Antigua and Barbuda Flag. Google Images.

Gemma Handy of the BBC is reporting on the 16,000 Caribbean men and women who volunteered to serve in WWI, also known as “The Great War,” as the world celebrates Veterans Day. Many of the service people were from the islands of Antigua and Barbuda and wanted to serve the “mother country.” Handy reports:

“These nameless men and women of color have been ‘airbrushed’ from history, says Keith Eastmond, of the twin island nation’s Ex-Servicemen’s Association.

“We have no definitive number for how many people from Antigua and Barbuda joined the war efforts,” he tells the BBC. The Caribbean was keen to support the mother country, as they saw it then,” he continues. “But Britain was reluctant to let West Indian soldiers fight white Europeans in those days.”

The desire to fight was not taken seriously until there was a shortage of soldiers and King George requested members from the Caribbean colonies to join the fight. Like other countries including the U.S., Caribbean soldiers were relegated to menial tasks and low paying jobs like transportation and moving ammunition, which resulted in many casualties.

“Blacks were begrudgingly accepted into the war effort, but their support was absolutely essential,” says Ex-Servicemen’s Association chairman Pagget Messiah. “Without it, the outcome would have been very different.”

Read the entire story at BBC.

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