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Remembered Today:

South African Forces

Black Watch

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I found this while checking on a South African unit.

The book, Suid-Afrika in die Eerste Wêreldoorlog (1914 - 1918) gives the following figures:

254,666 South Africans were in World War I.

For the various population groups -

146,897 Whites

25,000 Coloured/Indian

82,769 Blacks.

The numbers who died -

8,325 Whites


77,239 Blacks

The high mortality rate was largely due to sickness and wound infections.

This seems incredible it works out as % died

5.6% White

3.6% Indian/Coloured

93.3% Black

Can this be correct?


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Ian Gleeson has written an informative book: "The Unknown Force : Black, Indian and Coloured Soldiers Through Two World Wars" (Ashanti, 1994 ISBN 1 874800 56 1) specifically on this subject.

He states about the Great War:

"According to the official history of South Africa's participation in the First World War, 12,452 servicemen were killed in action or died as a result of active service.

Of this number 3,901 were members of the respective black, Indian and Coloured units.

The total of all South African forces raised throughout the war for the different campaigns and theatres, including the Rebellion, was 265,775. Of this total 89,913 were non-white volunteer servicemen."


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Thanks Harry, these figures seem a lot more realistic.


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