18 March 2009

A Member of the RAF of Indeterminate Race: WW2 Experiences of a former RAF Navigator & POW

Cy Grant, born in British Guyana, was one of about 400 Caribbean men who joined the RAF as aircrew in the Second World War.

He came to Britain and joined the RAF in 1941, qualifying as a navigator, and was posted to 103 Squadron. As part of the crew of an Avro Lancaster, his plane was shot down during a raid on Gelsenkirchen in June 1943. It was only his third operational mission. Bailing out, he landed in Holland, where he was captured and sent first to Amsterdam - where his photo was taken by the Germans. It was later to appear in the newspaper Volkischer Beobachter, with the caption 'A member of the RAF of indeterminate race'.

Imprisoned in Stalag Luft III until 1945, the camp was evacuated before the invading Russians, and Cy and his fellow prisoners were sent to Stalag IIIA at Lukenwalde, where they were liberated by Soviet troops (although not actually release for a number of weeks!).

Cy Grant's memoir provides a unique perspective on the war, coming from a Caribbean volunteer with the RAF and POW. Cy states that the only racism he encountered while serving was the institutional form, from within some of the higher echelons of the RAF, and none from any of the rank and file Canadian and British airmen who he served with.

Obituary: Cy Grant (from The Daily Telegraph 15th February 2010)

Available from:
Woodfield Publishing

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