The SS Mendi – A Forgotten Tragedy in British Waters

Commercial & Specialised Diving have been involved in numerous Film and TV projects over the years but few have been as meaningful as visiting the wreck of the SS Mendi with Zwai Mgijima.


Despite being one of the worst maritime disasters in the 20th century to happen in British waters, few in Europe understand the significance with which the WWI steamship, SS Mendi, is remembered with in South Africa. With the loss of 646 lives whilst transporting part of the 5th Battalion South African Native Labour Corps to France, the sinking of the Mendi is one of the greatest military tragedies in South African history.


Initially receiving little mention in the history of WWI the Mendi soon became a symbol in the struggle against apartheid. It has since been recognised in official histories in South Africa with a number of memorials and remembrance ceremonies.


Sabido Productions documented the journey of the young South African storyteller Zwai Mgijima as he traveled to Europe to discover more of what became of the Mendi and to bring peace to his ancestors who never returned home. This included a visit to the site of the wreck for filming as it is found today, 40m below the surface in the English Channel near the Isle of Wight. CSD were contracted to provide full support to the underwater cameramen to ensure the safe and successful filming of the wreck site.

The documentary, Troopship Tragedy, is due for release later this year, more details of which can be found here.