Three Ships Parade, Richmond

Three Ships Parade, Richmond

RICHMOND-ON-THAMES – The Annual Three Ships Parade took place in Richmond on 23 February and was followed by a Q1 Branch Meeting and Social.

In the week that the SA Legion UK & Europe pay respects to all Naval and Maritime losses by using the ships SS Mendi, HMSAS Southern Floe and SAS President Kruger as iconic symbols of these losses, a number of events took place culminating in the Three Ships Parade in London. The venue for this service was the Chapel and Cenotaph at Richmond Cemetery.

The England Team sets the bar for events ever higher with each event, and the welcoming hot drinks and biscuits were most appreciated as were the professionally designed and printed handouts.

From left to right, Regional Chair Cameron Kinnear, Standard Bearers Jose Lopes, Dave Wiseman, Graeme Scott, Lee Greed and bugler Bobby Crick.

Brian Parry and the Standards were superb in their turnout and drill, and the SA Legion Padre Craig Esterhuizen’s address was, as usual, entertaining and very relevant. Three poems were read out by Stuart Robertson, Johan De Villiers and Cameron Kinnear for each of the iconic ships.

Wreaths were laid by Johan De Vries, Stuart Roberston, DuToit Verster and Adrian de Villiers.

After the parade the guests adjourned to the RBL club at Teddington for the England Branch Q1 meeting and a social.

 

Text by Lgr Cameron Kinnear

Photography by Karen Parry, Theo Fernandes, and Victor Ho.


SS Mendi Remembrance, Portsmouth UK

PORTSMOUTH, UK – In a week in which we commemorate South African naval and maritime losses, two events took place in Portsmouth.

On Monday 18 February wreaths were laid to commemorate HMSAS Southern Floe and the SAS President Kruger.

Cameron Kinnear, Chair of the UK & Europe Region of the SA Legion pays his respects.

On the 21st,  South Africa’s Armed Forces Day, wreaths were laid at Milton Cemetery to commemorate the sinking of the troopship SS Mendi.

Milton Cemetery is the resting place of nine of the dead. A further five are dispersed on the southern coast of the UK, one lies in France and five (or possibly six) in Noordwijk in the Netherlands.

Standards were paraded, commanded by Portsmouth stalwart Chris Purcell. The Lord Mayor of Portsmouth Councillor Lee Mason opened the service with a short retelling of the incident, and underlined the commitment that the City of Portsmouth has undertaken to commemorate the men of the Mendi.

A poem entitled The Sinking of the SS Mendi was read by a cadet from B Company, Hampshire & Isle of Wight Army Cadet Force.

The Act of Remembrance was led by Reverend Marcus Collie.

After the Last Post and Reveille, wreaths were laid by a number of attendees:

  1. South African High Commissioner, Her Excellency Ms Nomatemba Tambo
  2. Lord Mayor of Portsmouth, Councillor Lee Mason
  3. Brigadier General Rariabu, South African High Commission
  4. Commander Dreelan, representing The Royal Navy
  5. Councillor Darren Sanders, on behalf of the Leader of Portsmouth City Council
  6. Councillor Stephen Morgan MP, MP for Portsmouth South
  7. Commonwealth War Graves Commission, Mr Julian Evans
  8. South African Womens Forum, Ms Marie Costa
  9. Honorary Freeman Syd Rapson
  10. South African Legion, Mr Cameron Kinnear

It was noted that the CWGC had completed work to replace the shared headstones with one headstone per man.

In this image from the 2013 ceremony the headstones can be seen to be memorialising more than one man, and the area is not as well kept as today.

After the Milton Ceremony, the focus then moved to The Point in Old Portsmouth, an iconic part of the city that overlooks the busy harbour of Portsmouth.

The Lord Mayor welcomed the attendees, and then her Excellency Ms Nomatemba Tambo made a short but eloquent speech and thanked all for continuing to commemorate and honour the men of the Mendi.

Her Excellency Ms Nomatemba Tambo

The stone was then unveiled. At the request of the High Commissioner, Mayor Mason read the inscription to the assembled guests.

The guests then attending an art exhibition at the Portsmouth Cathedral. The exhibition included a painting of the SS Mendi.

 

February – The Three Ships Commemorations include:

  • WW1: SS Mendi, which lead to 616 South Africans and 30 crew who lost their lives at sea, in South Africa’s biggest naval loss in history.
  • WW2: HMSAS Southern Floe, was sunk by a mine off Tobruk with the loss of 27 men, with one survivor, Stoker C J Jones.
  • Post-WW2: SAS President Kruger, President-class Type 12 frigate which sank in 1982 with the loss of 16 lives after colliding with her replenishment oiler, SAS Tafelberg, in the South Atlantic.
  • This day also marks South African Armed Forces Day.

Congratulations to Lydia Mellor and team for the superbly run events.


SS Mendi Remembrance, Noordwijk, The Netherlands

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Category : Articles , News , Newsletter , WW1

NOORDWIJK, ZUID-HOLLAND – In a dignified ceremony in Noodwijk in the Netherlands today, the fallen South African servicemen of the SS Mendi (at least five of whom lie buried in the Commonwealth War Graves Commission section of  Noordwijk General Cemetery) were fittingly commemorated.

In the annals of South Africa’s military history, 21 February 1917 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.

H. E. the South African Ambassador to the Netherlands, Mr Vusi Koloane

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.

SA Legion Europe Branch Chairman Lgr Andrew Bergman

SA Deputy Military Attache Lt Col Andrew Mafololo and H. E. the South African Ambassador to the Netherlands, Mr Vusi Koloane lay a wreath of proteas on behalf of the Republic of South Africa

Lest we forget!

Text by Lgr Andrew Bergman
Photography by Johanna Bergman Badings 

 


SS Mendi – The Untold Stories

The story of the Mendi is rightfully being told after years of silence, but the full story is not yet in the public domain.

On 9 March 1917, the South African House of Assembly rose as a symbol of respect for the fallen troops in the SS Mendi, which sank on the 21st February 1917 with the loss of 616 South African lives.

