‘BRITISH WEST INDIES REGIMENT’ Was established 26th October 1915 at Seaford, East Sussex from West Indies volunteers: ‘A’ Company from British Guiana, ‘B’ Company from Trinidad, ‘C’ Company from Trinidad & St. Vincent and ‘D’ Company from Grenada & Barbados.
An audience will be gathering at Seaford Station, Station Approach, East Sussex, BN25 2AR, on the afternoon of Monday, 12th March, for the unveiling of a Blue Plaque to celebrate ‘BRITISH WEST INDIES REGIMENT’. The unveiling, has been organised by the Nubian Jak Community Trust, with support from the councils of Seaford, Lewes and East Sussex.
It is expected war veterans, in-service men and women, the Mayor of Seaford, Seaford Railway Staff, along with members of the general public and the media - will be in attendance.
In 1914 many West Indians left the colonies to enlist in the army in the UK, and were recruited into British regiments. The 1st Battalion was formed in September 1915 at Seaford, West Sussex, England. It was made up of men from; British Guiana—A Company, Trinidad—B Company, Trinidad and St Vincent—C Company and Grenada and Barbados—D Company.
The regiment’s battalions saw service in East Africa, Egypt, Palestine, Jordan, France and Italy.
A total of 397 officers and 15,204 other ranks served in the British West Indies Regiment. It was a volunteer regiment consisting of troops from the British colonies of the West Indies, which served on the Western Front and in the Middle East during the First World War. The Regiment was awarded 5 DSOs, 9 MCs, 2 MBEs, 8 DCMs, 37 MMs and 49 Mentions in Dispatches.
Jak Beula CEO of the Nubian Jak Community Trust, said: "At noon on Commonwealth Day 2018 (March 12th) the installation of a WWI Blue Plaque on Seaford station will finally be unveiled. The project started 2 and half years ago in Seaford, and we are delighted to have the support of Seaford, Lewes and East Sussex councils, as well as the local community, who will commemorate the role the town played in the historic formation of the British West Indies Regiment in 1915."
Beulah Coombs, Lecturer and Niece of a WW1 BWIR Private, said: “It is a great privilege to be included in the proceedings to commemorate and honour soldiers from the West Indies, who fought for Britain in WW1. Recognition and acknowledgement of their brave contributions to the war effort have been long overdue. My uncle, Private Robert Smith, of the 7th Battalion of the British West Indies Regiment, and whose grave is in Belgium, was one of those who made the ultimate sacrifice. My relatives and I are extremely proud of his and his comrades’ legacies.”
Thomas Exley, Young Mayor of Seaford Town Council, said: “It is fantastic that the British West Indies Regiment will be recognised in Seaford with a plaque for their service during the war. During WW1 81 medals were awarded for bravery and 49 mentioned in dispatches and perhaps this plaque can be seen as Seaford’s honour to the men for their incredible bravery.”
Robert A Peedle MBE, Chairman, Seahaven Branch The Royal Society of St George & Volunteer Broadcaster, Seahaven FM, said: "I have two interests in this day, one that as Chairman of the Seahaven Branch of The Royal Society of St George we always support the annual commemoration at the Seaford Cemetery of the West Indian, Canadian and Irish troops who served and died here during the First World War. This is always well supported by members of our branch.
My other interest is that as a Volunteer Broadcaster on SeahavenFM (96.3fm) my programme, Forces on Parade is always conscious of the great contribution members of the armed forces from our then colonies and now the Commonwealth have made over the centuries to the defence of the Realm. Their efforts and commitment should never be forgotten which is why this plaque at Seaford Railway Station is so important."
Jon Freeman, Seaford to Brighton Line Director, said: "Sussex CRP and Seaford Station are pleased to host the unveiling of a blue plaque on behalf of the British West Indies Regiment. Seaford Station has recently celebrated 150 years of being a railway town with a steam train coming to add to the historic moment. Now the Regiment will re-capture their past influence in Seaford following the unveiling, with a reception, in the Steamrollers Craft Bar enjoying their hospitality and maybe tasting some of the 150 craft beers brewed in Sussex further bringing the station concourse to life. The old and the new meet yet again in memory of our heritage!!”