About a decade ago I did voluntary work for the former Empire and Commonwealth Museum in Bristol, a private museum dedicated to presenting that aspect of British history. The Museum is, sadly, no longer with us, and its premises now seem to be used as an events venue. In its time, it was capable of presenting aspects of British imperial and post-imperial history that were otherwise neglected. One of these was an exhibition on the many Black and Asian troopers from the former colonies, who served in the First World War. The exhibition also included extracts from their diaries and letters recording the horrors they witnessed, along with their White comrades, in the trenches of Flanders. I distinctly recall an extract from an Indian Muslim’s letter that described the vast carnage as like the ‘end of the world’. One of the photographs for the exhibition showed a Black soldier, his chest covered in ribbons, proudly planting the British flag. It is manifestly unjust that until a few years ago, these brave men and women did not have a memorial at the Menem Gate. Nevertheless, their courage and sacrifice is being recovered. Radio 4 a few years ago presented a programme on the Chinese who served in the British army.

Archaeologist of modern conflict are also deeply interested in the contribution of imperial and extra-European squaddies. A few years ago one of the staff at the ‘In Flanders Fields’ Museum in Belgium gave a presentation to the archaeology department in Bristol Uni on ‘Multicultural War in Flanders’. Amongst the different peoples serving in the imperial armed forces were members of the Canadian First Nations. And much of the trench art, in which used shell casings, for example, were turned into works of art, was done by Chinese soldiers and labourers to support themselves in Belgium after the War ended. But clearly, you ain’t going to hear that from the British Patriots Society and the other storm troopers.

Guy Debord's Cat

This is from EDL News and I thought I’d repost it here. The far-right is using the Poppy Appeal in a shameless attempt to boost its credibility and its numbers.

This year’s Royal British Legion Poppy Appeal is even more poignant this year as we mark the centenary of the “Great War”. The appeal was first launched to assist those returning from those brutal World War One battlefields and has remained to serve as a vital reminder of the sacrifices made. Crucially it raises funds to support wounded and disabled service men and women, bereaved families, young veterans adjusting to life back on Civvy Street and their elderly compatriots who may need assistance with age-related life issues.

The poppy is the powerful and evocative symbol that lies at the heart of the campaign. Witness the extraordinary – and extraordinarily moving – Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red installation at…

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    […] beastrabban:About a decade ago I did voluntary work for the former Empire and Commonwealth Museum in Bristol, a private museum dedicated to presenting that aspect of British history.  […]

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