St Albans Cathedral unveils wartime exhibition for Black History Month

Picture: Imperial War Museum.

Learning Through the Arts (LTTA) in collaboration with St Albans Cathedral, has launched an exhibition honouring the forgotten African Colonial soldiers of the Second World War.

The new presentation offers a deeper understanding into their ‘contributions and sacrifices,’ on behalf of the British Empire. It is seen ‘through the perspective of the Royal West African Frontier Force (RWAFF).’ The project was set up to mark Black History Month 2020 – a yearly event celebrating accomplishments of the black community throughout history.

Visitors can view photos ‘highlighting’ the untold ‘stories’ of these African soldiers. Each image is accompanied by a caption which explains what is depicted. The display has been installed within the cathedral’s North Transept, and is positioned next to a prayer installation in support of the Black Lives Matter movement.

More than half-a-million African troops served with the British Army either as combatants or non-combatants. They were involved in campaigns within the Horn of Africa, Middle East, Italy, France and Burma. Furthermore, this was the greatest ‘single movement of African men overseas’ after the slave trade. The Commonwealth Graves Commission estimates 2642 individuals died, whilst ‘serving with the King’s African Rifles’ in both world wars. Furthermore, 1055 soldiers deployed with the East African Military Labour Corps were killed in World War II.

The Reverend Dr Kevin Walton, Canon Chancellor at St Albans Cathedral, said of the exhibition:

“We are delighted to be hosting this exhibition bringing to light a forgotten but hugely important aspect of our shared history. It is a timely reminder that black lives matter, not least of those who were prepared to make the ultimate sacrifice fighting in a common cause for freedom.”

The project was devised by LTTA, ‘a social enterprise’ that works with communities to encourage ‘learning, creativity and skills development through the Arts.’ Their aim is to enhance ‘a culture of life-long learning.’ The organisation seeks ‘to develop’ creative talent by offering training, workshops and using ‘creative arts’ as ‘the medium of instruction.’

Forgotten: British African Colonial Soldiers of the Second World War, is open daily until 31st October. For more information about the free exhibition visit:

More from Local Vibes: News

  • Hertfordshire residents encouraged to ‘stay safe’ and enjoy a ‘Spooktacular Halloween’

    On Saturday (31st October) families across South-West Hertfordshire will mark Halloween, however this year’s festivities are set to look different. As coronavirus cases continue to increase, Council Leaders from across the county have united in asking residents ‘to celebrate Halloween safely.’ They hope their appeal will prevent the virus from spreading further.

  • Triumph for Oxhey Activity Park as it scoops Hertfordshire Service to Sport Award

    Oxhey Activity Park has won the Vice Chairs Award, at this year’s Hertfordshire Service to Sport Awards. The new sports and leisure facilities which opened in September, were recognised as being ‘one of the beacons of light’ to emerge ‘during lockdown within Hertfordshire.’ Amenities now include a skateboarding area, café, bike trail, and adventure playground. New habitats were also created to improve biodiversity.

  • Boost for Hertsmere’s creative industry as studio expansion receives ‘green light’

    Plans to expand Elstree Studios have been granted final approval. The project involves building two new soundstages and ancillary workshops, on the former Big Brother House site. Work can now officially begin after studio owners Hertsmere Borough Council, secured £6 million in government funding. The expansion helps to further cement Hertsmere’s reputation as the ‘British Hollywood’ of the creative industries.

  • Hertfordshire’s 2020 Poppy Appeal commences

    The Royal British Legion’s (RBL) annual Poppy Appeal has launched across South-West Hertfordshire. Whilst the pandemic is affecting how some aspects of the Appeal are delivered, the Armed Forces charity worked ‘hard to ensure’ the event still went ahead. They are therefore urging the public ‘to show their support’ for the 2020 'Every Poppy Counts' campaign.