Fighting for King and Empire: Britain's Caribbean Heroes
- United Kingdom
More informationDuring the Second World War, thousands of men and women from the Caribbean colonies volunteered to come to Britain to join the fight against Hitler. They risked their lives for king and empire, but their contribution has largely been forgotten.
In this programme, some of the last surviving Caribbean veterans tell their extraordinary wartime stories: from torpedo attacks by German U-boats and the RAF's blanket bombing of Germany to the culture shock of Britain's freezing winters and war-torn landscape. This brave sacrifice confronted the pioneers from the Caribbean with a lifelong challenge - to be treated as equals by the British government and the British people.
In testimony full of wit and charm, the veterans candidly reveal their experiences as some of the only black people in wartime Britain. They remember encounters with a curious British public and confrontation with the prejudices of white American GIs stationed in Britain.
After the war, many veterans returned to the Caribbean where they discovered jobs were scarce. Some came back to Britain to help rebuild its cities. They settled down with jobs and homes, got married and began to integrate their rich heritage into British culture. Now mostly in their 80s and 90s - the oldest is 104 - these pioneers from the Caribbean have helped transform Britain and created an enduring multicultural legacy.
With vivid first-hand testimony, observational documentary and rare archive footage, the programme gives a unique perspective on the Second World War and the history of 20th-century Britain.