Highgate’s Heroes: Pt. 1

There must be thousands and thousands of cemeteries across the world; but the most famous one is probably Highgate Cemetery in London. A Victorian creation, Highgate is a burial ground very different from any other. When I think of a cemetery, I think of ordered crosses in row upon row; or carved headstones laid out on a manicured lawn. Highgate’s aesthetic is completely different, because it is (on the east side at least) essentially a cemetery built in a wood.

I would highly recommend visiting Highgate when in London. It was a very different and restful experience for me– nice to get out of the city’s hustle and bustle and instead take awhile in this cemetery full of London citizens to reflect on life and history. My mum and I visited the cemetery just to see the unearthly wildness of it, but my visit became focused on something altogether different. After only a few moments inside the grounds, I spied the first war grave.

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Commonwealth war graves are usually marked by a simple headstone of Portland stone. These headstones have an especially resolute look to them in the untamed environs of Highgate.

I hadn’t even expected there to be war graves at Highgate– I guess I thought that war graves are more of a military base or overseas thing. However, I immediately resolved to try to find all that exist at Highgate. Highgate has a very forgotten feel to it, being all overgrown and shaded– and war graves are one thing that I believe must never be forgotten.

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Bombardier S.A. Ball of the Royal Field Artillery, died 1918

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Lieutenant A.H. Boney of the King’s Royal Rifle Corps, died 1919

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Sergeant R.C. Custance of the Royal Air Force, died 1943

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Sergeant R.O. Ford of the Australian Field Artillery, died 1919

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Private F.E.B. Buck of the Australian Infantry, died 1919

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Sergeant Major G.A. Mote, DCM of the Canadian Infantry, died 1917

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Lieutenant A.C.M. Gordon of the Royal Scots Fusiliers, died 1917

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Private D.T. Cross of the Hampshire Regiment, died 1919

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Battery Sergeant Major F. Hill-Jones of the Royal Field Artillery, died 1916

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Second Lieutenant D.H. Weedon of the Northumberland Fusiliers, died 1917

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Volunteer F.F. Burgoyne of the Home Guard, died 1940

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Sergeant R.L. Aiken of the Royal Air Force, died 1941

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I appreciated the Biblical epitaph on this headstone, sourced from John 15:13. True of all the brave men interred at Highgate, they laid down their lives that we might live.

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