By Margaret Sheard …..
Following the Kyrenia Remembrance Service and lunch on the 12th November, the Royal British Legion, Kyrenia Branch, had arranged a visit to Wayne’s Keep Cemetery on the following day (13th November) for the veterans and others who wished to attend.
It was a warm and sunny day again, although a little windy, and 41 people boarded the coach to make the journey from the Pia Bella Hotel in Girne to Lefkoşa and the Buffer Zone to visit Wayne’s Keep. We travelled via the Metehan Border Crossing and the coach was then escorted by UN personnel to the cemetery. While waiting to board the coach a young man approached me who said he and his colleague have taken on the upkeep of the cemetery, this was their first year and they want to do the best they can and he would appreciate any feedback as to our impressions when we arrived.
My opinion, and that of another lady who spoke to me, was that it looks rather bleak. It was very tidy and the gravestones were all clean but the lack of groundcover did make it seem rather bare. Maybe some shrubs and more trees would enhance it and we found that with it being a windy day there was, on a few occasions, some dust flying around from the earth now underfoot. Later in the day I was contacted by the same young man who was interested to hear how the visit had been and he appreciated the opinion given, as above, he said the reason for the lack of groundcover was the result of the long hot summer we have experienced and lack of rain, however, through the winter months hopefully with rain, this will be remedied with natural groundcover establishing itself again.
On looking at the leaflet we were given about the Wayne’s Keep Cemetery it states that although there is a shallow well which feeds the cemetery, in the summer months this dries up. A mains water system has now been installed to meet the cemetery requirements and with the aid of a computerised watering system, will provide the cemetery with water all year round.
Having said that, the cemetery always seems such a well laid out and peaceful place and it is always a pleasure to visit, even though quite an emotional one. Seating had been organised by the UN and the RBL Chaplain, Revd. Wendy Hough had joined us to give a service of remembrance. Mick Bone was in attendance with the RBL standard and Bugler Paul Shaw was also there to play The Last Post and Reveille. It was a very nice service and following this the visitors had time to wander around the cemetery and place crosses on the graves to pay their respects to members of their regiments who had lost their lives in Cyprus. I placed 2 crosses on the graves of servicemen on behalf of veterans in the UK.
Following the visit to the cemetery we made our way back to Girne and the Pia Bella Hotel, where we had some time to relax with some of the veterans, have a coffee and reflect on the visit.
Last but not least, I would like to thank Lilian White of RBL for her brilliant organisation for this visit. It went very smoothly with no delays other than the normal passport checking at the border.
For those readers who want to know more of Wayne’s Keep please click here