Slides by Phil Gregory:
BLACK & ASIAN SOLDIERS IN WW1
THE FIRST WORLD WAR
On 28 June 1914, in
Ferdinand, heir to the
throne of the AustroHungarian Empire was
assassinated by Gavrilo
Princip (a Slav nationalist).
Serbia for the killing.
At that time Europe was
divided between groups of
diplomatic alliances - AustriaHungary/Germany/Italy
formed the (Central Powers)
(Triple Entente/Allied forces)
Each group swore to defend
HOW BLACK & ASIAN TROOPS
BECAME INVOLVED IN WW1
Britain & France had
colonies in the Caribbean,
Africa & Asia, as well as
many other places.
Germany also had
colonies in Africa
Turkish Troops contained
an African & Muslim
COLONIAL TROOPS OF THE BRITISH EMPIRE
AT QUEEN VICTORIA'S DIAMOND JUBILEE
CELEBRATIONS, 1897. PHOTOGRAPH: HULTON GETTY
THE BRITISH CARIBBEAN
People in the British Caribbean had
a lot of loyalty to the the “Mother
Country”. When WW1 began. West
Indians donated money to aid the
war effort and also volunteered to
fight, joining The British West
By the end of the war over 15,500
West Indians had joined the BWIR
and had experienced military
service in England, Italy, Egypt,
India, France, Belgium, Palestine,
Mesopotamia (Iraq) and East
WEST INDIAN TROOPS
STACKING 8 INCH SHELLS AT A DUMP ON THE GORDON ROAD, YPRES,
MOST BATTALIONS OF THE BRITISH WEST INDIES REGIMENT (BWIR)
SAW SERVICE ON THE WESTERN FRONT, MOSTLY AS PIONEERS.
AFRICANS IN THE FRENCH
Like Britain, France was a major
colonial power. France drew
troops from all over
“Francophone Africa”. France
also had Colonies in South East
Some of the most distinguished
African Soldiers were the
"'Black devils' the German
soldiers called them, when,
fighting like demons, they had
forced the Kaiser's shock troops
to retreat before them."
AFRICAN AMERICAN TROOPS
America was a racially segregated
society. Yet African Americans were
serving in the U.S Armed Forces.
When the United States declared war
against Germany in April 1917, The
U.S War Department realised that they
desperately needed more men to
By the end of World War I, African
Americans served in cavalry, infantry,
signal, medical, engineer, and artillery
units, as well as serving as chaplains,
surveyors, truck drivers, chemists, and
*AFRICAN AMERICANS ALSO SERVED IN FRENCH UNITS.
SEE “THE HARLEM HELL FIGHTERS”, WHO BECAME ONE OF THE MOST DECORATED UNITS
EUGENE BULLARD WAS A HIGHLY DECORATED AFRICAN AMERICAN PILOT IN THE
FRENCH FLYING CORPS. HE WAS ONE OF ONLY TWO BLACK COMBAT PILOTS IN WORLD WAR I
BLACK BRITONS ENLISTED
Black Britons served in WW1 in
the Army and Navy.
Former Spurs Player Walter Tull
is the most celebrated Black
British soldier who achieved the
rank of Lieutenant.
A photo on the next slide shows
several black soldiers in the
Essex regiment, as well as a
selection of other black and
mixed race soldiers serving in the
ASIAN TROOPS IN WW1
As well as Africans and Caribbean
troops there were also Asian
Soldiers fighting in WW1.
India sent over 1 million men to aid
the War effort. At that time India
included Pakistan, Nepal,
Bangladesh & Shri Lanka. Soldiers
were from many ethnic
backgrounds such as Pathans,
Sihks, Muslims & Hindu’s.
The photo here shows Ghurkas
AFRICANS FIGHTING FOR
Little is known about how many of
Germany’s Pre-war black population
served in the Armed forces. Some
certainly did in WW1.
WW1 was not just fought in Europe. There
were theatres of war in Africa and Asia.
In Africa, The Germans used Askari troops
called”Schutztruppe”. They fought bravely
and were never defeated even after
This Photo shows an African who travelled
back to Germany after WW1 to serve in
the Freikorps in 1919.
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