Welsh Government and British Legion join forces to say ‘Thank You’ to the First World Wars’ “too often” forgotten soldiers

As part of the Welsh Government’s First World War centenary programme, Cymru’n Cofio - Wales Remembers 1914 – 1918, we were honoured to work in partnership with Royal British Legion, Welsh Centre for International Affairs, the Horn Development Association and Race Council Cymru to hold a Black Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) Remembrance event to formally thank Wales’ BAME communities for their contribution to the First World War and Second World War. 

This ground-breaking event marked the sacrifices and selfless acts which ensured a better future for the next generations. It also provided opportunities to hear personal stories, visit exhibitions, view digital stories and listen to specially commissioned music as part of the commemorational evening.

Tributes were paid to those who paid the ultimate sacrifice, to those who made their home in Wales and have continued to make such important contributions to our country.

Assembly Member Vaughan Gething attended the evening whilst the First Minister for Wales, Carwyn Jones, put on record the Welsh Government’s formal appreciation of the sacrifices that were made for peace. You can watch part of his speech online, as well as in Welsh

A key part of the event was the unveiling of a specially commissioned bench which will be placed in the Temple of Peace’s garden, where the event was held. The poignant inscription read:

‘To all Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic people in Wales affected by the First World War and Second World War – we recognise your sacrifices, we honour your contributions, we thank you.’

A one-of-a-kind sculpture was also created - made up of red, purple, white and black poppies - was also unveiled as well as a wreath with the powerful message of ‘Legacy, Unity, Peace, Strength, Recognition, Thanks’ to encapsulate the contribution made by all communities, regardless of ethnic background.

The diversity of the audience, the representation from all communities, the recognition of those lost and the sacrifices made was testament to the importance placed in recognising and valuing every contribution; contributions which need to continue to be recognised and not get lost in forgotten histories, but shared and celebrated.

First Minister, Carwyn Jones, sent a video message of commendation to the event’s attendees. He said: “Too often the First World War is portrayed as a predominantly white conflict, wrongfully forgetting the millions from Black, Asian and Ethnic Minority backgrounds who tirelessly fought, worked and supported the British Empire during this time. The near total exclusion from our history books of these dedicated servicemen and women is shameful.

“The past four years of our ‘Cymru’n Cofio - Wales Remembers 1914-1918’ commemorations have celebrated the dedication of everyone involved in World War One – regardless of race or ethnicity - and has helped mark this important period in our nation’s history.

“Many heart-breaking and awe-inspiring stories have been heard at today’s event. These, and many others, must remain in our consciousness. To all Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic people in Wales affected by Britain’s wars - we recognise your sacrifices, we honour your contributions and we thank you.”

To find out more about Welsh Government’s centenary programme Cymru’n Cofio – Wales Remembers 1914-1918, please visit: walesremembers.org or cymruncofio.org