Cobus van Bosch

War dance by members of the South African Labour Force in France during the First World War
(Oil on canvas, 40cm x 60cm, 2013).
Source: Western Cape Archives

The South African Labour Corps was formed to assist Allied Forces in a non-combatant role during the First World War (1914-1918). Members of the Corps were involved in the tragedy of the troop ship SS Mendi, which collided with the vessel SS Darro in the English Channel in 1917 and sunk with the loss of 600 lives. The corps distinguished itself during service in France, but afterwards none of the tens of thousands of Africans who served in the war was awarded any medals or other formal military recognition for their sacrifices.