The Prince of Wales and Duchess of Cornwall observed Remembrance Sunday during their trip to India.
Honouring the fallen from the two world wars, The Prince of Wales and Duchess of Cornwall paid homage to the soldiers who perished on Indian soil trying to hold off the advancement of the Japanese through Burma as well as those who lost their lives in the Eastern theatre of war.
The Royals were noticeably somber as they paid their respects this Remembrance Sunday at the Commonwealth War Graves cemetery located in Kirkee, in Western India.
In 1952 the cemetery was created to ‘save’ the unkempt and ignored graves of over 1,668 soldiers in India.
Members from the Prince of Wales’ North Staffordshire regiment, the Kent Cyclist Battalion and a host of others were present for today’s ceremony at Kirkee.
Clearly taken aback was the Duchess upon seeing the grave of 15 year old Norman Halliburn. She “was very taken by the fact of how young he was. She was very moved,” commented Deputy Head of Mission at the British High Commission in Mumbai, David Moore.
Known as a ‘band boy,’ Halliburn served in World War II with the Second Battalion of the Green Howards. It is believed that “he was recruited as part of a custom at the time for the teenage sons of army personnel to serve as medical orderlies and bandsmen,” reported in The Telegraph.
“Perhaps his father was a serviceman based in Jabalpur and the Green Howards had space for a keen young boy in the band,” wrote a military researcher.
The story of Kirkee’s oldest soldier, Private Sydney Frankcom, who in 1944 died at the age of 68, struck Charles during his tour. Charles seemed “particularly moved by Pte Frankcom’s sacrifice and his place as the oldest soldier buried in the cemetery,” noted Military advisor at the British High Commission in New Delhi, Lieutenant Colonel Simon Colyer.
In 1941, Frankcom came to India and was part of the 2nd Battalion of the Royal Berkshire Regiment, the Battalion that the Duke of Edinburgh serves as Colonel in Chief. Charles was shown graves of soldiers for the regiments he is part of.
The Ode of Remembrance from For the Fallen by Rover Binyon was read. Charles then placed a paper flower wreath that included the message: “In grateful remembrance of your service and sacrifice, Charles.”
Prior to attending the ceremony in Kirkee, the Royal couple met with a few of the surviving veterans from World War II. They met the first Indian Army pilot, 91 year old Brigadier Furdoon Mehta and 92 year old Burma Star medal award recipient Madhukar Dongre.
Of the 2.5 million Indians who fought with the British during World War II, over 35,000 perished. Indian troops were awarded 38 Victoria and George crosses for acts of valour during World War II.