Thursday, September 9, 2010

Barbados Military History Part 8 World War 2 Part 1

On the 23rd January 1934 Adolf Hitler. Leader of Germany's Nazi Party became the president of Germany and proclaimed himself "Fuhrer, leader of the German Reich"

He quickly made it clear that he intended to restore Germany's influence and prestige which had been shattered in World War 1.

Hitler continued to grow in strength with the support of most of Germany behind him he marched on Austria in 1938 wich agreed to unite with the German Reich.

Next Hitler claimed Czechoslovaki but neither Britan or France where prepared for war and lacked the forces that they would need.  A meeting was held in Munich and the outcome was that Britan and France recognized Germany's claims to Czechoslovaki. This bought them 11 month to prepare for a conflict that seemed inevitable.

On the 1st of September 1939 Hitler launched an attack on Poland. Two days later in fulfilment of her guarantee to defend that country against foreign attackers Britan declared war on Germany.

Like other territories of the British empires Barbados already had a contingency plan.

Bellow is a list of several events that were recorded during the war

 1.     In October 1939 one month after war was declared the Barbados Government gave the Imperial Government a free gift of £25,000  Following by £100,00 in June 1940 and then  interest free loans of £110,000. there was also a personal appeal fund "Win the War"  fund that raised over £43,000. A group of ladies called the Voluntary War Workers Association raised  over £50,000. The ladies also provided thousands of knitted comforts for the Armed Forces as well as refugees and prisoners of war.

2       Measures were taken to control food prices, food distribution and imports and exports and to ensure local food production.
The Director of Agriculture along with the assistance of two committees was put in charge of ensuring the supply of food and the control of food prices. This was the first order of business in protection the people of Barbados. The Authority was given the power to decide what acreages should be planted in food crops and what those crops should be. Fortunately the officers in charge were well respected and the plantations gave them their full cooperation.

3.     Restrictions were placed on people travelling in and out of the island .  No one was allowed to leave or arrive except for Seawell airport (now Grantley Addams) or the Baggage Warehouse in Bridgetown now (The Coast Guard Station)

4.     On the 1st September 1939 2  officers and 45 ranks of the volunteer force were called out followed by an additional 3 officers and 45 additional men on the 4th of September

4.     Postal censorship was introduced

5.     On the 3rd of September 1939 an experimental broadcast station was introduced originally called the Barbados Radio Distribution Ltd. Later The Rediffusion Ltd and now StarCom Network inc. The radio was launched to enable the broadcast of daily review of events especially for those who could not afford a luxury radio. Loud speakers were also placed in Queens Park, Oistins, Holetown and Speightstown

6.   On the 5th of September the Legislative Council wrote the King declareing  its loyalty  and promise of its support with its utmost resolve of the colony. On the 6th of September the Government proclaimed the state of War also applied to Barbados

7.    On the 9th of September another proclamation was made declareing a large variety of materials and commodities as contraband of war.

8.     The first Practice Black out when no lights were to be displayed on the Island was on October the 12th. This was only a practice and took place from 9-9:30pm.

9.     In Jun 1940 every person of the age of 16+ who was not a British Subject was required to furnish the Commissioner of Police with a variety of personal particulars and a photo. and by August of the same year Hoteliers were also required to keep records of their lodgers

10.    In February 1941 the Government made and order for the conservation of wrapping paper. People were prohibited from wrapping bottles, jars, cans, furniture and books. The public were also encourage to reuse envelopes.

11.   Also in February 1941 an appeal was made in the British Press for Binoculars within six weeks an initiative led my Mr Harold Wright Barbados donated 81 binoculars

12.    In the latter part of 1944 some 3,605 Barbadian workers went to the USA where they were employed by the War Manpower Commission on agricultural and industrial work.

13.    In 1942 the rationing of petrol became necessary and a similar system was adopted as that of Britan. Class A Government, Foreign Consulars, Engineers, Overseer, Police, Volunteers, Doctors, and Public Utility. Class B Legislature, Judiciary, Inspectors of the poor, schools, roads and sanitation as well as Cable operators and essential business persons. Class C owners of motor bikes, agricultural  lorries, public vehicles, vans, road rollers and taxis

14. Also in 1942 certain places were designated protected places:
The Cable Station (St Lawrence)
The Barbados Electric Supply Corporation (The Garrison)
The Barbados Gas Company (Bay Street)
The British Union Oil Company (Greaves End)
The Shell Installation (Spring Garden)
The Central Foundry Workshop and Dock (Pierhead Road)
The Baggage Warehouse (Pierhead Road)

15. In effort to save on fuel in April 1943 Daylight Savings Time was Introduced by Governor Bushe. This became known as Bushe time and was not popular with most people. This was only utilized in 1943 and 1944 when the order was rescinded.

16. In 1942 another blow came to Barbados when a ship named the  "C.N.S Drake" was torpedoed 90 miles south of Bermuda . The ship was carrying a group of artisans forming the "Barbados Engineering Trade Unit" selected for employment by Britans War industries. Several of the men lost their lives and while some continued onto Britan some returned home to Barbados.

The realities of war first struck home in Barbados when a Dutch Liner "Simon Bolivar" was sunk in the English Channel. three of 11 passengers bound for Barbados lost their lives.

Two days after the declaration of was a veteran of the First World War Mr Harold Wright started a fund to assist with the expenses for the young men volunteering for service. By June of 1940 14 young men were assisted and in July they left Barbados to serve with the British Military. Sadly four members of the group did not survive.

In November 1941 12 men were recruited specifically for Errol Walton Barrow who became the first Prim Minister of Barbados in 1966. Sadly 6 of the members of the force did not emerge alive.

In August 1941 the Barbados Canadian Active Enlistment Fund was opened to enable passages to be paid for those volunteering for Canada's Armed Forces. The fist contingent left Barbados on the 16th of September and numbered 27 men. Two additional contingents left in October of the same year.
During the War Britan turned to USA to buy weapons and destroyers but by the end of 1940 Britan had run short of US currency and Prime Minister Winston Churchill began pressing President Roosevelt for more substantial aid. Roosevelt then came up with the idea that the USA would provide Britan with Destroyers if Britan would allow them to build naval bases in Britain's Caribbean Territories. An agreement was reached and 50 destroyers were supplied and the United States built bases in Antigua , Guyana, Jamacia, St Lucia and Trinidad. Barbados was not chosen as a base sight but Seawell airport was made available to the Americans to enable them to extend their zone of air coverage activities against enemy submarines. US Army engineers extended the runway from 3,000 to 5,000 feet and laid down a hard surface.

Provided with the compliments of your friends at Glory Tours. The #1 Provider of Sightseeing Tours in Barbados

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