SCOON – Jellicoe Esslemonte Norbert Cecil

F/O – pilot

[Source: CG/Jerome Lee]

From Grenada

[Source: Gillian Hill, granddaughter]

 

RAF_student_pilot_Jellicoe_Scoon,_a_West_Indian_from_Trinidad,_in_Parliament_Square_in_London,_26_March_1942._CH5213

West Indians in the Royal Air Force: A Trinidad (!) accountant, Jellicoe Scoon, recently arrived in England as a Royal Air Force recruit. Aircraftman Scoon was accepted as a pilot, completed elementary flying school training with at least fifty hours to his credit, and was then sent to Service Flying Training School.

[Photograph: IWM CH 5213]

 

 

 

 

 

Jellicoe ScoonJellicoe ‘Midnight’ Scoon, according to Squadron Leader Michel Donnet, DFC, of No. 64 Squadron: “…  a black from Trinidad of which we must get rid of because he refuses stubbornly to fly elsewhere than at low altitude…”  (From his book ‘J’ai volé la Liberté’, Mike Donnet, 1968, pages 170-171). In an interview conducted by Mehdi Schneyders in 2011 Mr. Donnet states that on his third day with the Squadron the ‘black from Jamaica’ (!) hedgehopped (his airplane) around a house of a girl he met. For this he was ‘chucked out’ to ‘the islands’ in the north of Scotland, as a means of doing ‘penance’.

[Picture from Mr. Dimitrios Vassilopoulos of Greeks-in-foreign-cockpits, courtesy Mehdi Schneyders]

 

 

A group of colored RAF-officers. Front row, from left: [1] unknown, from Jamaica or Belize; [2] Dusty Miller, from Guyana; [3] S/L Corbett (liason); [4] Ulric Cross, from Trinidad; [5] Johnny Smythe, from Sierra Leone; [6] Vivian Rivero, from Trinidad; (previously erroneously identified as: Mark Walker, from Trinidad);
Second row from left: [1] E.A. Gordon from Jamaica; [4] Percy Massiah, from Trinidad; [5] possibly his brother C.A. Massiah from Trinidad; [6] Vivian Thomas from Manchester, Jamaica; [7] Jellicoe Scoon from Grenada. Third row from left: [1] E.R Braithwaite from Guyana? The rest are as yet unknown to us. We invite our visitors to share the names of any person they recognise. [Names courtesy P.L.U. Cross a.o.; Photograph courtesy Audrey Elcombe, copyright unknown - click to enlarge]  

News (continued)

They also flew

S/L Ulric Cross of Trinidad: DFC, DSO, Judge, ambassador, High Commissioner F/L Dudley Thompson, OC, QC of Jamaica: lawyer, Pan-African activist, Order of Jamaica F/O Errol Barrow of Barbados: Prime Minister, Minister of Finance, Minister of Foreign Affairs F/L Michael Manley of Jamaica: Prime Minister, Member of Parliament, Member of House of Representatives F/L Edward Dalrymple of Dominica: Mayor, vice-president of Dominica Freedom Party, Professor of History, City College of New York, Princeton, Rutgers Universities F/L Arthur Wint of Jamaica: Olympic Gold Medalist, OBE, MBE, High Commissioner

This site aims to provide a permanent archive of the volunteers from the West Indies who flew for the Royal Air Force during the Second World War. The general public in the United Kingdom and elsewhere is scarcely aware of the involvement of Caribbean crew in the airwar of 1940-1945. In 1940, no so-called ‘men of colour’ could have joined the Royal Air Force; but by the end of the war in 1945, there were between 300 and 500 aircrew from the Caribbean out of a total of around six thousand volunteers who served during World War 2. About seventy were commissioned and one hundred and three received decorations. Yet these facts are not generally known even to the present Black British population in Britain. Since so little is recorded, we encourage surviving crew as well as their relatives and descendants to add to this body of information. Anyone who has a story to tell, information to share, or pictures to show is heartily invited to contribute to this website. How does this site work? The main body of this site consists of a list of names of aircrew that are known to us. The names are accessible either by country of origin, rank or decoration or by entering a name in the search-box. Each entry offers the option to add a comment.Here you can submit your information regarding the individual concerned. Pictures are best sent directly with a reference to the webmaster, who will place them in the entry.

