PVT Jeremiah Siyabi

PVT Jeremiah Siyabi

Birth
South Africa
Death 30 Mar 1918 (aged 44–45)
Wembury, South Hams District, Devon, England
Burial Wembury, South Hams District, Devon, England
Plot 1 (Old Burial Ground)
Memorial ID 157272881 · View Source
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Very little is known about Private Jeremiah Siyabi of the South African Native Labour Contingent SANLC). Records give no mention of his family and merely say that he died in an accident, aged 45. SANLC was a regiment set up in 1916 at the request, and cost, of the British Government. It was disbanded in 1918. The men of the regiment were employed as labourers and paid just £3 a month. They were kept in conditions worse than those of prisoners of war and were separated from Europeans by high fences, topped with barbed wire. At all costs, they were to be kept away from white women, they were not allowed out of the camps without an escort, were not allowed in shops or bars and were not to be entertained in the homes of Europeans. No medals were awarded to the men of the force, even though the British Government had provided one for all who had served with SANLC. There are very few war graves in Britain of soldiers from the SANLC, just three in Devon. About one third of the names on the Hollybrook Memorial in Hampshire, were members of SANLC, many of whom died when the troop carrier ship, the Mendi, sank in 1917. It is amazing and wonderful that Private Jeremiah Siyabi is buried in a white British Churchyard in a beautiful position overlooking the sea, and has been given a memorial stone as good as any given to any soldier who died serving Britain in World War 1.

After the War, none of the black servicemen on the Mendi, neither the survivors nor the dead, or any other members of the South African Native Labour Corps, received a British War Medal or a ribbon. Their white officers did. This was South African decision. Black members of the South African Labour Corps from the neighbouring British Protectorates of Basutoland (modern Lesotho), Bechuanaland (Botswana) and Swaziland did receive medals.


Inscription

Plain white Forces headstone with South African Army badge at head. (Springbok surrounded by lettering in English and Afrikaans "Union is strength") 18830 Private J. Siyabi/ S.A. Native Labour Corps/ 30th March 1918.


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  • Created by: SkippySue
  • Added: 20 Jan 2016
  • Find A Grave Memorial 157272881
  • Find A Grave, database and images (https://www.findagrave.com : accessed ), memorial page for PVT Jeremiah Siyabi (1873–30 Mar 1918), Find A Grave Memorial no. 157272881, citing St Werburgh's Churchyard, Wembury, South Hams District, Devon, England ; Maintained by SkippySue (contributor 48877072) .