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One of my children – Anna – is by way of being a standup comedian and I was in Manchester this week watching her gig. Obviously I am totally biased but it was another excellent performance, a fifteen minute chat with edge which got lots of laughs and applause.

Later that evening I walked the mile home and in doing so walked past Manchester Southern Cemetery. This is Europe’s second largest municipal cemetery and takes a long time to walk past even at eleven o’clock at night along Barlow Moor Road. It is the final resting place of Sir Matt Busby, L S Lowry, Tony Wilson “Mr Manchester” and Ernest Marples and many other famous people. One of the signs also reminded me this is a famous Commonwealth War Graves Commission site with some 1228 identified casualties.

So, as I wandered home smiling at Anna’s act I resolved to return to the cemetery in daylight and have a wander round. Readers of this blog will know I have an interest in WWI and WWII history and it often escapes notice that many casualties – of many nationalities – were returned to the UK for operations and treatment but, sadly and inevitably, perished as a result of their wounds and of course they were afforded in death the same respect as had they perished in the active field of warfare.

During the First World War, Manchester contained between thirty and forty war hospitals including the 2nd Western General Hospital and the Nell Lane Military Hospital for prisoners of war. Many of those buried in the cemeteries and churchyards of the city died in a long list of Manchester hospitals. It is to the enormous credit of Manchester that the city cared for so many casualties many of whom survived even though by today’s standards medical knowhow for trauma injuries was in its infancy.

There is also a screen wall (one of my pictures) bearing many names who were cremated and, of course, rightly honoured.

For me these visits remind me of the numbing number of casualties, that it remains as important as ever that we remember and, above all, we avoid for ever conflicts of this scale.

For some factual information I have referred to the CWGC website:

Commonwealth War Graves Commission

Christopher Macgowan