‘God’s Little Acre’


They are called cemeteries or graveyards – places where dead people are buried, and they would be the most uncommon stop. Well, not for my friends and me. During the past weekend, we spent a good hour exploring one. We strolled freely at this well-kept ‘God’s Little Acre’, in Batu Gajah. I was told that this cemetery has been a part of the Anglican Holy Trinity Church since the mid 1880s.

It may not be like the latest memorial parks with beautiful landscapes, but it is well-worth a visit. Buried here are 116 planters, police officers, miners and civilians, killed in the Emergency (1948-1960). We also found the oldest grave dated 1886, soon after the town of Batu Gajah was created as the Administrative Centre of Kinta Valley.

In 1980, retired Superintendent of Police, Dato’ R. Thambipillay started the tradition of the annual commemorative ceremony. The ceremony is a solemn occasion. It is attended by foreign dignitaries representing the countries of those who gave their lives so that we could live. The ceremony takes place on the second Saturday of June. On this day, surviving old-timers return to honour their colleagues and friends.

As we strolled, we spotted the graves of some famous personalities of Perak like Alma Baker, Cecil Rae, Labrooy and other FMS servicemen. Here, too, lies planter Donald Baxter, the son-in-law of the Danish architect, B.M. Iversen. Baxter was killed in a salary heist in 1964 somewhere near Tanjung Tualang. His stone is one of a kind, a block of marble selected by his wife, Ruth and Iversen himself. It can be easily identified. (Source: Law Siak Hong, Perak Heritage Society.)

To get to the cemetery, drive under the archway facing the main building of the Batu Gajah Hospital, you will pass the Jail and the Anglican Church. Go straight to the end of the road. You can’t miss it. Cemeteries are our heritage so please visitors, be respectful when you are here in the place of the “unseen residents”.

The heritage charms and the rich stories locked in ‘God’s Little Acre’ could be turned into a tourism spot.

S. Sundralingam

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3 thoughts on “‘God’s Little Acre’

  1. My late father who passed on some 30 years ago had a very good friend, Mervyn C La Brooy, of 2 Dulcieville Lane, Ipoh. I lost contact with him ever since then. I do not know if he is still alive. My internet search brought me here and I sincerely hope that if anyone has any information about him or any of his next of kin would kindly share such information with me. If he has passed on, I’d like to visit his grave to pay tribute to a man who had been most kind to my family. He was my late father’s best friend. Thsnk you. eismail@tganu.uitm.edu.my

  2. Yes I know god’s little acre and the good work Pillay has done in restoring the place. I visited there in 2011 and spent a lovely peaceful afternoon with the fallen. My sincere thanks goes out to Pillay for doing such a wonderful.

  3. A nice article about a beautiful spot near the hospital where I was born. I visit each time I come to Malaysia to say ‘hello’ to my beloved Donald who was murdered at the tender age of 27 – weeks after our first child was born at the hospital not far away. A horrendous murder that left my whole family devestated. Donald’s father had also been a planter in Malaya – we loved the country so much. Please do NOT even contemplate turning it into a tourist atttraction but respect the resting place of so many – some lived their lives there, others died young and many young soldiers had come out to combat the communists that threatened the country. They had no connection but sacrificed their lives for the freedom of the people.

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