This is a portrait of a South African WW2 soldier,

His name was Job Maseko and like millions of other Commonwealth soldiers, he volunteered to ‘defend the British Empire’.

He was captured during the fall of Tobruk.

As a POW he was put to work offloading German supply ships.

One day after he complained to some guards that he didn’t get enough water for bathing himself, they mocked him by saying that he was already too black and that bathing would be a waste of water for him.

Being a proud man Maseko decided to get his own back. Over the next few weeks he collected cordite from unused rifle rounds that was still littering the battle field.

With the cordite, some pieces of fuse wire and a milk tin he made a bomb which he kept on him until he could stash it on a German ship.

When the moment was right he hid his bomb between some petrol cans next to large stack of ammunition and lit the fuse.

By the time he got back to the prison barracks, a huge plume of black smoke was rising from the docks.

His honour was restored; he had sunk a supply ship and struck a mighty blow for the Empire.

A few weeks later he escaped from the camp and walked for 23 days across the desert until he met up with the South African army advancing towards Al Alamein.

Maseko was recommended for the Victoria Cross, but according to the artist who painted his portrait the authorities said he ‘was only an African’

Remember Job Maseko.