Why were they forgotten?

Why were they forgotten?

The black British soldiers of the First World War have often been forgotten. People from across the British Empire signed up eagerly to play their part in the First World War, but black recruits were not given the same opportunities as everyone else. Black units were barred from fighting on the Western Front because, it was feared, allowing colonial soldiers to fight alongside and against white Europeans would undermine British colonial rule. In Africa and the Middle East black units fought only because their enemy on those fronts was also non-white. Though black units played a vital role in Allied victory, after the war their contribution was deliberately forgotten in an attempt to protect the British Empire. In this episode of IWM Stories, Alan Wakefield looks at who these men were, what they did, and why they've been forgotten.

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Troops of the West Indies Regiment in camp on the Albert - Amiens road, September 1916.
First World War
The Story Of The British West Indies Regiment In The First World War
In 1915 Britain's War Office, which had initially opposed recruitment of West Indian troops, agreed to accept volunteers from the West Indies. A new regiment was formed, the British West Indies Regiment (BWIR), which served in Europe, the Middle East and Africa.
The 20th Deccan Horse, Indian Army, in Carnoy Valley, 7th Divisional Area, 14th July 1916.
© IWM (Q 825)
Battle of the Somme
The Role Of Empire And Commonwealth Troops During The Battle Of The Somme
Soldiers from the Empire and Commonwealth made a significant contribution to the Somme offensive. On 1 July 1916 a battalion from Newfoundland, attacked with the 29th Division, while the 1st Battalion, The Lincolnshire Regiment included a contingent from the Bermuda Volunteer Rifle Corps.
Recruiting and Training in the West Indies: Jamaica: A contingent of West Indian troops marching through Kingston, Jamaica on the way to the harbour, 1916.
First World War
How The West Indies Helped The War Effort In The First World War
When war broke out in 1914, the British colonies in the West Indies quickly pledged their support to Britain in men, money and materials. King George V called for 'men of every class, creed and colour' to join the fight against Germany.