BRITISH RESIDENTS in the northern Alentejo town of Elvas have come together to support a forgotten cemetery of British war heroes who died during the Peninsular war of 1811.
The cemetery has existed in its current site near the Spanish border since the battle of La Albuera on May 16, 1811 and is maintained thanks to a handful of local British residents who are now supported by the British Regiments who took part in the battles led by the Duke of Wellington.
Although it is known that many casualties from the battle of La Albuera were brought to Elvas and buried at the cemetery, only the names of three British Officers are known: Major-General Houghton, Lieutenant-Colonel White and Lieutenant-Colonel Oliver.
Due to a resurgence of interest in the cemetery and the history surrounding the Peninsular war, the graveyard at Elvas has been the subject of revival, helped by the patron of the society, Lady Jane Wellesley, a direct descendent of the Duke of Wellington.
The British residents who maintain the cemetery are now working with the Portuguese Bishopric of Évora to restore the small 17th century chapel which adjoins the cemetery site as a place of prayer and remembrance. The friends of the cemetery hold a number of fundraising and remembrance events throughout the year and on November 29 held the annual bazaar at the Praça Dom Sancho in Elvas.
British, Portuguese and Spanish residents visited the stalls selling jewellery, books, glassware, linen and Christmas goods with profits being donated to the charity fund.
Looking to the future, the charity hopes that the Regiments involved with the cemetery will honour their promise to send battle regalia and other artefacts to the small museum housed in the chapel while a reception is to be held at the Tower of London at the invitation of the Royal Fusiliers on February, 25 2009.
The Friends of the British Cemetery in Elvas, also known as the Associação do Cemitério dos Ingleses em Elvas, is a UK registered charity.
For further information about the British cemetery in Elvas, please visit www.british-cemetery-elvas.org