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Reference: Victor, S., 2017. Imvubu 27:1.

Architectural drawing

Cordeaux and Farrow's 1921 architectural drawing of King William's Town's memorial to the First World War (1914-18) forms part of the Amathole Museum's collection. Included on the War Memorial plaques are the names of men from King William's Town who died a century ago during one of the worst maritime disasters of the 20th century to occur in British waters, resulting in the accidental sinking of the troopship, SS Mendi. The names of the men are: James Pambili, George Nini, John Clout Nziba, Squire Nodolo (Dodolo), Kleinbooi Petela, July Mdunyelwa, Durward Ngcenge and Style Tetani. Lance Corporals Robert Madosi and Henry Gqweta, as well as Private Anderson Soka from King William's Town, also died during the Mendi disaster, but have been omitted from the memorial.

According to the author, Ian Gleeson, the SS Mendi had left Cape Town on 16 January 1917 with members of the South African Native Labour Contingent (SANLC) on board. After calling at Plymouth, the Mendi was en route to the French port of La Havre. In the early hours of 21 February 1917, approximately 12 miles off St. Catherine's Point on the Isle Of Wight, the 11 000 ton liner, SS Darro, travelling at full speed in thick fog and sounding no fog signals, rammed the Mendi on her starboard side almost cutting her in half. The Darro backed out of the hole she had caused and the sea poured into the breach on the Mendi. She immediately started to list to starboard and sink, disappearing under the sea in about 25 minutes. Despite numerous individual acts of heroism, 615 members of the SANLC were drowned in the incident.

Read more: 100 Years On: The Sinking of the SS Mendi