“Essential exercise” on memorial to war dead
Chalkmarks War Memorial

A YOUNG couple perform hip thrusts and arm dips oblivious to the fact their makeshift gym is a national war graves memorial.

With just one day to go until the 75th anniversary of VE Day, the war graves commission today urges members of the public to show respect when visiting their sites.

The couple were pictured at the Tower Hill Memorial in London. Tower Hamlets Council has put signs on the entrance to the surrounding Trinity Gardens to say that it is open for daily exercise during the current coronavirus lockdown.

These are in stark contrast to the permanent signs on the memorial which asks visitors to “respect this sanctuary which bears the names of true men and women…who no have grave but the sea”.

The Commonwealth War Graves Commission, which looks after the memorial to more than 38,000 seafarers who lost their lives in the first and second world wars, has asked visitors to show “appropriate respect”.

Visitors need to show “appropriate respect”, The Commonwealth War Graves Commission

A statement said: “Our sites are designed to be open and visited and it is only natural that CWGC’s Tower Hill Memorial, given its prominent location, receives many passing visitors. Especially as the surrounding land is a public park which has recently reopened to allow daily exercise. Whatever the reason to visit or pass by our memorial, all we ask is that people adhere to current guidance on social distancing and pay appropriate respect to these places of remembrance. We all have a part to play in collectively remembering the men and women memorials like this represent and the upcoming 75th anniversary of VE Day is an opportune moment to remember that the much-celebrated peace sadly came with a human cost.”

Captain David Parsons national secretary of the Merchant Navy Association said: “The Park area is, of course, for all to enjoy, but the memorials should be respected. They are actually one of the Commonwealth War Graves Commission’s sites. The Sunken Garden contains the names of around 24,000 British Merchant Navy Seafarers for whom the only grave is the sea.”

The Tower Hill Memorial opposite the Tower of London is dedicated to the memory of those who served in the Merchant Navy and Fishing Fleets during the First World War and Second World Wars. It commemorates more than 35,800 casualties.

While Tower Hamlets has allowed daily exercise at the war memorial (above), they have stopped people using park benches (below).
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