Caribbean Armed Forces in WW2

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tom2000d
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Caribbean Armed Forces in WW2

Post by tom2000d » 23 Aug 2018 14:13

Hi all, I am currently looking information on the armed forces (army, navy and air force) of or within the following British Caribbean colonies during ww2 or from the mid-30's to early 50's. I have put the information that I have collected myself next to them

Bahamas- Canadian Garrison- Veteran Guard of Canada & Pictou Highlanders (1942-1946) ? Personnel

Barbados- 12 Barbados Personnel Royal Air Force

Bermuda- Navy & Air Force?
450 Personnel Bermuda Volunteer Rifle Corps (1939)
125 Personnel Bermuda Militia Artillery (1942)
860 US Personnel (1941) & 1,100 US Personnel (1943)

British Guiana
31 Guianese Specialised War Work (1941)
42 Guianese Personnel Royal Navy (1941)
48 Guianese Personnel Trinidad Royal Navy Volunteer Reserve (1943)
22 Guianese Personnel Royal Air Force (1941)

'In Guiana, for the purpose of defence, the government organised two militia companies, a garrison, and a Voluntary Civil Defence Organisation.' Does anyone know the strength of each of these?

British Honduras
1,300 Personnel British Honduras Forestry Labourers (Served in Scotland) (1943)
British Honduras Defence Force & British Honduras Home Guard ? Personnel

Leeward Islands

Grenada
139 Personnel Grenada Detachment Windward Islands Garrison Southern Caribbean Force

St Lucia
United States Army Air Forces Sixth Air Force- only info I could find of a military presence here

St Vincent

Dominica

Trinidad & Tobago

Jamaica

Cayman Islands

Antigua

Montserrat

British Virgin Islands

Saint Kitts & Nevis

Any information would be great, but I am really looking for numbers on each i.e. US army 189,839 Personnel (1939) etc.
Kind regards, Tom.

OldBill
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Re: Caribbean Armed Forces in WW2

Post by OldBill » 24 Aug 2018 19:37

You've probably seen the information already, but just in case..... Many years ago while on liberty I came across a Cenotaph in Nassau. I had to do an internet search to find it last night to make sure I wasn't imagining it. This doesn't give much information, but it does mean there were locals in the Bahamas who served, not just the Canadian unit listed. Have you considered asking Dr. Niehorster or contacting an agency in the UK itself? Good luck in your endeavor! Links below.

Regards, Bill


http://thebahamianphotographer.com/baha ... -cenotaph/

https://www.cwgc.org/find-a-cemetery/ce ... 20MEMORIAL

tom2000d
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Location: United Kingdom

Re: Caribbean Armed Forces in WW2

Post by tom2000d » 25 Aug 2018 18:25

Thanks for the info Bill, I'll look into it this evening
Regards, Tom.

OldBill
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Re: Caribbean Armed Forces in WW2

Post by OldBill » 29 Aug 2018 21:14

Here is another lead for you. According to the article there were some thousands all together of personnel who served from the Caribbean area. In our barber shops we commonly find older magazines to read while we wait. Fortuitously I came across the magazine with the entire article, which doesn't seem to be available online. Regardless, your local library should be able to find a copy. It gives some figures for the numbers in the respective services, and you can backtrack from there via the author and his sources.

Regards, Bill

https://www.historytoday.com/richard-ca ... e-windrush
Richard Cavendish | Published in History Today Volume 48 Issue 6 June 1998

Knouterer
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Re: Caribbean Armed Forces in WW2

Post by Knouterer » 30 Aug 2018 19:02

Men and women from the colonies served in all parts of the British armed forces, not just in local units. Here's a picture of Flight Sergeant Jim Hyde of Trinidad in Europe in 1944. When actor and writer Peter Ustinov was tested to determine whether he was officer material, he was interviewed by a female military psychiatrist whose shoulder flashes said "Bermuda". And so on. About 20,000 West Indians served.

The regular army's West Indies Regiment had been disbanded in 1926, and in 1939 there was no full-time military formation there, although part-time forces existed in every colony.
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Knouterer
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Re: Caribbean Armed Forces in WW2

Post by Knouterer » 30 Aug 2018 19:58

... and Leading Aircraftwoman Sonia Thompson from Kingston, Jamaica, who qualified as an instrument repairer in Britain.
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Sid Guttridge
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Re: Caribbean Armed Forces in WW2

Post by Sid Guttridge » 31 Aug 2018 16:48

Hi Tom2000d,

The WWII era divides into two.

Until 1942 the various defence forces in the British Caribbean (of which Bermuda is not technically part) came under the Colonial Office and were financed by the colonies themselves. They were pretty amateurish and ill equipped and the remoteness of any threat meant they were little improved in the first three years of the war.

The arrival of the U-boats in the area in early 1942 led to a reorganization to more modern standard establishments under the British War Department. Two brigade areas were formed: Northern Caribbean Area headquartered in Jamaica, and Southern Caribbean Command headquartered in Trinidad. All infantry were part of battalions, though on the smaller islands they were effectively divided into independent companies. The artillery was largely in coastal batteries. As a result they became better trained and equipped in 1943, to the point that it was possible to form a battalion of volunteers from all colonies for overseas service in early 1944. It was known as the Caribbean Regiment.

The Caribbean Regiment was sent to Italy but, although it had a reserve manpower pool with it for replacements, the difficulty in replacing casualties was used as a reason not to put it into the field there. The real reasons seem to have been fear of heavy casualties causing political repercussions in the colonies, which had been pretty volatile in the 1930s, and racism, in that they were classified as British troops and should therefore have gone into a British division. Instead they were sent to Egypt to guard POWs. This caused irritation with the Canadians, who were using their own troops to help garrison the British Caribbean while British Caribbean troops were being sent to do similar duties elsewhere.

On the naval side, you need to check out the Trinidad Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve, which is as close to a navy as the British West Indies had.

Earlier in the war numbers of the better educated British and local residents were trained as aircrew and suffered high percentage losses as a result, but in 1944 a mass recruitment campaign, particularly in Jamaica, produced thousands of men to train as groundcrew. They arrived in the UK in 1944-45.

Cheers,

Sid.

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