'West Indies Calling' made in 1944 is a short BBC broadcast whereby West Indians' living in Britain explain to the British public the West Indians' contribution to the Second World War. Contributions include West Indian cricketer Learie Constantine who worked as a Welfare Officer for the Ministry of Labour during the war. Flying Officer Ulric Cross from Trinidad who was a Bomber Navigator with RAF Bomber Command whose illustrious career included flying over 80 bombing missions, and was awarded both the Distinguished Flying Cross and Distinguished Service Order.
Article by Bill Hern and Steve Charlton
In November 2020 the Royal Regiment of Fusiliers Museum (Warwickshire) paid £10,540 to secure a plaque commemorating the man believed to be the first British regiment officer from an ethnic background to die in World War 1. That man was Lieutenant Euan Lucie-Smith and this is his remarkable story.
Euan Lucie-Smith was born in St Andrew, Jamaica on 14th December 1889.
As Lady Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon walked up the aisle of Westminster Abbey in 1923 to marry the future King George VI, she released her father’s arm, stepped aside, and tenderly placed her bouquet on the Tomb of the Unknown Warrior before approaching the altar.
It was a touching tribute to her brother Fergus Bowes-Lyon, a captain in the 8th Black Watch who was killed at the Battle of Loos on 27 September 1915, aged 26. Elizabeth's tribute to the Unknown Warrior became a tradition followed by every royal bride since.
Soldiers from the far reaches of the British Empire arrive in London to take part in the official commemoration of the end of war in Europe, a lavish state ceremony that took place over a year after actual V.E Day, on 8th July 1946.
As we continue our educational journey highlighting and celebrating the positive links between West Indians and UK Armed Forces, we are proud to have become one of the latest signatories of the Armed Forces Covenant.
Reinforcing our support to those who have served, those currently serving and those who will serve in the future.
We salute you all.
The WAWI Project was founded in 2009 answering the question “Why are West Indians in this Country”. Following a meeting in 2011 with the then County Chairman of the Royal British Legion Dave Gooding we were put in touch with the British and Caribbean Veterans Association.
We took with us a Standard of the West India Regiment to showcase our work and Lee quickly volunteered to carry the Standard on our behalf at the 90th Annual Poppy Parade.
The Great War was by far the most brutal in history and it is no wonder many of its soldiers were unprepared for the horrors they would encounter.
Before the end of the war, the army would deal with approximately 80,000 cases of shell shock. This condition accounted for one seventh of all medical discharges from the British Army.
However, 306 British and Commonwealth soldiers were executed for crimes such as desertion and cowardice; many of whom may well have been suffering with what is known today as Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).
Bill Hern of Historycal Roots recently made a trip to Trinidad to research the life of Trinidadian singer/actor Mona Baptiste who came to England on the Empire Windrush in 1948. One of the mysteries he hoped to solve was why Mona elected to move to England and not, for example, the United States? Mona had family in the States and was already popular with an American audience through her appearances on the US Forces Radio in Trinidad. Mona was a blues singer and the States was the birthplace of the blues as well as the home of her idol, Lena Horne.
Over the past 10 years members of the WAWI Project have been working tirelessly promoting and raising awareness of the true history of Windrush, and the contributions made by those British Citizens who answered Britain's call for help.
To commemorate 71 years of Windrush, events were held throughout the week commencing 16th June with a Sunday morning Service of Thanks Giving at the Calvary Church of God in Christ, Burlington Street, Newtown,
Courtesy of Baroness Lawrence of Clarendon OBE
22nd April is national Stephen Lawrence Day, commemorating the life of my son Stephen Lawrence, a young man who had a bright future ahead of him.