On May 8 – 9, 2015 the United Nations recognised the Time of the Remembrance and Reconciliation for those who lost their lives during the Second World War. The effects of this War were far-reaching, touching many countries and shaping the world’s future after 1945. For smaller entities such as Trinidad and Tobago and the Caribbean by extension, the War impacted in a different way.
In Trinidad and Tobago’s case, lasting infrastructure was built to service the United States military forces that inhabited the island during the War years. Three major bases were established in Trinidad strategically at Chaguaramas, Carlsen Field and Waller Field whilst one was established in Tobago which dramatically altered life in the Twin Island colony at the time.
Citizens were subjected to ration cards and because of poor employment opportunities many women turned to becoming adult entertainers for the soldiers in order to support their families. Check out this calypso which reiterates the lifestyle:
Apart from local life in the colony, an Internment Camp was established in 1940 at St James called Camp Rented. Persons interred here were the Ashkenazi Jews who fled Nazi Germany, Austrians, Nazi sympathizers, Japanese and German prisoners of war. Military prowess was also shown through German submarine warfare in the waters off Trinidad. The ‘German U-boat menace’ as it was commonly called, sunk many freighters and oil tankers during the period 1941-1945, the most famous of which were the sinking of the British Oil Tanker – British Consul and the American freighter, Mohikana, in the Port of Spain Harbour in 1942.
Aside from the events within the colony, persons left Trinidad and Tobago to fight for the British Army and the Royal Air Force. Even though they fought valiantly, many lost their lives during the war period. Those who did not die during the War, went on to contribute to the building of Trinidad and Tobago as a nation. One such example is Ulric Cross who was a decorated war veteran in the British Royal Air Force and in later years he became a distinguished High Court Judge. Here’s a short clip that shows this esteemed son of the soil:
In recognition on the fallen in both World Wars, a monument was erected at the centre of Memorial Park in Port of Spain. However, it is unclear from the names written on the monument which persons fought in either of the wars but with surety they all fought valiantly and were honoured for their efforts. Hence, we salute these persons who volunteered their lives and service to the World War II effort, their bravery will never be forgotten.