Category Archives: Caribbean research

Stephen Bourne, Black Poppies

Stephen Bourne is a really interesting and engaging speaker. He is a community historian and author specialising in black British history and communities using first hand accounts to bring their history to life.

Stephen Bourne, Black Poppies

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Barbadian contingents in the First World War – part 2

This information is copied with some expansions from a copy of Percy Sinclair Leverick’s Directory, 1921, pp65-83, in the Barbados Museum Library.

This is a continuation from the previous post listing Barbadians living abroad who served in the First World War.

List of other Barbadians who served in the Great War

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Barbadian contingents in the First World War

Roll of Honour, First World War. Barbados Volunteer Force.

Roll of Honour, First World War. Barbados Volunteer Force (source: TNA CO 1069/245)

This information is copied with some expansions from a copy of Percy Sinclair Leverick’s Directory, 1921, pp46-83, in the Barbados Museum Library.

I have added some occasional notes usually where the copy is unclear.

This post contains information from pp46-64. Pp65-83 is in part 2.

Barbados Citizens’ Contingent

Committee of Management

Dudley G Leacock, Esq, MCP – Chairman
JE Mayers, Esq – Honorary secretary
Lieutenant WM Bowring
RG Cave, Esq, MCP
FAC Collymore, Esq, MBE
Reverend Canon HA Dalton, DD
Reverend Fred. Ellis
EA Hinkson, Esq
AJ Mascall, Esq
G Douglas Pile, Esq
JH Wilkinson Esq
Harold Wright, Esq

Medical Board

Surgeon-Captain R Mortimer Johnson
Gerald Manning, MD
Norman D Parris, MD

The Barbados Citizens’ Contingent Committee was formed about the end of November 1915, and the original promoters of the movement were Messrs Dudley G Leacock, FAC Collymore and RG Cave.

The primary object of the Committee was to enable your men of respectable parentage to proceed to England to join His Majesty’s Forces – either the Royal Navy or English fighting regiments, and thus to take their part in the Great War. Continue reading

First World War records of service

This is portal page aims to bring together websites which provides information about people from Anglo-Caribbean countries who served in the First World War in the British army, navy, air forces and merchant navy. Continue reading

First World War Soldiers’ Documents

Findmypast has recently launched indexed images for people who served in the British army during the First World War. Read their blog for more information.

These service and pension records are held by The National Archives (UK) in two collections:

  1. Soldiers’ Documents, First World War ‘Burnt Documents’ (reference: WO 363). This collection comprises the main set of service papers for soldiers who served in the British army and were discharged between 1914 and 1921; there are some earlier papers. Unfortunately, 60% of these records were destroyed in the Second World War and the surving records are known as the ‘burnt documents’. There are papers for about 300 soldiers of the West India Regiment (most relate to discharges before 1914) but it seems that the rest of the records for soldiers of the West India Regiment and for the British West Indies Regiment were destroyed.
  2. Soldiers’ Documents from Pension Claims, First World War (reference: WO 364). This collection is commonly known as the ‘unburnt documents’ and comprises service papers and other records for soldiers who discharged mostly between 1913 and 1921 through length of service or because of medical discharges. These include details for soldiers discharged from the West India Regiment, the British West Indies Regiment and of West Indians who served in the more familiar British regiments. You will find papers for many Jamaicans in the British West Indies Regiment who were discharged in 1916 suffering the effects of the cold (frostbite). They were travelling to Alexandria, Egypt aboard the SS Verdala and were equipped with tropical clothing. However, they needed to travel in convoy and were diverted to Halifax, Nova Scotia during the winter!

The two collections have been available online on Ancestry in partnership with The National Archives for a few years but I did find some new information and records. Continue reading

Caribbean contribution in the First World War

This is an introduction to a number of short blogs on sources for researching Caribbean service personnel in the First World War.Bahamas enlistment poster from wikicommons

At the outbreak of the First World War there were Caribbean and people of Caribbean descent already serving in the British army in British regiments and the West India Regiment, the Royal Navy and the merchant navy.

In the Caribbean the war was seen by many as a ‘white-man’s war’ or a European war and not their problem. But many wanted to serve to protect the Motherland and to fight as equals. Caribbeans living in Britain enlisted locally; people living in the Caribbean at first needed to travel to Britain to enlist. In Barbados and Trinidad the public arranged for citizens’ contingents to travel to the UK – these were ‘white’ middle-class men – planters, merchants, public servants and clerks, though correspondence with the Colonial Office suggests many were not pure-European. Many black men also made their way to Britain but the War Office resisted recruiting black Caribbeans and even suggesting repatriating some back to the Caribbean. Continue reading

Mark Johnson, Caribbean Volunteers at War

Mark Johnson was at the National Archives today talking about African and African-Caribbeans who served in the Royal Air Force during the Second World War. He described his 17 years research into the lives of the 495 Black aircrew from the Caribbean and West Africa. His extensive experience into this hidden history enable him to  help curate the “Pilots of the Caribbean” exhibition at the RAF Museum Hendon (which will move to their museum in Cosford later this year) and write Caribbean Volunteers at War. The Forgotten Story of the RAF’s ‘Tuskegee Airmen’ (Pen and Sword, 2014); a sample chapter is available online at Pen and Sword.

The book describes the history and experience of Caribbean aircrew using personal accounts and archival sources. There is an appendix which lists the men who flew as pilots, navigators, wireless operations and air gunners; the list is also available on his website. The list includes Jamaican-born Colin Patrick Haworth Grannum (born Eisner) DFC, who will be the subject of a later post.

Update (8 July 2014): Mark’s talk is available as a National Archives podcast.

Don’t believe everything you read: story of Winston Churchill Millington, DCM

I am doing some research on Caribbeans who served in the First World War for a talk in October. I want to include some case studies for people who received gallantry awards. I ran an internet search and found a lot of websites mentioning a Winston Churchill Millington. The websites say he served in the British West Indies Regiment (BWIR) in Egypt and Palestine and received a Distinguished Conduct Medal (DCM). Many of the web sites include a photograph of him and one links to a photograph on Flickr with him receiving the medal from Major-General Chaytor.

I was immediately suspicious because most of the websites said more-or-less the same thing and none provided more detailed information such as battalion in the BWIR, regimental number and date of announcement of the award in the London Gazette.

There is a habit for websites to repeat information without first verifying it and I hoped to find out more.

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