The Hollybrook Memorial: A Virtual Tour

30 August 2018 | Bethany Reynard

Hidden away, inside the entrance to Hollybrook Cemetery, opposite Southampton General Hospital is a national First World War memorial few people know about. Yet, it is as important as its famous counterparts like the Menin Gate at Ypres and Thiepval on the Somme.

The Hollybrook Memorial was unveiled by the War Graves Commission in 1930. It commemorates by name the members of the Commonwealth land and air forces who were lost or buried at sea or whose final resting place is unknown.

Many of the men and women listed on the 109 panels died when the hospital ships, troop ships or merchant ships they were sailing on were mined or torpedoed, mostly in home waters. Each of the 1,930 people and the twenty‐eight ships and two airships named have fascinating and resonant stories to tell – forgotten stories of tragedy, heroism and sacrifice.

Among those profiled in the virtual tour, accompanying booklet and video are 596 men of the South African Native Labour Corps who died when SS Mendi sank in February 1917 in one of the most significant maritime disasters in South African history. Their names alone cover 16 panels. Thirteen nursing staff, lost when the hospital ships they were serving on were torpedoed, are named here.

The hospital ship Asturias had unloaded 900 wounded at Avonmouth and was sailing back to Southampton when it was torpedoed. 35 crew members, the majority from Southampton, were lost. Research has also revealed the fascinating story of two non‐rigid inflatable airships lost at sea whilst on mine sweeping and U‐boat hunting patrols. Those who were buried at sea are listed by country: United Kingdom, Australia, Canada, Rhodesia, Africa, British West Indies and India.

Through the Heritage Lottery Funded ‘Forgotten Wrecks of the First World War’ project, the Maritime Archaeology Trust have researched 1,100 South Coast wrecks. More than 300 volunteers have helped with archive research, fieldwork, diving, artefact recording, creating resources and education and outreach over the last four years to uncover the often untold tales of these losses and the daily battles that took place off our shores.

The Hollybrook 3D model and virtual tour, along with the booklet, video and teachers notes, are all freely accessible through the Forgotten Wrecks project website‐memorial