THE STORY OF A WOLVERHAMPTON VETERAN
Interviewed by Darees Nelson
Donald Richards was born in what was then British Guiana. This is in South America. He attended St. Andrews School in the village of Coven John. His first job was as an apprentice tailor and then he branched off to do masonry work.
He served in British Guyana on a military airbase as a military policeman. He was around 22 years of age then, guarding installations such as transmission stations located in the jungle in the heart of British Guyana. He also had to guard the docks too. On other occasions he had to guard the main gate and entrance to see that no unauthorised person entered the base.
He became a military policeman because the air bases were where most of the action was. He had two options, either to go to America as a farm labourer or to become a military policeman. He decided that the police job would be a challenge as he was Guyanese and the war was getting serious.
He came to England in 1956 because in British Guiana he was taught that England was the Mother Country and he would have a better opportunity when he got here.
He had mixed reactions when he got here. In certain sections he was accepted but he was surprised generally at the reactions of British people to black people at the time.
“People looked at us in a strange way,” he said, “and we felt funny about it. They didn’t know much about us but we knew all about England.
“There was a lady on the TV who said she couldn’t understand why we had come to England and taken all the jobs away from people. She had helped in the war too but didn’t seem to understand the role that we had played. She also didn’t realise that as a part of the Commonwealth we had been invited to support the War effort. We had become like the “Forgotten Army.”
Footnote: In 1998 a special award was given to Mr Richards by the community in recognition for his contributions/service to the war. The award was presented by the Wolverhampton Windrush Working Group.
Mr Richards’ first and only job, from the time he came to England until his retirement he was working at Goodyear’s in Wolverhampton. After retiring from work in the mid 90’s he and his wife Doreen kept themselves busy and active working in the community doing voluntary work. They did this for a number of years before leaving to go back to the place of their birth – to the country which is now referred to as Guyana.
Compiled by S. Davis & J. Adams – Contributions to WWI & II
Black Poppy Rose (pictured at top) from Black Poppy Rose.