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nick ward408

SS MENDI 21/02/17

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nick ward408

Hi all,

I have been researching the Mendi for the past two years as by chance I found 3 black burials in my home town of Littlehampton, West Sussex and Tuesday along with two other colleagues from the forum will be laying a floral tribute.

The story is an interesting one as these three black men and the ships baker (white chap) were found off shore and taken into harbour, the post mortem on the the ships baker (identified by a letter in his pocket) was carried out and drowning given as cause of death, they did not examine the three black gentlemen but knew from ID tags who they were and all were in uniform, however, the baker went home to Bootle and the remaining three put into one grave with a CWGC headstone without full details (happy to say this is being rectified) and it always puzzled me why? as they knew who each individual was by their ID and also the bodies were in good condition.

There were only 14 bodies ever recovered and buried on British soil, 9 in Portsmouth, 3 in Littlehampton, 1 in Hastings and 1 in East Dean, and part of my research has been in helping the South African Legion find clues as to if relatives can be contacted so that closure can be made for them.

This is when I made an awful discovery, the 9 buried in Portsmouth consist of 8 black and one white NCO/Officer, when I checked the grave references to go and visit them I found the 8 blacks share two graves and the white NCO/Officer is in his own grave!

This cannot be normal surely? they were in service to the King wearing his uniform serving alongside British servicemen and the best we could do was dig three graves for 11 men? Is this the best we could do? was it the 'done' thing with these soldiers?

I don't know about the rest of you but I am absolutely appalled and cannot for the life of me come up with an answer other than the authorities of the day could not give a hoot for black men in the King's livery?

It will go further, as even before I found this chilling new piece of information the South African legion are writing to the President of South Africa asking for a high ranking official to be present when the CWGC erect the new headstone for the three in Littlehampton, hopefully in time for next years anniversary, so what they will make of this new piece of information goodness only knows but some sort of explanation needs to given.

Let me know if you have come across similar burials/mass graves or any other explanation you may think of.

Watch this space!

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Stoppage Drill

It's how it was. The world was different then.

Yes,it should be put right if it reasonably can be, but your 21st century reaction shows - with respect to your entirely honourable sensibilities - a lack of historical awareness.

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Lancashire Fusilier

Nick,

The reasons for the burial arrangements could have related to lack of identification on the victims, or indeed problems of not being able to formally identify the bodies. This was a ship sinking, and bodies probably washed ashore, in some cases several days, or perhaps even longer, after the ship sank. There are other such cases, particularly of ships which sank, where the victims were buried together.

For example, The Lusitania, of the 1,969 persons aboard the ship, only 774 survived; for weeks after the event, bodies would wash ashore along the Irish coast, and many of the victims were buried in mass graves ( photographs attached ).

With regard to any suggestion of a possible racial issue, please remember, history shows us that there were different attitudes to racial issues in times past, and also more recent times, and that it was not until the mid 1960s that some parts of America desegregated, and South Africa itself, did not desegregate until even much later.

So it is extremely hard to put oneself into daily life as it was some 100 years ago, and apply the same comparisons to life as it is today in the 21st Century.

Whilst I am not to sure many people in the U.K. know the story of the troopship Mendi, it is certainly a very well known, well documented and commemorated part of South African history, with The Mendi Memorial at Avalon Cemetery in Soweto, South Africa being unveiled by Queen Elizabeth II on 23 March 1995. The South African Navy also accorded honour to those who died in this tragedy, with one of their Valour Class Corvettes being named SAS Mendi.

There is also a memorial to the men who died on the Mendi on a panel at the Delville Wood Memorial in France, which has a representation of the Mendi Disaster on it.

