Brixton’s Windrush Square hosts Remembrance Sunday

Army cadets prepare to lay wreaths
Army cadets prepare to lay wreaths at the memorial event

Brixton again hosted a Remembrance Sunday event yesterday (10 November) at the African and Caribbean war and peace memorial in Windrush Square.

It was followed by a reception in Lambeth town hall including a showing of the film Hero, based on the life of Ulric Cross, a Trinidadian war hero with the RAF and later a diplomat and senior legal figure. Hero director Frances-Anne Solomon was among the guests.

Richard Finch
Richare Finch

Richard Finch, Ulric Cross’ son, was among the speakers at the Windrush Square event. he has strong local links, having taught at Kingsdale school in Dulwich from 2000 to 2008. He read a poem about war written by one of his former pupils. He said his father, Ulric Cross, was a “fervent educator”. Richard’s great grandfather had been the first Black head teacher in Trinidad.

Arike Oke
Arike Oke

Black Cultural Archives managing director Arike Oke was the co-host of the event along with Dr Jak Beula, of the Nubian Jak Trust that was instrumental in bringing the memorial to Brixton.

soldiers

Others speakers included US Army Major Jared Flurry, the first international guest at the annual Windrush Square memorial event. He pointed out that the First World War began and ended in Africa and that the records of the contributions of thousands of Black service personnel had been “lost, burned or buried” and were only now being rediscovered.

Major Jared Flurry
Major Jared Flurry with Dr Jak Beula

Captain Kidane Cousland, head of the Rastafarian Defence Network, read the traditional Remembrance Day poem, For The Fallen, that preceded The Last Post. He is one of the very few Black winners to date of the Sword of Honour which is presented by the commandant of Sandhurst, the British Army college, to the best student of each intake. Unlike many Sandhurst graduates, he rose through the ranks, joining the army as a cadet at 16.

Captain Kidane Cousland
Captain Kidane Cousland
A bugler plays The last Post in Windrush Square
A bugler plays The last Post in Windrush Square

Historian and poet Nairobi Thompson read one of her works, They Had No Choice.

Dr Doirean Wilson, senior lecturer in human resource management at the Middlesex University business school and the university’s diversity lead, read the poem If We Must Die by Jamaican writer Claude McKay.

Nairobi Thompson
Nairobi Thompson
Dr Doirean Wilson
Dr Doirean Wilson
Kieron Daniels
Violinist Kieron Daniels played at tribute at the memorial

Neil Flanigan MBE took the salute at the military parade following The Last Post.

He was born in Jamaica and travelled to England in 1943 to join the Royal Air Force after seeing an advertisement in the Jamaican Gleaner.

He was a ground crew member at Bomber Command, specialising in instrument repair.

After the war, he became president of the Clapham-based West Indian Association of Service Personnel.

Parade
Army cadets parade past Neil Flanagan MBE
Windrush Square Remembrance Day parade
Major Dionne Konstantinious, officer commanding 7 company Army Cadet Force and Aide de Camp to the Lord Mayor of London, led a section of the parade
Lambeth mayor Ibrahim Dogus wreath laying
Lambeth mayor Ibrahim Dogus began the wreath laying ceremony
Local MP Helen Hayes lays a wreath
Local MP Helen Hayes (right) was among those to lay a wreath

Alexander D Great performs his calypso Remember our Heroes
Alexander D Great performed his calypso Remember our Heroes

2 COMMENTS

  1. Thank you Alan. By sharing this you are bringing this important information to a wider public and helping to educate people about the huge contribution made by citizens from Africa, the Caribbean and beyond to the people of Britain in their hours of need.

  2. Now I was lucky enough to get to see the screening of in the Lambeth Town Hall on Memorial Day. Please people we need to watch this. The story is the beautifully strung together life of Ulric Cross – probably the WW2’s most decorated Caribbean soldier.
    Why are we so unacknowledged?
    The film is so inspiring.
    Had I seen this film as a younger man I feel I would have become a better person!
    This then is my tribute to the actors and film maker Frances-Anne Solomon who I had the honour to meet on Memorial Sunday after the very moving Memorial Service in Windrush Square as was put together by the Nubian Jak Trust and Dr Jak Beula.
    The film is long and very enjoyable. It carries with it a need for pride for our war dead. Not just the the war dead but the war living! The veterans who are still with us.
    Families destroyed by the need for war.
    As a pacifist I would rather not wear the red poppy – I read imperialism. I wear both /or a black poppy or a white poppy with pride. It does not negate your loss. It increases awareness of the conscripted conscientious objectors in war and the likes of The Unremembered. The undocumented graves in far off places like West Africa where immaculately tended memorials with headstones of named europeans are marked and African conscripted soldiers or porters who were equally indispensable to the war effort, are buried beyond boundaries in unkempt areas (or a “carpark”) with no named headstones – no record of their glorious names to be recalled by their families. For this reason I wear the Black Poppy.
    Back to the film:-
    The film and with its excellent actors, lead: Kofi Adjoriolo, “dramatises the inspiring life and times of the Caribbean war hero, judge and diplomat Ulric Cross whose amazing life spanned key moments of the 20th Century like WW2, African independence movements, Black Power, the rise of a new brand of Black leadership around the world, events that define our present reality.”
    —Frances-Anne Solomon – the film’s director.
    Former Squadron Leader, Ulric Cross who died in 2013 – was a Trinidadian who was so impressive as a bright young man, was working by day and studying by night to succeed and within 14 months was being called to the bar! He is recognised as being perhaps the most decorated West Indian of WW2. His story as dramatised reveals the undercurrent of espionage to undermine efforts for a ‘United States of Africa’. Ruthless people – sometimes in established places of power seek to destabilise a continent to ensure that their interests are best served no matter the cost. I was humbled to watch the film and grateful to it’s producers and funders. In my new eyes Ulric Cross is now right up there with Mary Seacole – both now holding us to account.
    Go and see the film. Be well rested, for maximum impact.

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