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This is the memorial in St Andrew's Church, Handsworth.

 

 

 

 

 

 

ESME LANCASTER

Esme in the 1950s and again recently with fellow MBE winner and community activist. Eunice McGhie-Belgrave MBE

PROFILE: ESME LANCASTER MBE

Born :1 Mar 1917- Died: January 2009
Place of Birth: Willington, Jamaica
Wartime Role: Relative of veterans of World War II

"We came from every country in the Caribbean to fight for Britain and then came to
live here to build the country up after the war but Black people were not treated well."

"I had seven members of my family go to war; four in the RAF - two cousins and two uncles -
and three female cousins in the Women's Territorial Auxiliary Service. I was 22 and living in
Jamaica when the (Second World) war started and I could have signed up but I had already
decided to become a teacher but I am glad my relatives went
"I thought they were great, very adventurous. They were happy to go - some people even lied
about their ages to be old enough to qualify! In our parish in Jamaica, the young men wanted
to join the RAF because of the smart uniforms! We weren't worried about them going to fight
because we had no understanding of what war was all about They all came back safe and well
but we realised what they had gone through when they told us their stories.
"Some things were scarce during the war years but Jamaicans are resourceful people! We
learned how to extract salt from seawater and use breadfruit juice/ coconut oil to replace
kerosene oil (paraffin) for our heat and light We repeatedly washed and dried out the ink from
flour bags and used the material to make clothing.
"We came from every country in the Caribbean to fight for Britain and then came to live here to
build the country up after the war but Black people were not treated well. I couldn't get a
teaching job for a long time when I first came here in 1950. We had to do refresher courses
even though the qualifications we had were superior to the ones teachers had in England.
"It is good that the Armed Services are going into schools to tell young people about careers in
the Forces but the Services need to recognise the achievements, differences and cultural
needs of Black people."

Esme could read the Bible from cover to cover by the age of four! She went on to open three
nurseries, write two anthologies, an autobiography and foster 42 children! She was honoured
with an MBE in the Queen's Birthday Honours for services to the community in 2000.

 Click to go BACK TO TOP of page STETCHFORD VETERAN'S HISTORIES to view more Veterans

ERNIE HUDSON

PROFILE: ERNIE HUDSON
Born: 22 June 1924 in Birmingham
Wartime Role: Engineering worker/ member of Royal Navy during Second World War

"The only time I feared for my life was while we were in the Far East in the spring/
summer of 1945."

"I was in the Air Training Corps* since I was 15 and I wanted to go into the Royal Air Force when the war was on. I was working at an engineering factory Witton in Birmingham. I had studied engineering at Handsworth Technical College (now called City College Handsworth). I was called up to the join the Navy in 1944 and became a stoker aboard the ship, HMS Glory. It was my job to keep the coal-powered ships fuelled up.
I travelled all over the Pacific Ocean and around Australia on duty. Perhaps the best part of it was rounding up Japanese troops who had surrendered in Borneo. The only time I feared for my life was while we were in the Far East in the spring/ summer of 1945.

The Europe had surrendered in May 1945 but the Japanese didn't until August 1945.I missed homewhile I was at war but I didn't think about it too much.I had been in the Air Training Corps so I wasn't badly affected by being at war.
Before I signed up, I remember not being able to use electric lights during wartime. It was all candles. Birmingham was a big target for the Nazis and there were factories in Birmingham that made bullets and weapons for the war effort. "I left the Navy in 1947, but I remained on reserve until 1950 but I wasn't called back. I went back to working in a factory and met my late wife Vera May Tongue in 1953.1 have a son and two grandchildren, so far!
Life as a youngster was much better in my day. Young people today are so pressured by education and work."

* The Air Training Corps was founded in 1938 as The Air Defence Cadet Corps by John Adrian Chamier, a British veteran of World War 1 who wanted to provide a means for young men to train and learn more about aviation. It was renamed the Air Training Corps in February 1941 when the government took control of it Ernie thinks it is great that opportunities exist for young people to learn more about the Armed Forces.

 

"On the left the Instrument of Surrender, the document that officially announced the defeat of the Japanese trooops in September 1945, and on the right my medals."

Click to go BACK TO TOP of page STETCHFORD VETERAN'S HISTORIES to view more Veterans

 

WILLIAM FLEMING QCB

left-William's father, Henry Roland Fleming, a Sapper during World War I.

right-Birmingham Mail Journalist Veron Graham(left) interviews William Fleming(right) with Mrs McGhie-Belgrave

w stephens

mrs stephens

William Stephens (left) with Veron Graham, and Mrs Stephens (right)

Bryan Scott

a veteran of the Kuwait crisis ,now pastor of Cannon street Baptist Church in Handsworth

left

 

 

D.BUTLER LAND ARMY

 

 

 


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