After the Battle of Tanga in November 1914, the Germans buried the Commonwealth war dead on the battlefield where they had died.
By 1916, when Tanga was occupied by a Commonwealth force, many of the wooden grave markers erected by the Germans had been lost and no register of the burials could be found – so it was decided to collect all of the bodies and bury them in a single cemetery on the battlefield. The site chosen subsequently becoming the CWGC Tanga Memorial Cemetery.
In total, some 270 bodies were collected and reburied, although the site acts as the point of commemoration for all 394 casualties from the battle – including those with no known grave.
A temporary memorial, consisting of a large stone cairn, was made by local railway employees and erected in the cemetery around 1916-17.
After the war, the newly formed War Graves Commission looked at how to make the cemetery permanent and how best to commemorate those who had died.
A number of proposals were put forward until it was agreed that a memorial – in the form of a screen wall – be erected over the site. This was formally approved on 9 June 1926.