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Thread: The Sinking of SS Mendi

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    Default The Sinking of SS Mendi

    The Sinking of SS Mendi

    The troopship SS Mendi left Cape Town on 25 January 1917, carrying the last contingent of the South African Native Labour Corps bound for the Western Front – some 823 men of the 5th Battalion. She stopped three times during her voyage, delivering cargo and taking on supplies. Her last stop was Plymouth, England, on 19 February. She sailed for France the following day. Since German submarines were present in the English Channel, she was escorted on this last, hazardous, leg of her journey by the Royal Navy destroyer HMS Brisk.

    After midnight on 21 February, thick fog surrounded Mendi and she had to slow down until she was barely moving forward. By 04:57 a.m. Mendi was 11 nautical miles (20 km) off St Catherine’s Point, on the southern tip of the Isle of Wight. Without warning, the steam ship SS Darro emerged from the dark and fog. She was a mail ship, twice the size of Mendi.

    https://blog.cwgc.org/ss-mendi/the-sinking-of-ss-mendi

    Those aboard Mendi were the last contingent of the SANLC to be transported to Europe. The survivors were assigned to other labour battalions and continued to perform their duties in France.
    "Our veterans did not forget about us .... Let's not forget about them." From Michael Levesque

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    Default Re: The Sinking of SS Mendi

    A South African poet, Samuel Edward Krune Mqhayi ( 1875- 1945) wrote a poem titled ‘Sinking of the Mendi’ , originally in in the Xhosa dialect . In an on line extract from ‘Cross Currents’ journal written by Chris Dunton, Mqhavi was present when S.S. Mendi sailed from Cape Town.

    To quote the last two verses

    “Be consoled, all you orphans!
    Be consoled, all you young widows!
    Somebody has to die, so that something can be built;
    Somebody has to serve, so that others can live;
    With these words we say: be consoled,
    This is how we build ourselves, as ourselves.
    Remember the saying of the old people:
    “Nothing comes down, without coming down.”

    Awu! The finest of Africa was busy dying!
    The ship couldn’t carry its precious cargo,
    It was echoing into the inner circles,
    Their brave blood faced the King of Kings.
    Their deaths had a purpose for all of us
    How I wish I could be with them,
    How I wish I could stand with them on resurrection day,
    How I wish I could sparkle with them like the morning star.
    Let it be so! ”
    "Our veterans did not forget about us .... Let's not forget about them." From Michael Levesque

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