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RAF Bomber Command Memorial Unveiling

The RAF Bomber Command Memorial was unveiled by HM Queen Elizabeth II on June 28th 2012. ‘Bloody marvellous but long overdue’ (The Telegraph)  

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Dudley Thompson

F/O Ambassador Hon. Dudley Thompson OD QC passed on January 20, 2012. He was a day past 95. He was buried with full national and military honors at UP Park Camp, Jamaica on feb 10th. Read the commemorative text by Gabriel Christian.

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Red Tails: Tuskegee Airmen portrayed in Lucasfilm production

The story of the Tuskegee Airmen, the first African-American pilots to fly in a combat squadron during World War II. Red Tails Trailer X

Approval for Bomber Command Memorial

Westminster City Council in London has given the go-ahead for the erection of a memorial to the 55,573 aircrew of Bomber Command that were killed during World War 2. The monument will be built in Green Park and should be ready by 2012. Cy Grant, the founder and inspirator of this website who died recently, devoted the last years of his life to promoting the memorial – which he referred to as a peace memorial – and emphasizing that the Caribbean sacrifices made in service of Bomber Command should be explicitly commemorated. the Telegraph BBC News More news

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George Stanislaus Lau

Sqn Ldr George Stanislaus Lau, died peacefully on 1st April 2010. Beloved husband of Elaine. Funeral Service will take place at St Augustine’s, High Wycombe on Thursday 8th April at 1.30 p.m.

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RAF-veteran Cy Grant dies at 90

We received the sad news that RAF-veteran Cy Grant, the great inspirator for this website, has passed away during the night of Saturday February 13th, 2010. Right up till the end his mind and energies were aimed at the acknowledgement of the Caribbean contribution and sacrifices to the Second World War. May he rest in peace. Cy was to be honoured personally at a meeting in the House of Lords on March 4th 2010. The Attorney General Baroness Scotland of Asthal QC presented an award to his daughter Sami instead. The tribute was organised by the Bomber Command Association which presented its plans for the Bomber Command Memorial. Wikipedia BBC Guardian Times-online Kurt Barling’s blog Telegraph ATV Network Caribbeanworldnews You can leave a message in our guestbook. -

Appointment in London

In 1953 the movie ‘Appointment in London’ was released. The story was about a Bomber Command squadron in 1943. Someone involved in the movie had the knowledge and courtesy to include a reference to black aircrew. It lasted only a few seconds, but must have confounded the audience at the time – as it did me when I watched a few days ago! Above is a screen shot. It shows the Wing Commander (played by Dirk Bogarde) chatting to a black airman. One of the script writers for the movie was John Wooldridge, a commander of 105 Squadron RAF during WW2. It seems reasonable to assume that he was aware of the presence of black aircrew in the RAF and inserted the scene into the movie as a mark of recognition and respect. [courtesy Tom Graham from Perth, Australia] Wikipedia

Spitfire pilots

Flight Sergeant James Hyde of San Juan, Trinidad, a Spitfire pilot who arrived in Britain in 1942 to begin his training, here pictured in 1944 with his Squadron’s mascot, a dog called ‘Dingo’. He is wearing a life jacket, known universally as a Mae West, and is holding an oxygen mask and his flying gloves. Most air battles took place at altitudes in excess of 15,000 feet (c. 5000 metres) and oxygen and thermal protection were vital. [Source: www.movinghere.org.uk – Imperial War Museum (IWM) Reference CH11978] F/O Julian Marryshow with 602 Sqn in 1943 Flying Officer Julian Merryshow (on the right) with B-flight of 602 Sqn at Sumburgh (Shetlands) in January 1943. [Photo: Royal Air Force Museum - Click on image to enlarge] “In September 1942 the squadron moved north to the Orkney and Shetland Islands to intercept the high level German reconnaissance raiders over Scapa Flow. It flew from bases in the south of England from January 1943 and transferred to the Second Tactical Air Force in November flying offensive sweeps over France and providing fighter escorts. Involved in the “D” Day Invasion, 602 later flew from airfields in Europe before returning to England in September 1944 to concentrate on strikes against V2 rocket sites and other prime targets. The squadron disbanded on 15 May 1945 by which time it was credited with the destruction of 150 enemy aircraft.” [Source: 602 (City of Glasgow) RAuxAF museum]

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Do you recognise any of these men?

