SANLCSouth African Native Labour Corps
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Without delay, the South African Native Labour Corps (SANLC) was formed, to provide 10,000 men to work in the docks and forests of the Western Front, to dig trenches and man the supply lines for those who were fighting.
The SS Mendi was carrying the 5th Battalion South African Native Labour Corps (SANLC) en route to France from Cape Town.
While carrying men of the South African Native Labour Contingent (SANLC) from Cape Town to the Western Front in Le Havre in France, the SS Mendi (4,230 tons), a steamship of the Elder Dempster Line chartered by the British government as a troopship, was rammed by the much larger and heavier mail-ship, SS Darro (10,000 tons) and sank within 20 minutes in the icy waters of the English Channel off the Isle of Wight, with the loss of 607 black lives!