NEW MEMORIAL TO INDIAN AND BRITISH WORLD WAR I DEAD IN TANZANIA BUILT BY COMMONWEALTH WAR GRAVES COMMISSION AND UNVEILED ON REMEMBRANCE DAY
A new war memorial commemorating almost 400 Indian and British soldiers who died during the First World War in Tanzania has been completed by a team of craftsmen from the Commonwealth War Graves Commission (CWGC) in time for Remembrance Day.
The CWGC Tanga Memorial commemorates Indian and British troops who died in November 1914, when a combined Commonwealth force attacked the German held port of Tanga. The offensive, known as the Battle of the Bees, was a costly failure – the British and Indian troops were forced to retreat, leaving behind their fallen comrades and huge quantities of munitions and supplies.
The new memorial was unveiled by CWGC Director General Mrs Victoria Wallace, Mr Robert Shetkintong, Deputy High Commissioner for India to Tanzania, and British High Commissioner to Tanzania, Her Excellency Sarah Cooke on 11 November. His Excellency Mr Egon Kochanke Ambassador of the Federal Republic of Germany to Tanzania was also present along with local dignitaries and school children.
The work to build the memorial was part of a global initiative by the CWGC to research war casualties whose names were potentially held in its records but did not appear on a grave or memorial. The names of 62 Indian soldiers were added to the new memorial – bringing the total names commemorated to 394.
CWGC Director General Mrs Victoria Wallace said: “It will be a huge privilege to open the new Tanga memorial, which both commemorates over 60 more casualties whose names had not before been recognised, and restores the original, which had structural problems. The First World War had a terrible impact both on the local communities, and on the men from India and South Africa in particular who fought in what was then German East Africa, with disease taking as heavy a toll as the hostilities. I am delighted that so many local people – and in particular children – are coming to see the dedication of the new memorial, ensuring that future generations have a focus for remembering the sacrifices made over 100 years ago.”
The project to build the memorial was managed by the CWGC’s Africa and Asia Pacific Area (AAPA) team based in Nairobi. New Vratsa stone was shipped to Tanzania from Bulgaria, while the name panels were manufactured at the CWGC’s workshops in France.
Richard Hills, the CWGC’s Director for Africa and Asia Pacific Area, said: “The completion of the new memorial demonstrates the CWGC’s commitment to remember those who died during the two world wars – no matter who they were, where they fell or how they died. I am extremely proud of my colleagues in Africa for completing the memorial in time for today’s service.”