Another memorial to the Mendi was unveiled in Cape Town. A sculpture, by local artist Madi Phala, represents a mock ship's prow cast in heavy metal, sinking into the ground. In front of it are helmets, hats and discs, symbolising the men, officers and crew of the SS Mendi. A plaque simply reads "SS Mendi, S. African troopship, sank next to the Isle of Wight 1917 02 21". Located on an embankment on the Mowbray campus of the University of Cape Town, the site has significance to the Mendi, as it here that troops of the South African Native Labour Contingent had billeted before embarking on the ill-fated SS Mendi for France.

Additionally, the Commonwealth War Graves Commission commissioned a 20 minute film called "Let Us Die Like Brothers" which is to be used as a teaching aid, highlighting the role of black soldiers in World War I. The film was released in South Africa in February 2007, the 90th anniversary of the sinking of the Mendi.

In March 2009, after a long campaign, the Ministry of Defence finally agreed to designate the site of the wreck of the Mendi as an official war grave.

Today the bridge telegraph from the Mendi can be seen at the Maritime Museum, Bembridge, on the Isle of Wight.

So as you can see, much has been done to commemorate the tragic sinking of the Mendi in 1917.

For those members not familiar with the sinking of the Mendi, here is a short summary of the incident:-

The troopship Mendi set sail from Cape Town on 16 January 1917 with 802 members of the 5th Battalion, South African Native Labor Corps (SANLC). Her final destination was La Havre, France. The men from the SANLC were mostly from the rural areas of the Pondo Kingdom in the Eastern Cape, South Africa. They were not to be used as a fighting force and were forbidden to bear arms as there was a fear that they could revolt against military or civilian authority. Instead they were to be utilised as labourers digging trenches and performing other manual labour as well as forming stretcher bearer parties.

After calling at Plymouth she set sail for Le Havre, and in thick mist, while approximately 12 miles off St Catherine's Point on the Isle of Wight she was struck on the starboard side by the SS Darro, a 11000 ton liner. It was the 21st of February. Immediately the Mendi started to list to starboard and sink. The troops on board were mostly asleep in the troopdecks and the collision must have been a terrifying experience for men who were not used to the sea, and many could not swim. The Darro had backed out of the hole she had caused and the sea poured into this breach. Thick mist complicated the situation and it was obvious that many would never make it to safety, with the Mendi having only 25 minutes afloat.

Many would perish from exposure that night and the resulting death toll was high. Of the 802 SANLC troops on board some 615 men perished. The Darro made no attempt to rescue survivors and the Master of the ship would have his licence suspended for a year. It was found that the Darro was travelling at high speed in the fog and was responsible for the collision.

Photograph - Troopship Mendi

post-63666-0-21116600-1329715012.jpg

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Lancashire Fusilier

Lusitania victims mass graves.

post-63666-0-03407000-1329715693.jpg

post-63666-0-95261600-1329715706.jpg

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Lancashire Fusilier

Mendi Memorial - Delville Wood, France.

post-63666-0-17384300-1329715879.jpg

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Lancashire Fusilier

Mendi Memorial, South Africa - unveiled by Queen Elizabeth II on 23 March 1995.

Mendi Memorial - South Africa.

post-63666-0-71695800-1329716120.jpg

post-63666-0-61266200-1329716209.jpg

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Lancashire Fusilier

Nick,

From this report of the Taranto Mutiny incident in 1918, there were historic racial issues within the military.

" After Armistice Day, on 11 November 1918, the eight BWIR battalions in France and Italy were concentrated at Taranto in Italy to prepare for demobilisation. They were subsequently joined by the three battalions from Egypt and the men from Mesopotamia. As a result of severe labour shortages at Taranto, the West Indians had to assist with loading and unloading ships and do labour fatigues. This led to much resentment, and on 6 December 1918 the men of the 9th Battalion revolted and attacked their officers. On the same day, 180 sergeants forwarded a petition to the Secretary of State complaining about the pay issue, the failure to increase their separation allowance, and the fact that they had been discriminated against in the area of promotions.

