Caribbeans in the RAF

Caribbean Air Crew

Not many people in Britain today are aware that during World War II, there were over 400 Aircrew from the Caribbean who flew with the RAF – about 70 receiving commissions, 103 decorations for distinguished service, and over a hundred who gave their lives fighting for the ‘mother country.’

Group Captain Larry Osbourne

The first Afro-Caribbean Officer to achieve the rank, having joined the RAF from Trinidad as a navigator in 1943. An accomplished pilot, who saw active service flying Catalinas and Liberators during World War II, Osbourne remained in the RAF after the cessation of hostilities, before receiving an Order of the British Empire (OBE) for his work in the service. His son later followed him into the RAF as a pilot.

 

Before the second wave of Caribbean immigration began during the Second World War (1939-1945). Many workers came as volunteers to fight in the RAF and the armed forces to serve.

Born in Trinidad in 1902, The famous Cricketer, Lord Leary Constantine became the first person ever to successfully challenge colour discrimination by a service industry. He was a welfare officer in the RAF, and was refused service in a London Hotel, he later wins damages. Constantine was made an MBE in 1945, knighted in 1962, and elected a life peer.

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