On Saturday, 6th October 2018, H.M. Armed Forces held a special Memorial service, commemorating the sacrifice of British Muslim soldiers during the First World War. This year marks 100 years since the final year of the First World War. In the lead up to the centenary of the Armistice that brought the war to an end, it is important we remember the diversity of the people who sacrificed so much in those tragic years. The Service of Commemoration was held to remember the little-known Muslim contribution from Great Britain and all around the British Empire, who fought to defend Britain from her adversaries during both the First and Second World Wars.
During the Service British Muslim organisations and leaders come together from across the country to show their respect not only to Muslims who have given their life for our country, but to everyone who has paid the ultimate sacrifice for our peace and freedom regardless of faith, culture, or ethnic background.
The Woking Peace Garden was previously known as the Muslim Burial Ground, and was commissioned in 1915 as this is where Muslims killed fighting for Britain in the World Wars in were laid to rest.
The garden became the final resting place of 19 Muslim soldiers from the Great War and a further eight casualties of the Second World War. All 27 servicemen fought in different regiments for the Allied troops. Many were recruited from regions that later became Pakistan. Local people tended the grounds until 1921 when the upkeep of the cemetery was taken over by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission. In 1969, the decision was made by the Commission to exhume the bodies and reinter them at the larger Brookwood Military Cemetery.
By 1984, the unique site had been recognised by English Heritage and designated as a Grade II listed building. Yet over the coming years the site remained dormant and fell into disrepair. It wasn’t until 2011 thoughts turned to renovating the site to its former glory and the creation of an Islamic-inspired Peace Garden as lasting legacy of the 27 servicemen who made the ultimate sacrifice and mark the centenary commemorations of the Great War. In November 2015, the restored peace garden was opened by HRH The Earl of Wessex KG GCVO.
The Association of British Muslims extends our deepest thanks and appreciation to H.M. Armed Forces for putting together this special service to honour the memory of all who gave so much in the service of our country, and to Candice Anderson-Chase for her photos and videos of the service.