Jinja War Cemetery is a peaceful and well-kept graveyard where rows of white headstones mark the final resting places of both European and African soldiers who died during World War I and World War II.
Today, the city of Jinja on the banks of Lake Victoria is best known for two things: It’s the historic source of the Nile River, and is now one of the main hubs in East Africa for outdoor activities like kayaking, mountain biking, and quad biking.
But before all this, Jinja was the center for the King’s African Rifles (KAR) in Uganda during the Second World War. Established in 1902, the KAR was a multi-battalion British colonial regiment that served in East Africa. Its rank and file was formed mainly from African soldiers known as askaris, while most of the officers were from the British Army. Starting in the 1960s, as former African colonies began achieving independence, the regiment began to break apart.
The Jinja War Cemetery was created as the last resting place for fallen soldiers of the KAR, the vast majority of whom died during World War II. According to the Commonwealth War Graves Commission, the cemetery contains only one First World War burial and 179 burials and commemorations from the Second World War.
Most of the graves are those of Ugandans who fought and died with the KAR. There are only a handful of British graves, the most notable being that of Sergeant V.L. Holloway, who died in 1944 while serving in Great Britain’s Royal Army Service Corps. His headstone bears a famous line from the poem “The Soldier” by Rupert Brooke: “There’s some corner of a foreign field that is for ever England.”
Also within the cemetery is the Jinja Memorial, a wall that commemorates more than 120 men of the East African Forces who died while serving in World War II. These men were buried in other parts of Uganda, but their graves were later deemed unmaintainable.
Know Before You Go
Jinja War Cemetery is located not far from the center of Jinja, along Kiira Road and Rotary Road. The cemetery is open Monday to Friday from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m.