Book honours those who went down with Mendi
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 (firstname.lastname@example.org), 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There are also previously unpublished photographs of some of the items recovered from the wreck as well as photos of the wreck itself, which is registered as a war grave.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. ac.za/cas/features/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. co.za ), all on sale at the Simon’s Town Museum and at LARJ booksellers in Simon’s Town.