Allan Wilmot

Alan-Wilmott-BW

LISTEN TO ALLAN WILMOT 30 MINUTE INTERVIEW HERE:

Biography

Interview with Allan Wilmot about his life in the military and in England since the 1940s.

Born in 1925 in Jamaica he speaks of his early life in Jamaica; his family background; colonial system in Jamaica; enlisting in the British Royal Navy after leaving college in 1941; working on a minesweeper the HMS Hauken; transferring to the Royal Air Force Marine Section during Second World War.

First experiences in Europe; first sight of snow; reactions from British people and their ignorance about the West Indies; encountering poor White people.

Rescue missions to recover pilots from water; danger of military service and casualties; return to Jamaica at the end of the War; lack of opportunities for Black people in the Merchant Navy.

Lack of rehabilitation for Jamaicans who had served in the British forces; return to England in 1947 because of lack of opportunities in Jamaica; negative reception from British people compared to when he was in military service; challenge of finding accommodation.

Finding job as dishwasher at the Cumberland Hotel; issue about citizenship for Jamaicans; West Indians being invited to come to England on the Windrush to work in factories.

Allan’s brother Harold move to England on the Windrush in 1948; his appearance in famous picture on the deck of the Windrush with two other men; starting a singing group; gradual improvement in living conditions; joining together with other West Indians to pay deposits on houses in pardner savings scheme.

Travelling around Europe with singing group The Southlanders; encountering racism and ignorance; explanation of the group’s name; some of the songs they sang.

Being targeted by police; successful records with The Southlanders; resignation from show business; working as telephone operator, difficulty of getting into the profession.

His retirement; his family; meeting his Jamaican wife when she moved to England to work as a nurse in the 1960s; spread of Black culture to White people, e.g. the Jitterbug; antagonism from White American servicemen in England.

Service with the West Indians Ex-Servicemen Association [now the West Indian Association of Service Personnel] after his retirement; stories of meeting politician Boris Johnson, Prince Charles, and Queen Elizabeth II; final reflections on his life; wrote an autobiography [published in 2015]; message to young people, encouragement to get a good education.

 

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