245 : Building your Library # 14

Two autobiographical accounts mention time and contacts in Britain but neither strikes the casual observer as likely to be of interest to those seeking information on the black experience of/in Britain.

Stimela Jason Jingoes lived in Lesotho then in South Africa, and told John and Cassandra Perry of his life which was published by Oxford University Press in London and Cape Town in 1975. A Chief is a Chief by the People describes his time with the South African Native Labour Battalion in France in World War One, starting in March 1917. On page 93 he notes ‘I had met a fellow called William Johnstone of Folkestone on the docks at Dieppe, where he was also working. We hit it off at once and we spent our breaks drinking tea and talking about our two countries, until at least we were close friends. After the war we corresponded for many years, but at last we lost touch and I do not know what has become of him’. The absence of further information is somewhat frustrating. Used copies of this book can be purchased for £8.

Another autobiographical account, but apparently not available among used book dealers (although aviation book specialists might have copies) was Hubert Fauntleroy Julian’s Black Eagle, published by Jarrolds in 1964. A Trinidadian who arrived in London in 1912, he became fascinated with aeroplanes and spent much time at grass-field aerodromes before moving to Canada in 1914. His career was eccentric, involving a parachute drop over Harlem playing a saxophone, an attempt to fly the Atlantic, service in the Imperial Ethiopian airforce in the 1930s, and then as an armaments salesman. He has caught the attention of journalists. The Black Eagle was published in New York by Stein and Day in 1971 and is available at £16 but it is not clear if this is the London book of 1964. Jim Haskins covered the subject – Black Eagle: African American Aviation (Scholastic, 1995, available at £5). Bessie Coleman from Texas qualified as a pilot in France in 1921, and died aged 34 in 1926. Doris Rich, Queen Bess (Smithsonian, 1993) is available at £5 but has no British content.