BBC: Army Restricted Ethnic Recruits

#1
From the BBC:

Army restricted ethnic recruits

The British Army secretly restricted the number of recruits from ethnic minorities for 20 years, newly released official documents show.
From 1957 Army medical officers were instructed to note all new recruits with "Asiatic or Negroid features".

The data was used to limit the number of "non-white" troops in the Army.

The secret system was uncovered after about 50,000 government files were made public on the first working day of the Freedom of Information Act.


Many of the government papers had been kept hidden from the public for decades, under the 30-year rule.

Under the Act, implemented on 1 January, the public gains the right to see documents held by more than 100,000 bodies.

The determination of the characteristics is at the discretion of various medical officers, and could include Chinamen, Maltese or even swarthy Frenchmen

Confidential Army briefing paper

The army's recruiting system was even kept secret from government ministers and official race monitors, the documents released under the Freedom of Information Act show.

It appears from the documents, released to the National Archives, that the information was used to limit the number of ethnic minority troops, designated "D factor" personnel.

Medical officers were given considerable latitude in deciding who was classified as "D factor" or non-white. It could even include people of Mediterranean appearance or a "swarthy Frenchman", according to the documents.

The system was outlined in a confidential briefing paper, written for the Adjutant General of the Army in 1972.

"Officially, we state that we do not keep statistics of coloured soldiers," it says.

Division

"In fact, we do have a record, resulting from the description put on the attestation paper by the medical officer, of the features of the recruit.

"At Manning and Record offices, a broad division is drawn between north European and all others, and punch cards for the latter are punched in such a way they can be identified if required."

It added: "The determination of the characteristics is at the discretion of various medical officers, and could include Chinamen, Maltese or even swarthy Frenchmen."

The system was supposed to help the Army ensure its quota restrictions on non-Europeans was adhered to.

In February 1974, Denis Brennan in the Adjutant General's office said the way the Army recorded colour was "complex".

He said: "We do not feel it would be appropriate to mention it to ministers."

The Army chose to lie when asked for a breakdown of serving coloured officers by the Institute of Race Relations in 1972. The Army had agonised over what to do for nine months.

The Institute was told by the Army it did not keep such data. In fact, the Army's "D factor" data showed how few non-white personnel there were.


Unsatisfactory

There was only one non-white soldier in the Royal Military Police and one in the Intelligence Corps.

Defence Secretary Denis Healey had referred to "the unsatisfactory situation with regard to strengths of coloured men in certain Army regiments" in 1968.

By the mid 1970s, officials noted "the matter seems to have died".

Fighting

When challenged, the Army would always highlight the numbers of non-white soldiers in its sports teams.

There were reports of fighting between black and white soldiers in the Queen's Division in 1975.

However, government ministers were assured: "There are members of the coloured community in every branch of the services."

What were they thinking? Surely someone would realise that this would come out eventually and bite them, however they meant it.

That said limiting the number of "swarthy frenchmen" was always a good idea.
 
#2
Similar Story in the Telegraph. Supposed reasoning for the action highlighted in bold

Army covered up secret quota for black recruits
By Neil Tweedie
(Filed: 04/01/2005)

It was known as D Factor, the secret Army description for black and Asian recruits.

Files from 1975 released under the Freedom of Information Act show how for 20 years the largest of the Services secretly monitored the ethnic origin of new soldiers, initially to enforce a previously-unknown quota system apparently designed to ensure white domination of units.

D Factor ranged from applicants of "asiatic or negroid" appearance to those resembling "swarthy Frenchmen". The monitoring, involving the punching of personnel cards to identify non-white recruits, was considered so sensitive that senior civil servants hid its existence from ministers.

The file is one of about 50,000 chosen for release to coincide with the first full day of the Freedom of Information Act.

The issue took on political significance in 1972 when the Institute of Race Relations asked the Ministry of Defence for information on the number and origin of "coloured" soldiers. Senior officers agonised for nine months before answering with a direct lie.

The institute was told: "The Army no longer maintains the statistical information to enable it to identify coloured soldiers.

"As coloured soldiers are treated no differently from any other in the Army, this is one area of work which the Army decided could be eliminated."

But in a briefing paper in November that year to the Adjutant General, Major JMW Badcock explained how the system worked.

He wrote: "Officially, we state that we do not keep statistics of coloured soldiers. In fact we do have a record, resulting from a description put on the Attestation Paper by the medical officer of the features of the recruit - eg North European, Mediterranean, Asiatic, African or Negroid, Others etc.

"At the Manning and Record Offices a broad division is drawn between North European and all others and the punch cards for the latter are punched in such a way that they can be identified.

"This system has been in operation since 1957 and enabled us to keep a check on the numbers of non-Europeans in the corps of the Army so as to ensure that our assimilation levels (quota restrictions) were being adhered to."

The data showed how well the quota system had worked. Secret figures from February 1972 show that while there were 263 non-white servicemen in the Royal Artillery, the Royal Military Police had only one. The Intelligence Corps was also entirely white, except for a single corporal.

The files also illustrate fears among senior officers about the supposed dangers of the Black Power movement.

In November 1971 a secret Security Study Day was held after incidents in Britain and Germany. Concerns were raised after black soldiers were seen exchanging clenched-fist salutes at an athletics meeting in Britain.

In Germany, British and American black troops were seen giving each other the same salute on autobahns. There were also said to be indications that black troops were using paraffin to cause facial damage to justify the growing of beards.