Prime Minister Louis Botha addressed the house and relayed the details of the ship’s sinking. The Minister went on to announce the names of the White men who had lost their lives or survived. For the Black men that had passed away, the Minister outlined the arrangements that were to be made to contact their families and inform them of the tragedy. His statement to the House read as follows:

“It has never happened in the history of South Africa, Mr Speaker, that in one moment, by one fell swoop, such a lot of people have perished, and, Mr Speaker, I think that where people have died in the way that they have done, it is our duty to remember that where people have come forward of their own accord, of their own free will… and what they have done will rebound to their everlasting credit.”

The House carried forth an unopposed motion to make a sincere expression of sympathy to the relatives of the deceased officers, non-commissioned officers and natives in their mourning.

References:

Clothier, N. Black Valour. Pietermaritzburg: University of Natal Press, 1987. 

World War 1”, South African History Online

While 616 South African Servicemen died in the incident, a further 30 lives were lost when the crew, who by all accounts were heroic in their attempts to save the ship and the passengers, also succumbed to drowning or being entombed in the ship.

The Memorial at Holly Brook in Southampton and the graves at Milton in Portsmouth are well known, and thanks to the SA Legion’s European Branch and Andrew Bergman, those interred at Noordwijk Cemetery are also accorded recognition and honours.

Less well known is the grave of Thomas Monamatunyu at Wimereux Cemetery in France, or the communal grave of Simon Linganiso, Jim Mbombiya and Smith Segule. Equally forgotten by most is the grave of Jabez Nguza in Hastings Cemetery, or the grave of Willie Tshabana in East Dean.

On the 18th of February, the anniversary of the SAS President Kruger sinking, I commemorated the day and honoured those of my crewmates who were not as fortunate as I was to survive that sinking.

However, I also decided it would be fitting to visit the lonely graves of those in the far flung cemeteries, so my family gathered the wreaths and set off.

The grave of Jabez Nquza, Hasting Cemetery.

What first struck us was that the grave of Jabez Nguza is not forgotten. A fresh posey of flowers was placed at the foot of the grave, and the site itself is stunning. The Commonwealth Graves Commission’s work in remembering the Fallen is outstanding.

We then placed a wreath at the cenotaph in honour of the SAS President Kruger and her crew, and acknowledged HMSAS Southern Floe.

We set off for the village of East Dean, and found in a typical English Country churchyard a grave, slightly at an odd angle, alone on one side of the graveyard, but certainly not forgotten. Flowers, two wooden crosses and a South African Flag were evidence that his grave was not forgotten. If you read many current accounts of the Mendi dead, you will probably not see this grave mentioned.

We paid our respects, chatted to a local who promised he was in their thoughts, and she thanked us for being there.

We then arrived at the village of Littlehampton, the site of the common grave of Simon Linganiso, Jim Mbombiya and Smith Segule. Once again we found signs that they were not forgotten, and we left Littlehampton infused with the knowledge that these men are appreciated and acknowledged by the communities they now find themselves. I also found flowers and tokens at other South African graves in those cemeteries.

We also visited the church at Newtimber, where a memorial to “Chief Henry Bokleni Ndamase” is to be found. The origin of this plaque is a story for another day, as I have been invited to the church to hear the story.

On the 24th February the SA Legion UK & Europe will gather at the Richmond Cenotaph with Legionnaires, friends, family and other veterans to commemorate the Three Ships at a formal service and parade. The SS Mendi is representative of the Naval dead of World War 1, and we commemorate HMSAS Southern Floe as representative of the naval dead of World War Two, as well as the SAS President Kruger, as the post-war representative.

Report for the SA Legion United Kingdom & Europe, by Lgr Cameron Kinnear. Images by Brody Kinnear


South African Legion 100 year commemorative plaque placed on SS Mendi

Category : Newsletter , WW1

Amidst the South African Nation celebrating the success of Wayde van Niekerk’s gold in the 400m 2017 athletics World Championship in London, another milestone slipped by almost unnoticed – the laying of the commemoration plaque on the wreck of the ship which has captured the national spirit.

On February 21st 1917, a cold foggy morning at around 05:00 in the English Channel in freezing weather conditions, there loomed a recipe for a shipping disaster which was to cause barely a blip amid the chaos and carnage of World War I. However no one could anticipate the consequential impact down the years in South Africa; a moment that would embody the national spirit.

Crossing the English Channel, having sailed from South Africa to provide support for the Battle of the Somme, the troopship SS Mendi was accidentally rammed by an allied ship, Darro, causing her to sink near Southampton. To commemorate the 100th anniversary of her sinking, the South African Legion represented by the England Branch Chairman, Lgr Claudio Chiste, arranged a plaque to be placed on the wreck in memory of the 616 Southern Africans and 30 crew members who lost their lives. Claudio Chiste told the South African Legion Public Relations Officer: “

“Credit to the skipper Dave Wendes for his hospitality and for getting us there smoothly in the choppy conditions of the day, as well as to all the fellow divers who all enthusiastically contributed to the success of this initiative”.

While many in South Africa may still view the two world wars as “white man’s wars”, nothing can be further from the truth. Of all South Africans involved in World War I, almost 85,000 were of colour (almost 40%). A similar ratio stands for WWII. The contribution from SA of all races towards the world war efforts on a global stage is undeniable.

Some may view these as pressed men, forced in to the war effort; some may view them as servicemen who volunteered, but one thing is certain is that they were men. They left us with their boots on, singing the death dance, unified in their peril. The sea does not discriminate.

This South African Legion initiative to honour these men with the laying of this plaque concludes the final centenary memorial service. The South African Legion played a critical role in the build-up to the centenary having initiated memorial services at Hollybrook five years ago.

The plaque was not bolted onto the wreck, but placed there gently and will not interfere with the vessel in any way. It was placed in an appropriate position on the wreck, where it will stay and act as a lasting memorial, some 40m under water.

 

May their souls rest in peace.

 

FACTFILE
Getting there To visit the wreck site, contact Dave Wendes, who runs boat trips with his boat Wight Spirit.

To get to the launch boat in Lymington: Lymington is situated on the south coast with Southampton to the east and Bournemouth to the west.

From Royal Lymington Yacht Club follow the signposts to the seawater baths. Along the way you should see the slipway and the pontoons, which is where the boat pickup point is.