• A group of colored RAF-officers. Front row, from left: [1] unknown, from Jamaica or Belize; [2] Dusty Miller, from Guyana; [3] S/L Corbett (liason); [4] Ulric Cross, from Trinidad; [5] Johnny Smythe, from Sierra Leone; [6] Vivian Romero, from Trinidad; (previously erroneously identified as: Mark Walker, from Trinidad;

Second row from left: [1] E.A. Gordon from Jamaica; [4] Percy Massiah, from Trinidad; [5] possibly his brother C.A. Massiah from Trinidad; [6] Vivian Thomas from Manchester, Jamaica; [7] Jellicoe Scoon from Grenada.Third row from left: [1] E.R Braithwaite from Guyana? The rest are as yet unknown to us. We invite our visitors to share the names of any person they recognise. [Names courtesy P.L.U. Cross a.o.; Photograph courtesy Audrey Elcombe, copyright unknown - click to enlarge]

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RAF honours ethnic minorities

To celebrate the contribution that members of the Afro-Caribbean, Indian and other ethnic communities have made to the growth and development of the Royal Air Force, as well as the defence of the U.K. during times of adversity, the Royal Air Force Museum Cosford will be honouring their achievements with a permanent exhibition Diversity in the Royal Air Force. This display does not explicitly address the historial perspective of West Indians who volunteered to serve in the Royal Air Force in WW2 of whom about 400 actually flew as aircrew, with an estimated 103 honoured with distinguished service medals. Despite the MOD’s ‘We Were There’ Touring Exhibition, the current exhibitions at the Imperial War Museum’s ‘War to Windrush’ and the RAF Cosford Museum’s ‘Diversity in the RAF’ we still do not have a complete record of the contribution of volunteers from the Caribbean. There seems to be no official record at the Ministry of Defence, the Air Ministry or the National Archives. This site makes an attempt to redress this oversight. .

Royal Mail issues RAF Uniforms stamps

Royal Mail issued a series of six unique stamps focusing on the RAF’s illustrious history as reflected through its uniforms and flying kits. Each stamp bears an illustration of a uniformed member of the RAF by the artist Graham Turner, who illustrated last year’s Army Uniforms stamps. (Click on image to go to Royal Mail website) .

Telegraph supports Bomber Command Association

The Telegraph has joined the Bomber Command Association to help raise funds to erect a permanent memorial to the 55,000 bomber aircrew killed in the Second World War. The website of the newspaper features many articles with stories and backgrounds about the men who flew the risky missions for Bomber Command. Article fails to recognize Caribbean contribution Under the heading ‘Bomber Command to be honoured after 63 years‘ the website of the Telegraph features an article on the campaign for a memorial for the men of Bomber Command that served during the Second World War. In all, 55,573 were killed and 8,325 were lost. Sadly, where numbers of casualities from Canada, Australia and New Zealand are separately quoted in this article, the Caribbean contribution remains unmentioned. The Telegraph has however published an interview with Guyanese Navigator and POW Cy Grant.

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THOMAS – Vivian

‘As far as I know my granddad was born in Christiana in the parish of Manchester in Jamaica and moved to the UK to serve with the RAF – I believe he lied about his age so he could enlist!

The exact details of his role during the war remain a bit of a mystery as he rarely spoke about it.  However there were hints that he was involved in searching for U-Boats’

[Source: Leon Thomas]

 

A group of colored RAF-officers. Front row, from left: [1] unknown, from Jamaica or Belize; [2] Dusty Miller, from Guyana; [3] S/L Corbett (liason); [4] Ulric Cross, from Trinidad; [5] Johnny Smythe, from Sierra Leone; [6] Vivian Rivero, from Trinidad; (previously erroneously identified as: Mark Walker, from Trinidad);
Second row from left: [1] E.A. Gordon from Jamaica; [4] Percy Massiah, from Trinidad; [5] possibly his brother C.A. Massiah from Trinidad; [6] Vivian Thomas from Manchester, Jamaica; [7] Jellicoe Scoon from Grenada. Third row from left: [1] E.R Braithwaite from Guyana? The rest are as yet unknown to us. We invite our visitors to share the names of any person they recognise. [Names courtesy P.L.U. Cross a.o.; Photograph courtesy Audrey Elcombe, copyright unknown - click to enlarge]  

BRAITHWAITE – Edward Ricardo

Edward Ricardo Braithwaite, writer, teacher and diplomat, born 27 June 1912; died 12 December 2016.

