About us

This site is an initiative of Cy Grant and Hans Klootwijk based on initial research done by Cy Grant for his own war memoir ‘A member of the RAF of Indeterminate Race‘.

Cy came down in Holland in the early hours of June 26th 1943 when his Lancaster bomber was shot down after a successful raid over Germany. The dramatic events of that night were thoroughly researched in the 1970s by Joost Klootwijk, who was only eleven years old when Cy’s bomber crashed into a farmhouse in his village. That research led to a detailed reconstruction of that fateful night and its aftermath.

At Cy’s request, the report of the incident was translated into English by Hans Klootwijk, the son of the researcher. Having completed the translation, Hans decided that the story was interesting enough to turn it into a little book.

The resulting publication is titled ‘Lancaster W4827: failed to return‘ and in recognition of the international composition of the crew – British, Canadian (both French and English-speaking) and Guyanese – it includes the appendix ‘Epilogue for a Commonwealth crew of a RAF bomber in World War II’.

This booklet also contained a copy of the list of Caribbean aircrew who served in the RAF during World War II as published in Cy’s war memoir. This was by no means a complete list, since only about seventy names – some fifteen percent of the total – were known to the author at that time.

So what about the hundreds of names that seemed to have been forgotten? In May 2008 Cy went to Holland to visit Joost and the places and people that were connected to the crash of 1943. This visit was recorded by BBC London and broadcast to support the initiative for a Memorial for the crews of Bomber Command.

[Film: copyright BBC/Kurt Barling; To view in higher resolution click here]

Wanting to ensure that this time the Caribbean contribution would not be overlooked, Cy set out to collect more names and stories of West Indians who came to Europe to fight the war. Through his personal network he contacted some prominent researchers who were able to provide many additional names to the list of aircrew.

Jerome Lee of the Military & History Museum at Chaguaramas in Trinidad provided excellent and extensive records of Trinidadians who enlisted in the RAF. Researcher Audrey Dewjee in the UK made many valued contributions too.

Seeing the increasing amount of information, but at the same time realising there must be so much more out there, Hans Klootwijk decided to join the effort and go public with this website. Thus offering an opportunity to those interested to fill in a great void in the record of the history of the Second World War.

Since we started this website on October 17th 2008, many valuable contributions have come forward from a wide variety of sources.

At the House of Lords

Cy Grant was posthumously honoured at House of Lords on 12 March 2010 as an “inspirational example” of how black men and women fought alongside white Servicemen and women in two world wars. From left: Joost Klootwijk, Sami Moxon (Cy Grant’s youngest daughter, holding a plaque honouring her father), Hans Klootwijk, Dr. Kurt Barling, The Rt Hon. Baroness Scotland. Hans Klootwijk gave a brief presentation about the website www.caribbeanaircrew-ww2.com at the occasion that was organised by the Bomber Command Association as part of the bid for the Bomber Command Memorial. [Photo: SAC Stewart Paterson; RAF/MOD Crown Copyright 2010]


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