SatNav Postcode: SO41 3SE

(Royal Lymington Yacht Club, which is adjacent the pontoon)

Health Nearest re-compression chamber is Poole, Dorset
Wreck point About 10 miles south St Catherine’s Point, English Channel
Visitor information http://wightspirit.co.uk

 

By SA Legion United Kingdom & Europe Public Relations


SS Mendi – England Centenary Commemoration 2017

Tags :

Category : Articles , WW1

 

The centenary parade to mark the loss of the SS Mendi was held at Southampton’s Hollybrook Cemetery on the 20st of February. The site memorialises 2000 soldiers who died at sea and have no grave – that includes 600 of  the 616 casualties from the Mendi – fittingly honoured near the memorial to the great British WW1 soldier Field Marshal Horatio Kitchener.

Respect was also shown in the dignitaries from the host nation who attended -Minister in the Presidency Jeff Radebe was joined by the HRH Princess Royal, Princess Anne and her husband Vice-Admiral Sir Timothy Lawrence; the Chief of the South African Navy Vice-Admiral Mosiwa Hlongwane; and the Minister for the Middle East and Africa, Tobias Ellwood.

Ceremonial duties were performed by a guard of honour and band of the South African Navy while all four arms of service stood guard around the memorial cross.

In paying tribute Mr Radebe drew on the words of the South Africa poet SEK Mqhayi: “Somebody has to die, so that something can be built, somebody has to serve so that others can live.” The profound meaning in these words did not go unnoticed, touching an emotional chord amongst the entourage of descendents of the Mendi crew who were in attendance, amongst which was Siboniso Makaye, whose grandfather was one of the crew members, Private Ndabana Makaye. Siboniso’s own father died when he was only four, he had grown up hearing about his grandfather’s fate from his grandmother who had raised him.

 

“Africa is saying it is well with our souls for these heroes. Today Africa is here” are the words  of Navy chaplain Captain (Rev) Lulamile Ngesi, who paraphrased the words of a prominent American lawyer who lost four of his children when their ship sank.

 

Perhaps the most poignant moment came when the piper from the South African Medical Services played the lament -a haunting version of the old hymn Abide With Me

Tribute to our heroes of the past, bond with the current

After paying tribute to heroes of ‘forgotten valour’, veterans enjoyed the chance to meet current serving members of the SANDF, who undertook the ceremonial duties during the centenary. To conclude this momentous day the opportunity granted to meet the Officer Commanding of the South African frigate, SAS AMATOLA, Captain Roux on board the ship in Portsmouth harbour.   Plaques were exchanged and stories swapped – a fitting end to an historic day of remembrance for those lost at sea.
Legion role in Centenary build-up

It was encouraging to see the culmination of everyone’s effort in this auspicious moment, with the SA Legion playing a significant role in the build-up to this year’s centenary (since SA Legion initiated this memorial service at Hollybrook five years ago). This year, although not run by the Legion, the following Legionnaires contributed: Wreaths were laid by Mr Cameron Kirk Kinnear, Regional Chairman of the SA Legion UK & Europe at Hollybrook (with England Branch Chairman, Mr Claudio Chiste laying a wreath at Milton cemetery on the Friday). It is perhaps fitting that both are naval veterans and Cameron is a survivor of the sinking of the SAS PRESIDENT KRUGER (affectionately known as the “PK”).

Also in attendance were Legionnaires Justin Bosanquet, Graeme Scott, Theo Fernandes, Tony Povey, Jose Lopes, Tino de Freitas, Craig Esterhuizen and Grant Harrison.

 

Article written by Lgr Claudio Chiste and Lgr Justin Bosanquet with images by Lgr Theo Fernandes, CWGC and final image by Lgr Claudio Chiste.


SS Mendi and Armed Forces Day, Noordwijk 2017

The centenary of the sinking of the SS Mendi, as well as Armed Forces Day was commemorated at Noordwijk in the Netherlands on 21 February 2017.

The ceremony began with a moving chapel service led by Rev. Andrew Gready. Short speeches were delivered by the Mayor of Noordwijk Jan Rijpstra, South African Ambassador Vusi Koloane, Lesotho Ambassador Ms Mpeo Mahase-Moiloa, historian Mark Sijlmans, and myself on behalf of the South African Legion.

The service was followed by a wreath-laying ceremony at the gravesides of five named, and one unnamed SS Mendi casualties, whose bodies were washed-up on the Dutch coast, and now rest in the Commonwealth War Graves Commission section of the Noordwijk General Cemetery.

The now-annual event was hosted by the South African Embassy in partnership with the Municipality of Noordwijk – who have been of amazing support in the way they have embraced ‘their’ SS Mendi casualties – and the South African Legion (EU branch).

South African dignitaries included the Ambassador, as well as Defence attaché Brig. Gen. Mac Letsholo, Chargé d’Affaires Mrs. Namhla Gigaba, and a fine delegation of embassy and consular staff.

In addition to Lesotho, the Ambassadors of Cameroon, Egypt, Kenya, Senegal and Zambia were also in attendance.

The Defence Attachés of the USA, Great Britain, Canada, Japan, Romania and Uganda also attended.

The Royal Netherlands Armed Forces sent several high-ranking officers from various branches. They also supplied a Guard of Honour of Dutch soldiers to perform ceremonial duties such as raising and lowering the flags. They also supplied a very competent trumpeter who played Last Post, and a piper who added much decorum to the proceedings.

Afterwards, the SA Ambassador invited guests to an informal dinner of South African food and wine in Noordwijk’s superb new sports complex.

After dinner, I was given the opportunity to say a few words. As a token of our appreciation for their continued support, I presented SA Legion Shields to the Mayor of Noordwijk, Ambassador Koloane, and Brig. Gen. Letsholo.

I also presented the Ambassador, the General, and Chargé d’Affaires Namhla Gigaba with first editions of Fred Khumalo’s just-published novel ‘Dancing the Death Drill’, that includes the sinking of the SS Mendi in its plot. I presented a further two copies to the Mayor of Noordwijk for the city’s public library.