[Source: the Guardian, obituary]

RAF Pilot from Guyana

[Source: Wikipedia]

E. R. Braithwaite, the author of “To Sir With with Love” (a book remembered for its film and theme song) was a pilot with the RAF

[Source: forum.keypublishing.com]

A group of colored RAF-officers. Front row, from left: [1] unknown, from Jamaica or Belize; [2] Dusty Miller, from Guyana; [3] S/L Corbett (liason); [4] Ulric Cross, from Trinidad; [5] Johnny Smythe, from Sierra Leone; [6] Vivian Rivero, from Trinidad; (previously erroneously identified as: Mark Walker, from Trinidad);
Second row from left: [1] E.A. Gordon from Jamaica; [4] Percy Massiah, from Trinidad; [5] possibly his brother C.A. Massiah from Trinidad; [6] Vivian Thomas from Manchester, Jamaica; [7] Jellicoe Scoon from Grenada. Third row from left: [1] E.R Braithwaite from Guyana? The rest are as yet unknown to us. We invite our visitors to share the names of any person they recognise. [Names courtesy P.L.U. Cross a.o.; Photograph courtesy Audrey Elcombe, copyright unknown - click to enlarge]  

GORDON – E.A.

1259312 – E.A. Gordon – Jamaica – attested 26.7.40 – W.Op/A.G. – commissioned 26.8.44 – S.Inj. 5.4.4?

[Source: NA AIR 2/6876 - Nominal Roll of Coloured Candidates, October 1944]

A group of colored RAF-officers. Front row, from left: [1] unknown, from Jamaica or Belize; [2] Dusty Miller, from Guyana; [3] S/L Corbett (liason); [4] Ulric Cross, from Trinidad; [5] Johnny Smythe, from Sierra Leone; [6] Vivian Rivero, from Trinidad; (previously erroneously identified as: Mark Walker, from Trinidad);
Second row from left: [1] E.A. Gordon from Jamaica; [4] Percy Massiah, from Trinidad; [5] possibly his brother C.A. Massiah from Trinidad; [6] Vivian Thomas from Manchester, Jamaica; [7] Jellicoe Scoon from Grenada. Third row from left: [1] E.R Braithwaite from Guyana? The rest are as yet unknown to us. We invite our visitors to share the names of any person they recognise. [Names courtesy P.L.U. Cross a.o.; Photograph courtesy Audrey Elcombe, copyright unknown - click to enlarge] [Names courtesy P.L.U. Cross a.o.; Photograph courtesy Audrey Elcombe, copyright unknown - click to enlarge]

The gentleman in the second row left is my father, F/O Egbert Arthur Alexander Gordon from S. Mary, Jamaica.  He was born on January 26th, 1919, and migrated to the U.S.A. in 1950 (New York City, Brooklyn) where his mother, my grandmother lived.  He later moved to Jamaica, Queens (1957), and then on to Albuquerque (Rio Rancho) with my English mother where they both died. My Dad was a bombardier – navigator.  He also ran track in the R.A.F.

[Source: Mr Andrew Michael Gordon, Jamaica}

MelissaGordon adds:
The 2nd row 1st on the left is my Dad, F/O Egbert A Gordon from Jamaica. He left Jamaica to join the RAF with his lifetime friend, Vincent A Bunting and they flew and served with distinction together. Both married British ladies and had British born children, Dad had 3 in England 1 in New York, Vin had 1 in England, 1 in Antigua and 1 in Jamaica. At the end of the war, Dad took his family to New York where his Mother had migrated, and Vincent Bunting moved to Antigua, and then later back to Jamaica. This photo has always been in our family along with many more from Dad’s RAF days and we are proud of his service and to identify our loving Father on this site. [Source: Melissa Gordon]

MASSIAH – Percy St.C.

