‘My friend’s war grave has been left neglected’

080296-3_malay_graves 24/01/08 (IH)''Former army veteran Bill Farmer from Milton who wants something done about the gravestone of William Hill his old comrade who is buried in a cemetery in Malaysia. Wiliam Hill pictured in 1954.'PICTURE: IAN HARGREAVES (080296-3)
080296-3_malay_graves 24/01/08 (IH)''Former army veteran Bill Farmer from Milton who wants something done about the gravestone of William Hill his old comrade who is buried in a cemetery in Malaysia. Wiliam Hill pictured in 1954.'PICTURE: IAN HARGREAVES (080296-3)
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A MALAYAN war veteran said it was disgraceful his friend’s grave had been left to fall into neglect.

Bill Farmer

Bill Farmer

William Farmer served in the Royal Hampshire Regiment in Asia with Private William Hill until his 19-year-old pal was killed by friendly fire.

Over the years, the 76-year-old has been back to the Malaysian capital, Kuala Lumpur, to visit his friend’s grave at the Cheras Road Cemetery.

But he said the condition of the headstone, and those of other fallen soldiers, had worsened, with their names now barely readable.

Mr Farmer, from Milton, Portsmouth, said: ‘I couldn’t believe the state of them.

‘There’s one there that you can’t even see who the grave belongs to any more.’

Mr Farmer said the black lettering on the headstones had not been re-painted as it regularly needed to be in the tropical climate.

He said: ‘It looks like the lettering hasn’t been done for years.

‘A number of the names of lads buried there are disappearing completely.

‘It’s absolutely disgraceful that these graves should have been left to fall in to this state.’

The Malayan Emergency saw British forces fighting Communist rebels in the British territory between 1948 and 1960.

Despite facing a well-trained jungle army the British managed to win key battles and laid the foundations for the new Malaysian state. But the bloody guerilla warfare claimed 519 British lives.

Cheras Road Cemetery is the resting place of servicemen who died during the Emergency, but many of the soldiers buried there were from a nearby Japanese prisoner of war camp during the Second World War.

The upkeep of the graves used to be the responsibility of the British government. But the responsibility was handed over to the Commonwealth War Graves Commission five years ago.

It says it has a dedicated team inspecting the cemetery and has promised the headstones will be renovated.

A spokesman added: ‘The cemetery was inspected in December 2010 and although it was found to be of a generally good condition, renovation work has been identified and scheduled for the cemetery.

‘We would like to thank Mr Farmer for his concern and next month Commission staff will re-paint the lettering on the headstones which Mr Farmer was unable to read.

‘We would like to reassure him and all of your readers that the Commission is doing all it can to ensure these graves and cemeteries receive the highest possible standards of care.’