The brave, killed soldiers of Great Britain lie in war graves around the world – many in places so remote and inaccessible that friends and families have never seen them, let alone cared for them, or spent a moment with them , steeped in love and regret.
That is why, while Britain is preparing to honor its war dead this memorial Sunday, the Daily Mail has traveled from the Arctic Circle to the African Jungle and a besieged Middle Eastern battle zone to the distant resting places of those who make the ultimate sacrifice.
What we discovered is enough to warm the coldest heart. Because despite the daily struggle for survival – against grenades, machine gun fire and gnawing poverty and hunger – the locals in these sometimes abandoned places have never stopped taking care of the graves of our heroes.
At the heart of the African bush, a poor villager, Kokou Esso, carefully sweeps the grave of a British upper-class army officer. It is well maintained, unspoilt and above all remembered
In war-torn Gaza, a scene of continuous clashes between Israeli and Palestinian militants and various grenade attacks that destroyed tombstones, four generations of Arab gardeners quietly provide British First World War graves.
In Murmansk, 125 miles within the Arctic Circle, we found the graves of British soldiers from the same conflict.
Next to them were Allied World War II soldiers who died in the Arctic convoys – providing a lifeline to our then-allies, the Soviets.
A group of local people still lovingly maintains the graves, even in Putin's Russia.
Finally, in a remote village in Togo, West Africa – one of the poorest countries in the world – a single gravestone marks the funeral of the first British officer who died in the First World War. It is well maintained, unspoilt and above all remembered.
The final resting place for British soldiers killed in Gaza in both world wars lies in the middle of what is again a war zone, surrounded by ruins, violence and armed checkpoints.
Rockets have rained around the graves. An armored bulldozer has searched the undergrowth in search of militants and a crowd that Kalashnikov was handling once invaded the cemetery.
Above is the constant buzz of an Israeli surveillance drone and everywhere there is the risk of more violence here between Israel and Hamas, the Islamic group in power in the Gaza Strip.
It is not surprising that British relatives and friends are almost unable to visit the graves of relatives here because, even with a break in the fighting, border controls on both sides are strict.
In the shadow of a mosque and within hearing distance of the Islamic call to prayer, Ibrahim, a qualified accountant, keeps the memory of these men, often by hand and through the night, water because of the endless power cuts
But Ibrahim Jaradah, 27, who works for the Commonwealth War Graves Commission, has long been striving to turn this place into an oasis of beauty and tranquility.
Thus, in the shade of Jacaranda trees and each bordered by delicate alpine flowers, we found 3,217 spotless Commonwealth graves from the First World War. Of these, 781 bear the simple inscription: & # 39; a soldier of the great war … known to God & # 39 ;.
In addition to his 210 graves from the Second World War. Second Lieutenant Stanley Boughey, of the Royal Scots Fusiliers, was only 21 when the Ottoman army attacked in El Burf, Palestine, on December 1, 1917.
The enemy had crawled up to 30 meters from the British line of fire. Boughey only rushed forward with bombs, all the way to the enemy, who is carrying out a major execution and causing the surrender of a party of 30, as a report in the London Gazette has recorded.
When Boughey turned to go back for more bombs, he was wounded just as the enemy surrendered. He died of his injuries three days later on December 4.
The courage of Boughey earned him the highest and most prestigious prize for bravery towards the enemy that can be awarded to British and Commonwealth forces: the Victoria Cross.
His grave bears the epistle: "The blood of heroes is the seed of freedom." He is a stone's throw from the graves of Jewish soldiers, their gravestones sculpted with the Star of David, who also died fighting for British regiments.
The enemy had crawled up to 30 meters from the British line of fire. Boughey (above) only rushed forward with bombs, up to the enemy, which carries out a major execution and caused the surrender of a party of 30, as a report in the London Gazette recorded
In the shadow of a mosque and within hearing distance of the Islamic call to prayer, Ibrahim, a qualified accountant, keeps the memory of these men, often by hand and through the night, because of the endless power outages.
"The cemetery is more important to us than resting or sleeping," he says. "It touches our heart. This is our garden instead of our work. & # 39;
A local bank wanted Ibrahim to work for them, but his commitment was elsewhere.
Because he was born in the cemetery, just like his father, Essam, his father Ibrahim Sr. and his great-grandfather Rabie.
All have been taking care of these British graves for more than 60 years.
Because it is so difficult to bring new equipment across the border into controversial Gaza, the workers are skilled technicians (keeping old garden machines through the improvisation of spare parts) and propagating their own plants in two small greenhouses.
Stanley Boughey & # 39; s grave is pictured above. Ibrahim Jaradah, 27, who works for the Commonwealth War Graves Commission, has long been striving to turn this place into an oasis of beauty and tranquility
Ibrahim Sr., who died two years ago at the age of 81, became MBE in 1994. He chose not to travel to Buckingham Palace.
And now – like most other Gazans – the rest of the family cannot leave the strip. This is largely forbidden by Israel.
Essam says about his son: "We are very proud of him. He continues the family march. & # 39;
Unfortunately, the dead are not always allowed to rest in peace, despite the efforts of the family.
In 2006, Israel paid £ 90,000 in damages to the Commonwealth War Graves Commission for damage caused by an air strike. Three years later, grenades fired 350 gravestones, leaving the newly cut grass with burn wounds.
The Jaradahs are now a Palestinian family who take care of the graves of men who died fighting for Great Britain.
