South African UK Legion hold first SS Mendi memorial service
28 February 2013
Members of the South African UK Legion held the first-ever
memorial service at Portsmouth
(Milton) Cemetery to commemorate the casualties of SS
In February 1917, the 4,000-ton SS Mendi, carrying the
last contingency of the South African Native Labour Corps, was cut
in half as it was struck by the much larger SS Darro, an
empty meat ship bound for Argentina.
Within 20 minutes, the Mendi had sunk off the
coast of the Isle of Wight.
The disaster claimed 646 lives, most of whom were never found.
But nine bodies washed up at Portsmouth and were buried in Milton
The Reverend Ken Appleford, from St Mary's parish, Portsmouth,
led the service and paid tribute to the 'supreme
sacrifice' made by these men.
Peter Dickens, 45, chairman of South African Legion UK, said:
'It's a pretty significant parade for us because in South Africa
the Mendi is taking more significance as people understand the
contribution of black Africans to the First and Second World
The CWGC offers the award-winning educational resource 'Let
us Die Like Brothers, dedicated to the SS Mendi disaster.
The CD-ROM has a total running time of 20 minutes, but divided into
3 sections which could be viewed independently. For assembly or
Contatc firstname.lastname@example.org if you wish
to order a free copy.