Ellen Hannay Story

Lance Sergeant Robert Bell Hannay was killed in action on 14th April 1944 during the 2nd Division’s advance to Kohima to relieve the besieged garrison there. He was with the 1st Queens Own Cameron Highlanders and was just 30 years old.

He left behind his wife Ellen Hannay. She never remarried and joined the Woman’s Voluntary Service and volunteered for service in the Far East. It was in this capacity that she was able to visit the new cemetery on the old battlefield of Garrison Hill in Kohima in December 1945.

Ellen Hannay was without doubt the first widow to visit the grave of her husband at this cemetery. Over the rest of her life Ellen Hannay revisited the Kohima War Cemetery at least 8 times and when she passed away in 2010, her nephew Jim Gibson sought and gained permission from the Indian & British governments and the Commonwealth War Graves Commission for her ashes to be laid to rest in the grave of her husband.

After travelling to Kohima in October 2010 with a party from the Royal British Legion, Jim finally reunited the remains of his Aunt Ellen with those of her husband in the grave which has held him since 1944