What is this?
This is a publication about the actions one of the West Indian battalions active in the First World War. Over 15,000 men represented the Caribbean colonies via these battalions in the conflict, seeing service in Egypt, France, Italy and Palestine. Others were members of the volunteer forces and served with British and Canadian regiments. This publication records the actions of one such battalion but also serves as a reference to the prejudices faced by West Indian service personnel; comments meant to be positive, such as a caption to a photograph of a ‘Typical B. W. I. Soldier’ which states, ‘No person to be ashamed of – a true son of Empire’ illustrate the pervasive racism black troops experienced during the war.
West Indians fighting for the British Empire
The West India Regiment, forerunner of the British West Indies Regiment discussed in this book, predates the First World War and saw action as far back as the 18th century. It was originally discussed and formed during the period of the French Revolution, Haitian Revolution and the Napoleonic Wars.