WE WERE THERE TOO! Part 23

Proposed by A Williams STOCCA (Six Towns One City Carnival Association)

Euan Lucie-Smith is now believed to be the first black officer to be commissioned into the British Army in the First World War and sadly the first to die in the conflict.

He was commissioned into the 1st Battalion, the Royal Warwickshire Regiment on the 17th September 1914, just six weeks after the outbreak of the War. He was killed in action, probably shot through the head, on the 25th April 1915 at the Second Battle of Ypres. He has no known grave and is commemorated on Panel 2 to 3 of the Ploegsteert Memorial, Belgium.

Previously it had been thought that Walter Tull was the first black officer to be commissioned on the 30th May 1917 and the first black officer to be killed in action on the 8th March 1918. In fact, Euan Lucie-Smith died almost three years before.

He came from a mixed heritage background. He was born at Crossroads, St Andrew, Jamaica, on the 14th December 1889. His father was John Barkley Lucie-Smith (the Postmaster of Jamaica and a retired Major) and his Mother Catherine ‘Katie’ Lucie-Smith (nee Peynado Burke). His father hailed from a line of distinguished white colonial civil servants. His mother was a daughter of the distinguished ‘coloured’ lawyer and politician Samuel Constantine Burke, who campaigned for Jamaican constitutional reform in the late 19th Century and for Jamaica to have greater control over her own affairs. His advocacy on behalf of both black and ‘coloured’ Jamaicans led him to be referred to in an essay by the renowned Black activist, Marcus Garvey.

He came from what we would call a traditional ‘Officer Class’ as he attended two Private Schools in England; Berkhamsted School and then Eastbourne College. He was commissioned into the Jamaica Artillery Militia on the 10th November 1911.

The memorial plaque for Lieutenant Euan Lucie-Smith is really significant as it rewrites British Black History in World War One, and tells a truly remarkable story.

The plaque shows the contribution of Commonwealth Countries in World War 1 and tells the story about an aspect of regimental history that should not be forgotten, but that is often hard to tell for a lack of information.

It also has direct links to today and the continued important role played by soldiers from Commonwealth Countries in the current Regiment, The Fusiliers.

The memorial plaque went on sale at auction on the 12th November 2020. Keen to obtain the plaque, the Royal Regiment of Fusiliers Museum (Warwickshire) bid for the plaque. It was successful and it will mean that people in Warwick, Coventry & Warwickshire and the West Midlands will now be able to view this rare object.

The museum paid more than 13 times the estimated pre-sale guide price. It is important that we keep our museums going.

Royal Regiment of Fusiliers Museum

The museum asked people to save and bring this unique memorial plaque for Lieutenant Euan Lucie-Smith to Warwick, the spiritual home of the Royal Warwickshire Regiment, so that it is on display for everybody to see, rather than going to a private collector.

Before the auction, Royal Regiment of Fusiliers Museum put out a request for help in funding so that it can acquire these rare and important relics. If you would like to donate to the museum, you can still do so.

Please give your support to us now to acquire this special and historic memorial plaque for the museum by donating on-line on our website. £2, £5, £10 or £20 would help us so much to save this invaluable cultural treasure.

Thank you so much.

http://www.warwickfusiliers.co.uk/pages/pg-35-online_donations/
Please also share with your friends. We already have some funds of our own, some from the Friends of the Museum, The Fusiliers, AMOT and have applied for an ACE / V&A purchase grant fund, but need your help too.

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