Sussex

SS Mendi tragedy commemorated in Sussex 100 years on

SS Mendi Image copyright South African Navy
Image caption A total of 646 men died, most of them members of the South African Native Labour Corps

The lives of more than 600 men who died in the sinking of the SS Mendi in the English Channel have been commemorated 100 years on.

The ship was hit in thick fog off the Isle of Wight by a cargo steamship.

The men on board were South Africans travelling to France to assist the allies in World War One.

Bodies were washed up along the Sussex coast and buried locally, including at Newtimber, near Brighton, where a memorial service was held on Saturday.

Some of the men are buried in graveyards in Littlehampton, East Dean and Hastings.

Image caption There is a memorial in the churchyard at Newtimber to commemorate the event

The vessel sank on 21 February 1917.

There is a memorial in the churchyard at Newtimber to commemorate the event, as the Governor General of South Africa, Lord Buxton, lived in Newtimber Place at the time.

Image caption The memorial service was one of a number being held to commemorate the centenary

Saturday's service was attended by the the Bishop of Chichester, the Archdeacon of Horsham, and guests from the South African High Commission.

The high commissioner Obed Mlaba said: "A lot of our young people over so many years in the past were not taught what the history was all about... we're now going to push that this history is known."

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