The East African campaign of the First World War which started on 05 August 1914 when troops from the Uganda attacked German boast on Lake Victoria. This was soon followed up by an assault on the radio stations by the ships from the Royal Navy on 08 August 1914.Dar es Salaam was the capital of German East Africa, modern day Tanzania, and soon became the focal point for the Commonwealth Forces with the establishment of the General Headquarters there and later the No 3 East Africa Stationary Hospital. It was also the primary port of entry for supplies and the evacuation of the wounded.
At the start of the East African campaign the South African forces were involved in the German South West African, modern day Namibia, which ended on 09 July 1915. By 1916 South African forces were deployed, along with Indian and other Commonwealth forces, in the East African campaign. The war in German East Africa ended 25 November 1918.
DAR ES SALAAM WAR CEMETERY was created in 1968 when the 660 First World War graves at Dar Es Salaam (Ocean Road) Cemetery had to be moved to facilitate the construction of a new road. As the burials in the former African Christian, Non-Christian and Mohammedan plots had not been marked individually, they were reburied in collective graves, each marked by a screen wall memorial. (Memorial Gardens “B”, “C” and “D”). During the early 1970s, a further 1,000 graves were brought into this site from cemeteries all over Tanzania, where maintenance could no longer be assured.
Dar es Salaam War Cemetery now contains 1,764 Commonwealth burials of the First World War, 60 of them unidentified. The 112 war graves of other nationalities, the majority of them Belgian and German, all date from the First World War.
A total of 612 identified and 3 unidentified South African casualties from the First World War are commemorated in the cemetery. Of this 280 are South African Infantry, 88 are South African Horse, 73 are South African Service Corps, 54 are Cape Corps, 27 are South African Medical Corps, 16 are Rhodesian Regiment, 15 are South African Field Artillery. 11 are South African Rifles, 7 are South African Native Labour Corps, 6 each are British South Africa Police and South African Veterinary Service, 5 each are South African Engineers and South African Mounted Brigade, 3 each from the South African Motor Cycle Corps and South African Pioneers, 2 each are Northern Rhodesian Police, South African Indian Bearer Corps, South African Mounted Engineers, South African Mounted Rifles and South African Water Supply Corps, 1 each are Northern Rhodesian Regiment, Northern Rhodesian Native Regiment, Camp Commandant, South African Intelligence Corps, South African Road Corps and South African Special Service Company.
The cemetery also contains the DAR ES SALAAM HINDU CREMATION MEMORIAL which commemorates 14 Indian servicemen whose remains were cremated in accordance with their faith.
The DAR ES SALAAM BRITISH AND INDIAN MEMORIAL which stands within Dar es Salaam War Cemetery, commemorates by name more than 1,500 officers and men who died in East Africa during and after January 1917 (the advance to the Rufiji river) who have no known grave. The memorial was moved from a site elsewhere in the township and re-sited in Memorial Garden A. The earlier casualties are commemorated by a similar memorial at Nairobi, Kenya.
During the Second World War, Tanzania saw the creation of several transit camps within its borders for Commonwealth forces moving to and from the Middle East and India. There are 41 graves from the Second World War, 7 of them unidentified. 34 of these are South African of which 16 are casualties from the South African Air Force.
The cemetery is maintained by the East African Office of the Commonwealth War Graves Commission.
Story for the South African Legion of Military Veterans by Charles Ross with photos by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission.