SS Mendi troops remembered

26 February 2009

The Cape Garrison Artillery, formerly the UCT Regiment and a Reserve Force Unit, held a commemoration service for the SS Mendi at its memorial site at UCT on 21 February. About 30 members of the Fort Wynyard-based unit marched, flags were raised and there was a minute's silence to remember the 646 crew on board the steamship that sank off the Isle of Wight in 1917. At the height of World War 1, SS Mendi was chartered by the British government to transport 823 members of the 5th Battalion, South African Native Labour Corps, to France. It was struck and cut almost in half by SS Darro, an empty meat ship bound for Argentina. About 616 of the deceased were South Africans, mainly black troops from the Eastern Cape. Kevin Ashton of the unit said the commemoration was a success and they planned to make it an annual event.

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