Rangoon Cantonment Cemetery

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Rangoon Cantonment Cemetery

Rangoon, Yangon Region, Myanmar Add to Map
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The old Cantonment Cemetery had been used for many years, during the late Victorian era, as the final resting place for military men and European civilians who had died in or around the city of Rangoon.

In January 1929 exhumed bodies of British Soldiers who died in World War I were removed from nearby Shwedagon Pagoda and laid to rest in this cemetery.

In 1942 some 1500 Dutch POWs were brought from Bativia, capital of the Dutch East Indies, aboard the 'Tacoma Muru'. They were most cruelly treated by the Japanese guards and left aboard in squalor - some 600 suffering from dysentery. 260 died and were buried in the Cantonment Cemetery. At the end of the war, they were relocated to Menteng Pulo War Cemetery in Jakarta, Indonesia.

The Imperial War Museum contains listings for many of the Chindits who were buried in the present day Zoo area, after dying in the Rangoon Jail, from 1943 onwards. Details include name, rank, service number, and burial location. The Chindits were moved to Rangoon War Memorial along with other military beginning 14 June 1946.

After May 1945 - the capture of Rangoon during World War II - the British Army established the Rangoon War Memorial, near the old university. They moved military graves from several burial sites in and around Rangoon. These included 15 Commonwealth servicemen from World War I and those who died in the Rangoon Jail during World War II, from Rangoon Cantonment Cemetery.

Deceased POWs from the Rangoon Jail received as decent a Christian burial at the Cantonment Cemetery as the guards from the jail would allow, hymns were sung and simple prayers were spoken. The burial ground was right next door to a Rangoon Zoological Gardens (built in 1901) and close to the Royal Lakes in the eastern quarter of the city. It is said that the cries and sounds of the animals would be heard over the quiet voices of the officers and men as they read out the prayers for the recently deceased soldiers. Elephants trumpeted with regular occurrence during the services.

In 1947 the old Cantonment Cemetery was left unattended until the Burmese Military used it as a base.

In 1986 the cemetery section was tidied and the British Association for Cemeteries in South Asia (BACSA) helped fund a new gatehouse.

Shortly after that, however, the Burmese Government cleared the graves and made it into a public park, sometime in the late 1980s, or mid-1990s.

Whilst the military graves had been moved by 1947, the disposition of civilian graves is not at this time known (by the writer). Apparently, the civilians' ancestors, who could be reached, were given a months notice to move their ancestors before the government cleared the area of graves to make way for a new park, adjacent to the Rangoon Zoo.

This cemetery listing serves to memorialize our civilian ancestors who were laid to rest at the Rangoon Cantonment Cemetery, no matter where they may now lay.

1) Burma: Register of European Deaths & Burials 1938 + 1983;
2) Dr. Rosie Llewelyn-Jones, BACSA;
3) Sue Farrington and BACSA;
4) Matilda Steevens, Anglo-Burmese Library Forum;
5) Steve Fogden "Chindit Chasing, Operation Longcloth 1943",
with special thanks.

  • Added: 18 Mar 2017
  • Find A Grave Cemetery: #2637692