Commemoration of Black and Asian troops..

endure

GCM
Has this clown ever heard of Noyelles sur Mer ? This piece merely reveals a pitiful level of ignorance. The second illustration used in this article ('The Chinese Labour Corps provided vital support on the Western Front') actually portrays events during the Battle of Loos en Gohelle, France, 25 September 1915. Note the pithead gear (Puit 7). Please also note the alleged Chinese Labour Corps are wearing kilts and bonnets. That is maybe because the image actually portrays the 15th Scottish Division.
No Chinese were present at Loos. Not one.
The selection of this image in support of this article is far more revealing about the mindset of this auteur than any words of mine could ever expose.
You do realise that pictures that accompany articles are chosen by the picture editor and not the author of the article?
 
Paywalled. Can you grab it for us?
By your command:

This war graves row shows racism claims are given more credence than real history

The report on colonial war graves was well-produced, but its potential is undermined by those who claim to represent ethnic minorities

CHARLES MOORE
23 April 2021

At six o’clock on Thursday morning, BBC radio news led with characteristic words: “Pervasive racism has been blamed…” That day’s sinner was the Imperial War Graves Commission after the First World War. It had been guilty of a “failure to commemorate” some tens of thousands of the non-white soldiers and auxiliaries who had died for the British Empire in the same way as it commemorated white ones. A report by a special committee of the Commonwealth War Graves Commission (the same body, renamed in 1960), published later that morning, would make a formal apology.

The BBC report also quoted “one colonial governor at the time” who said: “The average native could not understand or appreciate a headstone.”

On the ensuing Today programme, Martha Kearney interviewed Professor David Olusoga, the historian whose film company had helped bring the problem to light. He spoke of “a form of apartheid in death”. He paid tribute to the worldwide CWGC cemeteries, but then flew into a rage about how long the organisation had taken to face up to the problem: it was “one of the biggest scandals I’ve ever come across as a historian”. Because the BBC had broken the deadline, it did not interview anyone speaking on the report’s behalf. Listeners would have concluded, by the BBC’s tone and treatment, that the most shocking revelations had come to light.

I have read the CWGC report. It is a proper piece of work. By this I mean that – unlike, for example, the National Trust’s sloppy, tendentious report on links with slavery and “colonialism” – it is actual history. Original sources have been consulted (within some stated limitations caused by Covid), and carefully weighed. No one sounds off. The context is properly given. That context was the worst war in history. Britain, its Dominions and Empire lost well over a million men. It was decided to try to commemorate every one of them, and apply a “principle of equality of treatment in death”. This was a massive democratic advance on all previous forms of military commemoration. It was also decided to keep the bodies buried in the countries where the men fell, to give their graves uniform headstones and to tend them forever. In the hundreds of thousands of cases where no body could be found, collective monuments, where possible including each individual name, would be erected. Think of Lutyens’s great Memorial to the Missing of the Somme.

This global project was brilliantly executed – a labour of love, art and remembrance without parallel in human history. It was added to by the deaths of the Second World War (not covered in this report). Today, the CWGC is responsible for no fewer than 23,000 sites across the world. Many readers will have visited these places and been struck by their peace and beauty and the loving care of the CWGC’s local staff. As the West Indian-born Blondel Cluff, one of the special committee’s members, puts it to me: “It was a bloody noble thing, in very difficult circumstances.”

Those circumstances included the enormous problem of identifying so many bodies in fields repeatedly churned by battle. Outside Europe, there were added complications. Many sites were remote and dangerous. In some, the political situation impeded the Commission’s work. (This was a big problem for the Basra Memorial in Iraq, for example, which commemorates 40,600 British Empire soldiers, chiefly Indians, with no known grave.) Across a disparate empire, records were not always as good as in London. The names of non-white people were not clearly codified; spellings were confused. Non-soldiers, such as the numerous carriers who served, were particularly poorly recorded. In colonies, unlike on the Western front, the Commission’s writ did not run, but depended on local administrators. It was often impossible to achieve the accuracy sought.

There was also a cultural conundrum. Rudyard Kipling, who contributed so much to the Commission’s work, said in 1919 that the bodies of Indian soldiers would be treated “in strict conformity with the practice of their religions”. This was surely appropriate but bound to quarrel with the principle of equality of treatment in death. Muslims, like Christians and Jews, are buried. Hindus and Sikhs must be cremated. Since a headstone stands above a grave, Hindus and Sikhs could not have one.

