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An American Uprising in Second World War England (ePub)

Mutiny in the Duchy

P&S History WWII World History

By Kate Werran
Imprint: Pen & Sword History
File Size: 6.7 MB (.epub)
Pages: 256
Illustrations: 32 black and white
ISBN: 9781526759559
Published: 11th May 2020


£4.99 Print price £25.00

You save £20.01 (80%)

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As reviewed in The Times: 'US race tension in Cornwall, 1943; Clive Davis learns about a forgotten mutiny of mistreated black GIs in Britain'


As reviewed in The Guardian'How a fight between GIs in Cornwall introduced the British to American-style racism and, for a while, became a focal point of global race politics'


As reviewed in the Daily Express: How a Cornwall mutiny exposed vile racism in America’s WW2 forces


Winner of the 2020 Master Corporal Jan Stanislaw Jakobczak Memorial Book Award

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This is the incredible story of a Second World War shoot-out between black and white American soldiers in a quiet Cornish town that ended up putting the ‘special relationship’ itself on trial. The subsequent court martial into what tabloids labelled a ‘wild west’ mutiny became front page news in Great Britain and the USA. Three thousand miles across the Atlantic, it mirrored and bolstered a fast-accelerating civil rights movement. At home it caused Churchill himself ‘grave anxiety’ while refracting an extraordinary truth about the real state of Anglo-American relations. For three long days the story raged before the turbulent war-torn world moved on and forgot forever amid ever-escalating D-Day preparations. This account of a shocking drama the authorities tried to hush up has been painstakingly pieced back together for the first time thanks to new archival research. When slotted into its unique context, extracted from wartime cabinet documents, secret government surveys, opinion polls, diaries, letters and newspapers as well as testimony from those who remember it, the story offers a rare and stunning window into a little-known dark side of the ‘American Invasion.’ By breathing new life into a vanished trial, it reveals a rare and surprising insight into the wider story of how Britain reacted to soldiers of the Jim Crow army when they came to stay.

As featured in: 'Mutiny in the Duchy 'outstanding' winner'

Cornish Times

When very large numbers of American service personnel arrived in the UK, they were based in camps that were largely in quiet rural areas and they significantly outnumbered the local indigenous population. The fact that most US military personnel avoided upsetting the local population was a major achievement on both sides – Very Highly Recommended

Read the full review here


A superb very thought provoking book by
Kate Werran demonstrating the huge systemic discrimination within the US military between the African American soldiers and their white counterparts in WW2. Definitely recommend.

Read the full review via Twitter

Twitter, @cbmmhs

Featured in

Journal of the Cornwall Association of Local Historians, Spring 2021

Non-fiction winner of the 2021 ‘Gorsedh Kernow Holyer an Gof’ Cup

St Ives Times and Echo

This is the 'story of a story' that was both very public and at the same time was not one that really wanted to be publicised at the time. It is the record of a US Military court martial that took place here in the UK, actually in the Cornish town of Launceton.

Read the full review here

Military Model Scene

British journalist and documentarian Kate Werran has made a timely contribution to a critically under-reported topic in US military history.

Read the full review here

Michigan War Studies Review

"This book offers a good look at the sorry state of race relations in the U.S. Army during World War II, and sadly it would take almost another decade after that war before the Army and the other armed forces were fully de-segregated. The author has researched her topic well, and my only complaint is the fact that the book lacks an index. Those readers who are interested in race relations or in World War II in general will find much to enjoy in this volume."

The Journal of America’s Military Past

Kate Werran has produced a worthy read and the book is highly recommended. 5 stars

Read the full review here

Traces of War

Article: 'Launceston mutineers picture & Horrabridge news roundup'

Horrabridgetimes.net, 27th August 2020

Article: Why it went kapow in Launceston in 43: “Rebellion in the Duchy"

Horrabridgetimes.net, 20th August 2020

Article 'When snubbed black troops rose up' as featured by

Bath Chronicle, 11th June 2020

'Big names announced for Appledore Book Festival 2020

North Devon Gazette, 19th June 2020

The book is well researched and well written, and I found it more absorbing than any novel. It treats the incident sympathetically and focuses on the role of key individuals in the events. For me, it posed many questions, yet it also provides interesting glimpses of how British people welcomed Black people into their communities. It also left me feeling that there any still many differences in culture between the U.S.A. and U.K., borne out of the separate histories of the two nations.

Finally, for those with an open and enquiring mind, I thoroughly recommend this book to you. As regards any conclusions, that is for the reader to determine having completed the book.

British Military History

Kate Werran has done a highly commendable job of bringing this story to a wider audience.

Read the full review here

Recollections of WWII

An American Uprising tells the story of the trial of the 14 African American soldiers involved, who were charged with the most serious offences known to the US military, from attempted murder to mutiny.

For a short while, as this fascinating book recounts, global issues of race politics were concentrated in a town in wartime Cornwall.

The Guardian 08/08/20

Author interview, as featured on

BBC Radio Cornwall, 17th May 2020

Article: ‘New book shines a light on the little-known stories of racism and shooting during war' as featured by

Cornish Guardian and West Britton – words by Olivier Vergnault

Article: ‘New book highlights World War Two Muntiny in Launceston’ as featured by

Cornish & Devon Post, 11th May 2020

Article: Town’s ‘Wild West’ shoot-out as featured by

Western Morning News (online & print), 5th May 2020 – words by Keith Rossiter

The research that has gone into this story is very impressive and the author has revealed the not so nice side of the US forces stationed here during WW2. It also gives an insight into the how the English reacted to the US forces when they came over.

