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A daughter’s mission to honour her father and the men of WW2

RECOGNITION: RAF machine-gun post, manned by soldiers from Barbados in the West Indies

THE WAR efforts of the West Indian R.A.F often go unrecognised. Their bravery and lack of recognition affects many families, who struggle to live in a country which fails to celebrate their loved ones who participated, but are happy to honour others.

One woman who is trying to gain that recognition is Theresa Kilbride. Her father Eric Constantine Morrison served in West Indian RAF and wants to memorialise the men with a Memorial Bench to be installed in The National Arboretum, Alrewas, Nr. Lichfield, Staffs.

The memorial bench, which will include a ceremony to take place on May 28 2017, is in the process of raising £1,000 and spoke to The Voice about what this bench means to them, their father and why it’s time to get the support they deserve.

How did your father start his career in The West Indian RAF?

My father enlisted in the West Indian RAF from Kingston, Jamaica. This all took place in September 1944. After hearing that England needed volunteers to help in the WW2 effort, my father made that choice to enlist.

How do you think this bench dedicated to your father, can help the West Indian RAF gain more recognition for their impact in WW2?

This bench will not only be dedicated to our father, but also to his friends and all RAF personnel who joined him and were stationed at Fradley Aerodrome, Nr. Lichfield and other aerodromes around the country. Until recently, people didn’t know that there was such a thing as the W.I. RAF and that they served their mother Country during WW2. By installing this bench in the National Arboretum, the 300,000 visitors per year will be able to recognise this fact and it can no longer go on unknown by the masses.

Eric Constantine Morrison

How did your family come to the decision that a memorial bench would be the best way to honour your father and the men of the West Indian RAF?

My family wanted to dedicate a monument to the W.I. RAF along side the British and Commonwealth RAF. However this project was too big for our family to achieve, so we decided on a bench, as this was more affordable and will be placed in the RAF section of the National Arboretum.

How can we as a people, continue to highlight the vital war efforts of the West Indian R.A.F today?

By discussing it. That is what’s so great about this bench – it will incite discussion from people who will see it and then discuss it with their family and friends. Through doing this, the W.I RAF’s contribution to the war effort will be noted, and might inspire people to install other monuments dedicated to the W.I. RAF across the country.

What will it mean to your family and your father’s legacy to be officially recognised by The National Arboretum?

It would mean a great deal for my father and the W.I. RAF to be officially recognised, because we served. The service men and women were willing to leave their homeland and serve England during the WW2, and this is a testament to their honour

Why do you think that the efforts of black Caribbean’s and their contributions to WWII continue to go unacknowledged?

Until recently, very few people knew about the black Caribbean’s who helped Britain during WW2. Our family thinks it’s very important that we tell our story and other stories that we know of, so that people will eventually know about the contributions of all the black Caribbean’s during WW2 on a larger scale.

Contribute to the Memorial Bench at the The National Arboretum with a donation to their Go Fund Me page.

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