LONDON, Nov. 27 (Xinhua) -- Tributes were paid on Monday to 31 Chinese sailors who for 70 years have lain, virtually forgotten, in a cemetery, thousands of kilometers from their homes.
A special dedication ceremony was held at Anfield Cemetery in Liverpool at the site where the sailors are buried. They had all served in the Dutch navy, carrying essential goods and supplies from North America to Europe in the force of hostile enemy action by German U-boat submarines.
"They've lain here for 70 years or more, largely forgotten, and their sacrifice unacknowledged. Until now, most have not even had a gravestone as a permanent marker of their presence," said Walter Fung from the Society for Anglo Chinese Understanding in a eulogy to the sailors.
Roel Broer from the Dutch War Graves Foundation lay flowers at a memorial to the sailors who all died during World War II or shortly thereafter.
He said the graves of those who died in the war should be cared for and the history about what happened told to today's young people.
Liverpool ceremonial Lord Mayor Malcolm Kennedy led civic tributes to the sailors at the ceremony, with a large contingent of the city's Chinese community in attendance.
Events to mark the centenary of World War I has thrown a spotlight on civilian victims of the two world wars as well as the military.
In his tribute, added he hoped the new headstones would bring attention to the sacrifice they made and act as a permanent record of their lives and their great contribution to the freedom of the world.
Moira Kenny from the Liverpool organisation The Sound Agents, who organised the event, said: "John Campbell and I have spent many years recording the history of the Chinese community in our city. It is great that after so long these brave men have been remembered for their actions in what must have been one of the most terrifying battle grounds of the war, the Atlantic Ocean."
"Most of these brave men died and even though they were with the Dutch navy. The Netherlands was still occupied, so they were brought for burial at the closest port, Liverpool," added Kenny.