Prince Charles honours fallen soldiers

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Prince of Wales, Prince Charles, on Thursday visited the National Military Cemetery in Abuja, where he laid a wreath to honour Nigerian soldiers buried there after they died while fighting in the British Army during the First and Second World Wars.

Prince Charles was received at the Abuja memorial section of the cemetery at about 10.30am by the Minister of Defence, Mansur Dan-Ali, Chief of Air Staff, Air Marshal Sadique Abubakar, Chief of the Army Staff, Lt Gen Tukur Buratai, and the Permanent Secretary of the defence ministry, Mrs Nuratu Batagarawa.

The Abuja Memorial, built by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission, is to honour over 1,500 members of the Nigeria Regiment and Carrier Corps who died during and after the two world wars.

Prince Charles, after the British and Nigerian National Anthems were sung and prayers offered, laid the wreath alongside Dan-Ali.

British Defence Adviser, Brig-Charles Calder said Nigerian soldiers under the 81st and 82nd West African divisions demonstrated courage when drafted between 1943 and 1945 into the Second World War.

He said, “During World War II, Nigeria raised 30 volunteers into the battalion as part of the West African division, which fought with distinction in Ethiopia in 1938 and 1941. However, it was the actions of the 81st and 82nd West African divisions in Burma (now Myanmar) from 1943 to 1945 which demonstrated the courage, determination and tenacity of Nigerian soldiers.

“These divisions were important to the wars and sustainability on the borders of what is now known as Bangladesh. They operated behind thick enemy lines. These Nigerian soldiers are not lost in distant memories. We have two of them still alive and we remember with gratitude the father of the army chief, Alhaji Yusuf Buratai, who passed away early this year, and many others in the military, whose fathers and grandfathers served in countries very far away from here.”

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