Divided by Race, United in War and Peace

A ground-breaking British project that featured Black and white war veterans working together with young people was brought to a triumphant close with the screening of a new documentary film, writes Oliver Barrett.

The Divided by Race, United by War and Peace (DRUWP) initiative, run by The-Latest.Com, launched a photography exhibition at the Harris Academy, Peckham, south London, last week, opened by Mayor of Southwark Cllr Althea Smith.

At its core the five-month-long DRUWP project explored the testimonies of 14 surviving veterans, particularly those West Indian and African men and women, who volunteered to join the Second World War fight against Hitler's nazi Germany and soon afterwards returned to live in Britain.

They risked their lives to serve under the Union Jack flag in times of war, then faced a second battle – their right to remain under that flag, as British citizens. Until now their stories have not been properly heard. Nor has the contribution they made been fully recognised, both in helping win the war but also changing the face of British society.

DRUWP sought to both redress that balance and explore the sometimes painful evolution of a multi-cultural society from a unique perspective that combined different races and ages. Veterans from the Dulwich, Paddington and Seaford Royal British Legions and the West Indian Association of Service Personnel took part in the project that was supported by the National Lottery's Heritage Lottery Fund.

The movie has begun to go international with the help of top PR and marketing expert Sandra Corbin, of Barbados-based Strategy Consultants. She is booking Caribbean screenings of the film and speaking engagements for its producer, Marc Wadsworth.

The film had a UK screening on Thursday, March 7, 7pm at the Ritzy Picturehouse, Windrush Square, off Coldharbour Lane, Brixton, London SW2 1JG, where co-directors Jimmy Haisman and Marc Wadsworth, who also produced the film, were joined afterwards by war veterans for a Q&A. 

Photography: Marlon Ruddock and Oliver Barrett.