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SS MENDI 21/02/17


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#1 nick ward408

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Posted 19 February 2012 - 09:43 PM

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!

#2 Stoppage Drill

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Posted 19 February 2012 - 10:10 PM

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.

#3 Lancashire Fusilier

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Posted 20 February 2012 - 05:17 AM

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

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#4 Lancashire Fusilier

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Posted 20 February 2012 - 05:28 AM

Lusitania victims mass graves.

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#5 Lancashire Fusilier

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Posted 20 February 2012 - 05:31 AM

Mendi Memorial - Delville Wood, France.

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#6 Lancashire Fusilier

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Posted 20 February 2012 - 05:36 AM

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

Mendi Memorial - South Africa.

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#7 Lancashire Fusilier

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Posted 20 February 2012 - 05:51 AM

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. "

#8 Lancashire Fusilier

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Posted 20 February 2012 - 05:56 AM

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

#9 CGM

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Posted 20 February 2012 - 07:42 AM

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

#10 centurion

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Posted 20 February 2012 - 02:37 PM

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.

#11 bushfighter

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Posted 20 February 2012 - 06:17 PM

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

#12 nick ward408

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Posted 20 February 2012 - 08:19 PM

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.






#13 nick ward408

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Posted 20 February 2012 - 08:22 PM

[quote name='bushfighter' timestamp='1329761840' post='1714259']
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?




#14 nick ward408

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Posted 20 February 2012 - 08:29 PM

[quote name='CGM' timestamp='1329723750' post='1714008']
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?

#15 centurion

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Posted 20 February 2012 - 08:43 PM

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?

#16 Siege Gunner

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Posted 20 February 2012 - 08:54 PM

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.

#17 NigelS

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Posted 21 February 2012 - 02:43 AM

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

#18 bushfighter

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Posted 21 February 2012 - 03:53 AM

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

#19 marechalfayolle

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Posted 21 February 2012 - 08:35 AM

The sinking of SS Mendi on delvillewood.com

The story of the sinking
Sinking of SS Mendi

SS Mendi Roll of Honour
SS Mendi Roll of Honour

Noordwijk General Cemetery in which rest five men of the SS Mendi
Noordwijk General Cemetery

#20 CGM

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Posted 21 February 2012 - 08:41 AM

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

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





#21 CGM

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Posted 21 February 2012 - 10:22 AM

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

#22 CGM

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Posted 21 February 2012 - 10:58 AM

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

#23 centurion

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Posted 21 February 2012 - 11:13 AM

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.






#24 NigelS

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Posted 21 February 2012 - 11:31 AM

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

#25 NigelS

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Posted 21 February 2012 - 12:29 PM

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