Tuesday, 21 February 2017

S.S.Mendi remembered

On the 21 first of February there will be a remembrance in Noordwijk for 5 of the 600 hundred victims of the Mendi.
The Mendi was on its way from the Isle of Wight when she collided with the Darro.
The captain of the Darro did not use a foghorn or reduced his speed fearing the German enemy.
Abram Leboche,Arosi Zenzile ,Sitebe Molide,Natal Kazimula and Sikaniso Mtolo washed ashore in Holland and are Buried in Noordwijk.
After 100 years the members of the South African Labour Corps will be remembered.

More on the S.S.Mendi.
the newspaperarticle
The monument


To mark the anniversary of the loss of the SS Mendi, the European Outpost of the UK Branch of the South African Legion/South African Branch of the Royal British Legion, with the permission of the South African Ministry of Defence and Military Veterans, will be hosting a wreath-laying ceremony  on Tuesday 21 February 2017 at the Algemene Begraafplaats in Noordwijk, the Netherlands.

In the annals of South Africa’s military history, 21 February  is a dark day. It marks the sinking of the troopship SS Mendi after it collided with the SS Daro off the Isle of Wight, with the loss of 616 South African servicemen, 607 of them members of the South African Native Labour Corps: Zulu, Xhosa, Sotho, Swazi, and Tswana. The names on the SS Mendi Roll of Honour are still reflected in Southern African society.

Today, the anniversary of the SS Mendi disaster is aptly the day on which South Africa remembers all her fallen soldiers and in particular this tragic event. Across the country, parades and ceremonies will be held to commemorate those South Africans who paid the ultimate price in wars across the globe.

Only a very few of the bodies of the SS Mendi casualties were ever found. Of those, 13 are interred in the UK. One member of the South African Native Labour Corps, Private Beleza Myengwa, who was originally buried near Le Havre in France, was ceremonially re-interred in July 2014, at the South African National War Memorial at Delville Wood, in the presence of the South African Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa. Private Myengwa was carried to his grave by serving South African soldiers, sailors, medics and airmen, past an honour guard of South African and French military veterans.

Five SS Mendi casualties, Private A. Leboche, Private Arosi Zendile, Private Sitebe Molide, Private Natal Kazimula and Private Sikaniso Mtolo, are interred in the Commonwealth War Graves Commission section of the General Cemetery of Noordwijk, just north of The Hague in the Netherlands. Though neutral during the First World War, the Netherlands was not spared from hosting the casualties of a war that was fought within earshot.

It is our fervent hope that you (or your representative) will be able to join us in this unique tribute to honour fallen South African servicemen who lie buried so far from home.
Story for SA Legion of Military Veterans by Andrew Bergman, photos CWGC.
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