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Ethnic minority recruitment


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How prevalent was the recruitment of ethnic minorities directly into the British Armed Force during the First World War? I ask because while researching the CWGC website, my searches yielded numerous individuals who died during the Second World War while serving in the British Armed Forces.

Of course, thousands of Jewish, German, and Italian men served and died in WWI. But what of the "visible" ethnic minorities? My interest was stimulated because I am ignorant of their contributions during the war, as are (I fear this is an understatement) many others. I'm merely familiar with prominent examples: Indra Lal Roy, the British West Indies Regiment, and Walter Tull I suspect there were (un)official policies that either nominally sought to prohibit or attempt to severely curtail recruitment.

For example, these are WWII casualties whom I've located via the CWGC database:

Name: KOMAISAVAI, ISIKELI DOVIVERATA

Initials: I D

Nationality: United Kingdom

Rank: Sergeant (Pilot)

Regiment/Service: Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve

Unit Text: 234 Sqdn.

Age: 24

Date of Death: 19/10/1944

Service No: 1553660

Additional information: Son of Ratu Savenaca Komaisavai and Adi Miriama Komaisavai, of Tailevu, Fiji.

Casualty Type: Commonwealth War Dead

Grave/Memorial Reference: Sec. G. Row A. Grave 3.

Cemetery: HARROGATE (STONEFALL) CEMETERY

Name: KONSTANDENOU, DEMETRIOUS JUSTINO

Initials: D J

Nationality: United Kingdom

Rank: Private

Regiment/Service: Queen's Own Royal West Kent Regiment

Unit Text: 1st Bn.

Age: 22

Date of Death: 06/07/1944

Service No: 14335693

Casualty Type: Commonwealth War Dead

Grave/Memorial Reference: I. C. 8.

Cemetery: FOIANO DELLA CHIANA WAR CEMETERY

Name: MATSUMOTO, GERALD

Initials: G

Nationality: United Kingdom

Rank: Flight Sergeant

Regiment/Service: Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve

Unit Text: 207 Sqdn.

Age: 21

Date of Death: 21/03/1945

Service No: 1585927

Additional information: Son of Riyo Matsumoto and of Dorothy Matsumoto (nee Hudson), of Harrogate, Yorkshire.

Casualty Type: Commonwealth War Dead

Grave/Memorial Reference: Panel 272.

Memorial: RUNNYMEDE MEMORIAL

Name: PATEL, RATILAL

Initials: R

Nationality: United Kingdom

Rank: Sapper

Regiment/Service: Royal Engineers

Unit Text: 505 Field Coy.

Date of Death: 19/01/1943

Service No: 2142435

Casualty Type: Commonwealth War Dead

Grave/Memorial Reference: 1. B. 6.

Cemetery: TRIPOLI WAR CEMETERY

Name: SINGH, MOHNA

Initials: M

Nationality: United Kingdom

Rank: Sergeant (Air Gnr.)

Regiment/Service: Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve

Unit Text: 106 Sqdn.

Date of Death: 30/07/1944

Service No: 1324569

Casualty Type: Commonwealth War Dead

Grave/Memorial Reference: Panel 3.

Cemetery: GOLDERS GREEN CREMATORIUM

Name: SUZUKI, ROY

Initials: R

Nationality: United Kingdom

Rank: Lance Corporal

Regiment/Service: Royal Armoured Corps

Unit Text: 3rd/4th County of London Yeomanry (Sharpshooters)

Age: 23

Date of Death: 18/08/1944

Service No: 5958215

Additional information: Son of Jukichi and Mabel Ruth Suzuki, of Islington, London.

Casualty Type: Commonwealth War Dead

Grave/Memorial Reference: IV. B. 17.

Cemetery: BANNEVILLE-LA-CAMPAGNE WAR CEMETERY

Name: TALALLA, HENRY CONRAD BENJAMIN

Initials: H C B

Nationality: United Kingdom

Rank: Warrant Officer (Pilot)

Regiment/Service: Royal Air Force

Unit Text: 182 Sqdn.

Age: 24

Date of Death: 25/07/1944

Service No: 785096

Additional information: Son of Hewage Benjamin Talalla and of Lily Olga Talalla (nee Fernando), of Kuala Lumpur, Selangor, Malaya.

Casualty Type: Commonwealth War Dead

Grave/Memorial Reference: III. E. 18.

Cemetery: BANNEVILLE-LA-CAMPAGNE WAR CEMETERY

Name: YANAI, PETER YOSHIHIDE

Initials: P Y

Nationality: United Kingdom

Rank: Flight Sergeant (W.Op.)