605662 – P.St.C. Massiah – Trinidad – attested 5.9.43 – Sgt. Navigator #31 PD 3.11.44 – UK 18.12.44

[Source: NA AIR 2/6876]

A group of colored RAF-officers. Front row, from left: [1] unknown, from Jamaica or Belize; [2] Dusty Miller, from Guyana; [3] S/L Corbett (liason); [4] Ulric Cross, from Trinidad; [5] Johnny Smythe, from Sierra Leone; [6] Vivian Rivero, from Trinidad; (previously erroneously identified as: Mark Walker, from Trinidad);
Second row from left: [1] E.A. Gordon from Jamaica; [4] Percy Massiah, from Trinidad; [5] possibly his brother C.A. Massiah from Trinidad; [6] Vivian Thomas from Manchester, Jamaica; [7] Jellicoe Scoon from Grenada. Third row from left: [1] E.R Braithwaite from Guyana? The rest are as yet unknown to us. We invite our visitors to share the names of any person they recognise. [Names courtesy P.L.U. Cross a.o.; Photograph courtesy Audrey Elcombe, copyright unknown - click to enlarge]  

MASSIAH – C.A.

605661 – C.A. Massiah – Trinidad – attested 5.9.43 – Sgt. Navigator UK 13.10.44

[Source: NA AIR 2/6876]

A group of colored RAF-officers. Front row, from left: [1] unknown, from Jamaica or Belize; [2] Dusty Miller, from Guyana; [3] S/L Corbett (liason); [4] Ulric Cross, from Trinidad; [5] Johnny Smythe, from Sierra Leone; [6] Vivian Rivero, from Trinidad; (previously erroneously identified as: Mark Walker, from Trinidad);
Second row from left: [1] E.A. Gordon from Jamaica; [4] Percy Massiah, from Trinidad; [5] possibly his brother C.A. Massiah from Trinidad; [6] Vivian Thomas from Manchester, Jamaica; [7] Jellicoe Scoon from Grenada. Third row from left: [1] E.R Braithwaite from Guyana? The rest are as yet unknown to us. We invite our visitors to share the names of any person they recognise. [Names courtesy P.L.U. Cross a.o.; Photograph courtesy Audrey Elcombe, copyright unknown - click to enlarge]

WALKER – Mark M.

Pilot Officer – Pilot – Anson

Canada; PO Nov 1944

[Source: CMHA]

605563 – M.M.D. Walker – Trinidad – attested 7.4.43 – P/O Pilot UK 4.10.44
165933 – P/O – commissioned 11.8.44

[Source: NA AIR 2/6876]

A group of colored RAF-officers. Front row, from left: [1] unknown, from Jamaica or Belize; [2] Dusty Miller, from Guyana; [3] S/L Corbett (liason); [4] Ulric Cross, from Trinidad; [5] Johnny Smythe, from Sierra Leone; [6] Vivian Rivero, from Trinidad; (previously erroneously identified as: Mark Walker, from Trinidad);
Second row from left: [1] E.A. Gordon from Jamaica; [4] Percy Massiah, from Trinidad; [5] possibly his brother C.A. Massiah from Trinidad; [6] Vivian Thomas from Manchester, Jamaica; [7] Jellicoe Scoon from Grenada. Third row from left: [1] E.R Braithwaite from Guyana? The rest are as yet unknown to us. We invite our visitors to share the names of any person they recognise. [Names courtesy P.L.U. Cross a.o.; Photograph courtesy Audrey Elcombe, copyright unknown - click to enlarge] 

RIVERO – Vivian A.

Flying Officer – Rear Gunner – 91 Group, 47 Sqn – Lancaster

Served 43-1948. Air Ministry Logistics. Lives in England

[Source: CMHA]

Passed away in 2012 in Sussex, UK.

