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DirtyDick

Black soldiers in WW1 British Army

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gord97138

Paul:

Thank you for your comments-they are appreciated!

I also live here in the States!

Here's an article I have come upon on Eugene Jacques Bullard-

Only Black Pilot of WW1!

gordon

Eugene Jacques Bullard

Of more than 200 Americans who flew for France during WWI, one of particular uniqueness was Eugene Bullard, the only Black pilot of WWI. A great tribute to Bullard is found in the famous book by Nordhoff and Hall, The Lafayette Flying Corps, published in 1920.

"The writer will never forget one occasion when he was waiting at 23 Avenue du Bois to see Dr. Gros. Suddenly the door opened to admit a vision of military splendor such as one does not see twice in a lifetime. It was Eugene Bullard.

His jolly black face shone with a grin of greeting and justifiable vanity. He wore a pair of tan aviator's boots which gleamed with a mirror-like luster, and above his breeches smote the eye with a dash of vivid scarlet. His black tunic, excellently cut and set off by a fine figure, was decorated with a pilot's badge, a Croix de Guerre, the fourragere of the Foreign Legion, and a pair of enormous wings, which left no possible doubt, even at a distance of fifty feet, as to which arm of the Service he adorned. The eleces-pilotes gasped, the eyes of the neophytes stood out from their heads, and I repressed a strong instinct to stand at attention.

There was scarcely an American at Atord who did not know and like Bullard. He was a brave, loyal, and thoroughly likable fellow, and when a quarrel with one of his superiors caused his withdrawl from the Aviation, there was scarcely an American who did not regret the fact. He was sent to the 170th French Infantry Regiment in January, 1918..."

Following WWI, Bullard remained in France until the German occupation of Paris in 1940, at which time he had to flee the country because of his previous activities of spying against the Nazis. He returned to the U.S. and lived in New York City until his death in 1961. Thus passed from the scene the first black pilot in the history of military aviation.

* Bullard's Medals

* The cover of The Black Swallow of Death a book about Bullard.

At the dawn of World War I, he joined the French Foreign Legion, engaging in hand-to-hand combat in some of the most hotly contested battles of the war. He was seriously wounded at the Battle of Verdun. Undaunted, following his recovery, he requested a transfer to the French Flying Corps. On May 7, 1917 Eugene Jacques Bullard became the world's first African American fighter pilot. In his distinguished career he flew 20 missions against the German forces, fought in numerous "dog fights" and shot down at least five enemy aircraft - which certified him as an "Ace". He received France's highest awards, the Croix de Guerre and the Legion d' Honneur. He was championed as a national hero.

When the United States entered the war, Bullard attempted to join the U.S. Army Air Corps, but was rejected because African Americans were barred from flying at that time. France also disappointed him by proving not to be as egalitarian as his father had led him to believe. He was not given promotion appropriate to his status because of the reluctance to have an African American in command of whites.

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Terry

A year or so back I commented on the number of Black soldiers in the 26th (New Brunswick) Battalion,CEF. In all some thirty Black and sixty North American Indian ( or as they are called today First Nations) soldiers served with this unit.

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paul guthrie

Terry is this the Forestry Corps unit? If so it was segregated. I recently got a new headstone for John Benjamin French of Lexington Kentucky who was a member.

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Terry

Paul,

The Black unit was No.2 Construction Battalion, which I think lost only a few men, mainly to disease. The 26th Battalion was a line unit of the 2nd Division, which saw much active service from 1915-1918, and suffered about 1000 killed and 3000 non-fatal casualties.

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paul guthrie

Thanks Terry. Maybe someone can post a picture of the monument in Ottawa to native Canadian soldiers, Indian & Inuit. I like it & do not like many new ones.

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BeppoSapone
Hello All

I've come across a picture of some Hampshire Regiment men at Browndown Camp in Gosport 1918.

Among the eight or so pictured, there is a black soldier wearing the Hamps Reg uniform. In the caption accompanying the photograph the author makes no special reference to his presence, even though it is the first such photograph I've seen. I've always assumed that during this period non-white colonial troops were not integrated with white soldiers (such as happened with the French Vietnamese and Senegalese units).

Would this chap be a part of the West Indies or King's African Rifles seconded to the Hampshires (such as we now have Gurkhas in the Paras and Airborne Div.) to replace casualties at this late stage of the war; or could he have been directly enlisted into the Regiment - i.e been one of the few black families then in the UK?

On a related point, was there an official 'colour bar' in the British Army at this time? (I have heard that some regiments kept this in place until the Race Relations Acts of the mid-60s.)

Bearing in mind that casual prejudicial rascism was aarguably a much firmer part of society during this period, does anyone know of black servicemen in line regiments other than colonial regiments?

Thanks

Richard :)

Just bringing this thread to the top again. A similar one seems to have started more recently.

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GavinH

Further to my post of 23rd April concerning a photograph showing members of the Royal Artillery, which includes a black soldier. I have now uploaded a scan to http://members.aol.com/GHe5514395/RA . I apologise for the size of the file. I really haven't mastered the art of using my scanner yet! The soldier is standing fifth from the right.

Gavin Heaton

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BeppoSapone
Further to my post of 23rd April concerning a photograph showing members of the Royal Artillery, which includes a black soldier. I have now uploaded a scan to http://members.aol.com/GHe5514395/RA . I apologise for the size of the file. I really haven't mastered the art of using my scanner yet! The soldier is standing fifth from the right.

Gavin Heaton

Just been to look. I also have a WW1 Royal Artillery group that includes a black soldier. Mine was posted in Kent in the summer of 1916.

