Graves of 12 Muslim sailors who died serving their country during World War II have been rediscovered.

The graves of 11 Indonesian Muslim men who served in the Dutch Navy and one from the British merchant navy, have been rediscovered after historian Vic Raffells chanced upon some documents speaking about these graves while researching his own family tree. The graves were discovered in the Walton Park Cemetery, completely neglected and unmarked.

Raffells had just discovered that his grandmother was interred in the cemetery. As a historian, interest in the other graves naturally developed in him and he carried out further research on the graves in the cemetery. Eventually, he found documents of 12 Muslim men who were buried in the cemetery, and he discovered their graves two years later, in 2014. By then the graves were completely covered with grass and hedges and were almost indistinguishable from the surrounding overgrowth.

The graves were rededicated to their memories by the Rev. Dr. Crispin Pailing and Imam Waddah Saleh during a prayer meeting that was conducted in their honor. Fresh gravestones were positioned to mark their place of rest and to acknowledge their role and service to the Dutch navy. Rev. Crispin called on the gathering to recall the horrors of war and to pray for the victims of war. Imam Saleh praised the solidarity that people showed by gathering together in that manner and thanked the deceased men for their sacrifices for their country and the freedom that they enjoy today.

The deceased men served as seamen in a convoy that shipped food and other essentials to Britain. Originally from Java, the men were unable to withstand the illnesses that took over them when they set foot in Britain. They succumbed to their diseases and were buried in the cemetery, where they lay for almost seven decades, forgotten.

The service was attended by representatives from the Dutch Embassy, Commonwealth War Graves Commission and the Dutch War Graves Commission and Roz Gladden, the Lord mayor of Liverpool. Deputy Director of the Dutch War Graves Commission, Roel Broer honored the soldiers by laying wreaths on each of their graves and even thanked and praised Raffells for his research without which the graves would have remained forgotten.

Eleven of the 12 graves belong to seamen who worked for the Dutch navy while one belonged to a fireman and trimmer named Ali Mohamed, who worked with the British Merchant Navy.


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