Black History: War memorial to black servicemen unveiled

A woman who lost her father and brothers in World War Two has won a 26-year campaign for a memorial to all black and ethnic minority soldiers.

Patti Flynn, 81, said the sacrifices of servicemen and women from diverse backgrounds had been “forgotten” and deserved special recognition.

A plaque was unveiled at the Welsh National War Memorial in Cardiff on Saturday in a ceremony with 200 people.

Ms Flynn said it was a “very emotional” ceremony.

She was born two years before the outbreak of World War Two, in what was then known as Tiger Bay in the docks area of Cardiff, and said she still remembered bombs falling in her street.

Her father Wilmott Young – who was born in Jamaica but married a Welsh woman after coming to south Wales as a seaman during the coal boom – enlisted to the Armed Forces, along with his two sons who lied about their ages so they could join up.

Ms Flynn’s brother Jocelyn Young was aboard a merchant navy boat that was torpedoed in the North Atlantic in 1940 and her father, also in the merchant navy, died a similar way a year later.

In 1944, Patti lost her older brother Sgt Arthur Young, a wireless operator in the RAF, when his damaged Lancaster bomber crashed returning from France.

Sgt Arthur Young
Sgt Arthur Young was one of three men from the same family who died in World War Two. Image copyright: Family Photo
A crew aboard a merchant navy ship
A crew aboard a merchant navy ship during World War Two. Image copyright: National Museum Wales

“I grew up with so many friends who didn’t have fathers or brothers,” she said.

“I was just a baby when my father and brothers were killed in the war. As I got older I realised what my mother and so many other women and families went through.”

Plaque with dedication
The plaque honouring those who fell. Image copyright: Race Council CYMRU

“People have asked me where I came from but they don’t realise my ancestors have been here since the early-1900s and my father and brothers died for their country,” said Ms Flynn.

“They all signed up straight away to serve. There was no question of not doing their duty.

“But for so many from ethnic groups, their service has largely been forgotten and not acknowledged”.

Representatives on behalf of the Queen, the Armed Forces and Royal British Legion, as well as the Lord Mayor of Cardiff Daniel De’Ath, attended the unveiling service on Saturday.

Ms Flynn said it was “great day” that a tribute was being paid to “people of colour from all the different nationalities”.

Main image copyright: BBC

First published 02.11.19: https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-wales-50269303

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *