Let us die like brothers … the silent voices of the SS Mendi finally heard

On 21 February 1917, during World War I, this chartered troopship – the SS Mendi – containing a full battalion of South African Native Labour Corps men and officers on its way to the western front was rammed in fog conditions in the English Channel. The SS Mendi sank in 25 minutes with the loss of 616 South Africans and 30 British.


The greatest tragedy was yet to come as due to racial prejudice this event was somewhat down-played through the years and not enough recognition given to these men, something the South African Legion and the South African National Defence Force is now working very hard at redressing.

The accidental ramming of SS Mendi Troopship by SS Darro on a cold foggy morning eleven miles off Isle of Wight, on 21st February 1917, became an almost unparalleled wartime tragedy for South African forces.


SS Daro

Darro, at almost three times Mendi’s weight, travelling ‘full ahead’ in fog conditions – not using her fog horn to warn shipping in the area or the appropriate lights – she rammed the troop ship with such force the SS Mendi sunk and was resting on the sea-bed within 25 minutes. The violent impact, nearly at right angles, left a gaping 20ft tear amidships instantly trapping more than 100 soldiers below decks who were unable to escape the rapidly rising water as the ship quickly listed to starboard.

Her crew, consisting 29 sailors, failed to launch sufficient life rafts for the 811 strong contingent of 5th Battalion South African Native Labour Corps (SANLC). In the dense fog and inadequate rescue effort that followed, many remained aboard the ship, unwilling to commit to an icy plunge.

They were reportedly exhorted by the Chaplain Rev Isaac Dyobha who called them together to die like warriors and brothers – what he said is now legendary.

He said “Be quiet and calm, my countrymen, for what is taking place now is exactly what you came to do. You are going to die, but that is what you came to do. Brothers, we are drilling the drill of death. I, a Xhosa, say you are all my brothers, Zulus, Swazis, Pondos, Basutos, we die like brothers. We are the sons of Africa. Raise your cries, brothers, for though they made us leave our weapons at our home, our voices are left with our bodies.”

They took off their boots, picked up imaginary spears and shields and performed an African war dance, a dance of death.

Thus, together, as brothers they chanted and danced on the tilting deck, facing death with unparalleled bravery until finally being sucked into the vortex created by the sinking ship.

The reference to weapons was to the fact that the South African Government had agreed to send black men to assist the Allied forces as labourers, but, due to policies of the time, they insisted they could not be given weapons.


British officers going aboard the Mendi in Calabar, November 1916.

There were many more individual acts of bravery and selflessness in those terrifying early morning hours in the freezing water. A catalogue of failures exacerbated the final outcome, the Darro for example made no effort at all to rescue the men in the water, and ultimately it was that many of these brave men had no experience of the sea combined with extended exposure to the frigid February waters, off St Catherine’s Light, that accounted for the unusually high death toll.

Fewer than 200 of the 840 souls aboard the SS Mendi survived. The total toll on human lives lost that day reached a staggering 646.

The sinking was described first hand by Captain Lewes Hertslet of the Royal Army Medical Corps who survived the sinking when he was pulled out of the water by black South African troops and gave his account of the incident in 1940.

“I remember the jump into the bitter cold sea, the sinking below the surface, and the coming up again, the swimming to the boat that had been let down from our ship, and then cut adrift,  I felt my hands gripping the side as the rowers drew alongside us.” Hertslet remembers himself saying “Goodbye, my strength has gone” and then feeling the strong hands of a black trooper gripping his wrists and holding him up. “Then several others caught me around the chest and shoulders and dragged me, nearly dead, into the boat and so I am saved. Nearly 200 others were also saved, and all of us who are still alive remember the Bantu and Europeans who went bravely to their deaths on that black day of the last war.”

Although the then Prime Minister Louis Botha brought the South African Parliament to attention in remembrance of the tragedy and the impact to the community, convention and prejudice meant this dreadful tragedy was not afforded appropriate recognition by respective Governments in South Africa and the United Kingdom. South African officials during these years demonstrated their unwillingness to highlight black people’s wartime contributions by withholding medals and reasonable post-war recompense to ‘non-combatant men’ deemed somehow less valuable.

Particularly poignant was that South African Labour Corps men, drawn from a broad spectrum of backgrounds, had readily volunteered their services to support the British Crown’s war effort on the Western Front in the hope it would win them greater political concessions at home. The reality was that remarkably little changed for 7 decades.

After World War 1, none of the black servicemen on the Mendi, neither the survivors nor the dead, or any other members of the South African Native Labour Corps, received a British War Medal or a ribbon. Their white officers did (i.e. commissioned and non commissioned South African Labour Corps officers – whites only).

The War Medal was issued by the British to all who participated in World War 1 fighting for Britain and her Empire. The decision not to award it to Black South African servicemen was a South African government decision and South African government alone. Black members of the South African Labour Corps from the neighbouring British Protectorates of Basutoland (modern Lesotho), Bechuanaland (Botswana) and Swaziland did receive medals, as the government in these territories approved the issue.

Initial approaches are now been made to the British government by the SANDF Attache in London to see if this issue can be redressed and medals struck (this initiative and continuous drive must come from the South African government, time will tell whether they will achieve this), a memorial “commemorative” medal have also been struck for surviving family members and will make up part of the Centenary commemoration of the sinking of the SS Mendi.

