02 November 2018

Royals Pay Tribute To Sacrifices Made By Africans During Two World Wars

Their Royal Highnesses, The Prince of Wales and Duchess of Cornwall, will take part in commemorative events to remember the sacrifice made by Gambian, Ghanian and Nigerian soldiers in the two World Wars at Commonwealth War Graves Commission cemeteries and memorials in all three countries.

  • Their Royal Highnesses, the Prince of Wales and Duchess of Cornwall, will visit the CWGC’s Fajara War Cemetery in Gambia; Christiansborg War Cemetery in Ghana; and The Prince of Wales will visit the CWGC Abuja Memorial in Nigeria, where they will pay tribute to the sacrifices made by Africans during the two world wars
  • First and last shots of the First World War were fired in Africa.
  • CWGC has restored memorials to African soldiers using 3D scanning technology

The royal couple will lay wreaths at the CWGC’s Fajara War Cemetery, Gambia; Christiansborg War Cemetery, Ghana; and The Prince of Wales will visit and lay a wreath at the CWGC Abuja Memorial in Nigeria. The CWGC commemorates almost 7,000 Commonwealth servicemen and women in these three African countries. 

The royal tour comes a week ahead of Remembrance Sunday commemorations on November 11, which have added significance as this year is the 100th anniversary of the end of the First World War.

Richard Hills, CWGC Director Africa and Asia Pacific Area, said: “Sadly, few people are aware of the importance of the First and Second World War campaigns in Africa, nor of the huge contribution and sacrifices made by Africans in both conflicts. This historic Royal Visit will do much to raise awareness of that sacrifice and our work in these magnificent countries.

“The Commission’s commitment across Africa bears witness to the ferocity of fighting that took place here and our determination that those who served should never be forgotten.”

Some of the first and last fighting of the First World War took place in Africa and Africans made a vital contribution to the war effort. Hundreds of thousands of Africans served during the two World Wars and tens of thousands died. Sadly, exact figures are impossible to determine due to the lack of available records from the time.

Over the last four years, the CWGC has commenced major restoration work at a number of sites in Africa – particularly on the magnificent Memorials to the Missing in Nairobi, Mombasa, Dar es Salaam and Abuja, that commemorate African troops and carriers who died during the East and West African campaign and have no known grave.

3D scans were taken of the memorials’ sculptures and plaques in East Africa to create a permanent digital record of them, and to help manufacture elements of the sculptures in need of repair.