The untold story of the RAF’s black Second World War fliers over Europe11.06.2014

mark johnson

Mark recently delivered a presentation at the National Archives in London based on his recent title, Caribbean Volunteers at War. We have now received the final audio recording of the event, which you can access by following the link below to the National Archive’s official website!

About the presentation:

“While the United States boasted the black fliers of Tuskegee, few people are aware of the important contribution made by 500 RAF aircrew recruited from the Caribbean and West Africa. Overcoming the legacy of the official British Colour Bar to serve over Europe as pilots, navigators, flight engineers and air gunners, these men were pioneers in the truest sense. After suffering a loss rate of more than 30% and, in some cases, incarceration as black PoWs in Nazi Germany, the men returned to their countries of origin and were lost from the historical record. Mark Johnson has spent 17 years researching this tale, based on personal interviews with survivors, one of whom was his Jamaican great-uncle, a former navigator with Bomber Command’s No 102 (Ceylon) Squadron and a holder of the Distinguished Flying Cross. He outlines their backgrounds and motives for joining up and also describes their combat experiences, while exploring the possible significance of their legacy for current day integration and race relations.”

The link to the audio presentation is provided here:

How the Poles saved England – another forgotten story27.05.2014

Mark Johnson, the author of Never Surrender: Poland’s Long War, 1939-1945, recently wrote a post for Racecard telling the tale of the hundreds of thousands of Poles who helped to save England from Nazi domination.

In 1940, Britain stood alone against the might of Nazi Germany. The Nazi totalitarian state represented the most vicious and violent threat to the rights of man the world has ever experienced. In the space of less than one year, Germany had invaded and subjugated Poland, Denmark, Norway, Luxembourg, Holland, Belgium and France. Now she stood poised across the English Channel, needing only to knock the Royal Air Force from the skies, before sending her gray-clad army across the waters of the Channel to occupy London and other British cities.

Anyone growing up in this country will be familiar with the tale of what came next. Brave British fighter pilots, facing overwhelming odds, fought in England’s blue skies all summer against the might of the German Luftwaffe. When it was over, we stood victorious, saved by The Few; a handful of brave fighter pilots. The Germans pulled back and decided that it made more sense to attack the vastness of the Soviet Union than to attempt to defeat our small island (…)

To read the full article, please visit:

Friends of the Neville Lawrence Foundation11.05.2014

stephenI’m delighted to have been appointed a ‘Friend of the Neville Lawrence Foundation – Education‘ which was launched on the 22nd of April by the father of murdered black teenager Stephen Lawrence to mark the 21st anniversary of his son’s death. I will post more on these pages as the Foundation starts its work in educating young people about the dangers of racism and xenophobia.

Neville Lawrence, the leading campaigner for racial harmony also received his signed copy of Caribbean Volunteers at War.

The venue was a luncheon hosted by The Voice newspaper in London. A second copy was passed along to Baroness Doreen Lawrence, Stephen’s mother.

More information about The Foundation can be found here:

Caribbean RAF Volunteers on display at the RAF Museum02.05.2014

Here are some views of the ‘Pilots of the Caribbean’ exhibit currently housed at the RAF Museum’s site in Hendon, north London. In May, the exhibit will be moved to the Museum’s Cosford site, where it will be permanently wall-mounted.

The driving force behind this effort to recognise the contribution of Caribbean peoples to the fight against Nazism was Peter Devitt, the Assistant Curator at the Museum. Peter very kindly reached out to me and others and allowed us to make our individual contributions to the exhibition.

Many people, young and old, including a number of diplomats and majors, have already viewed this display. The memory of our brave Caribbean airmen has been preserved and is now being passed along.


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