Black Poppies: Britain's Black Community and the Great War

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Black Poppies: Britain's Black Community and the Great War

Black Poppies: Britain's Black Community and the Great War

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By war’s end, we are told, the BWIR had registered 15,204 men (and had rejected 13,940 as unsuitable). David Clemetson, the black officer who could have passed for white but refused to lie about his race; Sgt George A. Others, like my character, John, were black men from England who served by “passing” as white; non-white Britons were not officially barred from enlisting, but recruiters were widely urged to reject them. The Manley family had made their home in Britain when the war started and Norman and Douglas joined up immediately.

There were also many occasions where black Britons served openly through a combination of will, moxie, and the luck of having dealt with a relaxed or open-minded recruiter. One discovery in our magazine archive gives a direct comparison of African and Indian soldiers (the latter were given far more prominence in the press).His allegiance was to King George V, to his Mother Country and to British people all over the world.

In May of 1919, racial tensions in Liverpool came to a head, with hostels for West African sailors and other black-frequented establishments being looted and burned. Ignore the sad pathetic troll Dr Praetorious who has had nothing better to do than post negative reviews of Stephen Bourne's books for years. I think it is simply a human impulse, lighting a candle so that even the most wasteful is not waste, the most lost is not forgotten, and what’s over is never entirely gone. Edward became a dentist, and Walter played football for Spurs, Northampton: “his face appeared on cigarette cards [and] in newspapers,” his biographer, Phil Vasili, describes in the 2008 BBC documentary Walter Tull: Forgotten Hero.

Walter joined the army with many teammates in December 1914 as part of what was known as the “Footballer’s Regiment. While black recruits were often turned away on trumped-up failures of the physical exam (particularly the vision exam), there was no way the recruiter could pretend that professional-athlete Walter was unfit for service.

Like that book, this community defines the term "black" as including Caribbean and British people of African origin. The number ‘9’ has always maintained a deep significance within many African (as well as other) cultures. Sixteen of these men were decorated for bravery, 185 were killed or died of their wounds, 697 were wounded and 1,071 died of illness.Hundreds of thousands of British subjects served with regiments from the Caribbean and Africa (with 55,000 in combat roles). Other South Londoners in the book include the composer Amanda Ira Aldridge and music hall star Cassie Walmer.



  • Fruugo ID: 258392218-563234582
  • EAN: 764486781913
  • Sold by: Fruugo

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