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Hong Kong's second world war history

Active Royal Air Force pilots pay homage to fallen at Hong Kong Sai Wan War Cemetery

Representatives from renowned aerobatics display team Red Arrows were in attendance

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 29 October, 2016, 2:46pm
UPDATED : Saturday, 29 October, 2016, 11:30pm

A ceremony on Saturday at the Commonwealth War Graves Commission’s Sai Wan War Cemetery marked the first time active servicemen from Britain’s Royal Air Force paid their respects to fallen soldiers buried at the Chai Wan site.

Representatives from the renowned Red Arrows – the aerobatics display team – joined war veterans and Britain’s top diplomat in Hong Kong for a memorial service.

Five wreaths were laid from various groups present at the ceremony – the World War II Veterans Association, the Royal British Legion, the British Consul General, the Royal Air Force Red and Blue leaders and the Hong Kong Ex-Servicemen’s Association.

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This was followed by a stroll through the cemetery – a military burial ground for the majority of Commonwealth and Allied troops who died fighting against the Japanese invasion of Hong Kong.

A poppy was laid on each of the 54 graves of RAF servicemen who lost their lives in the conflict.

Squadron leader Mike Ling, who supervises all practices and displays, said it was an honour as a Red Arrows pilot to commemorate his predecessors.

“Coming to Sai Wan today to pay homage to all of those who lost their lives in the war is a real privilege. Its often forgotten when we concentrate on the war being fought nearer to home,” he said.

“I enjoy walking around, reflecting on these people, and thinking what they’ve done for us to enable us to be here, and to enable our freedom.”

British Consul General Andrew Heyn said: “It is massively important to see the present generation paying respects to those who fell during the war. Its hugely significant and I am delighted they are here today.

“I think when you come to a place like this, you see the names on the graves and realise how many nationalities were involved. It is a really sobering thought and it is a reminder of how many nations were involved and how many countries gave their soldiers’ lives during the conflicts.”

The contingent of the 99 Red Arrows personnel took time out of the cockpit for the visit. They are on a nine-week Asian tour, which will include their first public show on the mainland at the China International Aviation and Aerospace Exhibition in Zhuhai.