Regiment/Service: Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve

Unit Text: 424 (R.C.A.F.) Sqdn

Date of Death: 07/03/1945

Service No: 1892537

Casualty Type: Commonwealth War Dead

Grave/Memorial Reference: 9. B. 3.

Cemetery: RHEINBERG WAR CEMETERY

Not to be forgotten.

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Putting to one side the non-home islands recruitment (British West Indies Regiment;India; Chinese etc) Britain itself only had a very small ethnic population at the outbreak of war. Most were students from the colonies or in particular trades e.g. Chinese quarters already established in some cities. Ports were most likely to have an ethnic population....sailors etc. One can trace an 'ethnic' presence in Britain back to units of the Roman army serving in Britain; a black presence in Tudor and Stuart Times as recorded by Samuel Pepys (mainly servants), slaves in Britain itself in the 18thC etc etc. Our 'minorities' in 1914 were European immigrants after 1880 - Germans, Poles, Russians, Lithuanians, Italians (some of whom were Jewish).

The picture only changes in the 1950s with large-scale immigration from the sub-continent and the West Indies.

Arguably Britain's largest ethnic minority in 1914 were the Irish, who had always provided many recruits into the regular army.

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Funnily enough, I was reading about Ronnie Soo, who was "the son of the Chinese Charge d’ Affaires at Liverpool." He was killed in a Lancaster crash in 1944.

My grandmother, born in Birkenhead in 1898, was at school with two "Chinese" girls. IIRC she said their name was Ah Foo.

Ronnie Soo's CWGC entry:

http://www.cwgc.org/search/casualty_detail...asualty=2101029

Photo on this page:

http://www.feltwell.org/raffeltwell/75p2_audrey_bailey.htm

I found him whilst looking for Frank Soo, who was the Buxton born England Football International who is now almost forgotten:

"There have only ever been two British oriental footballers: Frank Soo and Sammy Chung. Soo was born in Buxton in 1914 to a Chinese father and an English mother. He played 173 league games for Stoke in the 1930s and 1940s, joined Luton Town in 1945 for £5,000 and played 78 league and cup matches for them between 1945 and 1947. He went on to manage Scunthorpe and the Israeli national team. He even made it to Italy and coached at Padova. He was capped nine times for England - the first non-white footballer to play for the national side and the only footballer of oriental extraction ever to do so. Alongside Sir Stanley Matthews and Neil Franklin, he formed part of the famous trio who faced Scotland at Villa Park on 3 February 1945."

Source: http://football.guardian.co.uk/comment/sto...1598574,00.html

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*Russians & Ukrainians in the C.E.F. 1914-1919

This website complements research on a pending book of the same title. What role was played by Ukrainians in the Canadian Expeditionary Force during the First World War? Men from Ukraine and other regions of Imperial Russia enlisted in Canada. The tale of Ukrainians forced into internment camps has been told and now it is time to talk about the men who fought for Canada. This website includes material on the 41st French-Canadian Battalion, the 3rd Pioneer (48th Victoria) Battalion, the 29th Vancouver (Tobin's Tigers) Battalion and the Canadian Forestry Corps. Contact and interviews with descendants of these veterans is needed for the forthcoming book. There is also a section on how to research a soldier from the CEF. [A Peter Broznitsky website][CEF Study Group – Jan 2007]

www.russiansinthecef.ca

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Name: KOMAISAVAI, ISIKELI DOVIVERATA

Initials: I D

Nationality: United Kingdom

Rank: Sergeant (Pilot)

Regiment/Service: Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve

Unit Text: 234 Sqdn.

Age: 24

Date of Death: 19/10/1944

Service No: 1553660

Additional information: Son of Ratu Savenaca Komaisavai and Adi Miriama Komaisavai, of Tailevu, Fiji.

Casualty Type: Commonwealth War Dead

Grave/Memorial Reference: Sec. G. Row A. Grave 3.

Cemetery: HARROGATE (STONEFALL) CEMETERY

I suspect he was related to the family of Ratu Sukuna of Fiji, who had been rejected by the British in WW1 but served in the French Foreign Legion.

Ratu Sukuna's younger brother Ratu Yuiyasawa served in the NZEF.

A third brother Ratu Atonio Doviverata was too young for the war

Ratus Sukuna and Vuiyasawa attended Wanganui Collegiate School in NZ.

Ratu Doviverata also attended school in NZ , but I am not sure where.