Dominoes

It is incredibly heartening to see how an event that was started by the South African Legion EU Branch just three years ago has grown from a modest ceremony with a few dozen attendees to an annual remembrance embraced by the SA Embassy as well as the international diplomatic community, and attended by well over 80 people. It was just a pity it fell on a work day, which prevented more of the UK Legionnaires from attending.

It was humbling for the SA Legion to receive special mention in Ambassador Koloane’s speech, in which he thanked us ‘for keeping the memory alive’.

 

Andrew Bergman, Branch Chair SA Legion Europe gave the following speech:

Locoburgemeester Van Duin, your Excellency Ambassador Koloane, Brig. General Letsholo, Madame Gigaba, ladies and gentlemen, dames en heren, maNena nomaNenakhazi

In his iconic 1914 poem entitled ‘The Soldier’ English First World War poet Rupert Brooke says:

If I should die, think only this of me:
That there’ some corner of a foreign field
That is for ever England.

These words by an Englishman, so loving of England, could just as easily have been penned in isiXhosa, isiZulu, Sesotho, or any of the other languages that make up South Africa’s inimitable multicultural tapestry today, by a member of the South African Native Labour Corps:

If I should die, think only this of me:
That there’ some corner of a foreign field
That is for ever eKoloni, kwaZulu, Mpumalanga, Lesotho, mZanzi Afrika.

Many of the men who were lost off the Isle of Wight that dark February night 100 years ago had never seen the sea before they gathered at the Green Point Track near to Cape Town harbour to board the SS Mendi. So as the sea engulfed the ship, they had little chance in the frigid waters.

The remains of those pitiful few SS Mendi casualties that the cruel sea surrendered might lie in foreign fields, but still, today, after 100 hundred years, their sacrifice does South Africa credit. Their names join those of thousands of soldiers who paid the ultimate sacrifice – for better or for worse – for King, Commonwealth and Country.

Nederland koos voor neutraliteit in de Eerste Wereldoorlog, maar toch waren Nederlanders niet gespaard van de vele nare neveneffecten van een oorlog dat op hoor afstand werd gevochten. Vanuit Nederland hoeft men vandaag maar een dag-ritje Ieper of een weekeindje naar Parijs te maken om de relatief – en certainement na Zuid Afrikaanse begrippen – zeer kleine geografische afstanden waarin de industriële oorlogsellende waarna te SS Mendi stoomde zich afspeelde.

Zo werd zelfs de stoffelijke resten van de Zuid Afrikaanse soldaten, gedragen door zeestromingen en aangespoeld op de Nederlandse kust. En hier in Noordwijk werd onze kameraden, geboren in de droge uitgestrekte vlaktes van Zuidelijk Afrika, of in de heuvels en bergen van KwaZulu or Umtata of Lesotho, of Botswana, uiteindelijk met respect en liefde te rusten gelegd.

Maar uit het bloed-doorweekte as van de oorlog rijzen vaak ook positieve dingen. Vandaag krijgen de leden van de South African Native Labour Corps het aandacht dat ze terecht verdienen, maar tot onlangs door ‘selectieve geschiedenis’ grotendeels ontnomen waren.

Dan, over de loop van drie jaar, tijdens het regelen van deze nu jaarlijkse herinneringsbijeenkomst, heb ik een bijzondere relatie zien bloeien tussen Gemeente Noordwijk, de Zuid Afrikaanse veteranen, en de Zuid Afrikaanse diplomatieke vertegenwoordiging. Ik ben zeer benieuwd om te zien wat daaruit ontwikkeld.

So today, on the occasion of the centenary of the sinking of the SS Mendi, and in celebration of South African Armed Forces Day, the Europe Branch of the South African Legion of Military Veterans embrace and salute our comrades-in-arms, past, present and future.

And we remember that there is one corner of this field in Noordwijk, where Privates Leboche, Zendile, Molide, Kazimula, and Mtolo now lie, that is forever mZanzi Afrika.

Report by Andrew Bergman, images by Johanna Bergman-Badings.


Three Ships Service 2015

 

Some more great work from the South African Legion – Port Elizabeth branch – annual Three Ships Service in PE, in recognition of the three ships lost in February with the loss of so many South Africans – The SS Mendi, the MHSAS Southern Floe and SAS President Kruger.

 

The Annual Three Ships Service was once again held at the St Paul’s Church, Tucker Street, Parson’s Hill PE on the 22 February 2015. The Service was conducted by the Reverend Marc Barth, the Rector of St Paul’s. The Rev Barth has graciously agreed to become the Chaplain for the Legion in Port Elizabeth, replacing the Rev Fr P F Vietri CO who has been transferred to Bloemfontein by his church.

Some 80 Legionnaires, MOTH, Sea Cadet,RAFA/SAAFA, Naval Officer Association, Royal Society, St John Ambulance members and other Friends of the Legion attended the service.

A further coincidence of note was that Mrs Lesley Moore, the granddaughter of CPO MacTavish, a member of the SS Mendi crew who went down with the ship, was among us to pay her respects on the day.

After the Processional Hymn and the welcome, Lgr Brian Klopper (Chairman) read the Legion Prayer – which incidentally he composed!

Thereafter followed the Lesson by Legionnaire Wolfaardt.

Lgr Declan Brennan gave an excellent address, his theme embraced 3 ships which has permeated our history from the time of Jan van Riebeek who arrived with 3 ships; the battle of Muizenberg in which three Royal Navy ships took part, and so on up to the three ships involved in the SAS President Kruger tragic sinking in 1982. The address was enjoyed by the congregation and informative to them as well.

At that point our visitor from the United Kingdom, Mr Nick Ward, rose to give a 10 minute address on his archaeological work on the SS Mendi. Mr Ward has taken a keen interest in the SS Mendi tragedy for some 7 years and flew from London to attend our service. He will shortly be publishing a book titles “SS Mendi – The Long Voyage Home” wherein he recounted not only the story of the sinking but also some of the unhappy decisions by both the UK and South African Governments of that time. We were grateful to him for his flying visit and we thank him for his input.

The Three Candles of Remembrance were lit by three senior SA Sea Cadets from the Port Elizabeth Training Ship Lanherne. The Memorium was performed by Lgr Tertia Morton after which the Service ended with the Recessional Hymn.

