There are 19 graves of soldiers of the British West Indies Regiment in the military section of Seaford cemetery near the coast of Sussex where the regiment was stationed in the winter of 1915-1916. There are 234 other World War I graves, mainly Canadians (a Canadian hospital was nearby in late 1916) and members of the Ulster Regiment. The graves are tended by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission.Harold Grubb’s stone has these words (paid for by his relatives) “Sacred to thy memory. Died for king and country”. He was 18 years old. An earlier recruit, for his regimental number was 447, was N. Phillips.
Nelson N. Fevrier number 1150 was 22 when he died on 5 February 1916. A relative – for his number was 1149 showing they enlisted at the same time -was D. Fevrier who died on 23 January 1916. In 2006 relatives visited their graves: these cousins were from St Lucia (see “West Indian Men in Sussex” on the Brighton and Hove Black History site) and the latter was Dennis Fevrier.
The complete list of the 19 men:L G Bennett Corporal J L Brown F A Cains William E Daniel G Duncan D Fevrier Nelson N Fevrier Harold C GrubbCharles C Jarvis T Johnson Reginald H Laing Clarence A L Mais J O’Meally N Phillips Thomas D PrimoI Romney L Stephen Lance Corporal Benjamin A Van Gronigenand Willfred (sic) B C William.War cemeteries in Belgium and France have graves of B.W.I.R. soldiers too, as well as Plymouth and Liverpool. There are memorials and graves throughout the Caribbean.Juliet Nicholson in her The Great Silence: 1918-1920 Living in the Shadow of the Great War (John Murray, 2009)states “the local inhabitants of Seaford found the men congenial”, that 53 BWIR soldiers attended a church service in December 1915, the Seaford branch of the Ancient Order of Foresters posed with black members of that charity and Eric Hughes (private 875) courted two sisters. Seventeen of these soldiers died from mumps or flu (page 163).
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