MaedaSan Productions seeks assistance for Documentary “The West Indies in the Great War: 1914-1918″

By ARC Magazine Saturday, February 2nd, 2013 Categories: Film, Updates
 

MaedaSan Productions – a small London based Production Company currently working on a documentary on the first World War entitled “The West Indies in the Great War: 1914-1918″ – is seeking help from scholars and students working in this area/period.

They are particularly interested in information concerning the “West India Regiment” and any Caribbean Soldiers who fought in American and Canadian regiments and/or West Indians en route to Europe to enlist via the States, as well as any other relevant information that may be of interest including: images, stock footage, letters, army records etc.

Soldiers from the West Indies served in many theatres of the war. Most battalions of the British West Indies Regiment (BWIR) saw service on the Western Front, predominantly as pioneers. Battalions of the regiment also served in Italy, with smaller contingents in Jordan, Egypt and Mesopotamia. Two battalions of the BWIR fought in Palestine. The West India Regiment served in East Africa, the Cameroon and Togo.

Soldiers from the West Indies served in many theatres of the war. Most battalions of the British West Indies Regiment (BWIR) saw service on the Western Front, predominantly as pioneers. Battalions of the regiment also served in Italy, with smaller contingents in Jordan, Egypt and Mesopotamia. Two battalions of the BWIR fought in Palestine. The West India Regiment served in East Africa, the Cameroon and Togo. Image courtesy of the Imperial War Museum.

If you are interested in helping with this project please contact Neigeme Glasgow-Maeda at neigeme@carib.com. Please include your area of expertise and availability during the month of March. Please note that interested parties should contact MaedaSan Productions by 21 February 2013.

For more information on The Great War and its connection to the West Indies see below:

Over 16,000 men from the West Indies served in the First World War. West Indian soldiers already serving with the West India Regiment, an infantry unit in the regular British Army that had existed since 1795, were the first from the islands to join the war effort in West and East Africa. After the outbreak of war, many West Indians volunteered to serve. Despite initial reluctance to recruit them, the British West Indies Regiment (BWIR) was created in 1915 to serve overseas.

The soldiers volunteered for a number of reasons from loyalty to the British Empire to economic advantages. Some were also motivated by the idea that support for the war effort abroad could bring political reform at home in the West Indies. Recruitment was hampered in March 1916 when a ship carrying some of these new recruits to Britain was diverted to Halifax in Canada to avoid enemy attacks. Soldiers on the ship – which was unprepared for such weather conditions – suffered severe frostbite, which in several cases led to amputations. Several deaths were also recorded. Reports in the press and the sight of other returning injured soldiers meant recruitment in the West Indies had to be temporarily suspended.

Soldiers of the BWIR faced discrimination and many worked as labourers rather than on the front line. This dissatisfaction contributed to a mutiny by some soldiers stationed at Taranto in Italy in December 1918, shortly after the war had ended. West Indian soldiers had contributed to the war effort across the globe. Their return home contributed to the increasing nationalist movement in the West Indies.

A total of 397 officers and 15,204 men, representing all Caribbean colonies, served in the BWIR. Of the total, 10,280 (66%) came from Jamaica.

In addition contributing to the British West Indies regiment, Bermuda raised two more contingents: the Bermuda Volunteer Rifle Corps (which was attached to the 1st Lincolnshire Regiment) and the Bermuda Garrison Artillery.

 

Thank you to Caribbean Commons for sharing this information with ARC’s community.

ARC Magazine
ARC Magazine

ARC Inc. is a non-profit print and online publication and social platform launched in 2011. It seeks to fill a certain void by offering a critical space for contemporary artists to present their work while fostering and developing critical dialogues and opportunities for crucial points of exchange. ARC is an online and social space of interaction with a developed methodology of sharing information about contemporary practices, exhibitions, partnerships, and opportunities occurring in the Caribbean region and throughout its diasporas.