The British War Medal with King George V bust, the medal in question and King George V who is seen here inspecting N.C.O.’s of the South African Native Labour Corps at Abbeville, 10 July 1917.

The shipwreck has recently been awarded World Heritage and War Grave status and an increasing number of Memorials are testament to contemporary recognition for, and acknowledgement of the sacrifices made by not only the 607 South African Labour Corps men lost that day on His Majesty’s service but also many thousand silent black South African citizens who risked everything to join Europe, ‘like brothers’.


Rev. Isaac Williams Wauchope Dyobha (1852-1917) – see insert picture, our hero who called all to the death dance on the SS Mendi was a rather remarkable man – he was a prominent member of the Eastern Cape African elite in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, a Congregational minister, political activist, historian, poet and ultimately the legendary hero in the Mendi disaster.

As a Lovedale student he joined a missionary party to Malawi, he was instrumental in founding one of the first political organisations for Africans, a staunch ally of John Tengo Jabavu and an enthusiastic campaigner for the establishment of the University of Fort Hare. For over 40 years, from 1874 to 1916, he was a prodigious contributor to newspapers, submitting news, comments, announcements, poetry, hymns, history and biography, travelogues, sermons, translations, explications of proverbs and royal praise poems. He used nom de plume Silwangangubo, Dyoba wo Daka and Ngingi and published The Natives and their Missionaries in 1908.


This is a recent picture of a diver on the wreck of he SS Mendi and an artefact recovered from the wreck.

The Mendi sinking is considered one of the greatest tragedies in the history of the South African military, and was one of the worst maritime disasters of the 20th century in British waters.

For South Africans this is especially important as there are very few physical reminders of this tragedy, such as this photograph BASNC plate courtesy of David Wendes.

Some small things can be seen on the wreck, such as some of the plates that the men would have eaten off. It was the crest of the British and African Steam Navigation Company on some of these plates that allowed divers to identify the wreck as the Mendi.

For many years in South Africa the only memorial to these men was a life ring with the words “SS Mendi” on it on a railing in Simonstown, South Africa and the Hollybrook Cemetery Memorial which listed all the names of the SS Mendi missing in Southampton, England.

Happily this suppression of Black South African contribution to WW1 is no-longer the case, after 1994 memorial statues to the SS Mendi memorials now exist in Pretoria, Cape Town and Johannesburg.  Memorial services are held countrywide and form part of the SANDF’s Armed Forces Day (Mendi Day).  Awards and decorations for Bravery in the name of the Mendi have been issued, and the South African Navy has named two ships – the SAS Mendi (a Valour class Frigate) and the SAS Isaac Dyobha (a Warrior class Strike-craft).  Memorial services are also regularly held overseas in Southampton England and Noordwijk Netherlands.  A dedicated exhibit now also takes up place at Delville Wood in France.

The image to the left of the Atteridgeville memorial is Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II and President Nelson Mandela unveiling the memorial to the SS Mendi in Soweto, South Africa.

The immediate recognition of this event by the British government in 1995 was one of the first acts by the Queen on her return to South Africa – she had last been in South Africa in 1947 and was prevented from visiting again as South Africa had “resigned” from the Commonwealth in the intervening years of Apartheid.

Once South Africa rejoined the Commonwealth in 1994, such was the importance and urgent need to recognise this tragic event as a fundamental building block to nation building it took centre stage of Royal visit not seen in South Africa for 47 years.

The Centenary of the sinking of the SS Mendi passed in February 2017, and after all was said and done by way of ceremonies aboard the SAS Amatola and at Hollybrook in England and all the speeches and praises by visiting politicians to the United Kingdom completed, it was the military veterans (who were largely left out of the fanfare), who continue to carry this flame of remembrance for their ‘brothers’.

This point was most poignantly expressed by The South African Legion of Military Veterans in deed, after the SANDF and fanfare returned home, the SA Legion performed a most subtle but very striking dedication when the wreck was dived in an official dedication ceremony held in August 2017 by the SA Legion; England Branch Chairman – Claudio Chistè (a ex SA Navy Diver) doing the honours.  They then placed a plaque on the wreck itself in dedication and in permanent memory of their ‘brothers’.

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

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

Lest we forget.

The article complied by Peter Dickens from various sources on-line including Wessex Archeology.

Copyrights: The underwater sonar image of the SS Mendi copyright contains Marine Aggregrate Levy Sustainability Fund materials © Crown Copyright 2016. Prepared by Wessex Archaeology

The reference on Isaac Williams Wauchope – The journalist on-line http://www.thejournalist.co.za.  Image copyright of the Mendi in the East African Campaign – Imperial War Museum

7 thoughts on “Let us die like brothers … the silent voices of the SS Mendi finally heard

  1. There is poignant account of the sinking of the Mendi and a tribute to the brave men who died at the South African War Memorial at Delville Wood in France. We will not forget them.


  2. Thank you for this moving article. A great tribute to all who lost their lives that day, including my great uncle Samuel Emslie. We will remember them


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  6. What about the survivors, no mention of them. Would like to see a list of them. They should also be remembered. Survived the sinking only to be sent off to war and to be forgotten in history.


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