Young and old join to mark 100th Armistice Day in Brixton

Winston Whyte today with friends and family members displaying pictures of him in the RAF during the Second World War
Winston Whyte today with friends and family members displaying pictures of him in the RAF during the Second World War

Some of the youngest and the oldest people present featured at today’s (11 November) Armistice Day ceremony in front of the African Caribbean war memorial in Brixton’s Windrush Square.

Winston Whyte, jazz musician and writer – who came to Britain from Jamaica at the age of 17 and signed up for the RAF during the Second World – attracted much attention as he joined child volunteers to scatter earth from the battlefields of the Somme on planters in front of the memorial.

Winston Whyte, Centre of attention
Winston Whyte, Centre of attention

 

Alex and Shaniah were among young people who came forward to sprinkle the ears from the Somme
Alex and Shaniah were among young people who came forward to sprinkle the earth from the Somme

 

Instructions from Jak Beula, who was the driving force behind the creation of the African Caribbean war memorial, and who hosted the ceremony
Instructions from Jak Beula, who was the driving force behind the creation of the African Caribbean war memorial, and who hosted the ceremony

 

The earth, from First World War battlefields at Ypres, Arras and Aisne, had been on a 350-mile pilgrimage with Brixton as its final stop.

William Parsons, co-founder of the British Pilgrimage Trust, whose own grandfather died in the First World War, walked a 350-mile route from Southampton, where the British Expeditionary Force departed in 1914, via Dover, the return port of the Unknown Soldier, the only British First World War soldier whose dead body returned to the UK.

William Parsons prepares to present soil from the Somme to Jak Beula
William Parsons prepares to present soil from the Somme to Jak Beula

 

The presentation box, dated 1914, in which William Parsons brought the spoil from the Somme
The presentation box, dated 1914, in which William Parsons brought the spoil from the Somme

Along the way, soil from the battlefields was placed at 100 war memorials – the 100th being Brixton’s African Caribbean War Memorial.

The Armistice Day parade was addressed by several speakers and entertained by African drumming and calypsonian Alexander D Great.

Helen Hayes
Helen Hayes

Local MP Helen Hayes, who was also speaking on behalf of Lambeth council leader Lib Peck, who could not attend the parade, said it was a privilege to honour then estimated two million people from Africa and the Caribbean who had served in two world wars and subsequent ones.

She said the need for remembrance grew as time passed and 2018, the 100thanniversary of the end of the First World War and the 70thanniversary of the arrival of the Empire Windrush has made this need seem particularly urgent.

Africans and Caribbeans who had taken part and had been overlooked so often needed to be re-inserted into history.

She spoke, as did several other speakers of the racism and abuse suffered by people who had volunteered to join the fight against fascism in Europe and, in many cases, paid their own fare to do so.

 

A bugler played The Last Post
A bugler played The Last Post

 

Shaun Bailey, a London Assembly Member, who was a member of the Army Cadet Force and is now an honorary colonel
Shaun Bailey, a London Assembly Member, who was a member of the Army Cadet Force and is now an honorary colonel
Minute's silence
Minute’s silence

Historian Phil Vasili spoke about Black solider and professional footballer Walter Tull, who died in the First World War
Historian Phil Vasili spoke about Black solider and professional footballer Walter Tull, who died in the First World War

 

Baroness Ros Howell
Baroness Ros Howell
Imam Toaha Qureshi, whose father and grandfather fought in the British armed services
Imam Toaha Qureshi, whose father and grandfather fought in the British armed services

 

Garry Stewart, director of Recognize Black Heritage and Culture, told of the book <em>Stories of Omission</em> that describes the 'missed out, hidden, ignored or disregarded' stories of Black members of the armed services
Garry Stewart, director of Recognize Black Heritage and Culture, told of the book Stories of Omission that describes the ‘missed out, hidden, ignored or disregarded’ stories of Black members of the armed services

 

Alexander D Great entertains
Alexander D Great entertains

 

Lambeth deputy mayor Ibrahim Dogus and writer and publisher Margaret Busby OBE prepare to unveil a plaque for memorial sponsors and Brixton institution Healthy Eaters
Lambeth deputy mayor Ibrahim Dogus and writer and publisher Margaret Busby OBE prepare to unveil a plaque for memorial sponsors and Brixton institution Healthy Eaters

 

The proceedings ended with a performance by BRB of their song Save A Soldier
The proceedings ended with a performance by BRB of their song Save A Soldier

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