The SS Mendi was wrecked off the coast of the Isle of Wight in February 1917, resulting in the deaths of over 600 South African recruits on their way to fight on the battelfields of Europe. In 1974, the last resting place of the Mendi was discovered by a local diver and founder of the Shipwreck Centre on the Isle of Wight, Martin Woodward.
The Maritime Archaeology Trust is honoured to have had the short-term loan of the ship's bell from the SS Mendi, which was on display at the Shipwreck Centre, Isle of Wight, for one week from Monday 25th to Friday 29th September 2017. Upon receiving the news on the short-term loan of the bell, Martin Woodward commented:
“I am really delighted that the ship's bell from the Mendi will be coming to the Shipwreck Centre for temporary display this coming week. As we have a large display of artefacts from the Mendi in our exhibition, and have done since I found and identified the wreck back in 1974, it seems particularly fitting that the bell should be included with the other items from the wreck. We would love to see the bell come to us permanently in the future, but that remains to be decided and discussed with the relevant authorities. In the meantime, we very much appreciate it being loaned to us, as the Mendi will always be one of the most significant and poignant finds in my many years of diving.”
The SS Mendi ship's bell emerged following the media coverage of the centenary anniversary of the sinking. BBC reporter Steve Humphrey, who has spent more than 30 years researching the SS Mendi, was personally contacted by the anonymous donor. The bell was left at Swanage Pier, Dorset, UK, in the early hours of the morning in June 2017. More information can be found in this BBC article and on the Historic England's website.
If you missed the opportuity to see this stunnign object first hand, the Maritime Archaeology Trust has now completed a 3D scan, available here very soon.