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Diocese of Antsiranana
(Church of the Province of the Indian Ocean)
Dignitaries including the French and British Consuls and the South African Ambassador listen as Mrs Sabine Randrianasolo reads the scripture passage.
Photo No. : P071104-1
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Some of the laity attending the service
Photo No. : P071104-2
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The procession to the laying of the poppy wreath
Photo No. : P071104-3
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Commemoration at Diego Suarez Commonwealth War Graves
By Bishop Roger Chung Jaomalaza
 
ANTSIRANANA 071104-1
November 4, 2007

[Diocese of Antsiranana - Indian Ocean] The Cathedral of St Matthew organised a special service at the Commonwealth War Graves of Diego Suarez on 4 November to commemorate all those who died during the Second World War.

The British and Malagasy flags were hoisted at 11 am, as the service began. Bishop Roger Chung Jaomalaza welcomed the guests and all the people of the Cathedral who were present at that service. The President of the Faritany of Antsiranana graced the ceremony along with a large delegation of the military and police personnel.

The British Consul, Mr Richard Hyde, made a speech, and the French Consul and the South African Ambassador were also present at this solemn occasion. The Cathedral choir, accompanied on the accordion by a talented student from the Bishop Keith Benzies Kilasimandry, resonated the words of the hymns expressing of the grace of God.

Mr Totomarovario and Mrs Sabine Randrianasolo read the passage of Scripture in English and in French from Ecclesiastes 3:1-12: "a time for war and a time for peace..." The Dean of the Cathedral, the Very Revd Jaona Lehibe, led the prayers in the Malagasy language, and the Bishop concluded with the blessing.

The British Consul then laid a wreath at the main cross of the war grave and the last post was then played.

A major battle took place in Diego Suarez in 1942. After the failure of the talks between the French Vichy Government and the South African Union, Great Britain sent troops to Diego Suarez to take over that strategic location on the east coast of Africa because the British Crown feared that the pro-Nazi Vichy would attack their vessels on the way to the East Indies.

The toll for the Franco-Malagasy was 150 dead and 500 injured; on the British side it was 108 dead and 283 injured. The battle lasted from 5 to 7 May 1942. On 31 May 1942, two Japanese pocket submarines attacked the port of Antsiranana, but the men all perished in their submarines. By December 1942, all of Madagascar was under British command, but it was subsequently returned to the General De Gaulle exiled government.

Sixty-five years have elapsed since that time, but the memory of those who fell and died for a free and just world were remembered once again.