Britain’s Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Friday called for greater acknowledgement of the role of black and Asian troops in World War II, ahead of Remembrance Sunday commemorations. “Volunteers from India, Africa and the Caribbean made an immense contribution to victory,” he said in a message to the Remember Together campaign, co-organised by the Royal British Legion, a charity that helps veterans.
Johnson cited the examples of the British Indian Army — the “largest volunteer force in history” — and the 14th army, which was made up of a majority of Commonwealth troops.
“I am delighted to remember their sacrifice and celebrate their achievement,” he said.
Labour leader Keir Starmer, who has sought to stamp out anti-Semitism in his party, also stressed the commemorations “remember those of every creed and colour”.
The party leaders’ comments came ahead of the weekend’s traditional commemoration ceremonies, for the fallen and veterans of all conflicts since World War I, which will be reduced in scope due to anti-coronavirus restrictions.
The Remember Together campaign last week released an open letter lamenting that the contributions of black and Asian soldiers in World War II “have been forgotten”.
It was signed by figures including London Mayor Sadiq Khan and Johnson’s former finance minister Sajid Javid, both British-born Asian politicians.
The call to give equal weight to the war role of ethnic minorities comes as the Black Lives Matter campaign has sparked angry protests in Britain and the tearing-down of a statue of a slave trader in the southwestern city of Bristol.