On many Australian Cricket Tours we've respected Remembrance Day, ANZAC Day, War Graves, and visited Australians and Australian Soldiers buried in public cemeteries. Sadly, we don’t always visit War Graves, through little more than ignorance.
When we do, it is luck more than design such as passing the Commonwealth War Graves, Karachi, Pakistan, on our way home from the National Stadium each day. Knowing it was there, we visited on a day trip around Karachi.
So, when I was at the hotel bar on our recent Australian Cricket Tour of Sri Lanka, planning the rest of the day with a Lion Lager, I received a text reminding me that the Commonwealth War Graves, Trincomalee was just 10 mins walk from our hotel. Instead of a second beer, three of us walked to this stunning memorial.
366 graves sit on the gentle hillside of a tree-canopied, beautifully manicured cemetery, but then, all Commonwealth War Graves are beautifully manicured. It was no shock, but a tranquillity comes over when you enter.
No sooner had we opened the gate the caretaker introduced himself, showed us the Australians and New Zealanders, and then shared the sad history as to why they were there. Visiting war graves is always emotional and shouldn’t be anything less.
Researching Sergeant W. E. Pearce (above), I learned this on Royal Air Force Commands;
“The logbook of Sgt W. E. Pearce (Aus.402825), 261 Sqn RAF, indicates he flew Hurricane Mk.I Z4762 from HMS Indomitable to China Bay (Trincomalee) on 7th March 1942 (30 min flight). Thereafter, Pearce piloted Hurricane Mk.IIB Z5620 for an air test (13th) and Dawn Patrol (17th). Hurricane Mk.IIB, Z5533 was seemingly his usual mount from 17th March onwards - logging 8 sorties and 5 non-ops (not including his final fateful mission on 5th April). He noted two additional non-ops flying Hurricane 227 on 14th Mar and 676 on the 30th Mar.
Many photos, gratuities to the caretaker to share with his four colleagues, and with tears welling, we left for that second beer, this time in honour of our fallen.