During the mutiny, which lasted about four days, a black NCO shot and killed one of the mutineers in self-defence and there was also a bombing. Disaffection spread quickly among the other soldiers and on 9 December the 'increasingly truculent' 10th Battalion refused to work. A senior commander, Lieutenant Colonel Willis, who had ordered some BWIR men to clean the latrines of the Italian Labour Corps, was also subsequently assaulted. In response to calls for help from the commanders at Taranto, a machine-gun company and a battalion of the Worcestershire Regiment were despatched to restore order. The 9th BWIR was disbanded and the men distributed to the other battalions which were all subsequently disarmed. Approximately 60 soldiers were later tried for mutiny and those convicted received sentences ranging from three to five years, but one man got 20 years, while another was executed by firing squad.

An organisation called the Caribbean League was formed at the gathering to further these objectives...

Although the mutiny was crushed, the bitterness persisted, and on 17 December about 60 NCOs held a meeting to discuss the question of black rights, self-determination and closer union in the West Indies. An organisation called the Caribbean League was formed at the gathering to further these objectives. At another meeting on 20 December, under the chairmanship of one Sergeant Baxter, who had just been superseded by a white NCO, a sergeant of the 3rd BWIR argued that the black man should have freedom and govern himself in the West Indies and that if necessary, force and bloodshed should be used to attain these aims. His sentiments were loudly applauded by the majority of those present. The discussion eventually drifted from matters concerning the West Indies to one of grievances of the black man against the white. The soldiers decided to hold a general strike for higher wages on their return to the West Indies. The headquarters for the Caribbean League was to be in Kingston, Jamaica, with sub-offices in the other colonies.

Some 600 former BWIR soldiers who had remained in the U.K. were later repatriated. "

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Lancashire Fusilier

Here is a list of the officers and men who died in the Mendi sinking :-

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

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CGM

I have a different thought about this.

Common (shared graves) were not at all unusual at that time and many casualties who died in the UK Military Hospitals far from their family homes were buried in these graves - with total strangers. This included nurses or VADs who died while serving in these hospitals and Colonial soldiers and sailors too.

Colour took no part in the decision process, it was standard practice.

You can see from reading THIS thread that the Australian Government later arranged for all Australian casualties who had been buried in common graves in the UK to be exhumed and re-buried in single graves.

Regards

CGM

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centurion

It appears that Pondo burial tradition was very similar to Zulu traditions. A chief would be buried on his own in some splendour but warriors would at best be buried together with little or no ceremony or even left to the animals. A Zulu web site explains that this was because the old religions taught that the body was of little account once the spirit had departed it.

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bushfighter

Nick

Greetings

The South African government of the time denied the black SANLC men their legitimate entitlement to war medals.

Also when in France they were not meant to leave their camps for recreational purposes.

That was how it was.

Harry

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nick ward408

It appears that Pondo burial tradition was very similar to Zulu traditions. A chief would be buried on his own in some splendour but warriors would at best be buried together with little or no ceremony or even left to the animals. A Zulu web site explains that this was because the old religions taught that the body was of little account once the spirit had departed it.

I have already walked down this avenue and it appears not to to be the case according to my South African experts, there were many men from different tribes and the 'together in life, together in death' scenario holds no water whatsoever, unless the families were aware of their resting place no closure could ever be given to the spirit, which is why the Mendi has been made a war grave (recently) so that en mass, any 'found' relatives have closure.

However, the people who signed off the multiple burials in Milton and Littlehampton must have had some sort of brief as to internment but I have yet to find that little memo!

A great deal still unknown.

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nick ward408

Nick

Greetings

The South African government of the time denied the black SANLC men their legitimate entitlement to war medals.

Also when in France they were not meant to leave their camps for recreational purposes.

That was how it was.

Harry

Very interesting and in my vein of thoughts too, so do you think our 'guests' deserve some legitimacy now? Especially in the world we live in now?

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nick ward408

I have a different thought about this.

Common (shared graves) were not at all unusual at that time and many casualties who died in the UK Military Hospitals far from their family homes were buried in these graves - with total strangers. This included nurses or VADs who died while serving in these hospitals and Colonial soldiers and sailors too.

