Google+ Badge BLACK SOCIAL HISTORY

Sunday, 23 June 2013

BLACK SOCIAL HISTORY : BLACK CANADIANS IN UNIFORMS A PROUD TRADITION : WE HAVE FOUGHT IN UNIFORM OF MOST COUNTRIES OF THE WORLD :

   BLACK              SOCIAL              HISTORY                                                                                                                                                                                     

                                                                                               Black Canadians in Uniform -
A Proud Tradition
























First World War

Three soldiers in a bunker Three soldiers in a German dugout captured during the Canadian advance east of Arras, France in October 1918.
Photo: LAC PA—003201
Like so many others swept up in the excitement and patriotism that the First World War (1914-1918) initially brought on, young Black Canadians were eager to serve King and country. At the time, however, the prejudiced attitudes of many of the people in charge of military enlistment made it very difficult for these men to join the Canadian Army. Despite the barriers, some Black Canadians did manage to join up during the opening years of the war. Black Canadians wanted the chance to do their part on a larger scale, however, and pressured the government to do so.
Five soldiers in uniform
No. 2 Construction Battalion members in 1917.
Photo: Maritime Command Museum.
On July 5, 1916, the No. 2 Construction Battalion was formed in Pictou, Nova Scotia—the first large Black military unit in Canadian history. Recruitment took place across the country and more than 600 men were eventually accepted, most from Nova Scotia, with others coming from New Brunswick, Ontario, the West and even some from the United States. The Black Battalion’s chaplain was Reverend William White, who had also played a leading role getting the unit formed. He was given the rank of Honourary Captain—one of the few Black commissioned officers to serve in the Canadian Army during the war.
The segregated battalion was tasked with non-combat support roles. After initial service in Canada, the battalion boarded the SS Southland bound for Liverpool, England in March 1917. Its members were sent to eastern France later in 1917 where they served honourably with the Canadian Forestry Corps. There they helped provide the lumber required to maintain trenches on the front lines, as well as helped construct roads and railways. After the end of the First World War in November 1918, the men sailed to Halifax in early 1919 to return to civilian life and the unit was officially disbanded in 1920.
In addition to the men of the Black Battalion, an estimated 2,000 Black Canadians, such as James Grant, Roy Fells, Seymour Tyler, Jeremiah Jones and Curly Christian, were determined to get to the front lines and managed to join regular units, going on to give distinguished service that earned some of them medals for bravery.
Black Canadians also made important contributions on the home front. They helped achieve victory by working in factories making the weapons and supplies needed by the soldiers fighting overseas, and by taking part in patriotic activities like raising funds for the war effort.
Today, the dedicated service of the "Black Battalion" and other Black Canadians who fought in the First World War is remembered and celebrated as a cornerstone of the proud tradition of Black military service in our country.