This young man in WW2 attended Wanganui Technical College from 1936 to 1940, and has Doviverata as a middle name. I'm pretty sure there must be a connection, although I can't prove it

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Such research is, by its very nature, immensely challenging. This is compounded by the likelihood that those who served probably adopted aliases to conceal their identity (judging from casual browsing of the London Gazette). Searching the forum itself has yielded a number of fascinating topics pertaining to British-born black soldiers and Harry Oh'Ara of the Middlesex (?).

I think I've discovered an individual of Japanese extraction - at least google results indicate that.

Name: FURUTA

Initials: F

Nationality: United Kingdom

Rank: Private

Regiment/Service: Royal Fusiliers

Unit Text: 23rd Bn.

Date of Death: 08/10/1918

Service No: 70737

Casualty Type: Commonwealth War Dead

Grave/Memorial Reference: II. A. 4.

Cemetery: RUMILLY-EN-CAMBRESIS COMMUNAL CEMETERY EXTENSION

Name: LIA, CARMELO

Initials: C

Nationality: United Kingdom

Rank: Stoker 1st Class

Regiment/Service: Royal Navy

Unit Text: H.M.S. "Louvain."

Age: 20

Date of Death: 20/01/1918

Service No: K/49008

Additional information: Son of Joseph and Michelina Lia, of Senglea, Malta; husband of Margherita Lia, of 39, Strada Punta, Senglea, Malta.

Casualty Type: Commonwealth War Dead

Grave/Memorial Reference: 28.

Memorial: PLYMOUTH NAVAL MEMORIAL

At the risk of deviating from the initial topic, Christina, the RAF's website also identifies a Fijian volunteer named Raten Komaisavai,

I appreciate the response.

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Hello Elan !

Just under 600 Maltese lost their lives while serving in the armed forces of the British Empire during the First World War.

Regards

Wayne

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Norman Manley, a future Prime Minister of Jamaica, was at Oxford in 1914. He joined the British Army and won the MM.

"NORMAN WASHINGTON MANLEY

Norman Manley was one of Jamaica's modern founding fathers who helped forge the dream of nationhood. He was born on July 4, 1893 at Roxborough in the Mandeville hills. His parents were Thomas Albert Samuel Manley and Margaret Manley. At the age of six, the family moved to Belmont in Guanaboa Vale, a property jointly owned by Margaret and her father Alexander Shearer. He attended Old Beckford & Smith High School and Jamaica College. He was awarded the 1914 Thodes Scholaship to Oxford University.

With the declaration of war, Norman enlisted in the British Army and was awarded the Military Medal. He entered Oxford after the war and was called to the Jamaican Bar in 1922.

He married Edna Swithenbank and produced two sons Douglas and Michael. Norman Washington Manley launched the People's National Party in 1938 and led the demand for full Adult Suffrage in 1944. He also led the fight to abolish the British Constitution.

He died on September 2, 1969 at the age of 76 after a brief illness. Norman was declared a National Hero in 1969. The International Airport at Palisadoes, a high school, as well as the Law School at U.W.I., Mona, bear his name and his face appears on the Jamaican five dollar note."

Source: http://www.earthcultureroots.com/jam_heroes.html

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According to what I now read Manley enlisted as a gunner in the "Royal Artillery" and was promoted to "corporal". OK, so it was written by non military buffs.

However, it seems that he enlisted with his brother Roy, who was killed in action. I can't find a Roy Manley on the CWGC site, and assume it to be a pet name or nickname. Anyone know?

"During World War I, Manley interrupted his studies at Oxford to join the army with his brother, Roy. Roy was killed by enemy fire in France and, for his heroism and courage, Norman was awarded a Military Medal. Norman returned to Jamaica after completing his studies at Oxford and was appointed Kings Counsel in 1932. His brilliance and intellect later earned him the title of the "West Indies' best lawyer".

Source:

http://www.wejamaicans.com/pages/history/n...gton-manley.php

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At the risk of deviating from the initial topic, Christina, the RAF's website also identifies a Fijian volunteer named Raten Komaisavai,

................................

I think Raten Komaisavai is a misprint for RATU Komaisavai- his title.

Ratu is a title for the head of a tribe. All the family of the tribal chief carry it, if male; women are entitled Adi, pronounced Andi,= (Lady). Rather like Sir and Lady.

The photo on the RAF site is of Isikeli D Komaisavai.

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IWM has produced a great resource pack on this, mainly aimed at schools I think, but very good reading and offers many primary sources for consideration. I'd try them.

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