50522 Windrush RAF officials welcome settlers - Windrush 75

Reflecting on the Service of the Windrush Generation

People from the Caribbean and of Caribbean descent have made significant contributions to the British Armed Forces, from the World Wars to the present day.

Thousands of men and women from the Caribbean volunteered in the Second World war to come to the aid of Britain. And in the post-war years the Windrush Generation played a key role in rebuilding the country and reshaping British culture and identity.  

To mark the 75th anniversary of the Empire Windrush arriving in Britain we brought together Brigadier Karl Harris CBE and Colonel (Retd) Andy Allen MBE, both of whose parents settled in Britain as part of the Windrush Generation. Watch their full conversation above. 

Empire Windrush ship - Windrush 75

What is Windrush Day?

Windrush Day marks the anniversary of the HMT Empire Windrush arriving in Britain and is an opportunity to celebrate British Caribbean communities, and acknowledge the service and sacrifice of the Windrush Generation.

On 22 June 1948, Caribbean settlers disembarked from the Empire Windrush at Tilbury Docks in Essex, including more than 100 serving and former Armed Forces personnel.

Following the Second World War, the UK was in urgent need of rebuilding and faced a labour shortage. Settlers came to Britain in search of employment opportunities and in the post war years the government began to invite people from the Caribbean to fill roles such as in the new National Health Service. 

However on arrival, the settlers were often met with racism, lack of acknowledgement of their professional skills and qualifications, and finding adequate accommodation was often difficult. The Windrush Generation worked tirelessly to overcome prejudice and build successful lives and communities.

As we mark the anniversary of the Empire Windrush, we celebrate the diversity within the Armed Forces community today, and highlight the significant contributions of the Windrush Generation and their descendants.

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