The named headstone is chiefly a European phenomenon and was also little known in Africa at that time. If – God forbid – there were a world war today, professional anti-racists would be the first to complain of cultural imperialism if Britain insisted on a headstone for people of all religions. A century ago, the Commission wrestled conscientiously with such problems. Which brings me to the colonial governor quoted above. His form of words – “the average native” – would rightly never be used today, but perhaps he was not being dismissive. The man in question was F G Guggisberg, Governor of the Gold Coast (modern Ghana). The report does not go into his character. He was no stuffed-shirt colonial reactionary, but a Swiss-Canadian writer and topographical surveyor. I believe a statue of him stands outside the Korle Bu hospital in Accra which he built. He set up the best West African higher education institution of his day and was praised for his “positive faith in the capabilities of Africans”. Might not Guggisberg have meant, speaking from a position of knowledge, that in a country which had no indigenous tradition of headstones some other form of commemoration would be more culturally sensitive? I do not know, but I do know that these matters are immensely complicated. (Touchingly, a Ghanaian paramount chief paid Guggisberg a culturally appropriate mark of respect by causing a headstone to be erected over his grave in Bexhill-on-Sea.)

The CWGC report is surely right to say that “in many ways it is understandable” that its operations “were not perfect”. It goes on, however, to criticise its imperial forebear strongly. There were, it thinks, important respects in which many non-white people were treated unequally in death. Some were recorded only as numbers; others who could have had headstones did not get them. Sometimes, it says, this was the result of “cost cutting”, more often of imperial attitudes which tended to regard non-white people, especially Africans, as uncivilised. In doing so, Commission officials diverged from their own organisation’s principles. The CWGC may be too hard on itself: 100 years ago, it was ahead of its time on most racial questions. But it is surely right to err on the side of self-criticism – particularly if, as in this case, it can lead to new action. The report makes 10 recommendations, including a renewed search for names and putting recovered names on existing memorials. It also proposes new structures – memorials to the missing among the missing, you might call them.

Properly covered, a report like that from the CWGC can help raise the public debate on all these matters. The current problem is that the people who make the most noise are treated by the BBC and others as the legitimate representatives of ethnic minorities – which is as ignorant and patronising as saying Jeremy Corbyn is a spokesman for all white people. Last month, the ground-breaking Sewell report on race and ethnic disparities did a comparable service in a current field – using modern data to start questioning the lazy assumption that racism is the root of everything. The usual voices grabbed the microphone first and started shouting. I think they are so angry because they fear they are losing their monopoly.
 

Joshua Slocum

LE
Book Reviewer
if the Black Hand mob had not existed, none of this would now be a problem
1619276116940.png


and this bloke
1619276136156.png
 

Pteranadon

LE
Book Reviewer
Total garbage.

Most of what's included on this thread is common knowledge to those with even the most rudimentary knowledge of the two world wars. My personal view of the WW1 East Africa campaign is that it was such a shambles that everyone wanted it swept under the carpet - Smuts got the hell out of it sharpish to preserve his political career. If you want to get more of an 'on the ground' flavour of the whole cake and arse episode, have a read of Mimi and Toutou Go Forth

Mimi and Toutou Go Forth By Giles Foden | Used | 9780141009841 | World of Books

If you feel undermined as an historian. it's because you haven't bothered to read sufficiently widely or independently. Institutionally racist organisations do not recognise the substantial contributions of other racial groups and there's ample physical evidence that the CWGC has made such a recognition, if imperfectly.
As for the diplomatic element, the treatment by their home governments of those who fought for the Empire is the real scandal. Here's one example.

Knee jerk Claptrap

No one knew about the un-commemorated dead until Lammey kicked up a fuss.

The reaction of class warriors on the right is a knee jerk reaction to deny and reject. Sometimes the right thing to do is acknowledge that an error had been made and make redress - which is what the CWGC are planning to do. That is the only way to move on. Even if it means conceding an argument to people you despise.
 
You do realise that pictures that accompany articles are chosen by the picture editor and not the author of the article?
 
Whenever I have written an article or a book, as author I have been alone responsible for supporting photographs/illustrations.I have never encountered a picture editor.
Perhaps I lack your breadth of publishing experience.
 
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endure

GCM
Whenever I have written an article or a book, as author I have been alone responsible for supporting photographs/illustrations.I have never encountered a picture editor.
Perhaps I lack your breadth of publishing experience.
It's not a book it's a newspaper. They have picture editors whose job is to choose suitable pictures to go with articles they publish.

 
You do realise that pictures that accompany articles are chosen by the picture editor and not the author of the article?
Proof reading and image selection is the responsibility of the author in my experience
 

endure

GCM
Proof reading and image selection is the responsibility of the author in my experience
Newspapers are different. They have a full time employee who chooses pictures for all the articles published. The Times picture editor is Sam Stewart post #207...
 

FORMER_FYRDMAN

LE
Book Reviewer
Knee jerk Claptrap

No one knew about the un-commemorated dead until Lammey kicked up a fuss.

The reaction of class warriors on the right is a knee jerk reaction to deny and reject. Sometimes the right thing to do is acknowledge that an error had been made and make redress - which is what the CWGC are planning to do. That is the only way to move on. Even if it means conceding an argument to people you despise.

