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: https://www.stalbanscathedral.org/Event/forgotten-the-british-african-colonial-soldiers-of-the-second-world-war

More from Local Vibes: News

  • Boxing champion returns to old school to deliver lockdown exercise routine

    Watford born boxer, Anthony Joshua OBE, recently went back to his former high school to film a virtual PE lesson. The two-time unified heavyweight champion has become Kings Langley Secondary School’s newest ‘employee.’ Joshua secretly recorded a series of ‘simple and straightforward’ workouts within the school’s gymnasium. The objective is to help students and their family members stay physically active whilst at home through lockdown.

  • Watford FC Transfer News: Matěj Vydra, James Lea Siliki + More

    With just over a week until the January Transfer Window slams shut, rumours are beginning to swirl in the football world, and this is no different at Watford. With one in, being Bodo/Glimt star Philip Zinckernagel, and one out, in the form of pass master Etienne Capoue, the Hornets are already involved in the craziness of the window, and their business may not be done yet.

  • Emergency services are ‘saving lives through education’ as online resource is released

    Hertfordshire Fire and Rescue Service (HFRS) has backed the release of StayWise, a new learning platform for pupils aged between 3-18 years. The free website uses ‘the educational resources of the emergency services’ and safety charities, which are then linked to the national curriculum.

  • Watford vs Barnsley Match Report: Deeney Penalty Hands Watford Another Home Win

    Troy Deeney's penalty was the difference as a tenacious and energetic Watford side saw off tough competition in Valerian Ismael's Barnsley.