[Source: Levi Dexter, son of Mr. Rivero]

 

 

A group of colored RAF-officers. Front row, from left: [1] unknown, from Jamaica or Belize; [2] Dusty Miller, from Guyana; [3] S/L Corbett (liason); [4] Ulric Cross, from Trinidad; [5] Johnny Smythe, from Sierra Leone; [6] Vivian Rivero, from Trinidad; (previously erroneously identified as: Mark Walker, from Trinidad);
Second row from left: [1] E.A. Gordon from Jamaica; [4] Percy Massiah, from Trinidad; [5] possibly his brother C.A. Massiah from Trinidad; [6] Vivian Thomas from Manchester, Jamaica; [7] Jellicoe Scoon from Grenada. Third row from left: [1] E.R Braithwaite from Guyana? The rest are as yet unknown to us. We invite our visitors to share the names of any person they recognise. [Names courtesy P.L.U. Cross a.o.; Photograph courtesy Audrey Elcombe, copyright unknown - click to enlarge]  

CROSS – Philip Louis Ulric

 

1399189 – F/O – P.L.U. Cross – Trinidad – Ach/P. – attested 19.11.41 commissioned 20.10.423 – DFC 29.6.44 [Source: NA AIR 2/6876 - Nominal Roll of Coloured Candidates, October 1944] Squadron Leader – DFC, DSO – Observer – 139 (Jamaica) Sqn – Mosquito Received the DSO in recognition of his ‘fine example of keennes and devotion to duty’ and ‘exceptional navigational ability’ Born 1917, educated CIC, enlisted 1941; Bomber Command; 8 Group; Pathfinder Sqn; 80 missions; awarded DFC June 1944; DSO Nov 1944 Appears in Hornet Flight by Ken Follet [Source: CG, CMHA, MOD] Black Hornet Squadron Leader Philip Louis Ulric Cross, DSO, DFC (Trinidad & Tobago) 139 (Jamaica) Squadron RAF Bomber Command Squadron Leader Ulric Cross was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross (DFC) in 1944 for his gallantry during the Second World War. While serving as a Pilot Officer with 139 (Jamaica) Squadron, he participated in bombing attacks across occupied Europe. In 1945 he was also awarded the Distinguished Service Order (DSO) in recognition of his ‘fine example of keenness and devotion to duty’ and ‘exceptional navigational ability’. [MOD] Squadron Leader Ulric Cross was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross (DFC) in 1944 for his gallantry during the Second World War. While serving as a Pilot Officer with 139 (Jamaica) Squadron, he participated in bombing attacks across occupied Europe. In 1945 he was also awarded the Distinguished Service Order (DSO) in recognition of his ‘fine example of keenness and devotion to duty’ and ‘exceptional navigational ability’. [Source: www.WW2chat.com] World War II airman Ulric Cross recalls ‘The day I almost died’ 139 (Jamaica) Squadron Pathfinders

 

Picture right: A mixed group of RAF-officers.

A group of colored RAF-officers. Front row, from left: [1] unknown, from Jamaica or Belize; [2] Dusty Miller, from Guyana; [3] S/L Corbett (liason); [4] Ulric Cross, from Trinidad; [5] Johnny Smythe, from Sierra Leone; [6] Vivian Rivero, from Trinidad; (previously erroneously identified as: Mark Walker, from Trinidad);
Second row from left: [1] E.A. Gordon from Jamaica; [4] Percy Massiah, from Trinidad; [5] possibly his brother C.A. Massiah from Trinidad; [6] Vivian Thomas from Manchester, Jamaica; [7] Jellicoe Scoon from Grenada. Third row from left: [1] E.R Braithwaite from Guyana? The rest are as yet unknown to us. We invite our visitors to share the names of any person they recognise. [Names courtesy P.L.U. Cross a.o.; Photograph courtesy Audrey Elcombe, copyright unknown - click to enlarge] [Photographs: MOD (left) and AE]

Here is a photo of the legendary Squadron Leader (139 “Jamaica” Squadron)  Phillip Louis Ulric Cross, DFC, DSO, of Trinidad. He later held the position of Chief Liaison Officer for Demobilization of all Colonial Forces, ably assisted by Jamaican born Flight Lieutenant Dudley Thompson. Squadron Leader Cross is alive at 91 after having served as a Judge in Ghana, Cameroon, Tanzania and Trinidad. Later he served as ambassador of Trinidad and Tobago to Germany, France, Norway and High Commissioner to the UK.  Amazingly, he still writes opinion and is as lucid and aware as can be imagined. I am in regular contact with him and we are trying to bring him to the US for interviews preliminary to a documentary.[Picture below copyright Ean Flanders] 

