Recognising Caribbean war veterans | The Voice Online
Custom Search 1

Recognising Caribbean war veterans

REMEMBRANCE: Neil Flanigan, left, Councillor Judith Best and veteran Peter Kempson [PIC CREDIT: Marlon Ruddock]

A LAMBETH councillor has vowed to get a film that explores the relationship between the Caribbean and English World War II servicemen and distributed to every school in the south London borough.

Speaking after the West End premiere of documentary Divided by Race, United in War and Peace, Liberal Democrat Judith Best, 53, said: “My mission is to put this film in every school in Lambeth because this is a hidden history that young people need to know about."

It is estimated that the West Indies provided more than 16,000 volunteers to help Britain defeat the Nazis, but critics feel their role has been downplayed.

Best, Lambeth Council’s shadow children and young people's spokesperson, added: “This should be taught as part of black history, so everyone knows how our community helped fight fascism. Young black people have a reason to be here like everyone else.” 

Ghanaian TV star Hugh Quarshie, of BBC’s Holby City, who was one of the high-profile guests at the Prince Charles Theatre in Leicester Square, central London, said another film to document the contribution of Africans to the First and Second World Wars should also be made.

According to the film’s history consultant, Stephen Bourne, black people from across the British Empire enthusiastically joined the army, navy and Royal Air Force (RAF) to play their part in fighting Nazi Germany and its allies.

In the air, at sea and on land they risked their lives, yet very little attention has been given to the thousands of servicemen and women who supported the war effort.

Neil Flanigan MBE, an RAF war veteran and president of the West Indian Association of Service Personnel, told The Voice: "The film was emotional for me because it brought to light the clear experience of what happened 70 years ago. We were the fortunate ones that survived.”

Flanigan signed up in Jamaica in 1944 and became a ground crew member at Bomber Command in England. He urged that the film should be shown around the country to boost knowledge of black history.

He added: “Young people in this country would not have known that so many West Indians and Africans served in the two wars hence we need to keep history going by teaching it."

■ A special one-off screening of the film takes place at the Ritzy Picturehouse, Brixton, on March 7, at 7pm. Director Jimmy Haisman and veterans who appeared in it will be present for a Q&A session.

Subscribe to The Voice database!

We'd like to keep in touch with you regarding our daily newsletter, Voice competitions, promotions and marketing material and to further increase our reach with The Voice readers.

If interested, please click the below button to complete the subscription form.

We will never sell your data and will keep it safe and secure.

For further details visit our privacy policy.

You have the right to withdraw at any time, by clicking 'Unsubscribe'.