Much good harmony and camaraderie was enjoyed in the Church Hall courtesy of the Church Ladies, who put on their usual excellent spread – Thank you ladies and to all those involved with the planning and execution of this annual event.

Article for the South African Legion of Military Veterans by Charles Ross based on the article by Waldie Bartie.

The photos used in this article were taken by Mr Mike Rands of St Paul’s Church


Centenary Commemoration of World War One

Tags :

Category : South Africa , WW2

 

ST MARY’S ANGLICAN CHURCH, CAMBRIDGE, EAST LONDON

Article by Charles Ross

 

On Sunday 28 September 2014 the Parish of St Mary’s Anglican Church, Cambridge, East London held a Celebration of Remembrance 1914 – 2014 in sacred memory of the 11 members of the Parish who gave their lives for King and Country whilst on active service during the Great War 1914 – 1918.

 

The service was attended by members of the South African Legion of Military Veterans, MOTH’s and Royal Air Force Association.

 


The tragedy of the SS Mendi – South Africa’s greatest wartime loss

Category : Articles , WW1

Collated by Peter Dickens

 

This is the only known image we have of the SS Mendi, the ship at the centre of South Africa’s worst military disaster and biggest single loss of South African life at war (a little more than at Delville Wood – and that’s quite staggering).

 

On 21 February 1917, during World War I, this chartered troopship – the SS Mendi – containing a full battalion of South African Native Labour Corps men and officers on it’s way to the western front was rammed in fog conditions in the English Channel. The SS Mendi sank in 20 minutes.

 
616 South Africans (607 of them black troops – mostly from rural areas around the Eastern Cape) plus thirty crew members, mostly British, died in the disaster.

The much heavier ship, the SS Darro, which rammed the Mendi had not been following safety protocols for sailing in fog conditions, and furthermore did not stop to rescue the men in the frigid February water. 
 
The greatest tragedy was yet to come as due to racial prejudice and the politics of the time this event was somewhat down-played through the years and not enough recognition given to these men,

 

for example none of the black servicemen on the SS Mendi (neither the survivors nor the dead), received medals, nor any other members of the South African Native Labour Corps,  although their white officers were decorated as a consequence of a South African Government decision. 

Monuments were not really erected to these men and their legacy was in effect scrubbed from South African history.  Except for a small unknown memorial in Port Elizabeth, little was done in South Africa until a proper and fitting memorial was finally unveiled at Avalon cemetery Soweto by Queen Elizabeth II in 1995.  
 
So much so was history shielded and altered that most people in South Africa still to this day do not know (or believe) that in World War One (and World War Two for that matter) – approximately 40% of the standing South African Union Defence Force – where “non-white” South Africans. 
 
The injustice to these men – lost valour – is something the South African Legion is working very hard to redress with annual commemorations to the disaster – both in South Africa and in the United Kingdom in February. 

To give perspective on the scale of the disaster and the loss of life and the impact to the black South African community at the time, page down through the honour roll of the South Africans who lost their lives that day, it’s quite staggering. Lest we forget.