Colour took no part in the decision process, it was standard practice.

You can see from reading THIS thread that the Australian Government later arranged for all Australian casualties who had been buried in common graves in the UK to be exhumed and re-buried in single graves.

Regards

CGM

Thanks for that because it just reinforces my argument that nobody gave a toss about black South African troops who are STILL in joint graves whereas everyone else was given a great deal more care? I think you may wish to rethink the reasons you state but better still if you can find me examples of 'white' multiple graves in the UK who still lie together?

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centurion

Thanks for that because it just reinforces my argument that nobody gave a toss about black South African troops who are STILL in joint graves whereas everyone else was given a great deal more care? I think you may wish to rethink the reasons you state but better still if you can find me examples of 'white' multiple graves in the UK who still lie together?

http://1914-1918.inv...dpost&p=1537614

Satisfied?

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SiegeGunner

There are thousands of German dead buried together in the Kameradengrab at Langemarck. The most important thing, at this remove of time, is surely that the Mendi casualties are remembered by name, and I seem to recall that there was recently a major project that laboriously researched all the casualties and was able to discover the true names of most of them — many of them having previously been identified only by nicknames, forenames and names 'assigned' to them by someone else.

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NigelS

Thanks for that because it just reinforces my argument that nobody gave a toss about black South African troops who are STILL in joint graves whereas everyone else was given a great deal more care? I think you may wish to rethink the reasons you state but better still if you can find me examples of 'white' multiple graves in the UK who still lie together?

Here are some at Brookwood military Cemetery Click and, If I remember correctly, these are not the only such examples there.

There might be another explanation for the single 'white' grave - incidentally, what are the relative positions of the burials at portsmouth are they adjacent or are there others in be tween; the references given by the CWGC (I.6.71, 73, & 78) indicates that the latter might be the case, but it would be unwise to assume that this is actually the case - The Times of 24th February carried the first reporting of the incident by reporting on an inquest for just four of the men involved (note that at that time it does not name the vessels involved nor the severity of the accident) one of whom is the occupant of the 'white' grave, MacTavish:

A COLLISION AT SEA DEATHS FROM EXPOSURE

Sir Thomas Bramsdon, Coroner for Portsmouth, held an inquest yesterday upon the bodies of P.R.A. MACTAVISH; WILLIAM WINDSOR SMALL, of Clarendon-road, Egremont, Cheshire; HERBERT RAINE, of Milton-road, West Hartlepool; and J.H. BAILEY of Grosvenor-road, Hoylake, who died from exposure following a collision at sea on Wednesday.

The evidence showed that during a fog early in the morning two vessels came into collision in the Channel. One was struck on the starboard side near the foremast, and was so badly injured that she sank in about 20 minutes. The captain’s orders were carried out promptly and with perfect order until the last boat had left her. Most of the boats were lowered, and all aboard each ship had lifebelts on.

One hundred and twenty persons from the sinking ship were picked up, but some of them died from the effect of the exposure, the four men named being among the number. The weather was very chilly and the water very cold. Herbert Frank Trapnell, the fourth officer, stated that he was on the bridge of the ship that sunk, and saw the other vessel approaching her in the fog. The oncoming vessel was about a ship’s length away when he sighted her, and the collision could not be avoided, though his ship’s engines were at once reversed. He was three hours in the water.

The Coroner said that the evidence showed that no blame attached to anyone. The collision was a pure accident.

A verdict of “Accidental death” was returned.

