Hidden Heroes: Soldiers from the Empire

A Research and Oral History Project

by Eastside Community Heritage and Middlesex University




 In 1914, the sun could never set on the British Empire. The Empire included the Caribbean, parts of Africa, India and even parts of the Far East. The British Army were poorly prepared for a large scale war, and was less than a quarter the size of the German forces. The King called out to the Empire for assistance:

“I rejoice in my Empire’s effort, and I feel pride in the voluntary response from my Subjects all over the world who have sacrificed home, fortune and life itself in order that another may not inherit the free Empire which their ancestors and mine have built. I ask you to make good these sacrifices.”

During the war 16,000 men from the Caribbean died, one million Africans died, and over one million Indian Soldiers served. Some enlisted into older Empire regiments like the West India Regiment. Others came to London to join other white British regiments.

Many men from the Empire who were already living in the UK joined local regiments. The war time spirit saw these men enlisting with pride to fight for their ‘Motherland’. They were not always welcomed.

Hidden Heroes: Soldiers from the Empire is a project from Eastside Community Heritage and Middlesex University. Hidden Heroes brings the untold tales of the soldiers from the empire who fought in the First World War to the surface. Students and volunteers collected stories and memories from relatives of these soldiers using oral history techniques. Please use the menu bar or buttons below to explore material collected.


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