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World War I: Anniversaries

Foreign and Commonwealth Office written question – answered on 17th July 2017.

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Photo of Chi Onwurah Chi Onwurah Shadow Minister (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy) (Industrial Strategy)

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, what (a) steps the Government has taken and (b) funding has been committed to commemorating the role of African soldiers in the First World War.

Photo of Alan Duncan Alan Duncan Minister of State

Throughout the Government’s First World War commemorations programme we have ensured that all those who contributed to the Allied cause have been remembered and their sacrifice honoured. Representatives from African countries have been invited to all major commemorations in which their forces were involved, the next such event being the 3rd Battle of Ypres (Passchendaele) at the end of this month.

The first memorial to honour the men and women of Africa and the Caribbean who served during the First and Second World Wars was unveiled on 22 June in Brixton, a joint project by the Department of Communities and Local Government (DCLG), Lambeth Council, the Black Cultural Archive and the Nubian Jak Community Trust. DCLG also launched ‘The Unremembered’ project in February during the SS Mendi commemorations. This project, which is costing around £200,000 over two years, focuses on the role of Labour Corps in the First World War, including the South African Labour Corps. At least 200 community groups will be engaged in the project.

In respect of the commemoration of the 100thanniversary of the sinking of the SS Mendi, in which over 600 members of the South African Native Labour Corps lost their lives, the Government provided significant representational and logistical support, mainly through the Ministry of Defence, to South Africa for the events in Portsmouth, Southampton and at the wreck site off the Isle of Wight.

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