The untold stories of black war heroes come to light

Ahead of Remembrance Sunday a new website will shine a light on the role played by African Caribbean men and women in the Second World War

WAR HEROES: (left to right) Norma Best, Laurie Philpotts and Neil Flanigan who fought for Britain in the Second World War

Brixton’s renowned Black Cultural Archives in south London will host the launch of the Living Memorial website to honour African Caribbean Second World War heroes on the eve of Remembrance Sunday.

The site will showcase the stories of black war veterans, most of which have never before been seen by the public.

The launch of the site, which will be held on Saturday (November 9),  builds on the acclaimed 2012 documentary Divided by race, united in war and peace hour-long film about African and Caribbean Second World War service personnel, who volunteered to join the war effort and afterwards returned to live in Britain.

The documentary was produced by citizen journalism site The-Latest.Com, who are also behind Living Memorial.

The film was directed by The-Latest.Com editor Marc Wadsworth and deputy editor Deborah Hobson, the co-producer, who will be doing a Q&A at the end of a screening of the website films at Saturday’s launch.

The new site will feature clips from Divided by race, united in war and peace as well as new interviews with the original participants in the 2012 film.

SERVICE: Former head teacher Norma Best came to Britain from Belize after volunteering to serve the country during the war

Living Memorial tells the untold story of how African and Caribbean men and women risked their lives to serve under the British flag in times of war and then faced a Windrush-type second battle – their right to remain under that flag, as British citizens.


Visitors to the site can upload wartime stories of family members, photographs and memorabilia to keep them alive, hence the site’s name.

Jamaicans Neil Flanigan, Allan Wilmot, the late Laurie Phillpotts and Sam King, who became the first black mayor of Southwark, are among the veterans who give powerful testimonies of their wartime and post war experiences, as does former head teacher Norma Best, who came to Britain from Belize after volunteering to serve the country during the war.

Two Kenyan veterans, Joseph Inima and Joshua Okello, who fought in Africa, also give moving personal accounts of the Second World War.

Dr Jak Beula, founder of Nubian Jak Community Trust, which has put up 50 blue plaques to commemorate black historical figures and built Britain’s first monument to Africans and Caribbeans who fought in both wars, said: “The importance of establishing an online living memorial to African and Caribbean military personnel is very timely, albeit long overdue.”


He added: “Those who made the ultimate sacrifice along with those who survived but sadly have now passed, may not have received the appreciation of their service during their lifetime, but the Living Memorial project will serve as a reminder to the few surviving veterans, as well to the next generation, that the valour of these brave men and women will never be forgotten.”


Black Cultural Archives managing director Arike Oke said: “I’m pleased to be hosting this important event because history matters. It’s where we come from and it can help us know where we’re going. Black Cultural Archives holds the future to account by collecting, preserving and celebrating the stories of people of African and African Caribbean descent.”

Oke added: “We keep these stories in living memory so that we never forget that we were here before, too, and that we mattered then, now and always.”

* Living Memorial will be launched at Black Cultural Archives, Windrush Square, Brixton, London SW2 1EF on Saturday, November 9, 4pm-7pm, tickets £5.50 For further details please visit:

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1 Comment

  1. | Navasho Matheus

    It is quite notice and atain to get to know the historical facts of world wars 1 and 2, would you please publish more on how African, African caribean British and African American in the north and south through slavery embarked their journey to freedom, recognition etc.


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