Strength in Diversity – Our Shared History
This is a shared history programme facilitated by the Ancre Somme Association that will explore the diversity of those who served in the British, Commonwealth and Allied Forces from the Great War to the present day.
Our aim is to bring our shared history to life using exhibitions, publications, lectures and accredited courses as we celebrate the diversity that has always existed throughout the United Kingdom.
SID Shared History programme provides a general introduction to historical and cultural links between those who served in the Commonwealth and Allied Forces and the United Kingdom with the main focus being the diversity of those who served during WW1 & WW2.
At the outbreak of the War in August 1914, the British Indian Army consisted of around 194,000 regular soldiers and by the Armistice in November 1918, the force had grown to nearly 1.5 million.
In total, the Indian Army sent around 1.5 million men and 173,000 animals from Indian ports to nearly all theatres of war across Europe, Africa and Asia. One in every six soldiers of the British Empire was from the Indian subcontinent; its contribution was the equivalent of all the forces from the then dominions of the British Empire combined (namely Canada, Australia, New Zealand and South Africa). Of these around 400,000 (about a third of the British Indian Army) were Muslims.
In 1940, more than 8,000 Polish airmen arrived on English soil to be met by a feeling of scepticism about their flying ability amongst the British pilots. But things were becoming desperate for the Royal Air Force with many of their most experienced pilots killed, wounded or simply exhausted. The first Polish fighter pilots joined RAF Squadrons in July that year. A total of 145 Polish airmen fought in the Battle of Britain, the largest non-British contingent, 79 airmen in various RAF squadrons, 32 in 302 Squadron and 34 in 303 Squadron. Twenty-nine Polish pilots, including Paszkiewicz, lost their lives in combat against the Luftwaffe during the Battle of Britain. These pilots are remembered at the Polish War Memorial near RAF Northolt.
In both world wars, African-Caribbean people also volunteered to serve in the Royal Air Force. These volunteers fought, and died, for the mother country and for freedom, and thereby helped preserve the values and the heritage they shared with their white comrades. Some 10,000 left their families and homes to join the British armed forces, working behind the scenes and on the frontline to defeat the Nazis.
The topics include focus on the role of the Commonwealth and Allied in both world wars; accounts of the experiences of the servicemen and women who participated in the wars; human stories of those servicemen and woman who served and died in the United Kingdom; and the relations between their countries and United Kingdom communities after WWII until present day.
• MODULE I - Preconception: Understanding the meaning of the shared history
• MODULE II - Disclosure: Recognise Cultural Differences
• MODULE III - Discovery: Understand why and how shared history contribute to positive relations
• MODULE IV - Conclusion: Understand the importance of ensuring an inclusive approach to diversity