World War 1: Forgotten Heroes

Walter Tull, the first Black officer in the British Army

Walter Tull, the first Black officer in the British Army

100 years ago the Great War, as it became known, broke out. It was a conflict like no other and its impact was felt the World, including the African and Caribbean community. These were testing times and on this remembrance weekend, we recognise the contribution and sacrifice of all those who gave their lives for the peace and freedom we enjoy today - heroes like Walter Tull, the first Black officer in the British Army.

Read Walter Tull's story here - courtesy of Tottenham Hotspur Football Club

Below are some personal accounts, courtesy of RAF Museum, Hendon

“While we were fighting we never thought about defending the Empire or anything along those lines. We just knew deep down inside that we were all in this together and that what was taking place around our world had to be stopped…Few people think about what would have happened to them in Jamaica if Germany had defeated Britain, but we certainly could have returned to slavery.” Flight Lieutenant John J. Blair

“Father [served] in the First World War, his three children [served] in the Second World War. I married a coloured man who was in the Second World War… as was his brother who was decorated for bravery in Burma … and their father [also served] in the First World War. Our son was a helicopter pilot … he served in Northern Ireland. So all in all … I think we’ve given back more to this country than we’ve received.” Leading Aircraftwoman Lilian Bader, born in Liverpool on 18th February 1917. Her father was a Barbadian who had served in the Royal Navy and her mother was English

“I was doing some photographs a few miles the other side when about five Hun scouts came down upon me, and before I could get away, I got a bullet through the spine. I managed to pilot the machine nearly back to the aerodrome, but had to put her down as I was too weak to fly any more … My observer escaped without any injury.” William Robinson Clarke, born in Kingston, Jamaica, on 4th October 1895 

The Watford African Caribbean Association is a small charitable organisation that uses local knowledge and decades of experience to transform the lives of the vulnerable, the elderly and children, whilst preserving African and Caribbean traditions.