This film is part of Free

From Trinidad to Serve the Empire

Colonial recruits from Trinidad meet the Lord Mayor of London during WWI

Non-Fiction 1916 1 mins Silent


These Trinidadian soldiers are only a handful of the 15,600 men of the British West Indies Regiment who served in WWI. Having volunteered or been conscripted, many such soldiers saw active combat. Devastating casualty numbers meant Britain needed all the help from the Empire it could get, and yet despite their willingness to serve 'the mother country', many recruits suffered discrimination while on service. The ranks here are scrutinised by the Lord Mayor of London, Sir William Dunn, outside Mansion House.

Before WWI, British colonial troops had been used for imperial defence, but during this truly global conflict the BWIR joined Allied forces on the front line in Palestine and Jordan, as well as performing auxiliary duties in France, Italy and Egypt. The men who formed the 11 battalions of the Regiment came from Caribbean nations including Trinidad and Tobago, Jamaica, St Lucia, Grenada, Barbados and the Bahamas. Officers also came from the pre-existing West India Regiment, originally formed in 1795.