Cape Town – The Commonwealth War Graves Commission (CWGC) is calling on Cape Town residents to visit and pay tribute to some of the country’s forgotten heroes who are buried in cemeteries across the city.
The CWGC is encouraging South Africans to learn more about some of the World War I and II soldiers and major contributors, who for many years have gone unrecognised because of the racial division.
CWGC official historian George Hay said: “Many thousands of South Africans gave their lives in the first and second world wars, but the contributions of many, particularly black servicemen, have never been fully acknowledged.
“Many South Africans find it difficult to commemorate the two world wars because they do not realise how many South Africans of colour contributed to war efforts. Many of them distinguished themselves through their service, and it is time we acknowledge that.”
CWGC South Africa managing director Juan Maree said: “South Africans of all races need to come together and recognise the importance of our contributions.
“As South Africans we must be able to come together at the grave sites and memorials in our country to honour the men and women who served our country in conflict.”
The CWGC is also trying to identify other servicemen and women from across the Commonwealth who were not commemorated by name in cemeteries or on memorials.
The esteemed organisation, which maintains 23 463 South African graves, and or memorial sites, said it would continue to search for the names of missing servicemen and women so they might be remembered alongside their counterparts.
“All those from across the Commonwealth who gave their lives in the pursuit of peace in the two world wars must be recognised, whatever their race, background or the nature of their service.
“War memorials and cemeteries are permanent reminders of the sacrifices made by the men and women who shaped our world,” Hay said.