Men of the Mendi

South Africa's Forgotten Heroes of World War I

Brenda Shepherd

Date Published :
May 2017
Publisher :
30 Degrees South Publishers
Format Available    QuantityPrice
Binding. : Paperback
ISBN : 9781928359043
Pages : 314
Dimensions : 9 X 6 inches
Stock Status : In stock


This is the story of the sinking of the SS Mendi during WW1, the bravery of the men on board and the ensuing inquiry conducted by the Board of Trade in London. The story follows the small band of survivors to France where they complete their tour of duty. The First World War rages in Europe, it is a white man’s war, but when the British government calls for 10, 000 black soldiers to be sent to France as a labor force, men from around South Africa volunteer for service. In the foothills of the Drakensberg, Kula Hlongwane, an amaNgwane prince steps forward, followed by a group of his tribesmen. Madondo is ordered to accompany them. For him it is a nightmare from which there is no escape. When crossing the English Channel on the troopship, the SS Mendi, lights loom out of the thick black fog, then a siren blasts. With no time to avoid the collision, the Mendi is struck a devastating blow on the starboard side where Kula and his men lie sleeping. Within minutes, the Mendi begins to sink. The book makes use of various historical documents and the transcripts from the inquiry held in London by the Board of Trade to establish causality for the large loss of life. On conclusion of the inquiry, these transcripts were declared ‘secret’ and concealed from view for the next 50 years. Men of the Mendi gives an in depth account of the inquiry and the apparent reason for the cover-up.

About The Author

Brenda Shepherd was born in the mining town of Oranjemund in Namibia. She matriculated in Cape Town where she lived for most of her adult life. She holds degrees in English and Communication Science. Her film script on the Mendi-story won Best Action Drama at the Sethingi Film Festival in 2004. Following research and site visits in England, France and South Africa, she has written the Men of the Mendi as a historical novel to give a voice to these almost forgotten South African heroes.

More from this publisher