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from the Guardian 4 March 2003

Last Caribbean veteran of first world war dies at 105
by Simon Rogers

The last Caribbean soldier to have served in the British army on the western front during the first world war has died at the age of 105.

George Blackman - also thought to be the oldest living Barbadian - had been admitted to hospital with severe pains. "He was reported to be doing fine and was due for release from hospital, but succumbed to his illness," said an official at the Barbados ministry of foreign affairs.

Mr Blackman was one of 15,000 men who volunteered for the British West Indies Regiment at the outbreak of war in 1914. Instead of the glory of fighting for the mother country, they found casual racism and horrific danger. Often denied the status of combat troops, they were instead given dangerous tasks in no man's land such as laying telephone cables or carrying ammunition.

After a mutiny of Caribbean soldiers at a British base in Taranto, Italy, at the end of the war, many were shipped home without victory parades.

A campaign to recognise the 4 million servicemen and women from Asia, Africa and the Caribbean who served in both world wars achieved success last year, when the Queen opened memorial gates in their honour in Hyde Park.



Simon Rogers interviewed George Blackman last year. You can read that article here


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