Allan Wilmot




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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