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The British Commonwealth and the Second World War

Amelia King

= This symbol after a link means that it links to catalogue descriptions of the documents (including the reference numbers which will help you to order up the original documents at the MRC).

= This symbol after a link means that it links to digitised copies of the documents.


The Modern Records Centre has a small number of documents relating to race relations in Britain during the Second World War, including the employment of Commonwealth nationals on war work. Examples are given below.

Selected sources:

'Down with colour bar'Link opens in a new window, October 1942

Article published in the anarchist journal 'War Commentary'. It refers to British attitudes to segregation within sections of the US Army stationed in Britain, rather than to Commonwealth workers in the UK.

'West Indian workers in Britain'Link opens in a new window, 1942

Pamphlet by A.R. Watson

'They tried putting a colour ban on harvests'Link opens in a new window, 1943

Leaflet for a protest meeting against racial discrimination, issued by Holborn Trades Council. It includes references to the cases of Amelia King and Leary Constantine.

Visit to West Indian technicians in BoltonLink opens in a new window, 1943

Report on the conditions, treatment and morale of the West Indian wartime workers, written by Cedric O.J. Matthews of the International Labour Office. This copy of the report was sent to the British Trades Union Congress.

'The colour bar'Link opens in a new window, undated [1943-1945]

Text of lecture by Dr Harold A. Moody (founder of the League of Coloured Peoples) on racial discrimination, particularly in Britain.

'India: Trainees in Britain'Link opens in a new window, 1940-1946

Trades Union Congress file. It contains correspondence, etc., regarding the training of Indian munitions workers and technicians in Britain under the Bevin Training Scheme; threat of industrial action at Alfred Herbert Ltd, Coventry; and training of Indian civil servants.

Post-war experiences of an Indian Bevin traineeLink opens in a new window, 1946

Letter from C.F.N. Pinto to his former employer A.P. Young after his return to India (including information about the employment situation), with letter from Ernest Bevin to Young commenting on Pinto's letter.