From the Island of the Sea: the West Indian Battalion in France


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.

Full title:
From the island of the sea: glimpses of a West Indian battalion in France. By the Rev. A. E. Horner
Guardian Office, Nassau
A. E. Horner
© Guardian Office, Nassau
Held by
British Library

Related articles

Timeline of the West India Regiments

Article by:
The British Library

A timeline of key dates in the formation of, and changes to, the West India Regiments

Race, racism and military strategy

Article by:
Richard Fogarty
Race, empire and colonial troops

Associate Professor Richard Fogarty looks at how World War One was influenced by different races fighting together in a global war.

Military discipline and punishment

Article by:
Gary Sheffield
The war machine

Professor Gary Sheffield discusses conformity and rebellion of World War One troops within the frame of military discipline and punishment.

Related collection items