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Jamaican High Commissioner to the United Kingdom (UK), Burchell Whiteman, has lauded the special ‘War to Windrush’ Exhibition, currently on at the Imperial War Museum in London.
“It is good,” High Commissioner Whiteman said, adding that the emphasis on the personal stories of the men and women, who were the early pioneers, would help the younger generation to better understand the significant contributions of West Indians to British society.
“It is important that they see the shared history of the West Indies and Britain and know that their parents and grandparents made vital and valuable contributions to secure their place in this society. It (the exhibition) also shows the strong links that still exist between the Caribbean and Britain,” Mr Whiteman said.
The High Commissioner was taken on a special tour of the exhibition on August 14, by the museum’s General Director, Sir Robert Crawford; Community Learning Co-ordinator, Liz Puddick, and Exhibition Manager, Sarah Gilbert. He also met the Secretary of the Windrush Foundation, Arthur Torrington and Jamaican veteran, Allan Wilmot.
The exhibition charts the journey and the contributions of Jamaican and other West Indians to the UK, and tells some of the personal stories of early West Indian settlers, who arrived on the ‘Empire Windrush’ in 1948, as well as the experiences of men and women during the First and Second World Wars.
‘War to Windrush’ is being staged to mark the 60th anniversary of the arrival of the MV Empire Windrush in Britain in 1948, which is seen as the start of mass migration from the West Indies to Britain.
A feature of the exhibition is the use of historical material and personal memorabilia, much of which is on public display for the first time.
Approximately 16,000 men from the West Indies volunteered to fight for Britain in the First World War, and over 10,000 servicemen and women answered the call during the Second World War. Thousands more served as merchant seamen.
The exhibition explores how, despite facing discrimination during their service, many former black West Indian servicemen and women and civilian war workers returned to settle in Britain, after the Second World War.