Emslie, S. Lieutenant 
Richardson, E.H. Lieutenant 
Turner, T.K. Regimental Sergeant Major 
Botes, A.D. Staff Sergeant 
Cockrell, A. Staff Sergeant 
Botha, C.H. Colour Sergeant 
Ford, T.A. Colour Sergeant 
Knaggs, R. Colour Sergeant 
MacTavish, R.A. Colour Sergeant 
Abraham, Andries 11164 
Abrahams, Fred 11163 
Aliveni, Jim 8911 
Bade, George 9707 
Badlana, Joel 10016 
Baleni, Langeni 11098 
Banana, Nkeni 9665 
Bangani, Mxonywa 9379 
Basilie, Isaac 9170 
Bay, James 9294 
Beko, Heny 9374 
Beta, Jack 9164 
Beyulea, Windvogel 11070 
Bhay, Jim 9260 
Bikleni, Dodoka 9377 
Bokleni, Henry 7587 
Booi, John 9690 
Bovi, Mkokeli 10017 
Bungane, Freddy 11169 
Butitje 9802 
Chesa, Elijah 11170
Collis, Vimba 9650 
Dabani, Jim 9241 
Dampi, Piet 9203
Danki, Thomas 9215 
Dano, William 9265 
Dealtaha, Annaniya 9754 
Dengese, Aldum 9567 
Dinoka, Geelbooi 9780 
Ditsepo, William 9436 
Dyushani, John 10018 
Eland, Piet 11138 
Etea, Piet 11188 
Fidyoli, John 11172 
Franci, Rueben 9956
Fule, Steven 9261 
Gabaza, William 564 
Gabutloeloe, Lucas 9708 
Geina, Manie 9689 
Gigima, John 8010 
Gilweni, Jim Tom 9915 
Gobizitwana, Willie 11206 
Gqweta, Henry 9928 
Gumede, John 11216
Msiya, Lemu Galimini 9647
Gumeni, Charlie 9685 
Gwabu, Jack 9321 
Gwatyuza, Jacob 9954 
Hasbane, Jan 9147 
Hendricks, James 9943 
Hendricks, Willem 11132 
Hlangweni, Mtati 11161 
Hlatshwayo, Fishi 11126 
Hlope, Zanempi 11120 
Holoane, Francis 11171
Homelane, Willie 9289 
Jackson, Abrams 9803 
Jacobo, Isaac 9695 
Jamangile, Jim 8892 
Jantole, Joseph 8900 
Johnson, Willie 8913
Jonas, Jim 9710 
Jonas, Saluseni 9244 
Jongilanga, Pansi 9390 
Jubile, Lawrence 11045 
Kabi, Simeon 10964
Kakana, Jan 9441 
Kakele, Mac 9154 
Kale, Karl 9818 
Kali, Hamilton 10021 
Kaloto, Simon 9418 
Kana, Mali 11176 
Karishi, Change 9146 
Kashane, Jan 9176 
Kataza, John 9686 
Kazamula, Moskein 9626 
Kazamula, Simon 10931 
Kazimula, Natal 9623 
Kepisa, Jack 10374 
Kepsize, Johnson 9848 
Ketsbai, Helon 9905 
Kgadile, Kleinbooi 9820 
Kgana, Johannes 3703 
Kgatjane, Lucas 11144 
Kgobosemang, Kleinbooi 9740 
Kgosi, Isaac 9211
Kgupa, Longone 9425 
Khaile, Robinson 11173 
Khoanamutsi, Mapipe 9429 
Kholopane, Dovey 10960
Ngcobo, Vincent Pansi 9319
Kladi, John 9578 
Kleinbooi, Jack 9263 
Koalane, Josaih Walter 10896 
Kokoto, Jonas 9398 
Kolong, Kimon 9822 
Koluba, Sam 9406 
Koopman, Jan 9293 
Kopane, Jan 11048 
Kopane, Snele 9666 
Kozamula, Captain 9447 
Kula, Hlongwana 11088 
Kumalo, Magwala 11112 
Kuse, John 9785 
Kutshwayo, James Henry 5969 
Kwikanye, Jack 9290 
Lebeko, Charlie 9415 
Leboche, Abram 11056 
Lefi, Ishmael 11141 
Legoabe, Stephen 9763 
Legwale, Stephen Lucas 3274
Lekau, Alfred 9188 
Lekau, John 1256 
Lekgoli, Soloman 9728 
Lekhoto, John 1791 
Lepero, Geelbooi 9829 
Ntshangase, Dick Mqitsha 9914
Lephethe, David Job 11196 
Lesele, Corporal 9654 
Lesetja, Jan 11063 
Leshage, William 10947
Lesiba, Daniel 10369 
Lesiba, Jan 10384 
Lesiba, Joseph 9186 
Lesiba, Simon 10371 
Lesibana, Jim 10364 
Lesitja, Charlie 10373 
Lesitja, Martinus 9908 
Lesoale, Johannes 11192 
Letau, Karel 9286
Letebele, Namatshan 9748 
Letebele, Pond 9155 
Letwatwa, Lucas 9659 
Lifa, John 11247
Likgoli, David 9946 
Likgoli, Sebolai 9947 
Linganiso, Simon 10020 
Lithaba, Michele 9761 
Liwela, Frans 10951
Louw, Piet 11137 
Luhlongwana, Koni 9580
Luputini, Jacobus 9255 8
Maake, Saucepan 9142 
Mabagwana, Titi 9271 
Mabane, Mpini 9393 
Mabaso, Zula 11122 
Mabila, Charlie 9126 
Mabururu, Abraham 9125 
Macambi, Mareyama 9794 
Madikizela, Tatani 9388 
Madimetja, Jacob 10383 
Madosi, Robert 8910 
Madubanya, Jack 10365 
Madume, Botha 9124 
Madume, Frans 9189 
Madume, Jack No. 1 9174 
Madume, Jack 9408 
Madume, Jim 10949 
Madume, Kleinbooi 9185 
Madume, Mackson 9420 
Madzibana, Frans 9631 
Mafadi, Ephraim 9576 
Mafika, Daniel 9371 
Mafiliba, Mtigedwa 9243 
Magadi, Daniel 562 
Magagamela, Alison 8356 
Magaju, Hlongwana 11092 
Maggisi, Sitini 11079 
Magoba, Isaac 9195 
Magudulwana, Hlongwana 11093 
Magwegwana, Hlongwana 11105 
Mahaladi, Windvogel 11067 
Maharo, Stephen 9544 
Mahlaba, Whisky 9629 
Mahlentle, Richard 9773 
Mahloapitseng, Klaas 10965 
Mahludi, Isaac 11154 
Mahohoda, Klass 9643 
Mahutu, Canteen 9149 
Makalima, Robert 9288 
Makamba, Bloro 9198 
Makasha, Jim 3021 
Makatini, Nongqayi 9558 
Makatu, Kleinbooi 11181 
Makaye, Ndabana 11215 
Makeleni, Kimberley 9688 
Makhohe, Jan 8967 
Makilitshi, Paraffin 9117 
Makoba, Majuta 10002 
Makoe, Jack Jantji 11185 
Makole, Benjamin 9839 
Makopans, Frank 9897 
