City of Southampton Society
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caring for our city's heritage and its green open spaces
Webmaster John Avery
                                      Titanic departing from Southampton April 1912          John Melody Town Crier          
   About us      S.S.Mendi - a tragedy recorded at Hollybrook Cemetery
Queen Mary entering KG DOCKOur outdoor visit to Minstead Church in 2011 image Will TempleWarrior who after service on the front in WWI became a Southampton Police Horse. Image by kind permission Bitterne Local History SocietySouthampton CenotaphJohn Melody Town Crier at Tudor Revels 2012 image Arthur Jeffery
 

The Mendi was on charter from her owners Elder Dempster to the British government as a troop ship.

The black native community in South Africa had willingly volunteered to fight for the mother country and had joined the South African Native Labour Corps.

On 16th January 1917 the ship left Capetown calling at Lagos with the destination of Le Havre. She carried 805 black privates, 5 white officers and 17 NCO’s.

On the morning of 21st February the S.S. Darro travelling at full speed and emitting no warning signals rammed the Mendi amidships. The Darro hoved to about ½ mile off. The Darro made no effort to lower her life boats or to assist in anyway. An escort destroyer HMS Brisk took on the role of picking up survivors but as very few of the men could swim it was mainly dead bodies being piled onto the deck. The captain and crew of the Darro did not raise a finger to help.

The Reverend Isaac Wauchope Dyobha loudly sang words of comfort to support the dying men and was heard calling out "Be quiet and calm, my countrymen, for what is taking place is exactly what you came to do. You are going to die, but that is what you came to do.

"Brothers, we are drilling the death drill. I, a Xhosa, say you are my brothers. Zulus, Swazis, Pondos, Basothos and all others, let us die like warriors. We are the sons of Africa. Raise your war cries my brothers, for though they made us leave our assegais back in the kraals, our voices are left with our bodies."

 607 black troops and 33 crew members were lost in the icy waters off the Isle of Wight. The Darro suffered no casualties.

Eyewitness stories of the bravery exhibited by the doomed men aboard the SS Mendi have become legendary. The most famous story is that of the death dance the men performed as the ship went down.

The Inquiry into the collision found the captain of the Darro, Henry W Stump, to be at fault for "having travelled at a dangerously high speed in thick fog, and of having failed to ensure that his ship emitted the necessary fog sound signals." The captain of the Darro had his licence suspended for a year. His failure to render assistance to the Mendi's survivors was publicly criticised at the Inquiry.

THE Duke of Kent, President of the Commonwealth War Graves Commission, visited Southampton Hollybrook Cemetery on 19th February 2013 to unveil the latest information panels put in place by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission.

The cemetery contains 113 burials from the First World War and 186 burials from the Second World War.

It also contains the Hollybrook Memorial, which commemorates by name almost 1,900 servicemen and women of the Commonwealth land and air forces whose graves are not known.

Each of the panels carries information about the site of the cemetery or memorial, and the reason why it is situated where it is.

But each panel also carries a QR (Quick Response) code which when scanned with a Smartphone provides access to further information, including the personal stories of some of the casualties buried or commemorated at the location.

The QR code at Hollybrook tells more about Lord Kitchener, who is commemorated on the memorial there. 

Grateful thanks to Ann MacGillivray CoSS member for the images taken at Hollybrook Cemetery, Southampton. 
A well researched book on the sinking of the troopship Mendi by military historian Nick Ward 

HRH  Duke of Kent at the Hollybrook Cemetery image Ann MacGillivray

information board on CWGC graves at Hollybrook Cemetery image Ann MacGillivray

Cross of Sacrifice the CWGC emblem at Hollybrook Cemetery image Ann MacGillivray
Panels recording the names of men lost on the SS Mendi image Ann MacGillivray
The panels recorded the loss of lives on SS Mendi image Ann MacGillivray

On the 20th February 2017 to commemorate the centenary of the tragic accident HRH The Princess Royal - Princess Anne accompanied by her husband Vice Admiral Sir Timothy Lawrence attended the CWGC memorial at Hollybrook Cemetery. John Avery and Ann MacGillivray representing the City of Southampton Society attended [photographs by Ann]
Mendi Centenary at CWGC memorial Hollybrook Cemetery. Image copyright Ann MacGillivray

Mendi Centenary at CWGC memorial Hollybrook Cemetery. Image copyright Ann MacGillivray

Mendi Centenary at CWGC memorial Hollybrook Cemetery. Image copyright Ann MacGillivray
  
   
Mendi Centenary at CWGC memorial Hollybrook Cemetery. Image copyright Ann MacGillivray   

Mendi Centenary at CWGC memorial Hollybrook Cemetery. Image copyright Ann MacGillivray

Mendi Centenary at CWGC memorial Hollybrook Cemetery. Image copyright Ann MacGillivray

Mendi Centenary at CWGC memorial Hollybrook Cemetery. Image copyright Ann MacGillivray

Mendi Centenary at CWGC memorial Hollybrook Cemetery. Image copyright Ann MacGillivray

Mendi Centenary at CWGC memorial Hollybrook Cemetery. Image copyright Ann MacGillivray

Mendi Centenary at CWGC memorial Hollybrook Cemetery. Image copyright Ann MacGillivray

Mendi Centenary at CWGC memorial Hollybrook Cemetery. Image copyright Ann MacGillivray

Mendi Centenary at CWGC memorial Hollybrook Cemetery. Image copyright Ann MacGillivray

Mendi Centenary at CWGC memorial Hollybrook Cemetery. Image copyright Ann MacGillivray

Mendi Centenary at CWGC memorial Hollybrook Cemetery. Image copyright Ann MacGillivray

Mendi Centenary at CWGC memorial Hollybrook Cemetery. Image copyright Ann MacGillivray


Mendi Centenary at CWGC memorial Hollybrook Cemetery. Image copyright Ann MacGillivray

Mendi Centenary at CWGC memorial Hollybrook Cemetery. Image copyright Ann MacGillivray

Mendi Centenary at CWGC memorial Hollybrook Cemetery. Image copyright Ann MacGillivray


Mendi Centenary at CWGC memorial Hollybrook Cemetery. Image copyright Ann MacGillivray

Mendi Centenary at CWGC memorial Hollybrook Cemetery. Image copyright Ann MacGillivray








Outdoor visit to Minstead Church image courtesy Will Temple Outdoor visit on a Guy Arab open top busTug tender Calshot in preservation