Big Ideas and the British Army hosted the launch event of The Unremembered: World War One’s Army of Workers 2018 at the National Army Museum on Saturday 20 January. Groups of Uniformed Youth came together for a unique day of activities and performances dedicated to the support men from the Caribbean who contributed to the war effort during World War One.
From six to sixteen, more than 60 young people from across Greater London came together to remember this rarely acknowledged story, including Cadets, Scouts and St John’s Ambulance from a number of London boroughs.
The Unremembered project is a national campaign to remember World War One’s army of workers – the Labour Corps. The Labour Corps cooked, cleaned, carried and cared for the soldiers on the front line and behind the lines. They built roads and railways, carried the wounded and buried the dead. Chinese, Canadian, British, Indian, this is a global story.
During the event, the National Army Museum curators explained the history of Caribbean soldiers in the British Army, and guests took part in a ‘treasure hunt’ to explore artifacts in the museum collection. The attendees were treated to a ‘Remember Through Music’ performance by St Michael’s Youth Project – a community youth group from North London who played music from the period on steel pans. ALT Actor Training brought to life the Unremembered Voices: the Caribbean story script, which includes first-hand accounts and poetry by the men from the British West Indies Regiment or from the region at the time.
The British West Indies Regiment were commemorated in the ‘Unremembered memorial’, where participants held up the names of men from the Regiment who are buried or commemorated in the United Kingdom.
The Unremembered Wreath Challenge
The event also launched The Unremembered Wreath Challenge, a nationwide challenge for community groups and schools across the country to create wreaths for each of the members of the Commonwealth in time for the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) which takes places in London in April.
The young people on the day took part in interactive workshops making their own wreaths out of felt in the colours of the flags from the Caribbean.
Community groups and schools are invited to take part in the challenge and make a wreath in memory of the Labour Corps from around the world. Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org to take part.
Big Ideas are working with the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) to commemorate the Commonwealth story. The wreaths chosen will represent Commonwealth member countries and will be laid for remembrance in November 2018.
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Images by Michael Nolan.
This article was amended on 9 April 2018.