Read the full review here

Army Rumour Service (ARRSE)

An astonishing, inherently fascinating, meticulously researched bit of World War II history, "An American Uprising in Second World War England: Mutiny in the Duchy" is an extraordinary and unreservedly recommended addition to community, college, and university library WWII Military History collections and supplemental curriculum studies reading lists. Enhanced for academia with the inclusion of illustrations, maps, a Dramatis Personae, twelve pages of Notes, and a two page Secondary Reading list.

Read the full review here

Midwest Book Review

I have to admit that I had never heard about this incident before, even though it happened in this country and was apparently in all the papers at the time. This book is very good, informative and written well by the author Kate Werran. In this current period it was good to read about this incident but was equally sad to read about because having to read about African Americans being ill-treated just because of their skin colour is so sad and still deeply depressing that in this world we will never learn to treat everyone equally. As a white man I find this discrimination deplorable and wonder when it will ever end, so for a black person I just can’t imagine how angry they feel. I’ve probably gone on a bit of a rant, but this is an important book to read, we all need to start learning even though society has already had so long to learn. A very good 4.5 star rated book.

Read the full review here

UK Historian

This is an amazing account of something the vast majority of people in the UK will not know about. Kate uncovers a mysterious and frightening story of how relations between British soldiers and Americans in the Duchy of Cornwall came to an ugly head during the second world war.

Books Monthly

How a Cornwall mutiny exposed awful racism in American armed forces.

International Express 24/06/20

An American Uprising is a very interesting read and, if you are unfamiliar with the depth of America’s historical racial problem, a surprising one too. Werran stitches together a moving and sometimes angry account of an ugly incident that contained the threads of much larger themes.

Read the full review here

Beating Tsundoku

As featured in

The Daily Express

As featured in

The Times 18/6/20

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

This was an unexpected pleasure to read although the subject matter was both disturbing and shocking.

Kate Werran has done an outstanding job of unearthing new evidence and conducting meticulous research to unearth the truth about one of the most shameful and unedifying incidents of the second world war when a number of black American soldiers mutinied and attacked members of the US military police who were all exclusively white.

This event took place in sleepy Launceston in Cornwall where the soldiers were in training for the D Day landings, but as the author clearly points out relationships between the white and black US soldiers were a ticking time bomb as the American authorities, much to the shock and disgust of the British tried to re-enact the racist Jim Crow laws of segregation that were unfortunately prevalent in the US.

This led to tragedy and death as clashes took place when tempers rose after the black soldiers took offence at being treated like second or third class citizens.

The trial itself is a farce and a fiasco and makes the blood boil at its patent unfairness.

This is an important and highly readable book that rightly brings into the spotlight an incident that many would like to forget.

NetGalley, Greville Waterman

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

I was particularly interested in "An American Uprising In Second World War England" as despite having lived in Cornwall, the scene of the incident that forms the core of the book, for several years and being interested in history I'd never heard of any such thing in the County.
The book tells of the racial divide in the American Army in WW2 and, the largely unknown these days, clashes between Black and White american servicemen that sometimes even led to gun fights and death.
The incident that the book features took place in Launceston in Cornwall,a place I know very well, but obviously from ignorance of this event not well enough. A group of Black American soldiers sick of the ongoing racism and poor treatment from training to being sent to Cornwall prior to D Day finally have enough and leave their camp to go into Launceston town centre. Shortly after approaching they meet a group of White (American) military policemen ,there's gunfire and they end up on trial for mutiny. To say any more would be to spoil the enjoyment of others as there are differing versions of events . The trial itself ,and not least its conclusion is a not-so-fine example of the "justice" African American soldiers experienced.
Kate Werren has meticulously researched what is a fascinating book, I read it from start to finish in a few hours I was so engrossed. Aside from the trial the general view of the British public,and military towards the American forces based here is an eye-opener with Black soldiers being popular ,their perceived less well-behaved and arrogant White counterparts much less so .to the point of Brits teaming up with African American troops in constant fights with their White countrymen.
My only criticism of the book is that there is quite a lot of repetition but that doesn't take much away from the whole, which is both interesting and fascinating. It's a mostly forgotten part of history that will be an eye-opener to most people,even locally . I can't wait to go to Launceston again,which is always a pleasure , to look for the bullet holes that apparently I've walked past so many times over the years.
A fascinating read, big thanks to Kate Werren, Pen and Sword books and Netgalley for the ARC in return for an honest review.

NetGalley, Dave Blendell

About Kate Werran

After reading History at Oxford University, Kate Werran wrote for local and national newspapers before switching to television where she worked for one of Britain’s leading independent documentary makers, producing 20th Century history programmes for Channel 4, Channel 5 and the BBC. Kate is especially passionate about writing this story because it has been a life-long interest. One summer as a child, holidaying in her father’s home town, Kate put her fingers in decades-old bullet-holes left in a war monument one night and asked the question: Why? Finally, she can attempt to answer it.

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