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The Great War (1914-1918) Forum

Remembered Today:

Oh dear

Martin Bennitt

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AFP, the news agency which pays my wages, put out the following story today, based on a pickup from the South China Morning Post. I couldn't access the original because the site is not free. According to the CWGC there are 79 First World War burials in the cemetery concerned.

cheers Martin B

Red-faced British officials in Hong Kong were seeking literate stone masons Wednesday after repairs to colonial-era war graves resulted in a series of howling spelling errors.

The restoration work was so bad that instead of reading "This monument is erected (to) the admiral, captain, officers and crew," one memorial says: "This monlmenf is ebbcted (to) the admiral captain ocficers and grew."

On another, the word China has been misspelt "Cihna" and on another even Hong Kong is rendered as "Honc Honc," according to a report in the South China Morning Post newspaper.

The errors occur on graves in an old military cemetery in the Happy Valley district of the city.

Some of the affected stones date back to the Opium Wars between Britain and China in the mid-19th century.

A few World War II monuments are also affected, with their cracks crudely filled in with cement.

The cause of the errors has been tracked down to a Chinese contractor.

"I suspect he had very poor English," said Brigadier Christopher Hammerbeck, president of the local Royal British Legion and director of the British Chamber of Commerce.

"Many of the graves were in a poor condition, they were made of not very good quality stone and had worn out over the years. In many cases it was difficult to make out what was originally carved into them."

The British government retained authority over the war graves in its former southern Chinese colony and a spokesman for the consul general said the matter was being dealt with.

"The company that carried out the work has not had its contract renewed and the Commonwealth Graves Commission is now looking for a solution to restoring them," the spokesman said.

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CWGC has only recent taken over responsibility from MoD for the Non-World War graves in Hong Kong and so these 'repairs' may pre-date their taking over. They have always been responsible for the war graves in Hong Kong and I doubt that they are involved in this matter.

CWGC has now taken over responsibility for UK (and some Australian and NZ) Non-World War Graves from MoD in many countries including Hong Kong, Malaysia, Jordan, Yemen, Oman, Japan, Cameroun, South Africa and Swaziland! Maybe these 'repairs' were one reason MoD wanted to shift responsibility for maintenance!

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