musings while allatsea

Musings of a curious individual

Vereeniging Concentration Camp Cemetery

When I went to this cemetery I was looking for war graves and was not even aware that there were any concentration camp graves in it. The cemetery is also known as Beaconsfield Cemetery, but it was originally known as Vereeniging Old Town Cemetery. There are 48 Commonwealth burials of the Second World War in the cemetery. 
 
 
The history of the associated concentration camp may be found at British Concentration Camps of the South African War.
 
When I visited it the cemetery was in a very poor condition, with uncut grass, vandalised buildings and the feel that the local municipality were not interested in maintaining it in any sort of condition.  It was also very exposed with very limited shade and few trees.   
 
I also recall it was very hot day and finding the graves I was after was a very difficult task, but I did manage to find them all. However, the concentration camp graves are a different story. These were made out of sandstone and were already in a poor condition in the 1960’s (http://es.org.za/wp-content/uploads/2014/05/Vereeniging-CCC.pdf).
 
A double sided screen wall lists the names and date of death of those who died in the camp.
 
  
 
The site was restored in September 2011 by a team from the Erfenis Stigting so they may be in a different (and better) condition to what they were when I originally saw them in 2008. There are only 29 visible graves and I did not photograph all of them, many are just marked “Onbekend”.
 
 
The majority of deaths in this camp were from measles and not British soldiers as seems to be the general consensus. Childhood diseases proved to be as effective at causing deaths during the ABW as enteric fever was.
 
 
The sad state of this cemetery is indicative of  the poor state of maintenance in many small town cemeteries, and the poor state of the concentration camp graves is indicative of those who are quick to apportion blame for the deaths on the British, but who have never picked up a weedeater and gone out there to restore the graves of their own people. 
 
More images of the cemetery are available at eggsa 
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