 

 

 

 

 

Phillip Louis Ulric Cross, DFC, DSO World War II Royal Air Force Squadron Leader (139 “Jamaica Squadron”) Excerpt of April 2008 interview of by Gabriel J. Christian – For King & Country (Irving Andre & Gabriel Christian) After high school [at St. Mary’s Port of Spain], I worked for a while with the  [Trinidad] government on the railroad. But by 1941, Britain stood alone. Dunkirk had been a defeat for Britain and Hitler had conquered all of Europe. The world was drowning in fascism and America was not yet in the war, so I decided to do something about it and volunteered to fight in the RAF.  We took the ship Strathall for twelve days days, straight to Greenock. A lorry awaited us and took us straight into the uniform of the RAF and training. So from November 1941 to November 1942, I trained at Cranwell on the wireless, did meteorology, bomb aiming, navigation and Morse code. I graduated as a Pilot Officer and was assigned to Bomber Command I served as a navigator in the Pathfinder section of 139 squadron; the famous “Jamaica Squadron” of the RAF.  The pathfinders led the way on bombing raids and marked the target; a most dangerous task.  Our unit flew the famous Mosquito bomber, which was made mainly of wood. Jamaica had paid for many of the planes of 139 squadron, hence the name.  There was also a Trinidad Squadron, where Trinidad had paid for those planes. I was the only West Indian on my squadron. I was lucky to have served at fixed pre war bases such as Marham, Wyton and Upwood. The fixed bases were more comfortable. There were many other temporary bases which had been scattered across the United Kingdom.  I flew 30 missions over Germany and occupied Europe. After 30 missions one earns a rest and can divert to teaching other pilots etc. However, I was interested in continuing the mission. At 50 missions, they again asked me to take a rest. I declined and flew 80 missions over Germany and occupied Europe before the war ended.  I did 22 missions over Berlin and made it through much flak; but one had to focus on the mission. My most harrowing mission was when one of the engines of our Mosquito fighter-bomber was shot up over Germany and we came down to 7,000 feet from 35,000 feet. We struggled back to England and crash landed in a quarry. It was a narrow escape but we made it out alive. The navigator is key, as we are the ones who tell the pilot how to get to and from the destination or target.   I ended the war as a squadron leader and was then sent to the Colonial Office to act as liaison for all colonial forces. It was there that I was phoned and advised that I was awarded the DSO. A plane was sent for me and I was given the award and we had a party. In all 250 Trinidadians flew in combat in the RAF during the war and 50 died in action. Many hundreds more, maybe more than a thousand, served with other West Indians, as ground crew. I knew the Jamaican Vincent Bunting; he was a fighter pilot and I believe he flew in the Battle of Britain. I met him in England. Julian Marryshow of Grenada was also a fighter pilot and he is still alive, I believe.  Osborne (should read Osmond, see remark below) Kelsick of Montserrat was a fighter pilot. I met Michael Manley of Jamaica in London, still in the uniform of the Royal Canadian Air Force and we became friends.  Billy Strachan of Jamaica was a bomber pilot.  Winston Racile and Gilbert Hubah came to England with me on the Strathall; they were both of East Indian origin and became RAF fighter pilots. Our Trinidadian contingent also had people of Indian, Chinese and European origin.  I knew Dyrample of Dominica (Edward Scobie) and would meet him when we went down to London.  Dudley Thompson of Jamaica was a flight officer and he was my assistant at the Colonial Office after the war. [Courtesy Gabriel Christian]

 

 

‘Hero’ is a movie on the life and times of Ulric Cross. It opened the 2019 Caribbean Film Festival at the American Film Institute, Silver Spring, Maryland on the evening of June 6, 2019. The highly acclaimed new film was shot in Trinidad, the UK, Ghana, and Canada. Cross is portrayed by the lead actor Nikolai Salcedo of Trinidad. Funded by Republic Bank of Trinidad & Tobago, the film boasts an all-star international and Pan African cast including Jamaican born Peter Williams, the UK’s Joseph Marcel, Fraser James, and Pippa Nixon; Ghanaian superstars John Dumelo and Adjetey Anang.

Read more on Dominicanewsonline

 

 

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