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UK govt appeals for help finding family of black WWII veteran

#govt #appeals #finding #family #black #WWII #veteran

UK government leaders appealed Wednesday for relatives of one of the country’s last black veterans of World War II to come forward after he died alone and apparently childless.

Born in 1926 in Jamaica, Flight Sergeant Peter Brown was one of many who signed up for the British armed forces from the country’s imperial territories.  

Aged only around 17, he trained in Canada and joined the Royal Air Force in September 1943, serving as a wireless operator and air gunner in Lancaster bombers, according to The Sun newspaper. 

Brown died alone in his flat in London at the end of last year, and appeals have gone out for any surviving relatives in Jamaica or elsewhere to attend his funeral next week.

“Flight Sergeant Brown is an example of the selfless contribution of all Commonwealth personnel who have served the RAF,” Prime Minister Rishi Sunak tweeted.

The government has arranged for an RAF trumpeter to attend the funeral, alongside a senior officer, he said. 

Defence Secretary Ben Wallace also urged friends and relatives to come forward.

According to figures from the Royal Air Force Museum, some 6,000 black Caribbean men volunteered for the RAF in the war — 5,500 as ground staff and 450 as aircrew.

While many black and Asian servicemen and women suffered discrimination during the fighting, the RAF had no formal “colour bar” for officers, unlike much of the US forces then deployed to Britain.

One RAF squadron flew bombers paid for by the people of Jamaica.

Another RAF officer, Errol Walton Barrow, went on to become the first prime minister of Barbados after it won independence from Britain.

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