document was received from Ricky Nortje who is the National
Coordinator of the South African War Graves Project. We initially
became acquainted over some military
graves I had found in Hillary Cemetary and he sent this
document in response to a question about the SAWGP. On reading
it, I found it had a lot of other interesting stuff in it
as well. Allan Jackson - 9 August 2006
in the World Wars and many other things...
Ricky Nortje - June 2006
is pictured here in Stellawood Cemetary with a typical
Commonwealth War Grave-pattern headstone and the
cemetary's Cross of Sacrifice visible in the background.
War Graves Commission | World
War I in Durban | World War II in Durban
Graves in Durban | Victoria Crosses
| SA War Graves Project | Haunted
War Graves Commission
Arthur Goulstone Ware was responsible for starting the Imperial
(now Commonwealth) War Graves Commission.
to enlist in the British army in WWI due to his age, Ware
travelled across to France at the head of a mobile Red Cross
Unit. Struck by the sheer carnage he saw on the front and
the obvious lack of anyone recording the dead, Ware got the
idea to raise a body to perform this task and, with the assistance
of the British government, established the Graves Registration
Commission in 1915.
next two years, along with assistance from well know architects,
artists and poets, which included Sir Edwin Lutyens, Sir Reginald
Blomfield [who designed the Cross of Sacrifice
which adorns the CWGC cemetaries. Ed.] and Rudyard
Kipling, Ware designed appropriate war memorials and cemeteries,
determined to ensure the ongoing recognition of the war dead
beyond the conclusion of hostilities.
time of his death in 1948, The Imperial War Graves Commission
had established a presence in some 150 countries.
the Commonwealth War Graves Commission (CWGC) is a unique
body, responsible for the monumental and perpetual task of
commemorating those who died in the two world wars. The four
main principles of the CWGC are:
each of the dead should be commemorated individually by
name either on a headstone over the grave or by an inscription
on a memorial if the grave was unidentified.
the headstones and memorials should be permanent
the headstones should be uniform and
there should be no distinction made on account of military
or civil rank, race or creed.
commemorates 1.7 million war dead in over 23,000 burial grounds.
Africa is one of six Commonwealth countries which participate
in the work of the Commission, others being UK, New Zealand,
Australia, Canada and India. The cost of the Commission is
met by the participating countries in proportion to the number
of graves in their area. South Africa's contribution is 2%.
to the South African headstones, the Springbok head appears
atop of the stone, with the service number, rank, initials,
surname and official abbreviation of any British decoration.
Below this, is the name of the service or regiment, date of
death and age, and in some cases, a religious emblem was featured
below this. Relatives were given an opportunity to have a
personal message with max 25 letters inscribed on the headstones.
African WW1 headstones were made from Paarl granite with the
motto inscribed coming from the old national emblem "Endracht
Maakt Macht", which is Dutch for "Union is strength".
African WW11 headstones were made from Rustenberg granite
with the motto "Endrag Maak Mag", the Afrikaans
are 6763 South African graves from WW1 & WW11 located
within South Africa. These are made of 256 names on 6 memorials
and 6507 graves in 594 cemeteries. There are also 1571 British,
5 Canadian, 81 Australian, 13 New Zealand, 24 Indians and
136 Other nations, including Poland and Greece.
War I in Durban
became a considerable hospital centre during the First World
War. In May 1918, it contained No. 3 General Hospital, seven
other hospitals and two convalescent camps, to which sick
and wounded were brought from East Africa and other theatres
of war. I was recently reading a journal on the history of
Metropolitan Durban by Peter Johnston, and it seemed that
many normal activities and the development of Durban, came
to a virtual standstill during the first world war, due to
the towns response in support for the war effort.
were frequent fund raising activities to finance the effort
as well as massive recruiting drives. Local papers, daily
covered the progress of the war, including photographs of
some local Durban men serving in the armed forces. There was
also a roll of honour section, which carried the names of
the wounded and dead. It's interesting to note that a young
woman by the name of Ethel Campbell used to stand on north
pier waving flags, greeting and bidding farewell to ships
coming and going from Durban. She became known as the "girl
with the flags".
this time, the Y.M.C.A erected a hut in the centre of town
and provided refreshments for the troops as well as organized
parties to welcome returning troops. Many houses on the Berea
were used as military convalescent homes. Entertainment also
included concerts at Albert and Mitchell Park.
after the sinking of the Lusitania by a German submarine,
tensions ran high in Durban and many German owned businesses
were gutted by fire by anti-German elements. Buildings that
fell prey to these acts of arson included the Alexander hotel,
Muller & Company and Baumann's Bakery. It was ironic to
note that Muller & Company was actually a Dutch owned
and the owner of Baumann's Bakery had sons serving in the
South African Army. The First World War had firmly established
Durban as a port.
commemorates 6640 identified burials and 2823on memorials
of South Africans that died in the First World War.
War II inDurban
WW11, servicemen in Durban received special treatment, enjoying
free rides on municipal transport and special concession at
cinemas, as well as free concerts at the City Hall, run by
the Municipal Entertainment Department. Durban harbour proved
invaluable for the Allied cause.
