Black History Month
Walter Tull is probably the most well known black soldier of the First World War, but as we have heard in the Remembered Podcast and seen in our earlier blogs, soldiers came from a range of racial and religious backgrounds. However, today the First World War appears to be a very European war – Euro-centric and caucasian.
But in actual fact, the first shot in the war was fired by Regiment Sergeant-Major Grunshi, who served with the Gold Coast Regiment (a former British colony and modern-day Ghana), when the British attacked the German colony of Togoland in 1914.
This Black History Month, we want to demonstrate the true diversity of the First World War. We will be sharing stories of black men who fought in the war and highlighting the contribution that the black community made.
As well as fighting in the war, the black community made up a huge number of non-combatants who built roads, bridges, worked in quarries and transported weapons and supplies. They were treated incredibly poorly, but we feel it’s important to face these harder facts as they are part of our history and we hope that we can learn from the mistakes that were made in the past.
As well as sharing what we know and what we have found through our own research, we want to hear from you. We are regularly contacted by people who want to share their WWI story and this month, we urge the black community to look into their WWI history in particular. Speak to your older family members and find out the names of relatives who may have fought in the war. You can then look them up on the Commonwealth War Graves Commission website, to find out more.
If you are lucky enough to have trove of information left from your relatives about their lives in WWI, we encourage you to share it – via social media or organisations like Away from the Western Front – so that the stereotypical view of WWI can finally change and reflect its true diversity
At the end of the month, we’ll share some of the books and sources we’ve enjoyed this month so if you want to find out more and explore further, you have a good place to start. We would love to hear your recommendations, so please do let us know!