Fears for flags at cenotaph

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 01 February, 1996, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 01 February, 1996, 12:00am

WAR veterans fear their comrades who died in two world wars will be forgotten after the handover because British flags at the cenotaph in Central will be replaced.

Commemorative flags, which have flown over the war memorial for most of the years since it was erected in 1929, are dedicated to those who died in each of the services.

The cenotaph itself, where the six flags are hoisted each day, commemorates all the victims of the wars on both sides of the conflicts.

But former prisoner of war Jack Edwards is worried the British flags will be taken down for the last time at 6 pm on June 30, 1997.

'I can't imagine British flags flying there after the handover,' said Mr Edwards, chairman of the Hong Kong and China Royal British Legion.

'The cenotaph commemorates all those who fought and died and I just hope the British will not be forgotten when they leave.' The two central poles on the north and south sides of the monument hold the British Union flag representing Britain and the Army.

Flags either side are of the Royal Navy, the Royal Naval Reserve, the merchant navy and the Royal Air Force.

Each day, three members of the Hong Kong Military Service Corps raise the flags at 7 am and lower them at 6 pm, in a ceremony to remember 'The Glorious Dead' - the only inscription on the monument.

No one from the Government would comment on whether the People's Liberation Army would take over from the British military after 1997, or whether the daily ceremony would continue at all.

Mr Edwards said he was also concerned about the future of the monument itself after June next year, because it was a focal point of protests at the time of the Tiananmen Square massacre.

He believes pressure from Beijing may force the future administration to bulldoze the area.

Government Director of Protocol, Vivian Warrington, said no changes had yet been discussed, but some were likely.

'The cenotaph has a general appeal but there are manifestations of British sovereignty that clearly may not be appropriate after 1997,' he said. 'It will be up to the future chief executive to decide.'