Tag Archives: Commonwealth Day

Paying Tribute this Commonwealth Day

While Commonwealth Day was yesterday, we received this notice overnight and wanted to pass it along to our members.

Paying Tribute this Commonwealth Day.

Today, Monday 8 March, marks Commonwealth Day. Twelve months ago, we were able to celebrate Commonwealth Day with our friends and family. Since then, we’ve had to learn how to live during an international pandemic away from our loved ones and moving our work to our homes.

While there is light at the end of the tunnel, we can’t yet meet up with our loved ones as we might like to, so for this Commonwealth Day, we’re encouraging people to take their own private moments of remembrance.

We’d love to hear about people visiting their local cemeteries and memorials on Commonwealth Day, and you can post your tribute on social media using the hashtag #ShareYourTribute. Or it’s not too late to leave one of our new physical tributes at a headstone or memorial near you.

Tributes can be purchased online, and all profits from their sale will be donated to the Commonwealth War Graves Foundation, the Commission’s charity arm which funds education and outreach programmes to engage the public in the work of the CWGC and keep alive the stories of the men and women it commemorates.

Order your Tribute today

Brookwood Military Cemetery contains over 5000 Commonwealth casualties from both the First and Second World War, making it the perfect place to pay tribute to all the men and women of the Commonwealth who lost their lives during the World Wars.

To represent the fallen from across the Commonwealth, we’ve chosen a casualty from each of our member governments to lay one of our physical tributes for:

Major Oliver Hogue – AUSTRALIADied 3 March 1919
Age 38

Sydney-born Oliver fought on Gallipoli, before serving in Egypt and Palestine with the Imperial Camel Corps. By 1918 he commanded a squadron of the 14th Light Horse Regiment in Damascus. Having survived these deadly campaigns, he succumbed to influenza whilst on leave in the UK after the war had ended.

Nursing Sister Sarah Ellen Garbutt – CANADA20 August 1917
Age 41

A nurse at the Royal Memorial Hospital in Ontario, Sarah volunteered for the Canadian Army Nursing Service in 1917. She was posted to the UK, but only a month later was diagnosed with abdominal cancer and died in Vincent Square Hospital, London.

Leading Aircraftsman Yousif Ali – INDIA12 May 1947
Age 42

Born in Sylhet (now part of Bangladesh), Yousif moved to England in the 1920s. At the outbreak of the Second World War he enlisted in the Royal Air Force (RAF) Volunteer Reserve. While serving in Europe after the war he fell ill and was brought back to England, where he died at the RAF Halton Military Hospital.

Flying Officer Tohunga Richard Riwai – New Zealand21 February 1944
Age 25

Tohunga Richard Riwai was born in September 1918. He worked as a clerk and played the saxophone in Colin Castleton’s band at the Ritz Hall in Rotorua, New Zealand. Just before the Second World War he married Te Ao Korewarangi Katie Rodgers and they had three children together.

Pilot Officer George James Drake – SOUTH AFRICA9 September 1940
Age 20

Rejected by the South African Air Force, George travelled to England and joined the RAF in 1939. During the Battle of Britain he was shot down by a German Messerschmitt and it was not until 1972 that his remains were discovered in Kent. His funeral at Brookwood was attended by his surviving brothers.

Ensign Violette Reine Elizabeth Szabo – UNITED KINGDOMJanuary 1945
Age 23

War widow Violette was recruited to the Special Operations Executive and twice undertook dangerous missions in France. She was captured and tortured before being sent to Ravensbrück concentration camp, where she was eventually executed. Violette’s bravery posthumously earned her the George Cross.

You can learn more about our sites and the casualties we commemorate across Great Britain, including Brookwood Military Cemetery and the casualties above, by visiting our Our War Graves, Your History pages.
Copyright © 2020 Commonwealth War Graves Commission, All rights reserved.

Our mailing address is:
2 Marlow Road, Maidenhead, Berkshire, SL6 7DX


The Queen’s Commonwealth Day Message 2021

Over the coming week, as we celebrate the friendship, spirit of unity and achievements of the Commonwealth, we have an opportunity to reflect on a time like no other.

Whilst experiences of the last year have been different across the Commonwealth, stirring examples of courage, commitment and selfless dedication to duty have been demonstrated in every Commonwealth nation and territory, notably by those working on the front line who have been delivering health care and other public services in their communities. We have also taken encouragement from remarkable advances in developing new vaccines and treatments.

The testing times experienced by so many have led to a deeper appreciation of the mutual support and spiritual sustenance we enjoy by being connected to others.

The need to maintain greater physical distance, or to live and work largely in isolation, has, for many people across the Commonwealth, been an unusual experience. In our everyday lives, we have had to become more accustomed to connecting and communicating via innovative technology – which has been new to some of us – with conversations and communal gatherings, including Commonwealth meetings, conducted online, enabling people to stay in touch with friends, family, colleagues, and counterparts who they have not been able to meet in person. Increasingly, we have found ourselves able to enjoy such communication, as it offers an immediacy that transcends boundaries or division, helping any sense of distance to disappear.

We have all continued to appreciate the support, breadth of experiences and knowledge that working together brings, and I hope we shall maintain this renewed sense of closeness and community. Looking forward, relationships with others across the Commonwealth will remain important as we strive to deliver a common future that is sustainable and more secure, so that the nations and neighbourhoods in which we live, wherever they are located, become healthier and happier places for us all.

Original available at https://www.royal.uk/queens-commonwealth-day-message-2021