Our government made the Balfour Declaration in 1917, which eventually brought about the state of Israel and in 1948 caused the Jaradahs' own flight from Palestine to Gaza.
But they don't carry hatred. They are proud of their work and the soldiers whose graves they care for.
& # 39; Everyone is equal here & # 39 ;, says Ibrahim. "We take care of them all, regardless of their religion or politics."
Three wreaths of artificial flowers mark a gloomy place 125 miles within the Arctic Circle.
It is a strange and spooky place to find the graves of British soldiers, not least because most of them died in 1919, a year after the official end of the First World War.
Surrounded by a low stone wall and in the shadow of a towering fish-processing factory, the small cemetery is all that remains of a forgotten conflict. The centenary of the end of the Great War came a year too early for these lost men.
The cemetery – which survived the Cold War and the setbacks of relations between London and Moscow – is still cared for by the locals.
Such a dedication is particularly moving because the Russians had no reason to respect these British warriors – they had come to fight the Bolsheviks after the 1917 revolution.
Their regiments were East Surrey, Royal Sussex, Yorkshire and Highland Light.
A resident who never forgets is Ivan Keravka, the tough skipper of an icebreaker moored in the bay of Murmansk. As he walks among the neat gravestones, he thinks of his own children. "Some of these men were so young," he says
They were sent by Winston Churchill, then War Minister, and held Murmansk and Archangel for a while, fighting for the Belarusians (on the Tsarist side of the civil war), before Britain withdrew, realizing that it was a hopeless cause.
Over the decades, Murmansk respected and cared for the 83 graves of the former enemies of Moscow, who were then instructed to crush Russia's new communist uprising.
A resident who never forgets is Ivan Keravka, the tough skipper of an icebreaker moored in the bay of Murmansk. As he walks among the neat gravestones, he thinks of his own children.
"Some of these men were so young," he says. "They were thousands of miles from home. Of course the graves are respected.
"They were never damaged. Because if you think about your own children, you can only offer respect, even if they were once our enemies. & # 39;
Sergeant James Francis McDonald from Burnley, the son of a tailor, was only 16 when he enlisted in 1914. The following year, fighting in the Dardanelles, he was shot in the shoulder and chest
In a park in central Murmansk, the Russians have a memorial to their own countrymen who died in what the Allies describe as "The war of intervention."
It is only one mile from the British cemetery near the fish factory, where a memorial plaque for soldier Wickens of the East Surrey – who died in 1919, 18 years old – reads: & In a loving memory of one of the best who sacrificed his life for a comrade. & # 39;
At another Murmansk cemetery, under the auspices of the CWGC, the grave of J. B. Anderson, 16 years old, is a stewards boy on the Induna steamship who died on 3 April 1942.
His grave, surrounded by that of his comrades, bears the legend: & # 39; His leaf went down in green, destroyed by Arctic storms. & # 39;
Sergeant James Francis McDonald from Burnley, the son of a tailor, was only 16 when he enlisted in 1914. The following year, fighting in the Dardanelles, he was shot in the shoulder and chest.
He bravely served in France as a member of the machine-gun corps and survived the rest of the war. After being demobilized in 1918, this young man who had known so much war volunteered for the campaign in Russia.
He was killed during the fight against the Bolsheviks on September 9, 1919 – one of the last victims of the campaign. He was only 21.
At the heart of the African bush, a poor villager, Kokou Esso, carefully sweeps the grave of a British upper-class army officer. The fact that Lieutenant George Masterman Thompson was the first officer to be killed in the Great War does not matter to Kokou.
"Many Africans died in the wars," he says. & # 39; But this man also lost his life, many miles from home. That's why we take care of his grave. & # 39;
The fact that Lieutenant George Masterman Thompson was the first officer to be killed in the Great War does not matter to Kokou. "Many Africans died in the wars," he says. & # 39; But this man also lost his life, many miles from home. That's why we take care of his grave & # 39;
There are many reasons for Kokou not to perform this voluntary obligation – not least the challenge of daily survival in a country where having almost nothing is normal.
But he is dedicated and the Wahala Cemetery – a winding and dangerous 70-mile drive from the capital Lome, past dilapidated villages and broken trucks – is stunningly well cared for and tidy amid squalor.
The graves are immaculate. And among them is that of Lieutenant Thompson, 24 years old, formerly of Wellington College (motto: "Fortune Favors the Bold") and Sandhurst.
Thompson probably did not expect his fate here, thousands of miles of mud and trenches from the West Front. But the war came to Africa unexpectedly early.
The Germans, colonial rulers of Togoland – as it was then called – had an ultramodern wireless station built in Kamina, the most beautiful in Africa.
In the first week of the First World War, it sent 200 messages from Atlantic shipping and other intelligence sources directly back to Berlin.
It had to be destroyed to protect vital British supply lines, and Lieutenant Thompson, newly hired at the Royal Scots, was the man. He served in the neighboring British colony of the Gold Coast, now Ghana.
On August 22, 1914, Thompson led a small group of French Senegalese troops in action against German troops in Chra, Togoland. It was a fierce and significant engagement and he was killed in action.
A few days later the surpassed Germans burned the Kamina wireless station instead of dropping it into enemy hands.
Thompson received the Croix de Guerre posthumously with Palms from the French who worshiped his prowess.
His death is still marked every year at his old school in the Berkshire countryside.
And thousands of miles away in Togo, Kokou Esso will brush the African dust from the grave of this hero, perhaps unaware of the significance of the day, but nonetheless quietly honor his memory.
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