If you’re wearing a poppy this week and/or participating in commemorative events for the First and Second World Wars, please do not forgot to take a moment to reflect the men and women who travelled from colonised lands all over the world to fight for Europe, at times against their will.
These individuals will probably not receive wide-spread recognition or gratitude for their contributions to the war effort in the coming days, especially on this Sunday 8th November, which will mark another Remembrance Sunday in the UK.
90 000 men were taken from West Africa by the allied forces (who had imperial claims on the land during this time) to fight the Japanese in Burma (Myanmar) during the Second World War. They share their experiences and thoughts on the aftermath of the war in this clip.
Also, over 1 million men from India fought in the First World War in the trenches of Europe on behalf of the British Empire thereby helping to win the war. However this startling and sobering truth – as with the history of the West African soldiers – is absent from most history books and classrooms. Read here about the project taking place in the UK to improve awareness of their contribution to this turning point in European history.
Finally, the Black Presence website is a wonderful historical resource in general, however they also shared some time ago an article specifically about black Caribbean women who were involved in the war effort. While women are generally ignored around the 11th November, black women and the sacrifices they made during the First and Second World Wars is completely absent from the British psyche.
Therefore, if you do decide to wear a poppy this week and join in on any commemorative activities, don’t forget about the brave men and women above who survived and lost their lives fighting for an empire they didn’t choose.