How 'the Net' works!

In December 1997 I was surfing 'the Net' searching for any information regarding my father's grave in Aden where he died in 1943

First, I found the Commonwealth War Graves Commission page and emailed them.I very soon had their reply.

 

Boatswain ERIC LIONEL WETTON

H.M.S. Sheba Royal Navy

Died: 11th October 1943

Commemorated:

MAALA CEMETERY Yemen

Plot H. Grave 94.

Age 39

Looking for articles on Aden I came across a page detailing features of the Yemen created by Dr Bernhard Gruber of Munich, Bavaria

I emailed him thus

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Hi Bernhard

Love your page. I have a special interest there - my father is buried there.

See one of my pages at http://www.box.net.au/~bryanw/elwphoto1.html

If you are visiting again would you be able to take a photograph of his grave for me?

Regards

Bryan

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Hello Bryan,

I just visited your page and the history and the origin of your family is very interesting. I try to visit the Yemen next spring between April and May and I will try to get some photos of the grave and the surroundings. If you want I can send you the pictures via mail.

I'll make a printout of your description of the grave and how to find it! Be patient!

Greetings from Munich, Germany (oh it's snowing at the moment!!!)

Bernhard

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Hello Bernhard

You are so kind! I have very good memories of Munich which I visited for a weekend in 1974. Especially a Bierfest at Dachau and an evening in the Artists quarter (I forget the name now), Also had a fascinating visit to the Deutches Museum.

Regards

Bryan

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Hello Bryan,

As I promised to you, here is the full story how we tried to make some photos of the grave of your father. In the beginning, please excuse me if I use some wrong words but as you know my normal language is German. If you don't understand some things of my story, please write me and I will try to explain it in other words.

You wrote an E-mail to me in December 1997. My girlfriend and me visited Aden and I had printouts of your mails with the exact location of the grave. In Germany I prepared this and every time when I saw maps of graveyards in and around Aden in German, French or English guide books, I made copies. So I thought it is not very difficult to find the right graveyard and the right grave. Three and a half years ago I was in Yemen and visited Aden, too. I knew the city and this was very helpful for me.

 

At first we tried to find the right graveyard without any help. We located one graveyard many kilometers outside of Aden (Buraika, called `Little Aden') with a cemetery especially for Christians. In a book I read that many British soldiers are buried here. This place is called `Silent Valley'.

A Sign is displayed there:

A corner of a foreign field that is forever England!
Forbidden to make photos there!

 

But you wrote me that the right cemetery is in Maalla. So we tried this one first. From our hotel in Crater (yes, this is the Arabic name of one part of Aden inside a crater) to Maalla we took a taxi and tried to visit this one. The doors of this cemetery were closed and as we saw, there were only Moslem graves inside. It was not possible for us to enter and nobody on the streets was informed where to get the key for the entrance. After asking a lot of peoples in the shops around, we decided to plan the next trip to another graveyard for the next day. Taxi back.

Next day, again to Maalla. This one was a Jewish graveyard. My girlfriend had the idea that it could be that your father had this religion (don't know how to say it in English). Didn't find anything. No plan what to do next.

I remembered that one man could help us. Sheik A. Aziz A.Hakim, the owner of Aziz Book Shop'. This man is famous and all travel guides about the Republic of Yemen write about him and his famous bookshop. He has this bookshop since many years and knows all ships which came to Aden when the city was British. In these days many ships arrived at ‚Steamer Point' in the harbour of Aden and nearly every tourist came to his shop to buy post cards or duty free goods. He speaks excellent English and helped me during my last visit. We took a taxi to his shop in At Tawahi (another part of Aden) some kilometers away. We spoke about my desire to make a shot of the grave, bought some old postcards of 1962 and he showed us a picture of the ‚Sheba' in the harbour of Aden, the ship of your father. He informed us that a Mr Nasr in the British embassy is responsible for the graves, gave us his telephone number and made a drawing where to find the graveyard.

Taxi back to Maalla. Didn't find the graveyard. Phoned several times from the hotel to the British embassy but nobody was able to tell us where we could find Mr.Nasr. No plan what to do, again.

Next day. Taxi to At Tawahi. Visit Mr.Aziz again. He told us that another possibility is to visit the St. Francis Church in At Tawahi and speak with Father Matthew. Found the church! The doors are blocked up with bricks (like a wall and the walls around the church had barbed wire. Reason: He is a Catholic, Christian priest of a church with the name ‚Don Bosco' and the locals tried two times to kill him. He is responsible for 25 Christians in Aden. We spoke with him about our situation and he promised to help us. Told us that an assassin killed three Christian Mother Theresa Sisters on Monday 27th of July 1998 in Hodaidah.

He said that he thought they are buried at the same graveyard! He searched for some minutes and came back with a lot of books where all graves were catalogued. He had the same information about the grave (number, dates, name) like you Bryan and he said that he will try to get the key from the British embassy. He said that the Army of the former North Yemen smashed a lot of the tombstones and destroyed a lot of graves when they conquered Aden in 1994.

[In this period ALL houses of the South Yemenis in Aden were damaged during this civil war. More than 15.000 killed. After this they destroyed the brewery in Aden (of course) and began to destroy all Christian churches and cemeteries.]

Father Matthew told us that it is possible that the grave is destroyed, too, and that it could be that we are disappointed. Took a taxi back to the hotel.

Next day back to him. He sent a driver to the British embassy and got the key. Then we took his car and driver and left the church. I never saw so much hate in the eyes of the locals! Everybody knows Father Matthew and this car. A Terrible experience! Our feeling was not the best. We arrived at the graveyard and found the grave.

The grave is in excellent condition (see the pictures) and the tombstone is not damaged.

Father Matthew prayed near the grave of your father and in front of the graves of the three Nuns. The locals outside the cemetery were not happy to see this procedure and the atmosphere was terrible. On the tombstone:

 

Boatswain E.L. Wetton RN.
H.M.S."Sheba",
11th October 1943,
Age 39,
'forever in our thoughts, his loving and heartbroken wife and family.

 

As `thank you' for Father Matthew we smuggled some letters to Germany for some German priests. We sent the letters from here in Germany. He can not send letters because the letters `disappear' at the post office. The only way to communicate with and for him is via telefax. And we brought three kilo original Yemen coffee from him to Germany and I will send the coffee to his colleagues here in Germany. He only told me to ask you, whether you can make a telefax for him with your address.

Overall it was an interesting experience for us, how people come together to help someone other on the other side of the world. And this only because of a simple short e-mail from you to me last year I hope that you like the pictures. I will not forget to send you the originals (Christmas present!).

Greetings from Munich, Germany (it is just snowing, the first time this winter) to you and your family. Wish you all the best!

Bernhard

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Dear Bernhard

 

I thank you from the bottom of my heart!

 

Bryan