Sunday, 15 March 2015

South Africa in WW1

One of the best things about this commemorative project is being in contact with people all around the world who are also interested in the poetry of the First World War.

The other day, I spoke to a young lady in South Africa and I remembered that I had not written much about Edith L.M. King (1871 - 1962) who was born in Pietermaritzberg, South Africa.  Coincidentally, my aunt married an Afrikaans soldier who she met when she was in the Women's Royal Naval Service during the Second World War.  She emigrated to Pietermaritzberg.

Edith King is featured in Volume 1 of "Female Poets of the First World War".  Edith studied art in Paris before returning to South Africa to become a school teacher.

Through Derek Walker of the Facebook Group https://www.facebook.com/groups/2572432720/?fref=ts  I discovered a "Forgotten Poet of the First World War" (Forgotten (male) Poets is another section of this commemorative exhibition project) - Samuel Edward Krune Mqhayi (1875 - 1945) - South African.  I also learned of the existence of the South African Labour Corps during WW1.

Derek kindly supplied the following information:  "The SANLC are a very neglected part of our military history. Basically volunteers who were employed to do the dirty work and who were not allowed to bear arms. Its a bit of an unsavoury part of our military history, and the loss of the Mendi was a tragedy, I dont have numbers or info on it all, but will see if I can dredge up some interesting reads about them. They also served in WW2 although I think they were then known as NMC (Native Military Corps), and did a fantastic job wherever they went.http://www.sahistory.org.za/article/world-war-i-and-south-african-native-labour-contingent

Photo:  Edith L.M. King from Google Images

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