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Coloured pilots - in the RAF?

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  • DazDaMan
    Rank 5 Registered User
    • Aug 2003
    • 18606

    Coloured pilots - in the RAF?

    Having read about the new developments concerning George Lucas' Red Tails film project, I feel compelled to ask a question that could turn out to have a very straightforward answer - but then again, maybe not.

    Were there ever any black/Afro-Caribbean pilots in the RAF during the Second World War?

    I recall one of the characters in the HBO TV-movie, The Tuskegee Airmen, having had some combat experience with the RAF (like so many Americans did before the US entered the war). But, of course, this is a film, albeit one based on actual events.

    So, the question remains: did a black pilot ever serve with the Royal Air Force during the war??
    Daren Cogdon

    Spitfire fanatic
  • Rlangham
    Rank 5 Registered User
    • May 2005
    • 2818

    #2
    More than just one i'd imagine - I once had a supply teacher whose grandfather, a black Jamaican, flew Lancaster's

    There's the story of a Jamaican Lanc pilot here http://www.mgtrust.org/car2.htm
    Up, down, flying around, looping the loop and defying the ground

    http://electric-edwardians.blogspot.com

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/roblangham

    Comment

    • DazDaMan
      Rank 5 Registered User
      • Aug 2003
      • 18606

      #3
      Cheers for that. There's also a story regarding an African navigator, Johnny Smythe, on this page: http://www.mgtrust.org/afr2.htm
      Daren Cogdon

      Spitfire fanatic

      Comment

      • Mark12
        MEANS MOTIVE OPPORTUNITY
        • Jan 2000
        • 10817

        #4
        At least one Typhoon pilot.

        I have a unit group image.

        Mark
        "...the story had been forensically examined and was deeply impressive. I knew that the whole story was a load of myth and baloney"

        Comment

        • Monsun
          Rank 5 Registered User
          • Jul 2008
          • 285

          #5
          P/O W.E. Recile from Trinidad and Tobago flew Spitfires with 64 and 1 Squadrons in 1944/45

          Peter

          Comment

          • J Boyle
            With malice towards none
            • Oct 2004
            • 9588

            #6
            E. R. Braithwaite, the author of "To Sir With with Love" (a book remembered for its film and theme song) was a pilot with the RAF.
            Last edited by J Boyle; 4th March 2009, 21:29.
            There are two sides to every story. The truth is usually somewhere between the two.

            Comment

            • Nosmo King
              Rank 5 Registered User
              • Feb 2008
              • 61

              #7
              Coloured Pilots

              There were a number of aircrew from the W.I's.that served in the RAF during W11. The 1948 Olympic 400m Gold Medalist Arthur Wint who represented
              Jamaica at the Wembley games served as a Pilot Officer, I believe he was a
              Fighter pilot. Wint ran for GB during the 50's. He qualified as a Doctor at London'
              St Bartholomew's Hospital and later became the Jamaican High Commissioner to
              London.

              Comment

              • DazDaMan
                Rank 5 Registered User
                • Aug 2003
                • 18606

                #8
                Thanks for the info, chaps.

                It just strikes me that I've never seen anything about coloured pilots in the RAF at all (save for the odd Indian)....
                Daren Cogdon

                Spitfire fanatic

                Comment

                • Peter Garner
                  Rank 5 Registered User
                  • Dec 2007
                  • 404

                  #9
                  Halifax LW 648 was named after her Nigerian wireless operator "The Black Prince". As she was 'A' of 76 Squadron "Achtung!" was placed before "TBP". This info comes from 'Halifax Special' by Bruce Robertson. Unfortunatly his name is not mentioned.

                  Peter
                  Attached Files

                  Comment

                  • Richard gray
                    Rank 5 Registered User
                    • Jan 2006
                    • 489

                    #10
                    It's surpising how many different nationalities served in the RAF.
                    In the Roll of honour for Foulsham nfk airfield
                    is Sgt R.Mc Boswell 180 sqdn Fl672 27th Feb 43 (argentina)
                    F/O J.P. Toeg 98 sqdn FL216 24th June 43 (Shanghai China)
                    so guess it was a real mixed bunch.

                    Comment

                    • EN830
                      Ex UNGUE LEONEN
                      • Jan 2000
                      • 5107

                      #11
                      263 Sqn had an Indian (though I always believed he was a Sri Lankan) who flew both Whirlwinds and Typhoons, Sgt Sayanapuram Duraiswamy Thyagarajan . He is buried in France close to where he crashed.

