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#1 Sep 28, 2019 11:30 pm

New Historian

Dudley and the Sargeant

In the early days of the Second World War, coloured chaps weren’t exactly welcomed into the British Armed Forces – racial standards had to be maintained. Dudley Thompson, former Jamaican Minister of Defense and  Pan-African icon, tells of his encounter at the Royal Air Force recruiting office upon his arrival in England in 1940. On the form was the question: “Are you of pure European descent?” Dudley, decidedly dark, ticked the yes box and calmly handed it over to the recruiting sergeant. The sergeant went through the form then then asked Dudley if he’d understood the question properly.

“Yes, of course I did,” said Dudley. “What made you believe I didn’t understand the question, sergeant?”

This was clearly too much for the poor sergeant.

“Nothing, nothing at all. Welcome to the RAF!” 

Dudley Thompson went on to a distinguished career in as a Flight Lieutenant in the RAF, flying dozens of missions over Germany in Lancaster Bombers. After the war, Dudley Thompson went to Africa and distinguished himself in law, defending the Mau-Mau of Kenya before a long and contentious career in Jamaican politics.


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