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Lest We Forget: Experiences of World War II Westindian Ex-Service Personnel Paperback – 22 May 1996


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Product details

  • Paperback: 190 pages
  • Publisher: Hansib Publications (22 May 1996)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1870518527
  • ISBN-13: 978-1870518529
  • Product Dimensions: 20.4 x 14.8 x 1.2 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,316,371 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Bob Sherunkle VINE VOICE on 12 Jun. 2011
To me, as a white indigenous Brit, this book was an eye-opener. I did not know that over 10,000 West Indians volunteered for the Forces in the Second World War, and over half of them came to the UK.
This book is based on eye-witness accounts of those who took part - how they were recruited, how they came to the UK, their experiences here and what happened to them after the War. Some went back to the West Indies, but many stayed. (A fact not mentioned in the book, which I found when researching this review, was that many of the passengers on the Windrush were not coming to the UK for the first time, as they had served here in the war.)

The accounts of the veterans give a vivid and varied picture of their experiences. I was touched by the dignity they display in describing and judging the mixed welcomes they received. They were often victims of the "Tommy Atkins syndrome" - servicemen are popular only in wartime - but with the effect exaggerated by racial prejudice.

There are several startling observations, such as that some white US servicemen in the UK regarded black West Indian servicemen as British and thus their equals, as opposed to black US servicemen whom they regarded as inferiors.

A fascinating and touching story, told by themselves, of one of the woefully overlooked groups who contributed to Britain's war. All praise to the Nottingham West Indian Combined Ex-Services Association, who arranged its publication by a Caribbean-based company, but the book would achieve the wider circulation it deserves if it were taken up by a major UK publisher. It probably also suffers from having a commonly-used title, though for many of us it is not forgetting but finding out for the first time.

(PS: After reading the book, I mentioned it to an octogenarian from Barbados, thinking he would be interested, and he told me he served in one of the regiments based in the West Indies.)
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This book describes the experiences of Caribbean service men and women in Britain during World War II.

It shows how they and their contribution to the war effort whether on land, in the air or at sea, was generally welcomed by populace. But once the war was over they received less than favourable treatment.

People from the Caribbean have had a history of serving in the British Military going back more than two hundred years and this represents just another chapter in that story as told by those who were there.

I would certainly recommend this book on a topic which has the potential to become another part of Britain's hidden history.
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