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News 2008
News ->Asian War Veterans Remembered at Memorial Gates.

Asian War Veterans Remembered at Memorial Gates
(7 Noevmber 2008)

Lord Karan Bilimoria with Baroness Shreela FlatherWar heroes from India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and Nepal were honoured at sixth annual Memorial Gates remembrance event. The Memorial Gates Commemorative Committee held its sixth annual wreath laying ceremony today (Friday 7th November) at the Memorial Gates on Constitution Hill. Around 250 people attended to honour and remember the five million men and women from the Indian subcontinent, Africa and the Caribbean who volunteered to serve with the British Armed Forces during the First and Second World Wars.

A moving service was led by The Bishop of London – the Rt. Revd. & Rt. Hon. Richard Chartres, Baroness Flather and Lord Bilimoria, Patron and Chairman of the Memorial Gates Committee respectively, each of whom made speeches to the congregation. Baroness Flather spoke first and chose to pay a special tribute to the many people involved in establishing the Memorial Gates singling out architect Liam O’Connor for particular acclaim.

Lord Bilimoria then said: “We are gathered here to remember the sacrifice, the courage and the contribution of remarkable men and women. In the name of freedom – in the name of our freedom – they made the ultimate and most selfless sacrifice. For that we join today in remembrance and gratitude.” He went on to quote from Angela Morgan’s poem about the ‘unknown soldier’.

The Bishop of London concluded saying: “We live in a society where we have been mortgaging our children’s tomorrow to fund our today. And this occasion is one to reflect on a different way of living – a way of living which gives our tomorrow for our children’s today. An occasion to honour the veterans of the wars, who endured much, and in doing so gave a gift, a gift of freedom to our children.”

Among the distinguished list of guests in attendance was Tulbahadur Pun VC, Johnson Bakari VC, Viscount Slim, Kamalesh Sharma, Secretary General of the Commonwealth Secretariat; Councillor Louise Hyams, Lord Mayor of Westminster; Sir Paul Stephenson, Deputy Commissioner for London Metropolitan Police; H.E. Mr Basil O’Brien CMG, High Commissioner of the Bahamas; H.E. Hugh Anthony Arthur, High Commissioner of Barbados; H.E. Shiv Shankar Mukherjee, High Commissioner of India; H.E. Shafi U Ahmed, High Commissioner of Bangladesh; H.E. Hon Burchell Whiteman, High Commissioner of Jamaica; Brigadier General Belal Uddin Mahmood, Defence Adviser, Bangladesh High Commission; The Rt. Hon. Bob Ainsworth MP, Minister of State for the Armed Forces; Field Marshall the Rt Hon The Lord Inge; General the Lord Ramsbotham; Lord Bhatia; Professor the Lord Desai; Baroness D’Souza; Baroness Uddin; Baroness Verma; as well as the many veterans and cadets who attend each year.

About the Memorial Gates Trust:

Established in 1998, the Trust, founded by Baroness Shreela Flather, is responsible for erecting the Gates and is dedicated to raising community awareness about them and what they represent. The Trust also encourages members from every ethnic group to join together to recognise and revere the bravery and sacrifice of the five million volunteers who played a key role in shaping modern Britain and the world. The Gates were officially inaugurated by Her Majesty the Queen in November 2002. They also commemorate the heritage of the soldiers’ descendants, who now form an integral part of modern British society.

Each of the four stone columns of the Gates is carved with the names of the countries that participated in the First and Second World Wars, and the dome of the Pavilion is adorned with the names of those who were awarded the Victoria Cross and the George Cross. Two stone benches on either side of this Pavilion bear the names of the campaigns in which the volunteers participated.

The Memorial Gates Committee members are: Chairman – Lord Karan F. Bilimoria CBE, DL, Patrons - Baroness Shreela Flather JP DL; Field Marshal Sir John Chapple GCB, CBE, DL; and Major General Sir Evelyn Webb-Carter KCVO, OBE.

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