Curator’s Choice: West Indies Calling

14th October 2021

Clip from West Indies Calling, 1943 © IWM CCE 211  

Film Curator Fiona Kelly highlights a film in the IWM Collections for Black History Month

During the Second World War, thousands of men and women from across the West Indies joined up to fight for the Allied cause and many were stationed in Britain. This 1943 Ministry of Information film features a group of West Indians assembling at Broadcasting House in London.

The film was edited from a longer film, Hello! West Indies.  This version, for UK audiences, describes and illustrates how West Indians are supporting the war effort. The radio programme is introduced by Una Marson, the Jamaican feminist writer, activist and broadcaster and also appearing are cricketer Learie Constantine, Flying Officer Ulric Cross, Sergeant Pilot Jimmy Hyde and fireman George Arthur Roberts.

West Indies Calling reflects the relationship between Britain and the Empire (the West Indians have 'come over to help us'), but also endorses Britain's role in helping and 'developing' its colonies. Although the film does not address the racism faced by many of those involved, it highlights an element of ethnic diversity on the home front and offers a rare portrayal of black women's active involvement in the war.

Explore further examples of diverse voices in the IWM film collection  

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