Hon­our­ing the brave men of the SS Mendi

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - LIFE -

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 peter@gift­world.co.za.

A com­pre­hen­sive re­port by Wes­sex Ar­chae­ol­ogy con­tains de­tails of the Mendi graves. It can be ac­cessed at www.wes­sexarch.co.uk – The Ed­i­tor

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