THE remains of six people buried at Wales’ only Military Cemetery in Pembroke Dock are to be dug up as Britain marks the centenary of the First World War.
The cemetery, which contains the war graves of 40 Commonwealth service personnel of the First World War and 33 of the Second World War, has been closed to the public since the beginning of last year.
The problem began when a 1915 war grave belonging to a Private Ryan completely caved in, leaving a hole of around 6ft in diameter and 20ft deep.
A “notice of intention to remove human remains and associated memorial headstones” hangs on the cemetery gates.
The six affected graves are those of J O’Brien, Private J McGuiness, Gunner William Henry Hurley, Private F Ryan, Private Charles Joseph Duffy, Private E Sullivan.
The work, which is to be carried out by SKM Enviros on behalf of the Ministry of Defence (MoD), could start as early as February 17.
A spokesman for the Defence Infrastructure Organisation said: “We are currently assessing available options, one of which would not involve any exhumation and expect to make a decision on how to proceed shortly. Any action taken will be publicised accordingly.
“The MOD is in the process of trying to locate relatives of those buried in affected plots; however, it is believed the graves date back to the early part of the 20th century so it may be difficult to trace any descendants.
“The cemetery will re-open as soon as it is safe to do so. This is a complex operation requiring specialist input from a number of partners.”
Pembroke Dock Sunderland Trust project manager John Evans said: “I personally don’t know of anything like this in more than 50 to 60 years when firstly French airmen were exhumed from City Road Cemetery, Haverfordwest, and taken back to France, and also German airmen taken from local cemeteries to the German cemetery at Cannock Chase, Staffordshire.”
Pembroke and Pembroke Dock district parade marshal Councillor David Boswell said: “That’s Mother Nature for you – when she opens up her body, she opens up her body, that’s what she does. It’s a shame it’s happened but something’s got to be done.
He added: “I can’t see why that particular area can’t be fenced off and the rest of the cemetery be kept open. That way the main military cross could be accessed to lay wreaths during services and then once the service is over close the gates again.”