This might mean that he was buried before the bodies of any of the native labourers had been recovered (or released for burial) - the date of death is known but the actual date of the burials is not; as has already been pointed out it was not uncommon for multiple deaths - military or otherwise - to be buried in common or pauper graves (see this site Click for the story of Jack Cornwell, V.C, who was initially buried in a communal grave and only received his own grave after it came to public attention through newspaper reporting )

The full horror of the Mendi collision wasn't made apparent to the general public until the 10th March - apparently, to allow time for an accurate statement to be made in SA - when it was reported in The Times:

The Secretary of the War Office announces that the Prime Minister of the Union of South Africa made the following statement in the Cape Parliament yesterday afternoon:-

It is with deep regret that I have to announce to the House the sad news that the transport Mendi carrying the last batch of the South African Native Labour contingent (the rest have safely landed in France), collided with another vessel during passage from the United Kingdom to Havre and sank within 25 minutes. The collision took place 12 miles from the Isle of Wight on Wednesday, February 21, at 4.57 a.m. The escort’s searchlight was ineffective owing to the thick fog, but survivors were picked up by various vessels. I am sorry to say that the toll is a heavy one.

Two European officers, 10 European non-commissioned officers, and 191 natives have been saved; one European non-commissioned officer and eight natives, though apparently rescued, are reported to have died as a result of the accident, and three European officers, six European non-commissioned officers, and 607 natives who until yesterday were unaccounted for must be presumed to have been drowned, the total loss thus being:-

10 Europeans and

615 natives, or

625 lives in all.

The difficulty of obtaining authentic information, under the circumstances has been the cause of delay in the doleful tidings; but as the Army Council is making simultaneous announcement of the details I have given to the House – these being all that are available – and as delay might tend to arouse unworthy suspicions that the Government is in a position of concealing facts, I have deemed it right to take the earliest opportunity of informing the House.

I wish to say that I at once communicated with the High Commissioner, asking him to see that everything possible was done for the comfort, care, and well-being of the survivors and we are assured that this is being done...

....Particulars of native survivors are being communicated to our Records Office, who will then be in a position to advise relatives of those natives who must be presumed drowned. Magistrates and Native Commissioners have been instructed to inform chiefs, headmen, and people of this calamity so that they may know the truth and not pay heed to idle and mischievous stories which, as experience has unfortunately proved, may be sedulously circulated.

The Imperial authorities will pay compensation to native beneficiaries in due course on the scale recognized in our Union Laws.

One aspect of the tragedy which hasn't been mentioned are the European burials which presumably were recovered, or taken ashore, on the European coast

WIMEREUX COMMUNAL CEMETERY

Monamatuga, Thomas 9191

NOORDWIJK GENERAL CEMETERY

Kazimula, Natal 9623

Molide, Sitebe 9267

Mtolo, Sikaniso 9999

Zenzile, Arosi 9375

Leboche, Abram 11056 Grave Ref B.12

At Noordwijk only the one grave is listed, the other are commemorated on a 'special memorial' with no indication given as to why, or what form it takes.

This leads to the question, as to why these four men are commemorated there and not, if the bodies weren't recovered, on the CWGC memorial at Hollybrook, Southampton; If they where recovered why is the location of the graves not given like the fifth man - has the location of these graves been lost subsequently?

NigelS

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bushfighter

Nick

If the Mendi names are all commemorated somewhere on a memorial or memorials then that is probably the best situation that we are going to get.

The African soil was enriched by the unrecorded bodies of hundreds of thousands of Askari and carriers who served in the Great War.

At least the Mendi boys came from a country that now wishes to remember them. Efforts made further north to get governments interested in what their ancestors did during the Great War mostly fail, often because official history starts from Independence Day.

In fact in one key country history was removed from the educational curriculum altogether.

Harry

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CGM

................................

Thanks for that because it just reinforces my argument that nobody gave a toss about black South African troops who are STILL in joint graves whereas everyone else was given a great deal more care? I think you may wish to rethink the reasons you state but better still if you can find me examples of 'white' multiple graves in the UK who still lie together?

Firstly, I must tell you that I absolutely agree with you - attitudes which prevailed before and at that time make distressing reading. We cannot re-write history, but we can and should study it and learn from it.

However, I don't think I need to rethink the reasons I stated, but I should explain them better.

