Bermuda to feature in war graves project

The Royal Gazette - The lives of Bermudian veterans of two world wars are to be highlighted as part of a research project.

The Commonwealth War Graves Commission, which cares for military cemeteries around the world, said it wanted to include service personnel from the former British Empire in stories to be published on its website and elsewhere.

Victoria Wallace, the director general of CWGC, said: “Everyone understands what the UK regiments did, but the contribution of the people who served in Bermudian regiments isn’t as well known.”

Ms Wallace said she was inspired to include Bermudians in the memorial effort after she saw the careful conservation work carried out by the Bermuda National Trust, which includes the care of military graves on behalf of the CWGC.

She explained: “We come every year to check on the 140 graves here on the island and it’s been a delight to see such care taken at the cemeteries everywhere. It’s a real credit to the Bermuda National Trust and all the work they’ve done.”

She added: “We hope that by actually making links with the BNT that we have a lovely opportunity to ensure that Bermuda’s role in the two world wars is properly recognised.”

Ms Wallace said that the commission had started to post stories on services personnel from other countries on their website, blog and newsletters last October. She added that the CWGC had still to collect information about Bermudian veterans.

Veterans’ families welcomed the memorial project.

Pamela Darrell, 93, said that her Royal Navy veteran husband, Owen, who died in 2013, would have appreciated the commemoration. She added: “It would mean a lot to him because his time in the navy was very important to him, so I’m sure he would be very proud.”

Mr Darrell, originally from Pembroke, joined the navy in 1941 and served on a minesweeper for five years.

Joy Jones, 68, his daughter, said: “I have some relatives that are interested in what dad did, and when my grandkids learn about World War Two we can show them that they have a connection to this.”

Ms Jones added that personal stories helped to make history feel more real.

She explained: “They were both called world wars and I think that the world aspect is made meaningful by having individual stories as a part of it.”

Bill Zuill, director of the BNT, said that the commemoration of home-grown veterans would be popular with Bermudians. He explained: “There’s so much interest in our genealogy and people wanting to know more about their ancestors and family members and that’s increasing all the time.”