Honouring the brave men of the SS Mendi
SOME years back I found an article in the Weekend Argus about the sinking of the SS Mendi in 1917, which was carrying members of the SA Native Labour Corps, and the work of the Graves Commission to have their graves marked with their names.
I filed it away thinking when visiting the areas mentioned we would look for the graves of the servicemen mentioned, but somehow we were never in the vicinity, and only in May this year we found ourselves in the areas mentioned.
However, while we had the names of the towns that had cemeteries which included some of these graves, we didn’t have the names of the churches or the graveyards.
One of them was East Dean in Sussex, and as there is only one churchyard there, we “toured” it hoping we might find one of the graves and we were so pleased to find it.
In the newspaper cutting it said it was the resting place of Private Willie Elijah Tshabana (son of Ghobogi Tshabana and his wife, Mtani Hlongilwa; husband of Sarah Tshabana of Pinetown district.)
We have vowed to return and place a little plant on it as an acknowledgement of a man who gave his life for England and never received the recognition he (and all the others) deserved.
I am hoping someone will be able to give us the information we need.
We really would like to be able to lay some flowers on these graves as a token of remembrance. My email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.
A comprehensive report by Wessex Archaeology contains details of the Mendi graves. It can be accessed at www.wessexarch.co.uk – The Editor