Driving between Yangon and Bago we stopped at the Taukkyan War Memorial. This is the largest of the three war cemeteries in Myanmar, dedicated to soldiers from both the First and Second World War.
It was started in 1951 to consolidate the graves from four remote battlefield cemeteries, all of which were extremely difficult to access for friends and relatives. The different battlefield cemeteries have been kept distinct within the grounds of the Taukkyan site.
Numerous other bodies were retrieved from smaller remote jungle sites and also brought here, but the continuing conflict in Burma after the war delayed the work of the Army Graves Service.
More graves are still being found, but so far the cemetery contains 6,374 bodies of Commonwealth soldiers. Of these 867 are unidentified.
The central pillars are the Rangoon Memorial, bearing the names of 27,000 men who died during the campaigns in Burma and whose body was never retrieved, along with the inscription “they died for all free men”.
Rangoon is the colonial name for Yangon, probably a simple mispronunciation by the British. Appropriately for the cemetary, Yangon is Burmese for “run out of enemies”, or “end of strife”.
The Taukkyan Cremation Memorial lies at the far side from the entrance and remembers those whose faith requires that their remains be cremated.
Five Victoria Cross holders are buried there, and another five listed on the Rangoon Memorial.
With the age of the battles it wasn’t really surprising that there weren’t any family members or even any other visitors there that day. I’ve not really visited many mass war graves, but it was a shame that these soldiers are buried so far from home.
Getting to Taukkyan
Whilst not really on the “must see” list, it is a tranquil and beautifully kept reminder, so worth a few minutes of your time as a place to rest whilst driving. The cemetery is about 25km north of Yangon, on Pyay Road. Most directions say it lies in the village of Taukkyan, but it’s actually closer to a place called Htauk Kyant.
For a site plan and grave finder, visit the Taukkyan War Cemetery Page on the Commonwealth War Graves Commission.