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The British West Indies Regiment (Hardback)

Race and Colour on the Western Front

Military > By Century > 20th Century Military > Regimental History WWI

By Dominiek Dendooven
Imprint: Pen & Sword Military
Pages: 208
Illustrations: 8 mono illustrations
ISBN: 9781399067690
Published: 4th October 2023


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This is a military-political history with a vital and all-pervading cultural and social theme which shapes the narrative - race, colour and prejudice. But despite this, there is an extraordinary underlying theme of empire loyalty among serving soldiers - NCOs and private soldiers - and a growing grasp of political ideas and liberal democracy. And the loyalty to the British crown as an agent of the ending of slavery will be amazing to some readers.

War experience was a powerful catalyst and contributed to a 'West Indianess' and desire for political advance. But even here the desire was for independence within the empire - a 'West Indian Dominion' as with 'elder sisters' of empire, the Dominions of Australia, Canada, New Zealand and South Africa.

The political and economic status of the islands was a potent reason for the 'coloured contingents' enlisting - work was scarce - but a major impetus was the cultural concept of 'manliness' and empire-status - shared by George V, who insisted, against government pressure, on allowing West Indians to serve with white British soldiers. But all were volunteers and not enlisted men.

The West Indies Regiment was small and its contribution in action limited, and restricted largely to Egypt and Mesopotamia, and with limited service on the Western Front. But it shows vividly the ingrained racialism and colour prejudice of British society and the British Army and above all, in the insensitive omission of the West Indies Regiment at the Victory Parade in 1919.

Article: 'Caribbean war heroes who fought for Britain - only to face racism and execution'

READ HERE: https://www.mirror.co.uk/news/uk-news/caribbean-war-heroes-who-fought-31097062?fbclid=IwAR0_UYvxTOpy6Qu_ktABN2KUEPjnXJNkwmClH6dc6I90lCY6PSPpP6mWhVY

Daily Mirror

About Dominiek Dendooven

Dominiek Dendooven is an historian of the First World War and brings a unique 'European' perspective to the study of the lived experiences and writings of West Indians who served with the Allies, the 'Entente Powers'. This is a 'European' view from a researcher and author, outside the dominant British imperial view, underpinned by the British imperial hegemony of the period. This is not to say that UK, Commonwealth - Canadian, Australian and Caribbean historians are encumbered by British imperial baggage, but here is a scholar with 'local' connections to the First World War in Europe and even with descendants of some who served. He is on the staff the In Flanders Fields Museum as Curator and Researcher and is Associate Lecturer and Researcher at the Universities of Antwerp and Louvain. His PhD is from the University of Kent where he still works with Professor Mark Connelly, Head of the School of History and Director of Gateways to the First World War (AHRC funded). Dominiek Dendooven has published over 10 works in English and French.

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