Friday, 27 December 2013

Remembering loved ones

Yesterday, Boxing Day was a holiday here. It was also the day when traditionally, I visit and place floral tributes on the graves of my loved ones.
The day was cloudy and quite overcast with the rain clouds holding out and floating by overhead.
I set off from home on my mission of devotion.
First, I visited with Mums, my sweet mother-in-law who passed last year.  She is laid to rest in the churchyard of St. Stephen's Church.

St. Stephen's Church
A few minutes to pause in reflection and place the bouquet of flowers tenderly on her grave site before moving on to my second stop at my brother's grave.  He is buried in the Military Cemetery at Needham's Point, adjacent to the Barbados Hilton Hotel.
After all the rainfall that we had recently, the entrance was partially flooded....however this was not a problem to gain entry.

The Barbados Military Cemetery, also referred to as the Garrison Military Cemetery is located at Carlisle Bay between the Hilton Barbados and St. Ann's Fort, not far from The Garrison Savannah.
The Barbados Military Cemetery is full of history. Just by meandering in and around the graves you learn all kinds of historical facts.

The cemetery came into existence c1780 but the earliest grave that can be identified is dated 1822.
In the old days, this area was all swampland and was the burial ground for the vast number of people on the island who would have died from yellow fever. The dead were usually placed in shallow graves or in some instances left on the surface of the earth where they would soon be absorbed into the swamp within the space of a few days.

In colonial times, Barbados was the headquarters of British military forces in the Caribbean.
The troops were stationed at The Garrison and St.Ann's Fort next door and it became necessary for a cemetery to be erected, hence the military cemetery was built on this spot just west of The Garrison at Needham's Point.

The cemetery contains only a small percentage of those troops who perished while on duty in Barbados.
The site was originally dedicated to the men and families of British Forces, who died serving in Barbados between 1780 and 1906.
The cemetery is well maintained and is still used as a burial ground for those who served with the Commonwealth Armed Forces and members of the Defense Force. 
In the early 20th century, a number of the remaining graves were dug up to provide room for the Mobil Oil Refinery storage tanks, which has now ceased its operations here.
The cemetery was neglected for a few years, but was beautifully restored by the Barbados Military Cemetery Association which was founded in 1975.
The Military Cemetery is located within the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Historic Bridgetown and its Garrison environs.  Admission is free but donations are welcomed to aid in its maintenance.

The Memorial Building at the entrance was restored in 1984 and houses information on various military units attached to The Garrison and the locations of the headstones in the cemetery.

The salvaged headstones were placed on a cenotaph, erected in 1920–24.

In 2003, a cenotaph was erected to honour the Barbadian merchant seamen who died in World War II.
"1939 -1945"
"To the Enduring Memory of those Barbadian Merchant Seamen who gave their lives in the Second World War."

In 1982 a "Cross of Sacrifice" was erected to honour all the military dead (those who perished in battle but were never found.)
From Wikipedia: "The Cross of Sacrifice was designed by Sir Reginald Blomfield for the Imperial War Graves Commission and is usually present in Commonwealth war cemeteries containing 40 or more graves.  It is normally a freestanding four point limestone Latin cross in one of three sizes ranging in height from 18 to 32 feet. On the face of the cross is a bronze broadsword, blade down. It is usually mounted on an octagonal base.  The Cross represents the faith of the majority of the dead and the sword represents the military character of the cemetery."

A memorial to the Right Excellent Errol Walton Barrow, the first Prime Minister of independent Barbados, who fought in WWII as a pilot with the Royal Air Force.

Errol Walton Barrow, Barbados Flying Officer was enlisted in the RAF in 1940 and flew forty-five operational bombing missions.
He rose to the rank of Flying Officer within a five year period and was appointed personal navigator to the Commander in Chief of the British Zone of occupied Germany, Sir William Sholto Douglas.
I have posted  about him before here.

Headstones and memorial plaques adorn the walled cemetery.

Some of the now defunct oil refinery storage tanks in the background.

The older tombs and graves of the cemetery are askew from the sea water. The location next to the sea (and the old swampland characteristics) results in this occurrence as a result of very high tides and flooding.

"Always Remembered"
On the opposite side of the street from the cemetery is the beautiful Pebbles Beach on Carlisle Bay.

My last stop was to visit my mother's grave.
Coral Ridge Memorial Gardens

The journey is always one of reflection tinged with sadness, but I always find myself comforted with the best memories of the good times we all shared together.


  1. A very poignant post Virginia. I was interested in the history of the Military Cemetery and it made me think a lot. Apart from anything else the large number of names on that plaque from a place so far from the centre of the conflict brings home just how much a World War it really was. Let fervently hope such a conflict never happens again.

    1. I think if there had to be another World War, it would really be a catastrophic affair....leading to worldwide obliteration especially with all the warheads that countries keep hidden from each other. Who really knows who has what? It's scary.


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