Twaddle.

Half the world's littered with the unmarked graves of those who've helped British forces/been part of the nominal roll and no-one, mostly, gives a toot, including most of their descendants unless money's involved.

The CWGC may have forgotten to commemorate them properly, but your lot forgot that they even served and, if the experience of XIV Army is anything to go by, actively despised them for doing so and tried to airbrush them from history because of the cause for which they fought.

I bothered to read about what they did before the topic became fashionable but for your lot this is just a 'great aha' you've stumbled on and more convenient cadavers for your 'dead body' style of politics now that Grenfell Towers is slipping from memory.

The way to move on is to make a warts and all teaching of imperial history part of the national curriculum but I don't think we can count on your vote for that.

I look forward to your presentation of the nominal roll of Karens and Kachins or, in a WW1 context, your list of those who fell fighting for us during the Arab Revolt - all worthy of Remembrance; paid, equipped and organised by the British and mostly forgotten and uncommemorated.

Hand on heart, when I mentioned the Herero earlier, had you any idea what I was referring to without looking it up?
 
Here's an interesting letter in today's DT:

SIR – In 1920, when a British governor said that “the average native … would not understand or appreciate a headstone” (report, April 22), he was making a statement of fact, not racism.


India today has 120 war memorials run by the army and none have headstones, only the names of dead soldiers etched on a wall. There are no graves because Sikh and Hindu soldiers are cremated, not buried.


However, “pervasive racism” did exist. Indian soldiers were denied quick promotion, available to white counterparts. White soldiers were denied allotment of free land in Punjab Canal Colonies (built between 1868 and 1940), available only to Indians.


Randhir Singh Bains
Gants Hill, Essex
Old Randhir Singh Bains from Gants Hill, Essex has been writing letters to the Telegraph on a regular basis for about four decades now.
 

Pteranadon

LE
Book Reviewer
Twaddle.

Half the world's littered with the unmarked graves of those who've helped British forces/been part of the nominal roll and no-one, mostly, gives a toot, including most of their descendants unless money's involved.

The CWGC may have forgotten to commemorate them properly, but your lot forgot that they even served and, if the experience of XIV Army is anything to go by, actively despised them for doing so and tried to airbrush them from history because of the cause for which they fought.

I bothered to read about what they did before the topic became fashionable but for your lot this is just a 'great aha' you've stumbled on and more convenient cadavers for your 'dead body' style of politics now that Grenfell Towers is slipping from memory.

The way to move on is to make a warts and all teaching of imperial history part of the national curriculum but I don't think we can count on your vote for that.

I look forward to your presentation of the nominal roll of Karens and Kachins or, in a WW1 context, your list of those who fell fighting for us during the Arab Revolt - all worthy of Remembrance; paid, equipped and organised by the British and mostly forgotten and uncommemorated.

Hand on heart, when I mentioned the Herero earlier, had you any idea what I was referring to without looking it up?
I really don't know where to start with this piffle and poppycock.

Who exactly do you think "your lot" is? I am depressed with the yah boo sucks tribal gammon v lefty BS. This report is not BS. The CWGC have accepted the findings and appear to want to move on Why can't you?

My comments are based on my experience briefing groups of our servicemen and women on wargraves on battlefield studies and realities of war tours.
 
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Mufulira42

Old-Salt
The Askari Monument in Dar-es-Salaam is one of the best I've ever seen, and I used to pass it daily:
View attachment 567605
My father, who fought with the KAR, was incredibly proud of his association with it.

Incidentally, it was created by an Englishman, who also created other magnificent memorials in Kenya:
The monument was erected in honour of the King's African Rifles and the Carrier Corps. The main feature of the monument is "The Askari",[2] a bronze sculpture of an African soldier. It was realised in the United Kingdom by British sculptor sw:James Alexander Stevenson, who worked for Westminster's Morris Bronze Founders. Stevenson signed the statue with his pseudonym "Myrander". Before being sent to Dar es Salaam, the statue was exhibited at the Royal Academy, receiving critical praise.[citation needed] The soldier has a rifle with bayonet pointed towards the Dar es Salaam harbour.[3] The statue stands on a stone pedestal. On the narrow sides of the pedestal are plaques with a dedication in Swahili (Arabic and Latin script) and English; on the wide sides of the pedestal are two pictorial plaques showing fighting African soldiers and the Carrier Corps. The English inscription includes "If you fight for your country even if you die your sons will remember your name". (Wiki)
You beat me to it as I've passed the memorial many times as well
 

FORMER_FYRDMAN

LE
Book Reviewer
I really don't know where to start...

Who exactly do you think "your lot" is? What make you think I am ignorant of C20th history?

I agree with your opening statement.
 

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