Makosana, Charles 9143 
Makudu Johannes 9898 
Makwane, Jacob 9857 
Makwatedi, Mack 9193 
Makwena, Josias 9857 
Malebogo, Jack 9427 
Malemutle, Chairlie 9119 
Malesela, Jan 10363 
Malgas, Hlanga 9932 
Mali, Mac 11069 
Maluse, Charlie 10391 
Maluse, Frans 10382 
Maluse, Lucas 10366 
Mambolo, Johannes 11065 
Mandcas, Sam 9248 
Mandubule, Dick 10027 
Mandwane, Hlatshwayo 11101
Maneka, Jack 10375 
Mangaliso, Hlongwana 11090 
Mangapela, Piet 11150 
Mange, William 9709 
Mangise, John 9669 
Mangoloane, Jacob 8997 
Mangqe, Timothy 8876 
Mangwana, Jan 9162 
Mantupsi, Jack 9426 
Manunyane, Bernard 9285 
Manzane, Ben 9635 
Mapalala, Keve 11121 
Maparana, Charlie 9136 
Maphessa, William 9563 
Mapheto, Hosiah 11066 
Maphoto, Harry 9826 
Mapulane, Sampson 9433 
March, Martinus 11135 
Marofula, Jacob 11057 
Marole, Willem 9138 
Martinus, Johannes 9295
Masade, Albert 9757 
Masaleni, Jeremiah 9927 
Maseko, Windvogel Captain 11071 
Mashali, Jameson 9411 
Masia, Dick 9432 
Masiaane, Jim 9562 
Masikela, William 9173 
Masilo, Transvaal 9782 
Masina, Taweni 9238 
Masinde, Jonas 9518 
Masindi, George 9237 
Masoling, Julius 11167 
Matebula, Piet 9358 
Mathlana, Aaron 9287 
Matjala, Richard 9798 
Matjola, Jan 9565 
Matkala, Picennin 11186 
Matlala, Johannes 11190 
Matonsi, Jaftha 9806 
Matsang, Abel 9751 
Matshana, Hezekiah 9924
Mathse, Marcus 9853 
Matshelane, Andries 9661
Matsubane, Jim 10368 
Matume, Frans 10370 
Matume, Moses 9760 
Matupu, Thousand 9133 
Mazaku, Gwavuma 9381
Mbata, Albert Nkomempunga 9913 
Mbedla, Isaac 9931 
Mbikwa, Sam 11140 
Mbiyazwe, Jim 9199 
Mbombiya, Jim 9373 
Mbuzi, Mzingele 9382 
Mcanyana, Russel Palmer 9792 
Mcitshwa. John 9768 
Mdata, Soloman 11075 
Mduna, Edward 9770 
Mdunyelwa, July 9922
Mdyogolo, Mnyeliso 9651 
Mehlomane, Silwanyana 9242 
Mekgoe, Herman 9253 
Menza, John 9658 
Mgidi, Billy 11204 
Mgingana, Koza 11099 
Mgoyoye, Petrus 9670 
Mgwena, Soloman 9784 
Mhlanga, Ndukwana 11118 
Mijana, Willie 9831 
Mkezo, Mpotyana 9394 
Mkohla, Joseph 10012 
Mkomazi, Frans 9152 
Mkomazi, Jim 9627 
Mkoni, John 9256 
Mkonvama, Daniel 9118 
Mkumguri, Jim 9736 
Mlahleki, Jail 11155 
Mlando, Hlongwana 11086 
Mlonyeni, Robert 9386 
Mncedana, Melville 7601 
Mnyeliso, Gama 9652 
Mnyikinwa, Longone 11055 
Moatse, Josiah 8991 
Mobitsela, William 9775
Modeba, Theophilus 9194 
Modikeng, Goodman 11151 
Modisane, Jan 10899 
Modise, David 9204 
Modisoatsile, George 9718
Moeata, Petrus 9783
Moeng, Sampson 9945
Maake, Joseph 9140
Mofokeng, Koos 10953
Mogalobutha, Klaas 9183
Mogorosi, Benjamin 10433
Mohale, Jacob 9177
Mohase, Vellum 9660
Mohowe, William 9128
Mokatakisa, Hendrick 10963
Mokgeleli, Aaron Jili 9333
Mokgosi, Aaron 9370
Mokgwere, Samuel 9743
Mokhali, Simon 10958
Mokhapo, Mac 9129
Molabi, Amos 9156
Molelekoa, Titus 9819
Molide, Sitebe 9267
Molife, Andries 11194
Molife, Linesa 9269
Molife, Mosmiti 9268
Molisanyane, Andries 9951
Moloi, Kleinbooi 9797
Moloi, Philip 11189
Moloyi, Mreki 9557
Moloyi, Ntikimana 9275
Molthlakane, Letsie 9838
Monahela, Edward 10959
Monamatuga, Thomas 9191
Mongologa, Joseph 9700
Monoke, Johannes 9825
Montso, Michael 11152
Monyako, Philip 9835
Monyele, Elias 9368
Morashe, Jim 9401
More, Pinefas 10434
Morolong, Walter 11178
Moshe, Moses 9132
Moshimane, Jack 10377
Mositsi, Amos 9739
Motaung, Jacob 9950
Motebang, Eliah 10962
Motela, Jack 9187
Mothei, Jan 9741
Motobi, Peter 7210
Motsoahai, Mpalakela 10957
Mpafulane, Udmund 9366
Mpatu, Simon 9437
Mpee, Johannes 9901
Mpete, Jan 9687
Mpoa, John 9721
Msesenyane, Jan 9632
Mshote, John 563
Msimango, Lubaro 9270
Msiya, Lemu Galimini 9647
Mtembu, Mswela 11109
Mtirara, John 9385
Mtolo, Sikaniso 9999
Mtombeni, Abraham 9560
Mtshotshisa, Gabayi 9939
Mudungazi, July 9638
Muhlaba, Joel 9252
Mukopo, Andries 9171
Mukotle, Fred 9168
Mulabe, Change 9440
Mulamu, David 9163
Munani, Mukale 9419
Murape, Jim 9430
Murda, Jack 11149
Mutinjwa, Daniel 9236
Mvele, Jerele Mazalemvula 9646
Mvula, Joniseni 11108
Myamana, Verandah 9622
Mzamani, Jim 9279
Mzayifana, Alfred 11207
Mzimane, Johannes 9677
Mzono, Jotama 11072
Nafufa, David 9644
Napane, Charlie 9421
Natedi, Jack 9141
Nawane, George 9698
Ncotele, Litye 9862
Ndaba, Pikiti 11128
Ndamase, Richard 9389
Ndanise, Baleni 9641
Ndeya, James 9795
Ndhluli, Jim 11060
Ndiki, Samuel 9859
Ndingi, Olifas 8893
Ndlankuhle, Nzulu 802
Ndlovu, Isaac 9529
Nduna, William 11058
Nepthale, Tsusa 11145
Ngade, Ben Elias 11061
Ngake, Enos 9749
Ngate, Canteen 9148
Ngate, Picannin 11054
Ngcenge, Durward 9771
Ngcobo, Pindela 9272