When I said that common (shared) graves were not at all unusual at that time I spoke from experience. I have family members in common graves in Tottenham Cemetery and I feel no shame or anger about it.

The lease on plots for private burials had to be purchased. This expense was beyond the resources of many, many families - but they were not paupers. Graves for paupers were a third type of burial.

I mentioned the Australian Government's decision because it was notable - all the British casualties buried in common graves in Tottenham Cemetery are still in common graves, under the grass in front of the screen wall. (See my photo in centurian's link).

No disrespect was intended, even though their graves are unmarked, and they are commemorated on the screen wall.

In this area there are three women - members of the QAIMNS (Queen Alexandra's Imperial Military Nursing Service) - who were not related in any way but share a common grave. They too are commemorated on the screen wall.

Again, no disrespect was intended. It was the way then.

I therefore don't think it is fair to say that

nobody gave a toss about black South African troops who are STILL in joint graves whereas everyone else was given a great deal more care?

It was the way then for many people, both civilians and those in service, and they too are still in common (shared) graves.

Please be sure to read through the thread which centurian posted a link to see here and particularly read my posts

Regards

CGM

edited

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CGM

You asked me for examples of multiple graves where 'whites' still lie together.

Again, I am looking at Tottenham Cemetery (as that is where my white relatives lie in common graves) and have selected just one from the many common graves listed on the Commonwealth War Graves Commission website.

A selective search will find all the others.

These five all share unmarked grave Gen.7303 and are therefore commemorated on the Screen Wall.

They died within a few weeks of each other, so this was not a 'mass' burial.

McKEAN, J A Private 8493 08/01/1917 Cheshire Regiment United Kingdom

Son of Mrs. Louisa McKean, of 3, Birstall Rd., South Tottenham.

BREWSTER, THOMAS JAMES Air Mechanic 2nd Class 40413 16/01/1917 39 Royal Flying Corps United Kingdom

Husband of Henrietta Maud Bysouth (formerly Brewster), of 33, Cranbrook Rd., White Hart Lane, Tottenham.

McCARTHY, J H Private 10580 16/01/1917 27 Welsh Regiment United Kingdom

Son of Maurice and Ellen McCarthy, of 22, Tenterden Rd., Tottenham.

PRICE, S O Private 35912 04/02/1917 Devonshire Regiment United Kingdom

Husband of Matilda Price, of 1/49, Humpage Rd., Bordesley Green, Birmingham.

HUSSEY, GEORGE EDWARD Private T/242294 11/02/1917 24 The Buffs (East Kent Regiment) United Kingdom

Son of Henry Thomas Hussey, of 9, Gales Gardens, Bethnal Green, London.

:poppy:

Of course, I can't prove to you that all these casualties were white but the balance of probability says they were.

Regards

CGM

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CGM

Nick, my "thought about this" may differ from your own but I certainly respect your passion for a subject which should never be forgotten.

Regards

CGM

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centurion

Using experience gained in the 1960s from vacation work in a large municipal cemetery the following needs to be taken into account

  • Burial of people who had died either in Britain or were washed ashore there was ultimately the responsibility of local authorities
  • Even in the 60s mortuary facilities were primitive (and would have been more so in WW1) so that there wasn't too much time to arrange burial, especially if the bodies were already well into putrifaction
  • Grave digging was a skilled job (if the grave is to be of reasonable depth and you don't want the sides to cave in before the burial) and takes time and effort - local authorities were desperately short of manpower in WW1
  • Where the deceased's family could be contacted in time they might be asked to pay for a single grave otherwise the local authority would see to it but it might not be a single grave, especially if there were a number of bodies and time was pressing

In the case of most of the men from SS Mendi contacting their families before burial would be impossible as many of them were using nick names or ascribed names,no family address would be available, the families might well be illiterate etc etc. I note that it has taken decades to properly identify them all. In the case of the baker its possible that with letters in his pocket his family was contacted before burial.