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GavinH

Unfortunately, there are no clues on my card as to where it was taken, and it has never been posted. On the back is written 'Dear Schmidt, With best wishes from Maurice'. I should think that it was taken during training somewhere in England. It seems the RA at least didn't discriminate.

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HERITAGE PLUS

I found this in my collection of press cuttings. It is from the Bristol Observer dated Friday 7 December 2001.

Dave

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harribobs
Further to my post of 23rd April concerning a photograph showing members of the Royal Artillery, which includes a black soldier. I have now uploaded a scan to http://members.aol.com/GHe5514395/RA . I apologise for the size of the file. I really haven't mastered the art of using my scanner yet! The soldier is standing fifth from the right.

Gavin Heaton

I hope Gavin doesn't mind but i've copied part of his picture with the black soldier and re-posted it

i'm surprised the article didn't get any replies

chris

post-2-1106348573.jpg

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Canadawwi

I have severall stories on black men who went with regular units - in this case a soldier with the 58th Battalion CEF.

post-2-1106350705.jpg

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Canadawwi

And this man, 4th Canadian Mounted Rifles...

post-2-1106350844.jpg

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robbie

THanks Canada,

Are these news clippings available online or did you scan each from a hard copy?

Most interesting.

Robbie :P

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Canadawwi

The whole paper is available online for a fee, not by clipping. You do have to go through page by page and then crop what you want, then move it into Photoshop and resave. I found the Optical Character recognition did not necessarily work, so I've gone through page by page and saved the items.

I also am going through Toronto Evening Telegram on microfiche. They had fewer individual stories, but the stories they covered were covered in depth.

The second one above is retyped even though it came from the pdf scan. About 40% of the war era papers are still fairly blurry and need retyping.

Link (with more newspapers to choose from):

http://www.paperofrecord.com/

Good luck, Marika

P.S. I've recently starting sorting my clippings in two ways - one alphabetically by surname, and also by unit, subject, etc. For example, I have the clippings also sorted by "ethnic", records (overage/underage), units, strange events, athletes, Bantams, battles killed, medical, etc........

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robbie

Hi Marika,

I wish I could be as organised as you with my research. Thanks for this link.

Robbie :P

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harribobs
I also am going through Toronto Evening Telegram on microfiche.  They had fewer individual stories, but the stories they covered were covered in depth.

The second one above is retyped even though it came from the pdf scan.  About 40% of the war era papers are still fairly blurry and need retyping.

Link (with more newspapers to choose from):

http://www.paperofrecord.com/

Good luck, Marika

P.S.  I've recently starting sorting my clippings in two ways - one alphabetically by surname, and also by unit, subject, etc.  For example, I have the clippings also sorted by "ethnic", records (overage/underage), units, strange events, athletes, Bantams, battles killed, medical, etc........

I'm impressed Marika!

thanks to all for the links in this thread btw, very interesting

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Canadawwi

One more - this was the only one I could find in a book of several thousand. Also interesting in that he was in the war with one of the Canadians first contingent's first engagements.

Pte. Norton, 2nd Battalion, Eastern Ontario Regiment, CEF

post-2-1106520281.jpg

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BeppoSapone

A postcard I own. A group of artillerymen including one black soldier.

This was posted at Sheerness, Kent on 30th August 1916. Sent to a family called Reed in Kingston upon Thames, so I assume that at least one man in the group was from Surrey.

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robbie

How intersting Beppo. Any idea re his name etc.?

Robbie

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BeppoSapone
How intersting Beppo. Any idea re his name etc.?

Robbie

Sorry Robbie, no idea at all, unless it is Reed? It was being sent to a family called Reed in Kingston. Mind you, it is less than a one in seven chance that that is his name.

Maybe member Paul Reed knows? I know that he has done some work on black soldiers in WW1.

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BeppoSapone
Further to my post of 23rd April concerning a photograph showing members of the Royal Artillery, which includes a black soldier. I have now uploaded a scan to http://members.aol.com/GHe5514395/RA . I apologise for the size of the file. I really haven't mastered the art of using my scanner yet! The soldier is standing fifth from the right.

Gavin Heaton

I hope Gavin doesn't mind but i've copied part of his picture with the black soldier and re-posted it

i'm surprised the article didn't get any replies

chris

Besides the black soldiers who were in the British Army in WW1 there was at least one who refused to serve.

I have seen the records of a black Conscientious Objector who refused to fight in Britains war. He said "I am a negro. Africa is my Fatherland".

IIRC some places, or individual recruiters, allowed blacks to join up, and others didn't. However, it looks as if the shortage of manpower came to mean that even blacks could be conscripted.

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J T Gray

When the BBC ran their "People's Century" series in about 1997-8 I remember they interviewed a black "Doughboy" about his experiences. Unfortunately I cannot remember what he said, but I do remember being very moved by the fact that he still kept a photo in his wallet of the French girlfriend he could never go back to.

I don't know whether he is featured in the book of the series, or if anyone has it on tape/DVD - I know I don't.

And it is worth remembering that some parts of the country - Scotland, apparently, for example - were far more accepting of black people (though Catholics was probably a different matter...). The newsreader Moira Stewart's grandfather, for example, was a doctor in Kingussie, a small town in the wilds of Scotland, in 1916. Given the minor stir a Nigerian minister caused in a small village in Essex when he was a "relief" there in the 1990s... <_<

Adrian

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bobpike

In the recesses of my memory I seem to remember a Sgt. Robert Scanlon, a black soldier who served, was a boxer & had been to Yale. Am I mis-leading myself?

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