His Excellency Mr Tikolevu, Fiji’s High Commissioner to the UK, visited Stonefall Cemetery in Yorkshire this week to lay a wreath at the grave of Sergeant Isikeli Doviverata Komaisava in Stonefall Cemetery in Yorkshire.
Sergeant Komaisavai, from Fiji, served as a fighter pilot with the Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve (RAFVR) during the Second World War. Descended from the former kings of Fiji, and with a family motto of ‘Fear God and honour the King’, when Komaisavai heard that Britain needed every able-bodied man he volunteered to serve. Sergeant Komaisavai, sailed from Fiji to train with the Air Force in Canada.
He arrived in Britain in June 1941 and served as a pilot with 234 Squadron. Sergeant Komaisavai is believed to have spent some time stationed in the Orkney Islands and at some point he began to suffer from pleurisy which led to his death in hospital on the 19th October 1944.
The wreath laying ceremony was organised by Sergeant Iliesa who is a Fijian currently serving with the RAF. Sergeant Iliesa came across Komaisavai’s story whilst researching Fijians who had served in the British Forces.
Sergeant Iliesa said:
It is important to recognise the achievements and sacrifices that those who served before us have made. I wanted to raise awareness of Sgt Komaisavai’s service and how he was a pioneer for Fijians in the RAF.
This led to me organising the wreath laying. Sgt Komaisavai grew up in the South Pacific travelled to the other side of the world to become Fiji’s first spitfire pilot. This is such a great achievement and he did all this before the age of 24.
Video of the event
With more than 1,000 Commonwealth war graves, Harrogate (Stonefall) Cemetery is one of the largest CWGC sites in the North of England.
Most burials are of air crew who died during the Second World War flying from the bomber command bases which were established across Yorkshire. More than 600 of the casualties served with the Royal Canadian Air Force and there are also casualties at the site from Australia, New Zealand and the Caribbean.
The CWGC honours and cares for the men and women of the Commonwealth forces who died in the First and Second World Wars, ensuring they will never be forgotten. Funded by six Member Governments, its work began with building, and now maintaining, cemeteries at 23,000 locations all over the world.
- The Commonwealth War Graves Commission’s mission is to ensure those who died in service, or as a result of conflict, are commemorated so that they, and the human cost of war, are remembered for ever.
- The Commonwealth War Graves Commission is a global leader in commemoration. Founded by Royal Charter in 1917, we work on behalf of the Governments of Australia, Canada, India, New Zealand, South Africa and the United Kingdom to commemorate the 1.7 million men and women from the Commonwealth who lost their lives in the two World Wars.
- We believe that remembering individuals who have died in conflicts is of universal, perpetual relevance, and that reflecting on their deaths is of continuing and paramount importance for us all.
- The cemeteries, memorials, graves, landscapes, and records in our care will be found at 23,000 locations and in more than 150 countries and territories. They are both the practical means of our commemoration of the fallen and vehicles for discovery, inspiration, and engagement.