The EAC Foundation – the charity foundation of East Asiatic Company – has donated 50.000 DKK (250.000 Thai Baht) – to support the work of the Heritage Section of Scandinavian Society Siam to renovate some of the graves of Danes buried in Thailand.
The grave of the first Danish Consul to Thailand, Carl F. Købke and his wife Bolette is in a historical sense one of the most important Danish graves in Thailand. The grave is located on the Christian Cemetery in Bangkok and one of the first graves to be identified as in need of renovation by the Heritage Section of the Scandinavian Society Siam. The headstone was tilting to the left and the inscription hardly readable.
“We have now had the stone straightened up and the painted letters in bas relief refreshed both on the headstone and the plate,” says Flemming Winther Nielsen who is the head of the heritage section.
The work has been possible because of the financial support received from The EAC Foundation – the charity foundation of East Asiatic Company in Denmark.
The majority of the graves in need of restoration are located at the Christian Cemetery in Bangkok. But also outside Bangkok, several graves were identified as Danish heritage by the SSS Heritage Section.
The monument in Phayao over Captain Hans Marqvard Jensen, who led Thai troops in a battle that prevented the North of Thailand to become part of Burma, is taken well care of by the Thai authorities. Less so with his grave, that was originally placed in Lampang, the city he defended, which has since been moved to Chiangmai.
In Trang in the South of Thailand, two graves have been renovated with the support of the the EAC funds. One is the grave of Commander, Capt. F Haurowitz in Trang who drowned at the entrance to the harbour. Another is the grave of Colonel August Kolls who served in The Royal Siamese Provincial Military Police.
In Muak Lek around 150 km north of Bangkok, a grave right next to the railways station bears witness to Danish involvement in other aspects of the modernisation of the Kingdom. Here rests Knud Lyhne Rahbek an only 19 year old land surveyor. A Bodhi tree that undoubtedly has been planted at the same time as the burial had overgrown the grave, but the grave has now been cleaned up.
“When we – myself together with Claus Gundersen and Gregers Moller – applied for the support from The EAC Foundation, I was fairly optimistic that we could soon finish this task,” says Flemming Winther Nielsen.
“But the task just keeps growing. One major frustration is, that the cemetery in Bangkok gets flooded every year. We have to push for the main caretaker – the British Embassy – to lay down drain pipes so our limited funds are not wasted,” he says.
So far, 20 graves mostly in the cemetery in Bangkok have been registered as worthy of preservation and 15 have by now already been renovated with the support of the EAC Foundation.