Book hon­ours those who went down with Mendi

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - FRONT PAGE -

THE AR­TI­CLE by Michael Mor­ris (“Un­sung heroes of Mendi memo­ri­alised”, Week­end Ar­gus, Oc­to­ber 15) re­gard­ing the tragic loss of life on SS Mendi in the English Chan­nel in Fe­bru­ary 1917 refers.

The Naval Her­itage Trust in Si­mon’s Town has come across an ex­tremely well-re­searched book writ­ten by a Bri­tish mil­i­tary his­to­rian who has been re­search­ing var­i­ous as­pects of World War I, en­ti­tled Troop Ship Mendi – The Black Ti­tanic and we are presently ne­go­ti­at­ing with the au­thor, Nick Ward, who served in the Bri­tish Corps of Royal En­gi­neers (black­ti­tan­ic­ss­, to be­come the lo­cal agents for this book in South Africa and hope to have the first lo­cally printed copies ready for sale be­fore the end of this year.

This new book is a com­pre­hen­sive his­tory of the men who died that morn­ing and is prob­a­bly the first to give a full Roll of Hon­our list­ing the names of all who died that cold and wet morn­ing when their ship sank af­ter SS Daro col­lided with them. It in­cludes photographs of most of the grave stones and memo­ri­als in the UK that re­flect on the in­ci­dent.

There are also pre­vi­ously un­pub­lished photographs of some of the items re­cov­ered from the wreck as well as pho­tos of the wreck it­self, which is reg­is­tered as a war grave.

It records the min­i­mal of­fi­cial recog­ni­tion shown by the South African au­thor­i­ties in the im­me­di­ate post- war years, the fact that none of the men re­ceived recog­ni­tion in the form of cam­paign medals for their ser­vice in France and the pitiable pay­ments made by the gov­ern­ment to de­pen­dants. Ward has also man­aged to trace and in­clude tran­scripts of re­ports or letters writ­ten by sur­vivors of the sink­ing.

We are also in­ves­ti­gat­ing the pos­si­bil­ity of do­ing a for­mal launch of the book at the March 28-30 UCT Cen­tre for African Stud­ies Con­fer­ence and Ex­hi­bi­tion on the Mendi (See http://www.africanstud­ies.uct.­tures/2016/mendi/ con­fer­ence).

The Naval Her­itage Trust is a non­profit Pub­lic Ben­e­fit Or­gan­i­sa­tion and one of our main aims is to “in­stil a sense of com­mu­nal pride in our naval her­itage, both amongst the gen­eral South African pub­lic and serv­ing navy mem­bers alike” and to this end we pub­lish a num­ber of books cov­er­ing his­toric and re­cent naval events of im­por­tance, in­clud­ing mem­oirs of South Africans who served at sea ei­ther in the SA Naval Forces or on sec­ond­ment to the Bri­tish Royal Navy dur­ing World War II.

We also pro­duce a se­ries of Naval Digests – usu­ally two per year, 24 in to­tal at present – cov­er­ing shorter mem­oirs, his­to­ries of SA naval ves­sels, ships badges, nam­ing of ships and his­to­ries of naval units (See http://www.naval­her­itagetrust. ), all on sale at the Si­mon’s Town Mu­seum and at LARJ book­sell­ers in Si­mon’s Town.

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