Black soldiers in the Canadian(and British, French) army

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Narvik
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Black soldiers in the Canadian(and British, French) army

Post by Narvik » 23 Jul 2002 02:18

The US army was officially segregated and although all black units were trained, I believe few saw front-line service and Most were relegated to support staff. Does anyone know of the status of Black men in the Canadian Army? How about the British Army? Was there defacto segregation? As for the French, I remember a post about black French POWs and how the Germans treated them. Someone even found a picture of Wermacht personnel escorting a column of French POWs, including black soldiers, into the rear. Does this mean the French army did not practice segregation?

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Stéphane
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Post by Stéphane » 23 Jul 2002 18:49

Don't believe there was a set policy on segrgation in the Canadian military. I've read articles in the past about black men serving as bomber crews. As well in WWI, there was a lone black soldier serving with the Royal Canadian Regiment but his name escapes me. As well natives served in the military and in WWI Japanese Canadians served as well in non segrgated units. There was a construction battalion that was all black except for officers in WWI. There was no set policy, but they weren't really encouraged to join. You can go to http://www.historytelevision.ca and check their listings. Thats were I saw the show talking about the all black construction battalion.

As for the French, the black troops were from colonial units such as les Tirailleur Sénégalais who had white officers. Other then colonial units troops weren't mixed. Later, it seems the Free French accepted having mixed units maybe due to manpower shortages. I've seen pictures of blacks and whites in the same unit, if I had a scanner I'd put it up.

Hope this helps a little.

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Aufklarung
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Post by Aufklarung » 25 Jul 2002 15:58

Narvik
Concur with Stephane. Canada did not segregate it's soldiers in WW2. Yes, the only blacks in WW1 were in construction Bns but some were in fighting roles as well. Tommy Prince was a native soldier with the Princess Patricias Canadian Light Inf (PPCLI) and our most decorated soldier of WW2(not to be confused with most highly decorated!). As a not very populated Country we had few visible minorities other than immigrants. Our black population was mainly from the East Coast and were established since the late 1700's. They like all others flocked to the call to arms at the first instance. These Canandians were treated and admired as just that; Canadians not coloured. Hope this helps you.
:|

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Narvik
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Post by Narvik » 29 Jul 2002 04:59

People usually say that Canada is a more "tolerant country" and that black or white doesn't matter. I've always personally felt that since historically fewer African-Americans have lived in Canada, people would make less of a fuss than our southern neighbours. My feelings were recently confirmed when the local english paper here in montreal ran a story about visible minorities preffering Toronto over Montreal, calling Montreal 'openly racist.' Although this doesn't directly confirm my hunch, I've always felt that Canada's and Quebec's level of tolerance is overblown.
How much more so would this have applied 80 years ago?

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Aufklarung
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Post by Aufklarung » 30 Jul 2002 00:08

Well I would suggest that what you say may not hold true for all regions of Canada. In Nova Scotia and Halifax areas for example, blacks are fairly common per capita but they have been there for about 350 years. Blacks figure quite heavily in the east coast histories and not just as slaves. True, there are "racist" incidents in Halifax but overall it's mostly a non issue. My quotations allude to media hype. Don't believe what you see on TV or read in a paper, they're views not fact.
I still would say that Canada is a pretty tolerant country; unless you're Canandian. We think we rock and others see us as some marshmellow wanting into the ballgame. Man per man our army(less fighting soldiers than Toronto has cops) is good to the point of beating Germans, Brits, French at their best up to Battalion-level games. Tho' our snipers get snubbed. We have resources and manpower to spare but just tool along right beside the US economy. Our struggles come from within as citizens not people in a race way. Our laws and government have always been lax or vague so everyone from everywhere gets a say immediately if not sooner. Perhaps Quebec is different, haven't been there to live but seems Ok on visits.
However, I do feel the incidence of hate against "visible" minorities as well as majorities is on the rise. Is this post 9/11 stuff or was it there before? I'm not sure but it seems the trend is becoming anti- "not us" feelings are strong in just about all govenments today.

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tyskaorden
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Post by tyskaorden » 30 Jul 2002 14:23

As for the British army there was several colonial units with black soldiers and withe officers. Mainly the King's African Rifles who recruited in East Africa and the Royal West African Frontier Force who recriuited in West Africa. African units fought suprisingly in India and Burma!

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alsaco
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Post by alsaco » 06 Aug 2002 21:25

Blacks in french forces.

As did the british, some units were recruted in the colonies. These were on a regional basis, tirailleurs sénégalais for blacks, mostly Mossis, sections sahariennes for touaregs, tirailleurs malgaches from Madagascar, tirailleurs annamites fron Indochina. This build up an Armée Coloniale, mainly during WWI; Officers were quite all whites, but some blacks obtained nomination as officers. Sergents and corporals were black.

The colonials remained this way until 1941, and germans were quite embarassed when they took them as prisonners. Some were killes in Lyon and around Chartres, at least. Others went to frontstalag, and were liberated, sent to non occupied France and then Africa in 1941.

Algerians, tunisians and marocans where not colonal troups, but had special regiments, zouaves, chasseurs afrique, tirailleurs, where all races in the mobilisation circle were mixed.

The Foreign Legion stationned in Algéria, but had his own life.

All this changed within the Free French Army. All units were then mixed. Pacific Bataillon took kanaks, Fidjian, Wallis, Tahiti people and local frenchmen to join the other french in Lybia. The same applies to Tchad units, where blacks and whites were mixed; Then in Italy regiments were mixed, but coming from specific regions in north africa. Except for moroccans goums, build up in kabil tribes, with french and moroccans officiers

In France regular army incorporated people from the maquis and FFI, and some units were this way whitened. However mixing remained the rule, only limited by the fact that blacks were not common in maquis groups;

French had conscription in 1914 and 1939 Recruitement was regional, and each town had his traditional unit. Mixing was therefore according to the local population. Same applied for units from Algeria in 1943.

For the Free French, they were all volunteers, and joined the unit they prefered. Mixing was accoding to individual preferences.

French Interior forces applied to join regular 2e DB or 1ere Armee on a similar voluntary basis. The FTP in Paris built up their own unit, which moved to Lorraine, independently, and finished near Mulhouse in the Rhin et Danube Army. Other young people from Paris registered mainly as volonteers with the Leclerc division.

Sorry to have been so long in my brocken english, but I hope to have correctly stated the colour no-problem of french troups.

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Post by sylvieK4 » 09 Aug 2002 14:10

I know this isn't about Canadians, but American blacks, but I found this German cartoon which spoke to the racism faced by black people in the USA.

Image

"From the Land of the Lynchers: 'It's a good thing for us Negros that no Americans live here. ' "

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