History archive

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The British Overseas Territories in World War One

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The period 2014-18 will see commemorations which touch on every aspect of the First World War. The Government’s programme has been designed to remember the commitment made to all those who contributed to the war effort, regardless of who or when. 

 

The 14 Overseas Territories have long, vibrant and varied histories and many were inextricably entwined in the war effort. This page aims to increase awareness, both in the UK and in the Overseas Territories, of the roles played by those who – purely out of choice – remain an important part of our family of nations.  


Fascinating facts from the Overseas Territories


Anguilla

Who survived being missing for three days after being buried by a German bombing raid?

Pte Peter A. Carter, British West Indies Regiment, Anguilla. Peter left Anguilla in 1915 for Britain where he underwent four months of rigorous training before joining the British West Indies Regiment in campaigns in France and Italy. In 1917 the unit in which Peter was serving was bombed by German warplanes. His foxhole was covered with debris and he was presumed dead having been missing for three days. Peter managed to dig himself out of his foxhole and was lucky to survive with only a wounded left leg in which a piece of shrapnel was embedded and which remained there until his sad passing in 1974. Peter was the only member of his unit to survive the bombing on that fateful day. He was the recipient of two medals: the Victory Medal and the British War Medal.


Bermuda

Whose names are recorded alongside those of the Lincolnshire Regiment in the Roll of Honour in Lincoln Cathedral?

Forty Bermudians of the Bermuda Volunteer Rifle Corps were killed whilst serving with the 1st Battalion the Lincolnshire Regiment – over 75% of their original number.

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Montserrat

Which Caribbean Island donated £250 of guava jelly for convalescing wounded patients?

Montserrat. Montserrat also donated £1,000 (equivalent to over £40,000 today)


St. Helena, Tristan da Cunha & Ascension

Which island housed the detained pro-German pretender to the Sultanate of Zanzibar?

Sayyid Khalid bin Barghash Al-Busaid  was the sixth Sultan of Zanzibar. Khalid briefly ruled Zanzibar seizing power after the sudden death of his cousin. Britain refused to recognize his claim to the throne, citing a treaty from 1866 which stated that a new Sultan could only accede to the throne with British permission, resulting in the Anglo-Zanzibar War in which Khalid's palace and harem were shelled by British vessels for 38 minutes before surrender was received. Khalid fled his palace to take refuge in the German consulate from which he was smuggled to German East Africa where he received political asylum. He was captured by British forces in February 1917 before being ultimately exiled to Saint Helena until 1921.


Gibraltar

The Royal Garrison Artillery were commended by the Army Council for repelling an attack by enemy submarines on which Fortress?

Gibraltar. During the First World War the Battery frequently engaged German submarines. On the night of 31 December 1915 enemy submarines attacked the fortress; the South Mole Battery and Elbow Battery, manned by Rogers's Company, opened fire on the enemy and managed to drive them off. The Army Council wrote to congratulate the Battery on its actions:

"Relative to an engagement of hostile submarines on the night of 31st December 1915, I am commanded by the Army Council to say that they concur in the view expressed by you, that this occurrence reflects great credit on the vigilance and training of the Royal Garrison Artillery"

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Falkland Islands

How did the actions of a sheep station manager’s wife in December 1915 lead to her becoming the islands’ first holder on an OBE?

In December 1915 two battle cruisers, Invincible and Inflexible supported by armoured cruisers, docked at Port Stanley.  On the 8th December Muriel Felton, the wife of the manager of a sheep station at Fitzroy, alerted the squadron that German ships were approaching the islands. Her maids  took turns riding to the top of a nearby hill to record the movements of the ships, which Felton relayed to Port Stanley by telephone which allowed the squadron to take up the best position to intercept. The Admiralty later presented the women with silver plates and Felton received an OBE for her actions, the first OBE awarded to a Falkland Islander.


Cayman Islands

Which territories contributed to the British West Indies Regiment?

Jamaica, Barbados, British Guiana and Trinidad and Tobago. In 1914 both the Cayman Islands and Turks and Caicos were both Dependencies of Jamaica and inevitably volunteered men to the Regiment.

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Promoting, Supporting and Increasing Awareness 

of 

Britain's Overseas Territories

Friends of the British Overseas Territories, Registered Charity No 1156763
A Charitable Incorporated Organisation, Registered in England and Wales Email: enquiries@fotbot.org 
www.fotbot.org