For King & Country

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For King & Country

The Service and Sacrifice of the British West Indian Military

By: Irving W. Andre, Gabriel J. Christian

Publication date: November 2013
SKU: 9780981292106

For King & Country is the never before told story of British West Indians who served in the British military during the early days of imperial conquest, and helped secure victory for Britain in World Wars I & II. In riveting prose, the book speaks to their incomparable leadership in advancing the cause of civil rights in the United States and the United Kingdom; their contribution to the independence of the Caribbean, and little recognized role in the liberation of Africa from colonial rule.

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Title information

The World War II service of British West Indian soldiers Wendell Christian and Twistleton Bertrand -both of Dominica - inspired this book: For King & Country: The Service and Sacrifice of the British West Indian Military. The research into their service revealed a treasure trove of hitherto unpublished material on the British West Indian role in the British military, from the Napoleonic Wars through to World War II. That British West Indian served in Palestine during World War I doing battle against Turkish forces of the Ottoman Empire, or that German U-Boats torpedoed ships at anchor in St. Lucia s during World War II will be news to the average reader of West Indian history. Here one will read of some of the 7,000 British West Indians who volunteered to serve in the Royal Air Force during World War II: Phillip Cross, DFC, DSO of Trinidad who won high honors for bravery, having executed 80 missions over occupied Europe; Errol Barrow of Barbados and Dudley Thompson of Jamaica, who served with Bomber Command; Harold Bryant of Dominica who was posthumously awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross for bravery shown in air combat over Germany; and the legendary Cy Grant of Guyana , whose bomber was shot down over Holland and survived captivity in a German prison camp. Through the eyes of these brave West Indians who volunteered to serve king and country, we gain a better understanding of the strategic importance of the Caribbean in World War II and their postwar role in shaping the modern Caribbean. As with the African American soldiers and airmen whose valiant efforts later propelled social change, the British West Indians who served unleashed a similar yearning for self determination which would transform the societies from which they came. Their leadership, coupled with others, eventually led to the independence of the British West Indies. More importantly, this well researched work evokes the need to maintain the discipline and integrity of such service to the nations of the former British West Indies which is so necessary for their survival.

Pages: 364
Publisher: Pont Casse Press
Average: 5 (1 vote)

Irving W. Andre

Irving W. André attended the Dominica Grammar School and Sixth Form College. He attended the University of the West-Indies in Jamaica where he was a Gold Medalist after graduating with a First Class Honours Degree (B.A.) in History, English and Philosophy. The recipient of a Graduate Award to pursue the PhD. in History from John Hopkins in Baltimore, Mr. André studied there for two years prior to studying law at Osgoode Hall School in Canada. In 1990, Mr. André was called to the Bar of Ontario, and has served as a Ministry of Labour prosecutor, an Assistant Crown Attorney and later, as a Criminal Defence lawyer. He was appointed a Justice in the Ontario Court of Justice in 2002. He holds a Master of Laws degree and has published several works on Dominican history and society.

Gabriel J. Christian

Gabriel J. Christian attended the Dominica Grammar School and Sixth Form College. He taught History at the Dominica Grammar School before attending the University of the District of Columbia College of Business and Public Management in Washington, D.C. where he graduated with a BBA in Procurement and Public Contracting. Mr. Christian studied law at Georgetown University Law Center in Washington, D.C. graduating with the degree of Juris Doctor in 1991. Mr. Christian was admitted to the Bar in 1991 and now practices law in Maryland. In 2007, Maryland Governor Martin O Malley appointed Mr. Christian to the position of Judicial Commissioner, Maryland Court of Appeals. André & Christian co-authored In Search of Eden: Dominica,The Travails of a Caribbean Mini-State (1992) and In Search of Eden: Essays on Dominican History (2002). Mr. Christian also authored Rain on a Tin Roof in 1999, and six other books on Caribbean and military history.  In 2012, Christian was appointed to the Maryland Governor’s Commission on Caribbean Affairs– the first of its kind in the state’s history – by then Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley. He is married to Joan Robinson-Christian and has two children, Samora and Makonnen.

For King & Country Review

They fought for a freedom, which we now enjoy. This according to Baroness Patricia Scotland, Attorney General of the United Kingdom as she addressed participants at an event honoring the brave men and women of the Caribbean who fought alongside the British during the two world wars and the launch of For King & Country: The Service and Sacrifice of the British West Indian Military. Caribbean Glory as the event was called brought together diplomats, soldiers, government leaders, and ordinary people as they celebrated the sacrifice of the thousands of Caribbean nationals who fought and died in the pursuit of freedom. The brain child of Dominicans Gabriel Christian and Justice Irving Andre, Caribbean Glory will long be remembered for bringing together the aging heroes of World War II together with the young and old in a once in a lifetime celebration at Andrews Airforce Base just outside Washington DC. Participants were moved with the stirrings of patriotic fervor and relished in the company of three of the remaining soldiers and airmen who were able to make it to the ceremony. Ninety-two year old Justice Ulrich Cross, who led a spitfire squadron over the skies of Europe, flying over eighty sorties, recounted the surprise of the British people when they heard them speaking English. Cross, who was personally pinned with the Distinguished Flying Order (DFC) by King George at Buckingham Palace, also received the Distinguished Flying Cross (DFO) for his bravery and performance during the war. Of the two hundred and fifty airmen who joined from Trinidad and Tobago, fifty-two were killed in action. During the evening, a film made by the British War Office in 1942 highlighting the role of the West Indian soldier was screened. It showed Cross and hundreds of West Indians engaged in the war effort. This included flying planes, cutting timber, caring for the wounded, radio operators, machinists, and a range of other professions where they served with honor and distinction. Another honoree at the evening s event was ninety-two year old Dudley Thompson of Jamaica, himself an airman during the campaign. He spoke of the pride, dignity and discipline, displayed by the Caribbean soldier as they fought during the dark days of the campaign. Eighty-eight year-old Wendell Christian, who enlisted in the Caribbean forces and was garrisoned in St Lucia and Grenada, as they prepared for shipment overseas, vividly described the pride with which Caribbean people united around the British cause. Although not present at the event, the daring and heroic story of Cy Grant was told. Shot down over Holland, interrogated by the dreaded Gestapo, this son of Guyana was able to survive prisoner of war camp and was liberated by the advancing Red Army in 1945. When caught, the unbelieving Germans took a look at his dark complexion and publicized his photo in a national Nazi paper with the caption: A Captured RAF Officer of Indeterminable Race. Baroness Scotland, who was born in Dominica, told the honorees: I needed to come to say thank you, thank you on behalf of my country, the United Kingdom. They (the soldiers) did not ask to go, they chose to go to fight for people they did not know, for people who might not acknowledge their equality or their humanity. The story of the Caribbean soldier and his sacrifice is well chronicled in the book For King and Country co-authored by Gabriel Christian and Justice Irving Andre. Already, many are hailing the book as a fascinating account of a story that has not before been told, but needs to be told. The book, in addition to revealing the exploits of the brave men and women details how, coming out of the campaign, a new breed of leadership was born, which would go on to serve the Caribbean with distinction. --Dr. Thomson Fontaine, The