Bulgarian President Rossen Plevneliev and Prince Edward, Duke of Kent, attended an April 8 2014 First World War Centenary Commemoration in the Commonwealth War Graves section of Sofia Central Cemetery.
Prince Edward is chairman of the Commonwealth War Graves Commission.
In speeches, Bulgaria’s head of state and Prince Edward underlined the tragic losses of all countries in World War 1 and the need to work for peace and reconciliation.
The ceremony, attended by ambassadors and diplomatic representatives of many European and Commonwealth countries as well as the United States, saw the laying of wreaths in tribute to the fallen. Those who presented wreaths included members of the Bulgarian government and leaders of its armed forces.
The moving ceremony, with prayers led by Father Patrick Irwin, also included the reading of a soldier’s letter by Claude Girard of the French embassy, a Bible reading by UK ambassador Jonathan Allen, the reading of a Aleksa Santic poem by Zorica Bozic of the Serbian embassy, a reading of John McCrae’s poem In Flanders Field by Katrijn Coppens of the Belgian embassy, the reading of a German poem by ambassador Matthias Hoepfner and of an Italian poem by ambassador Monticelli, as well as the reading of the poem Polliciti Meliora by Major Frank Thompson – who was killed in Bulgaria in World War 2 – by Hannah Golding and Anna-Maria Evgenieva, children of British embassy staff.
The Exhortation and the Kohima Epitaph were recited by Lieutenant-Colonel Tim Bakewell, defence attache at the British embassy.
(Main photo, from left, Father Patrick Irwin, President Plevneliev, British ambassador Jonathan Allen, Prince Edward the Duke of Kent, Bulgarian ambassador in London Konstantin Dimitrov and Lt-Col Bakewell. Photo: Clive Leviev-Sawyer. Other photos by Clive Leviev-Sawyer and by V Nikolov/president.bg)