                      See here for more information :- Tiger
                      Ian

                      Government Volunteer

                      Comment

                      • Ant.H
                        Rank 5 Registered User
                        • Jan 2000
                        • 3015

                        #12
                        Flt Lt Htin Yain Lao was a Burmese RAFVR pilot on 257 (Burma) sqn. According to Roger A Freeman's "The Royal Air Force of World War Two in Colour", he was the only Burmese airman in Europe. He was killed when his aircraft crashed in a snowstorm returning from an Op on 20 Jan '45.

                        Picture below shows him standing on the stbd wheel.
                        Attached Files
                        Last edited by Ant.H; 22nd September 2014, 00:09.
                        "Talking about airplanes is a very pleasant mental disease." Sergei Sikorsky

                        Comment

                        • Fleet16b
                          Fleet Pilot
                          • Aug 2006
                          • 262

                          #13
                          Don't know how many served in the RAF but there were many that came over to Canada, trained in the BCATP and then went on to serve overseas.
                          One that definitely comes to mind is our former Lt Gov. The Right Hon. Lincoln Alexander.
                          A great man, much loved in Ontario and a member of the Order of Canada.

                          Comment

                          • Mark12
                            MEANS MOTIVE OPPORTUNITY
                            • Jan 2000
                            • 10817

                            #14
                            Originally posted by Mark12 View Post
                            At least one Typhoon pilot.

                            I have a unit group image.

                            Mark
                            Jamaican, Howard Kelsick of 175 Squadron here at B.5.

                            Foreground second left.

                            Mark

                            "...the story had been forensically examined and was deeply impressive. I knew that the whole story was a load of myth and baloney"

                            Comment

                            • Hatton
                              _
                              • Jan 2000
                              • 1392

                              #15
                              http://www.electricegg.co.uk/Photography#pic19

                              Cy Grant of course and Ulric Cross

                              Ulric here http://www.search.co.tt/trinidad/ulriccross/index.html

                              Cys website has some details of his wartime experiences

                              http://nestene1.users.btopenworld.co.../index_01.html

                              best wishes

                              Steve
                              sigpic

                              Comment

                              • Hatton
                                _
                                • Jan 2000
                                • 1392

                                #16
                                http://www.electricegg.co.uk/Into_the_Wind

                                brief comments by Cy in the video too.

                                best wishes

                                Steve
                                sigpic

                                Comment

                                • Firebird
                                  Avons with attitude
                                  • Mar 2003
                                  • 2136

                                  #17
                                  IIRC there was one Jamaican listed as flying in the Battle of Britain.....I don't know if it's the same guy that appears in that well known photo of the clutch of pilots in winter flying gear standing with Malan...??
                                  I was with it all the way until letting the brakes off..........

                                  Comment

                                  • DazDaMan
                                    Rank 5 Registered User
                                    • Aug 2003
                                    • 18606

                                    #18
                                    Excellent stuff, guys.

                                    I'm not sure the BNP would appreciate the irony, somehow! :diablo:
                                    Daren Cogdon

                                    Spitfire fanatic

                                    Comment

                                    • JDK
                                      JDK
                                      Mr Tweed
                                      • Sep 2003
                                      • 8443

                                      #19
                                      The Imperial War Museum, Lambeth, has 'From War to Windrush' on show at the moment:

                                      http://london.iwm.org.uk/server/show/conEvent.2377

                                      "To mark the sixtieth anniversary of the arrival of the MV Empire Windrush in Britain in 1948, this exhibition will tell the personal stories of the involvement of Black men and women from the West Indies and Britain in the First and Second World Wars."

                                      The black contribution to Britain's freedom is often underestimated.
                                      Last edited by JDK; 5th March 2009, 10:34.
                                      James K

                                      Looking and thinking...
                                      Vintage Aero Writer: Blog & Details

                                      Comment

                                      • Credible Sport
                                        Rank 5 Registered User
                                        • Jan 2004
                                        • 335

                                        #20
                                        Mark12

                                        Your PMs inbox is full! Could you please make some room in it. I wish to send you a PM.

                                        CS
                                        Now officially a 'Senior Citizen'

                                        Comment

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