The British West Indies Regiment (BWIR) was formed as a separate Black unit within the British Army. The first recruits sailed from Jamaica to Britain and arrived in October 1915 to train at a camp near Seaford on the Sussex coast.
The 3rd battalion arrived in early 1916 in Plymouth while other battalions sailed direct to Egypt, arriving in Alexandria in March 1916.
However, the Black soldiers of the BWIR were mostly led by white officers and used as non-combatant soldiers in Egypt, Mesopotamia and parts of Europe.
The BWIR spent much of their time at labouring work, such as loading ammunition, laying telephone wires and digging trenches, but they were not permitted to fight as a battalion.
They travelled to the ‘Mother Country’ from the Caribbean at their own expense, to take part in the fight against the Germans.
WALTER TULL has become the most celebrated black British soldier of the First World War. He enlisted in December 1914, suffered shell shock, returned to action in the battle of the Somme and was decorated with the 1914-15 star and other British war and victory medals. He was commissioned as an officer in 1917.
Tull was mentioned in dispatches for his 'gallantry and coolness' at the battle of Piave in Italy in January 1918.
However, two months later he was killed in No Man's Land during the second battle of the Somme.