By Dr. Heather Norris Nicholson
Each year Remembrance Sunday is a chance to pay tribute to those whose lives have been impacted in any way by loss or injury associated with any period of military service by family members.
Poppies will be worn and laid at memorials in the coming weeks, so a guide to their different colours seems appropriate. Linking to the poppy fields of Northern France where hundreds of thousands lost their lives during the First World War, the red poppy made by the British Legion is the most familiar symbol and tribute to those lost in conflict.
Black poppies commemorate and acknowledge Black, African and Caribbean communities’ contribution to the war effort – as servicemen and servicewomen, and as civilians.
White poppies pay tribute to those lost in conflict and symbolise a wish to end the atrocity of war. Purple poppies draw attention to animals that have been victims of war.
As we approach Remembrance Sunday, we see this date as an opportunity to gather information on all Black veterans with a Huddersfield connection. Anyone with family connections to Britain’s Royal Air Force, The Royal Navy and the Army, whether in the distant or recent past or still on active service, is encouraged to make contact so that there is better local historical understanding of African Caribbean involvement in Britain’s Armed Forces.
Anyone willing to share memories associated with any campaigns or periods of military service in a peacekeeping or military operation at any time since the end of the Second World War is urged to be in contact. That covers many locations including Syria, South Sudan, Somalia, Iraq, Afghanistan, the Middle East, the Balkans, the Falklands, Gibraltar, Cyprus, Northern Ireland, Korea and also National Service.
Remembrance Sunday 2020 has added poignancy as many families think of loved ones who have died during the pandemic.
Lives lost to illness in direct or indirect ways have disproportionately impacted upon people of African Caribbean, Asian and other ethnic minorities in Huddersfield and elsewhere.
This date will be a time when wreaths are laid, and thoughts turn to those no longer with us. As we find ways to memorialise and acknowledge recent losses, it is also a time to remember those who lost their lives in earlier struggles.
Please share your family memories of and help us to build a better understanding of Huddersfield’s African Caribbean descent in Britain’s Armed Forces. We look forward to hearing from you.
We would be pleased to hear about any of the following details:
Name and Rank (and in which Armed Service RAF/Army/ Navy)
When did they serve (or if now, since when)?
Where did they serve?
What did their duties include?
What honours/recognition were given?
Are there any memorable moments or particular memories that may be shared?
Thank you for your help.