitution Hill, London.

The Gates were completed five years ago, in remembrance of the five million volunteers from India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Nepal, Africa and the Caribbean, who fought and died in the two world wars.

Dr Chartres and Lord Bilimoria, the chairman of the Memorial Gates Commemorative Trust, spoke to the assembled crowd of dignitaries and veterans before a two-minute silence.

The Bishop said: “This morning we particularly remember the men of the Commonwealth, and we remember and give thanks to those who spent themselves defending others.”

Baroness Thatcher, who helped raise money to build the Memorial Gates, did not make a speech at the event, but she laid a wreath of poppies at the foot of the gates.

Lord Bilimoria said: “Lady Thatcher played an instrumental role in helping to raise the money for these gates. To have her backing and for her to be here is just so special, I could see she was genuinely moved by the ceremony.”

Children from Westminster School were invited to watch the event, and organisers were keen to encourage younger people to learn about the events of the first and second world wars.

Peter Cleminson, national chairman of the Royal British Legion, said: “I think inevitably the public sometimes forgets the role that volunteers from other countries played. But we do our best to remind them, and an occasion like this helps to remind people of the great contribution made by the Sikhs, the the Nepalese, the Ghurkas, the Indian army and by Africans and Caribbeans in both world wars.”

Meanwhile, the insurers Lloyd’s of London held its annual wreath-laying ceremony this morning in the underwriting room of its City of London offices.

John Stuttard, the Lord Mayor of London and representatives from the Admiralty and the British Legion took part in the event, which included a two-minute silence and the annual ringing of the Lutine Bell, which is only otherwise tolled to mark disasters.

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