The Taukkyan War Cemetery is a memorial in honor of allied soldiers, most of whom died during the Second World War in Burma. Altogether, there are 6374 graves of fallen soldiers from this aforementioned war, hundreds of them unidentified. Inscribed on the many pillars of the Rangoon Memorial are an additional 27,000 names of men of the Commonwealth forces who died during battles in Burma, but had no known grave. Because it was a multinational force with over a hundred different languages spoken within the platoons, the words “they died for all free men” are added in English, Burmese, Hindi, Urdu and Gurmukhi. Some burials were also transferred from other battlefield locations as well as isolated and scattered jungle sites when the graves couldn’t be maintained any longer. Fittingly, to commemorate these individual battles and the soldiers who fought and died there together, the graves at the Taukkyan War Cemetery are grouped together according to regiments, countries and these battlefields in Meiktila, Akyab, Mandalay and Sahmaw.
The cemetery is a very peaceful place and well maintained by the many gardeners caring for the graves and the plants. But despite its beautifully landscaped grounds and its popularity with history buffs, the memorial is a sad place. Many people travel here on a personal pilgrimage to pay their respects to a loved one and often, you can see them taking off their shoes, as is the custom in Myanmar. When walking through the neat row of tombstones and flowers, reading the sheer mass of names and commemorations of soldiers from Australia, India, Africa, England and Burma, the heat and the noise of Myanmar seems to fade far away.
The war cemetery opens every day from 10am to 5pm and can be found about 32 kilometers north of Yangon in Taukkyan on Yangon-Pyay Road. This is about an hour drive from the city center, or a half an hour drive if you are arriving from the international airport. To get there, you can jump on a bus leaving from the Aung Minglar Terminal or the Sule Pagoda, or flag down a pickup heading towards Bago.