Kirkee War cemetery in Pune

War is something that leaves scars in everybody’s life .Though our planet has had two World Wars it does seem that we have not yet learned the lessons or the  ill effects of a war.

On the banks of the Mula river in Pune there is a World War Cemetery known as the Kirkee War Cemetery.


A view from the side

It is dedicated to the soldiers who lost their lives in the western and central parts of India in the second World War.

It also commemorates about 1800 servicemen who died in India during the first World War. They were earlier buried in cantonment cemeteries in India and Pakistan, but their  final resting place  was later shifted to Kirkee, Pune.

The funding of this grave comes from the War Graves Commission and as can be seen from the photograph it is beautifully maintained.

York & Lancaster’s, Royal Field Artillery, Royal Army Medical Corps and Royal Engineers are some of the units from which the names are seen on the tombs here.

One thing worth noting is that all the grave stones are facing the central stone of remembrance.

While standing there, one has to just close the eyes and you almost hear each one of them standing erect in a row shouting out their names and rank.


A view of the Cemetery

The banks on either side of these steps are clothed with ornamental and flowering shrubs and the avenue leading to the Cross of sacrifice are formed by Peltophorum trees which bear beautiful sweetly scented flowers twice a year.

The whole cemetery is under the shade of  Gulmohur trees. The headstone borders contain dwarf roses and hybrid tea roses and the whole area, save for the path is turfed.

The total number of burials is 1674 which is well classified with proper indexing in the register. The entry is in such a manner that the first number indicates the plot; the letter, the row; the last number, the grave. Thus 3.C.24 means Plot 3 Row C Grave 24.

Most are British, but there are 151 Indians as well as Americans, Nigerians, other Africans and French.
There are people from all ranks here. Yesudanam Mathew from Velapula Cuddapah, was a sick berth first class attendant in the Royal Indian Navy. He lost his life at the age of 22 in the second world war and his body now rests in the Kirkee War Cemetery.

This was established in 1952 and is maintained by the CWGC (Commonwealth War Graves Commission)

Despite being open to the public, there are very few visitors to the cemetery. Today’s generation may not know that their war heroes rest here.

You will find similar War graves at Alibaug, Deolali, Ahmednagar, Igatpuri, Belgaum, Nagpur and Secunderabad. All these are either fully managed by the CWGC (like the one in Kirkee) or are civil cemeteries partly managed by CWGC.

The Kirkee War Cemetery is managed by five gardeners who work on the guidelines of Simond Fletcher, the CWGC’s horticulture manager in the UK head office.


Another view of the kirkee war cemetery

When I clicked these pictures and uploaded them on Flickr, (which has a global audience) I was contacted by a few people from England asking me if I could locate their grandfather’s grave as they were sure that he died in action in India and was buried in Pune. I am glad that I could help one such individual giving him the details of his grandfather from the Register. He said he will surely make a trip to India and visit the cemetery.

Author: Joe

Born and bred in Bombay (now Mumbai) having spend the last 41 years in Pune (earlier Poona). Have been into photography for quite some time but got hold of a digital in 2003 and since then have been shooting away to glory. Hate posed photographs and like to shoot the daily life around us. Nothing like traveling and observing the local people and their culture.

Comments

  1. Yes, wars are always bad,
    The photos are beautiful, good to know that the cemetery is well maintained.

  2. A Very nice piece Joe, I will make it a point to visit the cemetery whenever I am in Pune.

  3. its well maintained but photography is allowed there?

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