No More Heroes?

Corporal Sony Campbell, 2013 (Courtesy of Sony Campbell)Historically, Black people have played a vital part in defending the nation and the freedoms we enjoy. Despite the horrors of slavery and the injustices of colonial rule, they have identified with Britain’s values and culture and they have fought, and died, to preserve them.

After helping to win victory in the Second World War, the volunteers returned to the Caribbean and to Africa with enhanced personal confidence and new skills. They carried with them the dynamic ethos of the RAF, becoming politicians, lawyers and teachers determined to change their homelands for the better. Those that returned to Britain from 1948 were also active, laying the foundations of Britain’s Black community and contributing to her richly diverse character. 

A Bahamian Flight Engineer, Sergeant Basil Johnson, Honour Earl, 1944 (FA00942)An Airman from Nigeria,  Aircraftman Second Class A. Dewale, Honour Earl, 1944 (FA00936)

During the war, the RAF proved successful at integrating diverse groups into its ranks thereby creating an efficient and highly effective multi-ethnic force. It remains so today, and the Service deserves to be seen as one of Britain’s most open and progressive institutions.

Sadly, the Black volunteers who fought in the Second World War grow fewer each year and while preparing this exhibition Philip Lamb of Bermuda, George Powe of Jamaica and Ulric Cross from Trinidad passed away.

Philip Lamb, 1923-2013 (Courtesy of BERNEWS)

At Philip Lamb’s funeral it was said: 

We should not mourn that such men died; we should thank God that such men lived.”

Black people continue to serve in the Royal Air Force proud in the knowledge that they are maintaining a long and honourable tradition of service to the Crown. 

Flight Lieutenant Trevor Edwards, 54 Squadron, RAF Coltishall, 1992

Flight Lieutenant Trevor Edwards, 54 Squadron, RAF Coltishall, 1992