On the 11th of March 2024, distinguished guests, diplomats, representatives from various countries, active duty military personnel, and veterans assembled at the Commonwealth Memorial Gates on Constitution Hill in London for the annual memorial ceremony. These Gates were constructed as a permanent tribute to honour the five million individuals from the Indian Subcontinent, Africa, the Pacific Islands, the Caribbean, and Nepal who volunteered to serve in the Armed Forces during World War One and Two. This occasion also marked the 80th Anniversary of the Battles of Imphal and Kohima, where numerous lives were lost from various Commonwealth nations and Nepal. The Gates symbolize the invaluable contribution made by these servicemen and women, as well as their descendants from 56 Commonwealth member states and Nepal, to the diverse fabric of British society.

The official inauguration of the Memorial Gates was carried out by Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth II, on the 6th of November 2002. Since then, a wreath-laying ceremony has been held annually with the participation of High Commissioners from all Commonwealth countries, now a significant aspect of Commonwealth Day.

The proceedings commenced with an opening address by The Lord Billimoria CBE DL, Chairman of the Memorial Gates Council. Dr. Paul Flather led a moment of remembrance, followed by a speech from Viscount Slim emphasizing the importance of the Commonwealth. A prayer was delivered by The Right Reverend Saju Muthulaly, Bishop of Loughborough.
This event also marked the 80th Anniversary of the Battles of Imphal and Kohima, which involved joint British Forces and the Japanese in South Asia. A special mention was made for the Fourteenth Army, a diverse Army that played a pivotal role in the region’s war efforts. Comprising individuals from various backgrounds and religions, including Sikhs, Christians, Hindus, Muslims, Jews, and others, the Fourteenth Army’s multicultural composition contributed to shaping today’s diverse Britain through their collaborative efforts.

Wreaths were laid for the Gurkhas.

  • Gurkha Brigade Association – Lieutenant General Sir David Bill KCB
  • HQ Brigade of Gurkhas – Colonel James Birch OBE
  • 2 Gurkha Rifles – Lieutenant General Sir Peter Duffell KCB, CBE, MC
  • 6 Gurkha Rifles – Brigadier John Anderson OBE
  • 7 Gurkha Rifles – Colonel Mike Kefford OBE

The Band of the Household Cavalry and the Commonwealth Children’s choir provided support during the event. The parade included King’s Gurkha Orderly Officers and a Bagpiper from the Queen’s Gurkha Engineers, Sapper Unique Rai. Major (Retd) Mani K Rai MBE DL, the Brigade of Gurkhas Secretary, organized the event in collaboration with the Commonwealth Gates Council.

Photography by Mr Mick Latter, Head of Communications, HQ Brigade of Gurkhas