Today I attended the For King and Country event at the Imperial War Museum London for Black History Month this October. The discussion was on the untold story of black soldiers in the British forces.
Very interesting and interactive, the staff were passionate and knowledgeable; they shared facts, showed unseen photographs and played with artefacts. I really enjoyed and learnt a great deal, for example, WWI wasn't solely fought in the trenches in France! - In fact black soldiers from Africa & the British West Indian Regiment fought the Germans and the Turks in Iraq and Palestine.
As expected the level of racism was high, with accounts exposing facts that captured German prisoners had better living conditions then the black solders at the Battle of the Somme.
The lecture later explained that black soldiers serving in the British forces dates back as early as the 18th Century, where many were bought from slave traders. Both the West Indian Regiment and the British West Indian Regiment were established during this time, the difference between the two being that the West Indian Regiment was to protect the British Caribbean colonies where as the British West Indian Regiment were at Britain’s disposal and would fight in British wars such as WWI, WWII and the Falkland war.
We were also given names and brief histories of some of the successful black service men, many of which went onto become very influential in the Caribbean & British politics & law.
The lecture ended at present day, highlighting the continual demand for black Caribbean & African soldiers yet racism in the British army still exists.
History is soo soo interesting and colourful but unfortunately it is also very bias, which is why you really do have to seek out the true accounts for yourself!
Will see V-Day in a very new light!
Imperial War Museum Event