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Pete Martin ¦ Transformational Journeys

The Forgotten Heroes. Tirailleurs Cemetary, Dakar.

SENEGAL | Wednesday, 10 January 2018 | Views [189]

2016 05 09 (02) Theyibe Cemetery

2016 05 09 (02) Theyibe Cemetery

Beyond the bustle of the Dakar suburb of Thiaroye, a small courtyard is laid out methodically with the unmarked white graves of fallen soldiers. Somewhere in the region of 173,000 men from their colonies in north, west and equatorial Africa served in the French army during World War II and a similar number from French West Africa had also fought in World War I. I drink mint tea politely with the cemetery groundsman in the warm sun whilst he explains.

It was only in 2014 that the French President, Francois Hollande, acknowledged the massacre of thirty of their own soldiers on this spot in November 1944. The black soldiers had been seeking equal pay and the recovery of unpaid wages for fighting on the front lines across Europe. The Senegalese actually believe it may have been up to three hundred soldiers that were killed in what the French officers considered to be mutiny, yet the French government has provided military records for only thirty deaths.

Tags: cemetary, remembrance, war heroes, war stories

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