Ngcobo, Vincent Pansi 9319
Ngesi, Walter 9910
Ngqotoza, Zilandana 9653
Ngwahewa, Jan 9637
Ngwane, Jamse 9654
Nini, George 11053
Nkakuleni, Sly 9407
Nkhereanye, Lukase 5743
Nkoane, Peter 7277
Nkomandi, Konisars 9639
Nkunwana, Jack 9212
Nkwambene, Charles 9634
Nkwenkwe, John 9889
Nodolo, Squire 9772
Nokwelo, Makali 7067
Nomvaba, Charlie 9207
Nongwe, Johannes 10024
Nquza, Jabez 9202
Nsulansula, Zondo 11097
Ntabani, Picannin 9716
Ntelte, Frans 9139
Ntindili, Charlie 8891
Ntopi, Piet 11187
Ntoro, Kleinbooi 3711
Ntozake, Honono 8912
Ntshangase, Dick Mqitsha 9914
Ntshetsha, Mbalela 9383
Ntsieng, Bullar Martinus 9575
Ntsutswana,Thomas 9938
Nukula, Ben Sydney 11051
Nxazonke, Mlungu 9934
Nyambana, Konish 9636
Nyati, Samuel 9283
Nyonane, Ebenezer 11205
Nziba, John Clout 11177
Olibeng, Fanwell 9216
Olijn, Pieter 11131
Oliphant, Piet 11166
Pala, Alexander 9851
Pambili, James 11052
Papetje, Johannes 10378
Pasile, Radoma 9175
Pasoane, Amandus Aupa 11146
Pasoane, William 9850
Paulus, Dolf 11133
Payipeli, Charlie 9249
Payo, Jacob 9667
Perike, Ephraim 9599
Petela, Kleinbooi 9923
Petrus, Paul 9296
Petula, Stephen 10908
Phaladi, Bob 11046
Phiti, Tom 9179
Phohophedi, Thomas 8329
Pieters, Isaac 11162
Pietersen, Paulus 10900
Pikahila, Stephen 9793
Pinyana, Nodyiwana 8020
Pisani, Matthews 9151
Pitso, Andries 9911
Pitso, Jan 9717
Pkula, Simon 9953
Plaatje, Thomas 9657
Plaatjes, Malgas 9711
Poko, Philip 9824
Pokwane, Frans 9399
Ponyose, Koos 11059
Pugiso, David 9251
Pulana, Philemon 11047
Pule, Lazarus 9834
Pupuma, Madela 8907
Qaba, Edward 9648
Qakala, Jan 10013
Quvalele, Parafin 10022
Quzula, Charlie 10928
Qwebe, Cawood 9909
Rabatji, Jan 11064
Radelbe, James 9376
Radzaka, Jucas 9781
Rakau, Frans 11179
Rakgokong, Johannes 11062
Ramakalane, Titus 11193
Ramakhutle, Gerson 8992
Ramakoko, Modise 8990
Ramasi, Rabintoe 9746
Ramasita, Job 9902
Ramatea, Joseph 11143
Ramathodi, George 9896
Ramedekoane, Thijs 9001
Ramkosi, George 9833
Ramoho, Charlie 9130
Ramoshiela, Nicodimus 8994
Ramosole, Abel 9000
Rampomane, Aaron 11184
Rampopo, Lukas 8996
Rampunve, Jan 9733
Ramurumo, Frederick 9668
Raskane, Jan 9160
Ratilulu, Samuel 11147
Ratskogo, Gilmore 10897
Resinali, Picanin 9625
Roadway, Smith 9656
Rwairwai, Jerry 9694
Samela, Wolobile 9197
Seathlane, Selepe 10954
Sebadi, Samuel 994
Sefako, Geelbooi 8999
Sefako, Jim 9671
Segule, Smith 9122
Sekakaile, Rice 9412
Sekonyela, George 9816
Sekoro, Josiah 11142
Sekote, Stephanus 11191
Sekwidi, Jan 9779
Selami, Jim 9192
Sello, Seth 9907
Seodi, Green 9397
Sepalela, April 9417
Serewe, Jackson 9724
Setani, Style 9920
Setloko, Philemon 11180
Shebeshebe, Jack 10379
Shikamba, Jack 9445
Shiletane, Bossboy 9137
Sibalabula, Timotheus 9210
Sibalela, Jim 9240
Sibisi, Jacobus 9817
Sibizo, Edmund 11240
Sibolayi, Sampson 8993
Sifaku, Kleinbooi 10948
Sigededhla, Zachariah 9556
Sigidi, Hlongwana 11085
Sikawuleb, William 9755
Sikota, Theodore George 11202
Sikwayo, Ben 11157
Silika, Molefi 9266
Silwane, Frans 9121
Sinqana, July 11203
Siposa, Willie 9392
Sitebe, Mqobo 11107
Sitlaro, Koos 8995
Sitole, Charlie 10912
Sitole, Mgqiki 11116
Skhabi, Hermanus 11182
Skip, Jim 9428
Soka, Anderson 9892
Solani, Meji 9655
Somatshungu, Tom 9805
Somgede, William 9800
Songca, Lukakuva 8879
Stephens, George 9413
Stunga, James 9280
Suping, Abraham 9744
Suping, Johannes 11049
Swarts, Jan 11130
Swarts, Sma 11129
Tabudi, Jacob 9854
Takisi, Frank 9181
Tamasinya, Johannes 9590
Tambu, Peter 11168
Tankobong, Zachariah 9742
Tanoni, Phineas 11153
Tentata, July 11165
Thebeagae, Charlie 9753
Timpane, Billem 9745
Tiya, Percy 9706
Tlabure, Elias 11183
Tladivamutsi, Michael 11076
Tokhae, Jan 9134
Totwana, Hlongwana 11094
Tsamaya, Jacob 9246
Tsase, John 10950
Tsehlana, Jack 10372
Tshabalala, Kaysi 11102
Tshabana, Willie 9555
Tshange, Ngqakamatshe 11091
Tshekosi, Klaas 9780
Tshenene, Charlie 9860
Tshikari, Paul 11174
Tshite, Joseph 10431
Tshomolokse, Paul 9702
Tshotsha, Hlongwana 11110
Tshulo, Abram 9758
Tsule, Soloman 9434
Tube, Jackson 9259
Tumberi, Jim 9630
Tyilo, John 11198
Tywalana, Jeremiah 9649
Utuni, Frans 9776
Uziningo, Jantshi 9926
Voss, Philip 7229
Vovela, Joe 10929
Vutula, Charles 9801
Wauchope, Isaac 3276
Williams, Freddy 9714
Williams, Henry 9292
Zambezi, Hlongwana 11096
Zatu, John 9937
Zenzile, Arosi 9375
Zimuke, Mashaya 11068
Zingwana, Johannes 9640
Zinyusile, Edward 11158
Zitonga, Mongameli 8021
Zondi, Solomon Vili 9299
Zondo, Magida 11103
Zondo, Mufakabi 11114
Zondo, Pukwana 11115
Zulu, April 9247
Zwane, Sikonyana 11087
Zwane, Sukwana 11089