Tag: Hollybrook Cemetery

Hollybrook Memorial: Southampton

The Hollybrook Memorial in Hollybrook Cemetery in Southampton, commemorates by name almost 1,900 servicemen and women of the Commonwealth land and air forces* whose graves are not known, many of whom were lost in transports or other vessels torpedoed or mined in home waters (*Officers and men of the Commonwealth’s navies who have no grave but the sea are commemorated on memorials elsewhere). The memorial also bears the names of those who were lost or buried at sea, or who died at home but whose bodies could not be recovered for burial. Almost one third of the names on the memorial are those of officers and men of the South African Native Labour Corps, who died when the troop transport Mendi sank in the Channel following a collision on 21 February 1917. (Text from Commonwealth War Graves Commission)

Memorial at Hollybrook Cemetery in Southampton

Memorial at Hollybrook Cemetery in Southampton

The memorial makes for very sombre reading, especially when you consider that this is probably one of the only places where so many of these people are remembered. It covers both World Wars (there is also a dedicated WW2 plot in the Cemetery), and the highest ranking person on the memorial is Field Marshall Lord Kitchener, Secretary of State for War, who died when the battle cruiser HMS Hampshire was mined and sunk off Scapa Flow on 5 June 1916, he is mentioned on plaque 01.

Mendi Corner

Mendi Corner (1497×752)

The Men of the Mendi are listed on plaques 3-19. Other ships of interest are the Union Castle ships Glenart and Galway Castle.

There are over 100 plaques on the memorial, testifying once again to the magnitude of the loss of life during the Two World Wars. It is a very thought provoking memorial, and a very special one to me as this is where the Mendi Men are remembered.

© DRW 2013-2018. Created 14/05/2016

Updated: 10/01/2018 — 20:21

Southampton Civilian Casualty Memorials

This memorial to Civilians killed during the bombing of the city of Southampton may be found in Hollybrook Cemetery. It is not a very imposing monument either, and if you did not know you would assume it is just a seating area.

It seems as if it was recently repainted, and in the repainting they really made the inscription illegible.

Inscription on the back wall of the monument

Inscription on the back wall of the monument

Inscription text reproduced

Inscription text reproduced

The monument has another inscription on it which advises that the rubble stonework was obtained from bomb damaged buildings in the city.

Many of the casualties from the bombing are buried at Hollybrook, and I heard a rumour that there was a mass grave in the cemetery for unidentified bodies, but was never able to confirm it.

I used to stay in East Street, next door to the Debenhams store which used to be Edwin Jones & Co., and there is an inscription on the building that states it is a replacement for the original building that was destroyed in the bombing.

Plaque outside Debenhams

Post 1959 Queens Building (now Debenhams)

Over the road from Debenhams, in Houndwell Park, there is another plinth with an inscription that very few people are aware of.

And finally, just outside the Bargate there is another memorial to those who died in the city during the bombing.

The bombing also damaged a lot of buildings, and one of the most obvious signs of the damage may be seen on the corner of  St Bernard (St Michael’s), and High Street where the ruins of the Holyrood Church stand.

Plaque at Holy Rood Church

Plaque at Holyrood Church

The ruins of Holy Rood Church

The ruins of Holyrood Church

Across the River Itchen in Woolston, the Supermarine factory used to be and it was targeted by the Luftwaffe, and large parts of the area were devastated too. A plaque commemorates the demise of the community known as “Itchen Ferry”.

Itchen Ferry Plaque

Itchen Ferry Plaque

Up in South Stoneham Cemetery near Southampton Airport is the a Roll of Honour commemorating the men and women killed in a bombing raid on 11 September 1940 at the Cunliffe-Owen Aircraft Ltd works nearby.  52 People were killed and 92 injured. 

Photographing war graves I often forget that amongst the many graves in some of these cemeteries there are many civilians who lost their lives in the cities due to the enemy bombing, and I find it sad that there is no real way to tell them apart from normal deaths.  Southampton is a city rich with history, and I often used to walk amongst the old buildings and wonder what it must have looked like before the bombers came. Sadly, the result of the bombers did not necessarily result in a better city, if anything development was stifled somewhat because so much had been destroyed, and the results were missing the unique touch of old Southampton. The city has a number of historical plaques pertaining to its past, and I have some of these on a page all about the plaques in Southampton.

© DRW 2015 – 2018. Created 13/03/2015

Updated: 22/04/2018 — 13:19

Mendi Memorial at Hollybrook Cemetery in Southampton, UK

Technically this memorial is not a specific Mendi Memorial, it really  commemorates by name almost 1,900 servicemen and women of the Commonwealth land and air forces whose graves are not known, many of whom were lost in transports or other vessels torpedoed or mined in home waters. More information about the memorial may be found at the relevant CWGC information page.

Memorial at Hollybrook Cemetery in Southampton

Memorial at Hollybrook Cemetery in Southampton

My own interest in the Mendi started many years ago when I read “Black Valour” by Norman Clothier. At the time it was the definitive book about the Africans and Coloureds that served with the South Africans during the wars. Coupled with my interest in ships, it became a natural extension of my webpage and my graveyard photography.  It took many years to finally be able to visit the Mendi Memorial at Avalon Cemetery and from then on things just happened. That Mendi webpage is still a work in progress even after so many years, and deep in my heart I always wanted to visit some tangible relic to the Mendi in the United Kingdom.

I got that opportunity on 10 April 2013 while I was in Southampton.

The "Mendi Corner"

The “Mendi Corner”

It was a very emotional moment to stand at that spot and see those plaques for the first time. Strangely enough it had been a grey overcast day so far, but just for that short period the sun came out and shone on the memorial for me.

There are two CWGC memorials in Hollybrook Cemetery, as well as numerous CWGC graves scattered around inside of it. Yet, this is a very special piece of England. A number of Mendi casualties are buried at Portsmouth Milton cemetery, and I would eventually get to visit them too.

Google Earth co-ordinates for the memorial are: 50.933687°, -1.430978°

I returned later in the year and left a small poppy cross for my countrymen who died so far from home, and on 23 February 2014, I participated in a wreath laying at this memorial. For me it was a very special moment,  In some small corner of Southampton there is a place that will always be South African.


© DRW 2013-2018. Created 11 April 2013. Added to Blog 26/01/2014

Updated: 22/06/2018 — 18:59
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