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.