Thu | May 23, 2019

Did our men really volunteer?

Published:Tuesday | November 13, 2018 | 12:12 AM


I write in response to your editorial 'collecting on our blood at somme and ypres', published Sunday. November 11, 2018.

My Jamaican grandmother's husband was drafted into the BWIR two weeks after their daughter was born, and never returned home from the war.

One day in the summer of 1918, he wouldn't come home from work. British troops had taken him away. He never got a chance to say goodbye. As he had no choice, he may have signed a document stating that he volunteered.




A week later, grandmother was officially informed that her husband had joined the army. Another two weeks later, she was informed that he had died in action. Obviously, he couldn't even have received any basic military training. The British military command deliberately sacrificed thousands of Jamaicans and other colonial subjects whom they considered expendable.

According to your editorial, just over 11,000 Jamaicans, all volunteers, served in the British forces in the Great War. I don't know what had been great about that war, but I know that the majority of those Jamaican, who participated never volunteered.

There may have been some genuine Jamaica volunteers at the beginning of WWl. By 1918, everybody knew that going to war was no walk in the park. I doubt that many loving husbands and fathers felt obliged to die in order to help save their king and his empire.