The Duke of Kent (second from left) at Sofia War Cemetery. Image courtesy of the British Embassy, Sofia

Duke of Kent honours Commonwealth First World War dead in Bulgaria

Posted on centenarynews.com on 11 April 2014
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The Duke of Kent has paid tribute to First World War servicemen who're buried in Commonwealth cemeteries in Bulgaria.

The Duke, a senior member of the British Royal Family, visited two cemeteries in his role as President of the Commonwealth War Graves Commission.

More than 200 UK soldiers of the Great War were laid to rest in Bulgaria. They died as prisoners-of-war or during the Allied occupation from November 1918 to April 1919. 

Bulgaria fought in the Balkans on the side of the Central Powers; Germany, Austria-Hungary and the Ottoman Empire.

The Bulgarian President, Rosen Plevneliev, joined the Duke of Kent in laying wreaths during a remembrance service at the CWGC's cemetery in the capital, Sofia, on 8th April 2014.

The Duke, who's a cousin of Queen Elizabeth, said: “In this year of commemorations, as we mark the Centenary of the First World War, it becomes increasingly important that we remember the sacrifices made by servicemen and women all over the globe.

“The cemeteries and memorials, cared for by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission, play a vital role in that act of remembrance and have a particular power to engage future generations in the personal stories of those who died."

Sofia War Cemetery contains 160 First World War burials. There are also 28 from the Second World War - including servicemen from Australia, Canada, New Zealand and South Africa - as well as 12 non-war civilian and service graves.

The Duke of Kent thanked Bulgaria for its help with the work of remembrance: “Maintaining the graves to the highest possible standards is our task, but it is only possible with the generous support of our Commonwealth partners and our host countries. 

"We are, therefore, extremely grateful to them and to President Plevneliev and the people of Bulgaria, who do so much to facilitate our work of commemorating the war dead in the Republic of Bulgaria.”

During a three-day official visit, the Duke also laid a wreath in memory of 55 UK First World War servicemen who're buried at the Commonwealth cemetery in Bulgaria's second city, Plovdiv.

The Duke was accompanied by the Mayor of Plovdiv, Ivan Totev, as well as senior military figures and representatives of the British community.

Bulgaria entered the First World War in the autumn of 1915, attacking Serbia in alliance with Germany, Austria-Hungary and the Ottoman Empire. 

In September 1918, Bulgaria agreed an armistice with the French-led Allied armies on the Salonika Front.

Source: Commonwealth War Graves Commission

Date of press release publication: 8th April 2014

Images courtesy of the British Embassy, Sofia

Posted by Peter Alhadeff, Centenary News