On Sunday 29 May the Ambassador unveiled a memorial plaque on the grave of Linda Soomre (1918-1996) at the Rahumäe cemetery.
Mrs Soomre was in charge of the Tallinn City Centre Cemetery for 35 years. During the years of harshest Soviet rule she managed to preserve the integrity of the graves of 15 British servicemen who gave their lives for the cause of Estonian independence in the war of 1918-20. They were buried in the Tallinn Garrison Cemetery along with Estonian servicemen. The Soviet authorities demanded the British section of the graveyard be reused. The gravestones indeed had already been destroyed but Linda Soomre’s ingenuity, making this ground almost overnight a maintenance area for the graveyard, saved the remains of the soldiers from being violated.
In 1994 the British graves were repaired, new gravestones erected and the site was officially re-opened. For dedication and bravery in protecting the graves of British Servicemen Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II awarded Linda Soomre honorary Membership of the Order of the British Empire. On 26 June 1994 then British Ambassador in Estonia Mr Brian Low presented the Order to Mrs Soomre.
In his moving speech at Rahumäe cemetery HMA Nigel Haywood spoke in admiring of the remarkable courage of Mrs Soomre, who put her life on line for the preservation of British graves. In the darkest times of oppression she stood firm for the values that both British and Estonians share and did not allow an important part of our common history to be removed.
The Ambassador said that Linda Soomre’s story in its uniqueness perhaps sums up best the character and aspirations of Estonian people in general. “By inaugurating the memorial tablet we fulfil our debt of honour and express our deepest gratitude to this remarkable Estonian woman,” he concluded.
The Honour Guard at the ceremony was from HMS Sutherland - a British frigate on a friendly visit to Tallinn. After the blessing wreaths were laid by Commander of HMS Sutherland, the UK Defence Attaché and the Estonian Navy. Members of the family and relatives were also present at the plaque unveiling and later attended a private reception on board HMS Sutherland.
Articles in Estonian newspapers:
|Eesti Päevaleht: Linda kohtus Inglise kuningannaga|
|Postimees: Britid mälestasid haudu kaitsnud eesti naist|