SS Mendi tragedy commemorated 100 years after sinking

By Press Association

Published: 11:57 EST, 17 February 2017 | Updated: 11:57 EST, 17 February 2017

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The lives of more than 600 men who died in the sinking of the SS Mendi off the Isle of Wight have been remembered 100 years on.

Around 150 people gathered at the Portsmouth Guildhall, Hampshire, to mark the centenary of one of the worst maritime disasters in English waters.

The troop carrier, carrying men from the 5th Battalion of the South African Native Labour Corps (SANLC), was struck by a cargo steamship on February 21 1917.

Members of the South African Diaspora choir were joined by Chichester Community Choir and pupils of St John’s Cathedral Catholic Primary School for the memorial service.

Members of the South African Diaspora Choristers are joined by pupils of St Johns Cathedral Primary School and Chicester Community Choir Members of the South African Diaspora Choristers are joined by pupils of St Johns Cathedral Primary School and Chicester Community Choir

Members of the South African Diaspora Choristers are joined by pupils of St Johns Cathedral Primary School and Chicester Community Choir

The group held up cards bearing the names of those who lost their lives – 607 of whom were black South African troops.

A member of Chichester Community Choir holds up a name of a victim A member of Chichester Community Choir holds up a name of a victim

A member of Chichester Community Choir holds up a name of a victim

The ceremony is part of a series of events organised by the Department for Communities and Local Government, along with the South African High Commission and The Big Ideas Company.

Lord Nicholas Bourne, Communities Minister, said: “For too long the histories of the Labour Corps have been overlooked.

“The forthcoming centenary of the tragic sinking of the SS Mendi provides the opportunity to right this wrong – to commemorate the courage and strength of the men who died in English waters far from home and also remember the many thousands who sacrificed their lives for this country.”

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By Abe Manuel 02/17/2017 11:57:00