Salisbury Island became a naval base and joined the Bluff
by a causeway. The railway line along the Embankment was electrified
and the graving dock was improved.
camp was erected in Clairwood to house servicemen passing
through, as well as a POW camp. Not only did the port serve
as a stop over for troops, but troops were also able to change
convoys or board trains in Durban for military destinations
were erected at Stella Park and Penzance Rd, as well as the
two racecourses. Kings house on the Berea was turned into
a hospital and to the south of Durban, the Royal Navy built
barracks, which would later become the Wentworth Hospital.
this time, Perla Gibson, singing from North Pier, entertained
troops leaving and arriving at the port. She became known
as "The lady in white". In 1942, a young serviceman
named Arthur Morris would disembark from the "Highland
Chieftain". Who would have known that forty-six years
later, he would become a Durban City Councillor?
to note that there was 250,000 tons of shipping sunk off the
S.A coast. Kings Warehouse was often used as a makeshift morgue.
To protect Durban's identity, the lighthouse on the Bluff
was demolished and Cave Rock on the Bluff was dynamited. Both
were deemed to be far too identifiable.
shelters were built and there was a blackout from 27th June
1942 as well as the introduction of day light saving. Identity
disks were issued and parents were encouraged not to tell
their children about the war.
Club was greatly dedicated to entertaining servicemen. Populated
places included the Roadhouse and Athlone Hotel, with prostitution
rife in the Point and Clairwood areas.
an increase in employment in Durban with further land reclamation
in Congella and Clairwood during 1941. Many bridges were constructed
after the military became concerned about the city's routes
of evacuation in the event of an emergency. As a result of
this, in 1942, the Umhlatuzana and St Andrew's bridges were
completed as well as the Bellair subway.
commemorates 10,019 identified burials and 1,883 on memorials
of South Africans who died during the Second World War.
Graves in Durban
from the Cross of Sacrifice found at military plots with 40
burials and over, there is also a "Stone of Remembrance",
which is located at military plots with 400 burials and more.
Stellawood Cemetery has one. The inscription "Their name
liveth for evermore", is inscribed on the stone; words
chosen by Rudyard Kipling.
of Sacrifice that appears in cemeteries with more than 40
Commonwealth war graves is made from Portland stone stands
on an octagonal block that rests on three steps. There is
a bronze downward pointing sword that hangs down the side.
of remembrance that appears in cemeteries with more than 400
Commonwealth graves is also made from Portland stone.
cemeteries in the Durban area that contain war graves:
Ordnance Rd Military Cemetery - 80 Commonwealth graves and
78 Anglo-Boer war graves
West St - 21 Commonwealth graves and 22 Anglo-Boer War graves.
The grave of SA painter, John Thomas Baines is located in
this cemetery. There is also a grave of R. Kenyon Howden
who died 16 November 1949 (possibly the founder of Kenyon
Howden Rd in Montclair ?)
Umgeni River Mouth Muslim Cemetery - 1 Commonwealth
Clairwood Hindu Cemetery - 2 Commonwealth
St Thomas Rd Church Cemetery - 1 Commonwealth
is a concern in many of the cemeteries, with many now employing
full time security guards in an attempt to prevent further
decay. Many cemeteries are under lock and key now !!!
is also home to some Victoria Cross recipients.
Vaughan Gorle - V.C won October 1st 1918 at Ledeghem, Belgium.
Gorle was serving with the "A"Bty. 50th Brigade
Royal Field Artillery, British Army- buried Stellawood Cemetery.
George Murray Smythe - V.C won June 5th 1942, Libya, serving
with the Royal Natal Carbineers - cremated Stellawood Cemetery.
Malone - V.C won October 25th 1854, serving with the 13th
Light Dragoons at Balaclava, Crimea, Charge of the Light
Brigade - buried Kings Rd Cemetery, Pinetown.
Edward Haydon Parker - V.C won March 31st 1900, serving
with Q Battery Royal Horse Artillery, Korn Spruit, South
Africa - buried Stellawood Cemetery.
to note the story behind this grave. It's alleged that this
recipient is a fraud and the real V.C Parker, the true recipient
of the V.C is buried in London Rd Cemetery, Coventry. This
chap who is buried in Stellawood with all the royalties of
a recipient, obviously fooled everyone this side of the world
with his stories of how he won the medal. He must have been
familiar with the action concerned, a possible brother of
the real Parker and enjoyed all the perks that came from being
a V.C recipient, drinks on the house and troops of admiring
women. Parker the impostor !!!!
are 28 South African recipients of the Victoria Cross, out
of the 1355 awarded to date.
African War Graves Project
years ago, a Canadian by the name of Ralph McLean was travelling
around France, documenting Canadian War Graves, when he realized
the vast amount of South African war Graves located among
the Commonwealth casualties. It was this realization that
inspired him to start up the South
African war Graves Project.
researching my Great Grandfathers WW1 medals and came across
the website and volunteered my services. I have been with
the Project for about a year and a half and the National Coordinator
for about 10 months.
aim of the Project is to photographically record every South
African casualty throughout the world and by building a on-line
data base of these photos, they can be easily accessed by
distant relatives, schools, MOTH shell-holes and any other
interested parties, not able to actually visit the grave located
on some foreign battlefield. The Project has proved to be
popular and due to demand, has expanded to not only include
all South African graves from the two world wars, but also
the Anglo-Boer war, The South African bush wars and graves
from the Freedom Struggle.
is separate from the CWGC and is self funded by the volunteers
who make up our ranks. Our progress can be monitored on our
official website www.southafricawargraves.org.
Anglican Church cemetery in Montclair is said to be haunted.
There is one South African soldier buried there. Rumour has
is that during the war, a sailor on shore leave, attacked
and murdered a local girl. It's said that she roams the graveyard
in the evenings !!! Luckily I didn't test this theory and
visited the cemetery during the day !!!