People throw the word “monsoon” around and sometimes try to use it in the context of our weather here in London.
Believe me – you don’t know what the word means until you’ve been in one.
Paying my respects and laying a wreath at the Kirkee War Grave cemetery in Khadki just outside Pune in Marahastra,central India, I walked into monsoon rain that blew me backwards and almost forced me to the ground.
Only the need to remain solemn and fairly dignified ensured my continued vertical posture and I was able to lay the wreath on behalf of the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association and in recognition of the 629 service personnel from WW1 and 1,668 from WW2 buried there.
Large numbers were from East and West African regiments but most were ordinary British servicemen from the county regiments. There was also one Polish grave – wish I knew the story behind his sacrifice!
Finding myself in Liverpool the following week I took myself to the Central Library where meticulous records of every single grave and its occupants are kept.
Seeing the names of so many young lads from the Middlesex regiments and reading about their parents’ names and addresses is a profoundly sobering experience. At the Greenford Branch of the Royal British Legion we do what we can to mark and ensure the upkeep of war graves but so many service personnel were not brought back home and the Commonwealth War Graves Commission does a wonderful job in maintaining the cemeteries.