Monday, November 20, 2006

MIBISA Archive Project

MIBISA (Military Burials in South Africa) Archive Project

For the sake of clarity. A Military Burial is classified as that of ANY person, irrespective of Race, Colour, Creed or Gender, who died whilst undergoing Military service or training.

The MIBISA Archive Project was created as a result of the lack of photographic records in South Africa, of Headstones related to Military Burials. There are similar projects underway in England (British War Memorial Project). Canada (South African War Graves Project & The Maple Leaf Project) and Australia (Australian War raves project) to which MIBISA has donated related photographs in digital form.

The Headstones include those of the Zulu Wars, the Boer War, the Rand Revolt, World Wars 1 and 2, the Border War and the Freedom Struggle. All Memorials are photographed in detail and transcribed into Microsoft XL.

The intention is to photograph and archive information on Military Graves and Memorials, build up a database and to make such information available to anyone, wishing to use it for research. At no time will the passing of photographic Information be turned into a commercial project.

Assistance in the form of information related to the location of burial sites is currently being received from;

The South African Military History Society
The South African National Defence Force (Veterans Administration Department)
The Commonwealth War Graves Commission (South Africa)
The Anglo Boer-War Museum, Bloemfontein
The McGregor Museum, Kimberley
Numerous Municipality officials, Historians, Authors and Museum curators.

An example of the photographs obtained for the database can be found on the Internet site located at

The main database is set up on computer, and the photographs have all the information available for a specific casualty. Additionally, memorials are also included in the database. These are photographed and transcribed as Microsoft XL files

The database contains in excess of 7,500 photographs from the Western, Northern and Eastern Cape areas that have been collected over the past 36months which has involved traveling some 60,000 kilometers.

The project is currently self-funded and, as many single graves are off the beaten track and totally inaccessible to most vehicles a 1990 Toyota Raider 4x4 was purchased in 2004 to make the off-road work easier. The vehicle is fitted with a GPS, an Aluminium canopy has been fabricated and fitted out for camping and field trips. The materials for this have been donated by Gardens Towing Services, in Cape Town and the Signwriting was donated by Sign Laboratories in Milnerton..

At present I plan 3 x 1 week trips per year. These coincide with Holiday Pay, Annual bonus and Tax rebate. Recent trips have included Port Elizabeth and Kimberley. A major trip is being planned for April 2007 to include Springbok and Upington. I will spend the next few months in preperation for this trip and working on finances as I will only be able do this run once due to the time and distance involved.

Whilst it is accepted that there are similar projects archiving South African War Graves, this project is based in South Africa, and is dedicated to photographing ALL Military related burials within the South African borders only.

The first of 9 books was published during 2006 which is basically a reference work for Military Burials in the Western Cape. It is hoped that funds from this will be used to set up a Section 21 company with a hope that MIBISA can become self-supporting during 2007.

In support of the financial side of things we are teaming up with a number of other prominent people and hope to publish a Coffee Table Book entitled 'From Bridges to Blocklhouses' 'A study of Military Construction during the second Boer War 1899-1902' . MIBISA alone has collected hundreds of photographs of Blockhouses, Fortresses, Bridges, that were built during this campaign, including a Church in Noupoort.