Emotional statements without facts to back them up only detract from the discussion. No country treated its black soldiers as well as they should have. South Africa and the USA being the chief, but not the only, offenders but we should not conflate this with the actions of those who dealt with the burials in Britain.

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NigelS

Thanks for those links marechalfayolle, one which shows the 'Special memorial' at Noordwijk General Cemetery to be a CWGC headstone which may or not cover the actual graves of the four men.

Another thing which hasn't really been mentioned is the loss of many of the crew of the Mindi in the collision these, being merchant seamen, don't appear in the CWGC listings, nor does there appear to be any memorial specifically to them. The Court of Inquiry specifically mentioned the gallantry of 'Hugh J. Wilson, quartermaster of the Mendi, and Fourth Engineer Pascoe, of the Mendi, who gave up their seats in the lifeboat, also of Vincent Capler, an ordinary seaman..' all of whom appear to have survived. The Court of Inquiry placed the blame on the Darrup with its captain (Stump) receiving a 12 month suspension of his certificate '...not so much because of his neglect to observe the regulations under war conditions, as because of his failure to comply with section 4221 A, of the Merchant shipping Act, 1894'

I have found a list of the the Mendi's crew casualties in this comprehensive pdf (8.2MB) from Wessex Archaeology Click which gives an incredible amount of detailed information together with the sources, not just on the current situation of the wreck, but on the accident itself, the foreign labour corps, the political situation, the ships, the commemorations and a great deal of other background information.

Raine, H. 2nd Officer

Swall, W.W. 3rd Officer

Steele, A.R. Surgeon

Bowen, R. Deck Boy

Nicol, J. Fireman

Johnson, J. Foreman

James, T. Trimmer

Brown, J. Trimmer

Harris, F. Steward

Hennesey, W. Steward

Holmes, A. Steward

Fargher, A. Steward

Bogie, W. Steward

Adams, L.J. Steward

Cross, R. Steward

Evans, J. Steward

Bailey, J.A. Steward

Okill, H. 2nd Cook

Oborn, W. 3rd Cook

Cooper, W. Baker

Morris, W.B. Scullion

Mole, H. Marconi Operator

James, T. Assistant Baker

Framley, R. A.B. (Able Seaman)

Carroll, W.H. Gunner

Johnson, D. Fireman

Johnson, C. Fireman

Thompson, S. Trimmer

James, J. Trimmer

Friday, S.D. Deck Hand

Foster, W. Deck Boy

Like their passengers, some will have graves, but I suspect the majority will not.

May they RIP :poppy:

NigelS

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NigelS

One of the early Times reports (that of March 10th reporting the announcement made in Parliament) gave, at its conclusion:

The Imperial authorities will pay compensation to native beneficiaries in due course on the scale recognized in our Union Laws.

Sadly, I expect, despite the 'Union Law' (presumably this was the South African Union, not Trade Union) this would probably have been minimal.

A much later report (November 13th, 1917), also from The Times reporting a legal case for limited liability on behalf of the Darro's owners, gave (my emboldening):

...MR. H.C.S. DUMAS, who appeared for the plaintiffs, said that the loss of life occurred among a native labour battalion: 500-600 out of 800 were drowned.
It was anticipated that no claim would be made in a number of instances.

Mr. D. Stephens appeared for the owners of the .Mendi

MR JUSTICE HILL granted a decree in the terms prayed for. He directed that £87,415 16s. 10d. should be paid into Court, together with interest at the rate of 4 per cent., and he accepted the plaintiff’s undertaking to give bail to such amount as might be asked not exceeding £76,488 13s., in respect of life claims.

On a per head basis, and making allowances for monetary value back then, far cry from the likely claims anticipated for the recent Concordia accident: No Compensation culture and lawyers wishing to pursue cases for the benefit of both their clients and their own pockets back in those days. So, I wonder whether any of the families of the lost crew or those of members of the SANL battalions involved ever did ever get any compensation?

NigelS

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