By Alhagie F.S Sora
The Ambassador of the United Kingdom to the Gambia Colin Corkin , yesterday November 11th, paid tribute to The Gambia and three other West African countries that formed the Royal West African Frontier Force during the First world war. The ceremony which was attended by the Chief of Defence Staff of the Gambia Armed Forces, Ousman Badjie, the Inspector General of Police, Yahkuba Sonko, members of Armed Forces and staff of the Gambia Police Force and government dignitaries, was held at the Fajara War Cemetery on Tuesday at 11am.
During this somber ceremony held at the Commonwealth War Cemetery in Fajara marking Remembrance Day, Colin Corkin stated: “Before the first World War, The Gambia, Ghana, Nigeria and Sierra Leone created local infantry units. Together, they formed the Royal West African Frontier Force; a title made famous in the two World Wars commending them for taking successful operations across Africa. The bravery of this force is remembered with pride. Of particular note, is the battle of Mowdok where the first battalion of the Gambian regiment was honoured. At 11am on the 11th of November 1918, the guns of the Western Front fell silent after more than four years of continuous warfare. The 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month, the moment when hostilities ceased on the Western Front became universally associated with the remembrance of those who had died in the war. After the Second World War, this day was adopted as ‘Remembrance Day’. A day that forever more would be marked as the day to remember those that made the ultimate sacrifice.”
He said during and after the Great Wars, many service personnel were buried throughout The Gambia. He said in 1949, the Fajara War Cemetery was commissioned to act as a final resting place for these servicemen. He added that the Fajara War Cemetery contains 203 graves made up of 122 West Africans, 63 British, 10 Canadians, 2 Australians, 2 French, 2 New Zealanders, 1 Norwegian and 1 Rhodesian.
“Today, we not only commemorate those buried here or those who died in past conflicts, but we also think of the members of our armed forces presently serving on,” revealed the ambassador of the United Kingdom Mr Corkin.
The ceremony was also characterized by a respectful 2-minute silence for the memory of the fallen and the future of the living 96 years since the Armistice which ended the First World War.
The event included a formal laying of wreaths on the cenotaph. Some of the survivors were also present including one Yoro Keiteh of Bakau and several other elderly people.