The fears were dismissed the next month in a report which found no special disciplinary problem.

It is not clear from the files how long covert racial monitoring continued, although it was still in operation as late as 1975 when between one and two per cent of recruits were D Factor.

The Ministry of Defence was unable yesterday to explain the quota system.
 
#3
263 in the Gunners?

Were they actually 'asiatic/negroid/swarthy frenchmen' or was it just the cordite? :D

And the reason that there was only one in the RMP is they they are all black hearted! :D (Just kidding Old Red and MC!)
 

OldSnowy

LE
Moderator
Book Reviewer
#4
I fully agree with any policy that discriminates against 'swarthy Frenchmen', or any other sort of Frenchman (if indeed there is any other sort). Other forms of discrimination just deprive the Army of good Men and Women, and are totally counter-productive, but stopping Frenchmen - sound Policy, in my view :D

Actually, I know a couple of Brits who are Ex-Legion, but does anyone know of any Frenchmen who wanted to join the British Army in order to forget? Or would it involve too much chance of actual fighting 8O
 
#5
Whilst not wishing to derail this thread and post completely off topic, I agree with Snowy's masterly dissection of the real issue here - swarthy frenchmen.

The best quote ever, spoken in respect of the French:

"We don't need their support anyway - they're just a load of cheese eating surrender monkeys'.

Great stuff - but Donald Rumsfeld is still a to$$er! :D

And now, back to the thread... :D
 
#6
Swarthy Frenchies ...... I love it.....

Why are French roads lined with trees?

Because the Germans like Marching in the Shade!

Completely off thread, sorry. And no, I am not condoning any form of discrimination.

Wetlove,
RRR
 
#7
If it has no effect on service or promotion, why do the army isist in recording details of your national and ethnic background, and making sure that you know it''s been recorded. That's now, not back in the 70s!
 
#8
Absolutley right no bloo*y frenchmen Swarthy or not. The barstewards supplied Exocet to the argies and had an undercover policy to continue supply all sorts to Irac!!! Notice how that one went away quietly afetr the war!!!! how come they were not taken to the European court for breaking the sanctions agreement!!! Sneaky F*ckers!!! Should have left them to the Herrmans!!!!! :evil:
 
#9
Plant-Pilot said:
If it has no effect on service or promotion, why do the army isist in recording details of your national and ethnic background, and making sure that you know it''s been recorded. That's now, not back in the 70s!
8O I have French family.

Sh*t, damn and bugger.
 
#10
Civilian_In_Green said:
Plant-Pilot said:
If it has no effect on service or promotion, why do the army isist in recording details of your national and ethnic background, and making sure that you know it''s been recorded. That's now, not back in the 70s!
8O I have French family.

Sh*t, damn and bugger.
Explains it all!
 
#11
Back when I was at Catterick for basic training, I was with the selection wallah and after some choosing, I elected for a specialist R. Sigs trade which required a very high level of clearance.
However, I was born in Africa (both my parents worked for offshore companies at the time) and this caused no end of a problem. In the end, whoever was in charge of selection and approval sent a telex back, which I saw, requesting that a photo of the applicant was required before any confirmation was given. I sent a passport copy and was accepted by return of telex. Now I may be cynical but as I'd put on the application that my parents were born in the Midlands and each and everyone of us had British nationality, there could only be one reason for a double check and a picture. Before you ask, there were very, very few non white folk doing the job I eventually ended up doing.
 
#12
OldSnowy said:
Actually, I know a couple of Brits who are Ex-Legion, but does anyone know of any Frenchmen who wanted to join the British Army in order to forget? Or would it involve too much chance of actual fighting 8O
Yep, passed out with him in 1984. He had duel nationality and had already done his national service in the French army. Good bloke actually, he won champion recruit as well 8O
 
#13
Has this practice actually stopped?

Or was it in fact stopped at the time of the first great "ethnic minority" targetted recruitment campaign?
 
#14
Sloping wire averred
And the reason that there was only one in the RMP is they they are all black hearted! Very Happy (Just kidding Old Red and MC!)
He was on wheels and we moved him from unit to unit when there was some big duty or unit inspection
 
#15
What were they thinking?
They were thinking much as the majority of citizens in the UK were thinking. Attitudes have changed, and such an attitude was not noteworthy then. In fact, in the Army that I joined in the early 70's, the words 'wog', 'n***er', 'bograt' etc were normal currency. The change in attitude towards foreigners and their cultures has been legislated by default, not brought about as a result of respect generated by their behaviour and competence to govern themselves, otherwise it wouldn't be illegal now (probably) to call Osama bin Laden a raghead b*****d, or Mugabe a chimpanzee missing its' powers of compassion.

Of course, I can't say that now.
 
#16
So this government realease this document, knowing full well what it will cause and the very same lot did not try to destroy it with all those "unneccesary" paperwork and e-mails they were frantically trying to get rid off :?

Stinks slightly to me, but then again i hate this bunch of tossers in power and think them capable of doing anything :evil:
 
#17
It's certainly an interesting example of just how to cover your arrse - note that the documents could be read equally as a "quota" to get more non-white recruits or a "quota" to keep them out.
 
#18
A mate of mine in the county court service had the misfortune to have the first name 'Royston'. He was obliged to record his ethnic origin on some civil service form which he put (quite correctly) as 'White'.

They wrote back to him twice asking him if he was sure that he was white.

Still, at least it shows that someone reads this stuff.
 

Latest Threads

Top