The Caribbean Under Attack

Compiled by S. Davis & J. Adams – Contributions to WWI & II

Antigua Fighter’s Fund

If you would like to join the war, and help to fight the Huns, take your pennies from your pocket and help to feed the guns.

Pay them gladly, pay them often, pay them smartly on the nail, other men are fighting for you, do not let your effort fail.

If you cannot sweep the minefields, man a gun, or watch the sky, if you never have to duck your head to let a shot go by, if you cannot join the fighting in the planes or in the tanks, send your pence to make the weapons, send your shillings for your thanks.

Give a penny, give a shilling, give a modest three pence bit; as your means are, pay your footing, serve your country, do your bit.

If you think you cannot afford it, then go without a drink, turn your money into weapons, you’re not as thirsty as you think.

Pay the price and pay it gladly, fit the fighters with their wings. If you don’t drink, give up something; give up smoking or other things.

Give it daily, give it gladly, pay your whack, and man your gun; remember some die daily to save you from the Hun*.

Antigua Broadcasting Service, c.1941

*Hun was the derogatory name used for Hitler and the Germans

The Caribbean Under Attack

Submarine Attacks

Throughout the war, German submarines ravaged the Atlantic shipping lanes; they prowled ports and torpedoed ships. By 1941 the water way around the Caribbean, was considered one of the most dangerous shipping lanes in the world.

The intention behind the attacks was to disrupt traffic travelling through the Panama Canal between the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans, to and from Europe and Asia. It was a route that Britain and her allies depended on to move troops, artillery and supplies.

Also under fire were ships serving the southern United States ports and oil installations in the Caribbean. Not only were ships at sea in danger of being sunk (at the close of 1942 around 270 ships), but ports were infiltrated, and anchored vessels and harbours were also attacked, reminders – should they be needed – that the war was close at hand.

SOURCE: The Caribbean at War – ‘British West Indies’ in World War II – The British Empire and the Second World War – Ashley Jackson

Elevated Status for Trinidad

Due to its location and harbour facilities Trinidad joined the ranks of the more significant ports – that of a convoy assembly point. Trinidad also ranked high in war-time Colonial Empire status, because it was one of the Empire’s few significant producers of oil. (In 1938 it was the largest imperial producer) In December 1942, one convoy left the island carrying 25 million gallons of fuel to North Africa for vehicles involved in Operation Torch. As well as oil, Trinidad also produced cocoa and sugar.

When the bauxite route from British and Dutch Guiana was exposed to severe U-boat attacks, the locally-recruited Trinidad Naval Force manned the tugs and performed salvage and rescue operations.

In 1940 a scheme for training pilots was set up in Trinidad, the first batch of candidates arrived in Britain in early 1941.