Sinking of the SS Mendi remembered

29 February 2016

Sub-wardens and students from Kopano, Leo Marquard and Tugwell laid wreaths at the 99th commemoration of the sinking of the SS Mendi which was held at the Castle on Sunday 21 February.

Over 600 members of the South African Native Labour Contingent (SANLC) lost their lives when the SS Mendi was accidentally rammed in the English Channel off the Isle of Wight in 1917. They had been recruited from many areas in South Africa for the British Army to carry out work in the French harbours and in supply lines to the Western Front. The sinking was a major maritime disaster and became a legend for the bravery of those who perished.

A memorial to those who lost their lives aboard the SS Mendi is located below the astroturf close the entrance of Graca Machel Hall at UCT because this is where the SANLC was billeted on what was then Rosebank Agricultural Showgrounds and spent their last night on South African soil. This memorial site will be the focus of the centenary event next year.

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