A mother and son research team are attempting to locate the graves of 10 soldiers from Gwent who fought alongside the Japanese during the First World War.

Dale and Adam Down are currently undertaking research into what happened to the graves of the 10 soldiers of the 2nd Battalion South Wales Borderers who died at the Siege of Tsingtao in China from September to November 1914.

Two men from the 36th Sikhs also died in that battle alongside the SWBs, Lance Naik Bishn Singh and Sepoy Upham Singh. 

The team currently have a cemetery name, the British War Cemetery in Tsingtao, and the details of all the fallen soldiers, and are slowly narrowing their search for the graves.

Mrs Down explained that both she and her son Adam have always been fascinated by foreign military battles, particularly in relation to the World Wars.

Dale is an amateur historian, but Adam has studied history and archaeology, and is currently working towards becoming a Battlefield Archaeologist.

In terms of other successes, they recently spent the last six years researching World War One graves in Singapore, resulting in the CWGC replacing one of the headstones.

Mrs Down said: “We just felt it was really sad that these men were buried so far from home, so far away from their families. At least, though, they are in a CWGC cemetery which is beautifully maintained and easily accessible.”

They recently got relocated to China, near to Tsingtao, and began researching its history, coming across the story of the South Wales Borderers. They now plan to travel to Tsingtao before the end of the year to officially locate the graves. 

Their main goal is to find the graves, review their condition, and notify the Commonwealth War Graves Commission (CWGC) to get the headstones repaired if required.

According to Mrs Down, the preservation of some things, such as cemeteries, are not always respected.

She explained the reasoning behind their decision to locate the graves: “As nobody was officially looking after these graves after about the 1930s, we think it’s time to see what happened, not just for the sake of the men but their families too.”

The timing of their research is incredibly poignant, given that next November will be the 110th anniversary of the battle, as well as Remembrance Day being just around the corner.

The names of the fallen soldiers are:

  • Sergeant Payne
  • Sergeant Miller
  • Private Sydenham
  • Private Bettis
  • Private Pavitt
  • Private Dale
  • Private Parker
  • Private Williams
  • Private Sewell
  • Private Evans

The team hope to find the graves and cemetery, which would enable them to provide the soldiers’ families some comfort in knowing that the final resting places of their heroic family members is being properly cared for. 

If any of the families of the soldiers have any information that may help Dale and Adam locate the graves, they are asked to get in touch via email on dalehdown@yahoo.co.uk or on Facebook.