It was an interesting journey of discovery, looking for the cemeteries that feature on a pre-war map of Kuala Lumpur.
The final resting places of some British servicemen are in these old cemeteries, and their graves are looked after by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission.
Kuala Lumpur Mohammedan Cemetery
Hidden from view behind the Maya Hotel, and just a short distance from KLCC, is a surprisingly large Muslim cemetery, which on the old map, and on the Commonwealth War Graves website, goes by the archaic name “Mohammedan”.
It is one of the capital’s oldest Muslim burial grounds, shaded by giant banyan and rain trees planted in the early 20th century.
The famous film director, actor and singer Tan Sri P Ramlee, two of his former wives and his co-star, AR Tompel, are buried here.
A British non-war serviceman from the Malayan Emergency is also buried here, Corporal Ajetumbaya Mlumbe of the 1st Battalion King’s African Rifles, who was killed on March 12, 1953.
Loke Yew Road Buddhist Burial Ground
The names of those buried in this small cemetery would appear to be mainly of Sri Lankan origin.
There are two military graves in this cemetery – Private HM Karunaratne and Private TB Somadasa, both of the Royal Pioneer Corps (Ceylon).
These soldiers died on July 3, 1948 and June 21,1948 respectively. The Malayan Emergency commenced on June 16, 1948 so it seems likely they were among the early casualties.
Christian Cemetery, Loke Yew Road
Next to the Buddhist graves are some Christian headstones. On the old map, this is named as the Roman Catholic cemetery.
After checking a few names on the internet, and judging by the faded photos on some of the headstones, it is assumed that this cemetery was used mainly for people of mixed race, or Eurasians as they were called under the racially segregated colonial system.
This cemetery is also the resting place of hundreds of unknown victims of World War II, whose small headstones are marked only with a number.
Kuala Lumpur Japanese Cemetery
Directly opposite the unknown war graves is the Kuala Lumpur Japanese Cemetery, which has been in existence for more than 100 years on a plot of land granted to them by the British colonial administration.
It is gated and well-tended with a notice board listing the graves and their locations (in Japanese).
The 34 victims of Japan Airlines Flight JA8051 – which crashed into a hillside in 1977 while trying to land at Subang International Airport during a thunderstorm – are memorialised here.
There is also a stone commemorating the Japanese servicemen who died during WWII.
Protestant Cemetery Venning Road
The old map shows a Protestant cemetery just behind the railway administration building in what was Venning Road (now Jalan Perdana).
Komplex Pusat Islam Malaysia now stands on this site. Presumably the graves were relocated, perhaps to the Cheras Road Civil Cemetery.
This article first appeared on Thrifty Traveller.