It is very disappointing that, at least in Natal, the authorities did not see to the maintenance of war cemeteries in the early years after their inception. The metal crosses required frequent attention, but, with care, they could have a lengthy life (e.g the +50 year old ones at Estcourt, which, judging from my photographs might still have served their purpose far longer).
Individual graves were improved, and sometimes maintained, by families, friends and comrades (e.g. the ILH headstones and memorials in many places in South Africa). However, as veterans died and memories of the wars faded, it is clear that alternatives to high maintenance metal crosses were sought and, unfortunately, the clock cannot now be turned back.
I'm planning a visit to Imtombi Cemetery early next year. I'm looking for a certain grave of 4180 L/Cpl G Cole. Thanks to a posting on this forum regards the row number of each individual grave I'm aware that G Cole is buried in row 8. Is each grave identified? Or what would I expect to see? Thanks.
The last time I was there was 6 years ago and you could clearly see the names on the crosses. They had been painted over several times, but looking closely, the names can be seen. I don't remember all of the crosses being there though, but you can still work out the rows. I would suggest you take the plan you refer to with you so at least you can work things out with the names that are there.
Thanks Doug. What with reports of the cemetery being part vandalised. Plus a squatters camp close by I'm just wondering what to expect once I'm there?? My grandfather was a member of the Gloucestershire Regiment there 1899-1900. And thankfully came home. Or else I wouldn't be writing this today!!!! It is a family friend's great uncle who unfortunately died of the enteric fever. Of which I'm hoping to visit his grave. Mike.
When I was there it was raining and lightening, but it is very isolated. I would recommend going early morning and if there are a couple of others to go with you, all the better. I found Ladysmith fine then, but I believe it has changed, so just being vigilant should be ok, but company is good!
I have been to a couple of other places since and found very isolated memorials and grave sites and had some issues then at a couple. My friend driving at the time kept the engine running at one place and had to park in the gate opening to stop some youths locking us in!!
Glosterboy wrote: I'm planning a visit to Imtombi Cemetery early next year. I'm looking for a certain grave of 4180 L/Cpl G Cole. Thanks to a posting on this forum regards the row number of each individual grave I'm aware that G Cole is buried in row 8. Is each grave identified? Or what would I expect to see? Thanks.
Sorry to disappoint you but the only surviving memorials at Intombi are the regimental memorials (with names) and a fairly small number of individual gravestones of officers and local troops. In the 1970s all the metal crosses marking the graves of the British other ranks were removed for some reason or other but with the intention of returning them at some point. Lo and behold when the time came to put them back they'd all disappeared from storage. I've been to Intombi several times in the 1990s and was diappointed to find that there were no other ranks' metal crosses.