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African American Troops in Britain – Pt1

This article about African Americans in Britain originally appeared at http://www.bulldozia.com/jimcrow/jimcrow2.php

A letter from the Daily Herald 1942.
Coloured American soldiers stationed in the district were refused admission to an Army dance at Eye, Suffolk, on Saturday.

A coloured military policeman was posted at the door to turn his comrades away. Now they are under orders not to attend any dances there in future.[1.1] Coloured American soldiers stationed in the district were refused admission to an Army dance at Eye, Suffolk, on Saturday. A coloured military policeman was posted at the door to turn his comrades away. Now they are under orders not to attend any dances there in future.

Military Order

[1.2] It is understood that the action was taken at the instigation of the American military authorities. Our own Army Command, the Daily Herald was told, had offered no objection to the entry of coloured soldiers to functions attended by our own troops.

These coloured American soldiers have also been refused admittance to the town’s reading room, which has billiards, ping-pong tables and a dart board, as well as facilities for reading and writing. At the moment they have nowhere to go when off duty.

Related Links

http://www.historyplace.com/unitedstates/aframerwar/

Smith, Graham. When Jim Crow Met John Bull: Black American Soldiers
in World War II Britain. NY: St Martin’s, 1987. 265 p.
D810N4S65.100

Vicar’s Wife Insults Our Allies

The women of Worle, Weston-super-Mare, are amazed by Mrs. May, wife of their vicar.  She called them together and attempted to lay down a six-point code which would result in the ostracism of American coloured troops if they ever go to the village.

The women of the village have come to the angry conclusion that this code amounts to an insult to the troops of our Ally.

These (in her own words) were the rules Mrs. May laid down:

1. If a local woman keeps a shop and a coloured soldier enters, she must serve him, but she must do it as quickly as possible and indicate as quickly as possible and indicate that she does not desire him to come there again.
2. If she is in a cinema and notices a coloured soldier next to her, she moves to another seat immediately.
3. If she is walking on the pavement and a coloured soldier is coming towards her, she crosses to the other pavement.
4. If she is in a shop and a coloured soldier enters, she leaves as soon as she has made her purchase or before that if she is in a queue.
5. White women, of course, must have no social relationship with coloured troops.
6. On no account must coloured troops be invited to the homes of white women.

Mrs. May forbade her hearers to mention her ‘talk’ to the newspapers.

But they were so astonished that they told their husbands.

‘Disgusted’

[2.3] One of the husbands, a local councillor, is preparing a full statement to be sent to the Ministry of Information.

He said: ‘If the woman is talking like this in the name of the Church, I should be interested to know what her husband’s bishop thinks of it.’

Mrs. May’s reason for not making her code public, she said, was that ‘it might hurt the coloured troops if they heard of it.

Feeling is so high in the district that it is more likely to hurt Mrs. May.

A local woman who attended the meeting told the Sunday Pictorial last night:

“I was disgusted, and so were most of the women there. We have no intention of agreeing to her decree.”

Any coloured soldier who reads this may rest assured that there is no colour bar in this country and that he is as welcome as any other Allied soldier.

He will find that the vast majority of people have nothing but repugnance for the narrow-minded uninformed prejudices expressed by the vicar’s wife.

“There is – and will be – no persecution of coloured people in Britain”.

Sunday Pictorial 6 September 1942

 

2 thoughts on “African American Troops in Britain – Pt1

  • 1st November 2016 at 3:45 pm
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    Black American Troops in the UK 1943-45. I am looking for information about what Units and where they were stationed in the area around Chard in Somerset. My mother was sent to do war work in the area and remembers the Americans and the unit of British Pioneer Corps who were sent to work with them.

    Reply
  • 3rd February 2017 at 12:30 am
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    Sign me up ASAP! IN DEFENSE: AN AMERICAN LEGACY—- the Tuskegee Experience. Also at instagram: indefenseanamericanlegacy
    I teach about the RAF and I want to include this book as a reference in my curriculum. Ms. Glenna Calvin. US MARINE CORPS aviation division female veteran. Peace!

    Reply

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