Where Gallant Soldiers Rest
Over 50,000 soldiers who fought in the two world wars rest in 32 burials sites around the country. These Commonwealth War Graves, the seven war memorials, the torturous memories borne by soldiers who survived the war and the uniforms of these soldiers- with an assortment of insignia plastered on them- are the only remnants of the two wars.
The war cemeteries and graves in Kenya are located in Nairobi, Nanyuki, Thika, Nakuru, Mombasa, Kitale, Kisumu, Kiambu, Gilgil and Eldoret. The Nairobi War Cemetery on Ngong Road is the largest in the country. It was opened in 1941, and it has about 2000 graves of soldiers from the Second World War. The Gilgil War Cemetery has about 200 graves of soldiers from the Second World War and the country’s struggle for self-rule. There are 196 graves in Nanyuki, of soldiers who fought in the Second World War. It is a similar story in all burial sites across the country, though in some, civilians were also buried alongside the soldiers.
Regular maintenance work has preserved these burial sites for decades, through the Commonwealth War Graves Commission. The graveyards are somber with tombstones planted in an appealing layout. A handful of flowers in between the graves and a lush green carpet of grass complete the picture. Mature trees dot the grounds dwarfing everything below them.
There are seven memorials in Kenya celebrating the heroes of the two wars. Soldiers who died at sea are commemorated by the Mombasa British Memorial while the memorials in Nairobi and Isiolo honor the unmaintainable graves. Four other memorials honor soldiers who do not have identifiable graves. Indeed, some tombstones bear inscriptions such as ‘Known to God’, for unidentified soldiers.