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African WWII Veterans In The UK Who Were Paid Less Than White Peers Will Receive No Compensation

By Parker Diakite

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Government officials in the United Kingdom have ruled out compensating black African soldiers who were paid significantly less than white soldiers. 

An investigation by the Guardian and al-Jazerra first revealed the discriminatory policy, which led to the discovery of Africans making a third compared to their white counterparts. 

Officials across three government ministries examined the issue after revelations that soldiers drawn from Britain’s African colonies were paid an end-of-war bonus that was calibrated not only to rank and length of service but also ethnicity, as reported in the Guardian. 

 White soldiers received a gratuity worth triple offered to black troops.

In a letter seen by the Guardian staff, Defense minister Tobias Ellwood said a full investigation would require “extensive resources” citing “competing demands” across government departments.”

He added that the decision doesn’t diminish “how grateful the UK is to all those servicemen and women from the Commonwealth who served with Britain during the second world war.”

Members from the country’s Labour Party condemned the decision. 

“It beggars belief that the government simply cannot be bothered to investigate how many black African veterans who faced this appalling discrimination are still alive, and compensate them while there is still time to do so,” Emily Thornberry, the shadow foreign secretary, told the Guardian.  

Fabian Hamilton, the shadow minister for defense and foreign and Commonwealth affairs, demanded “a proper apology without delay” adding  “this was systematic and deliberate discrimination and an unacceptable way to treat those who were an integral part of the war effort that kept our democracy safe from fascism and Nazism. This government’s treatment of these veterans is a disgrace.”

During the war, Britain recruited and in some cases forced more than 600,000 African men from across the continent to fight in the war. They fought in some of the war’s bloodiest campaigns, including Burma where they clashed with Japanese imperial forces in dense jungle and torrential rain, sustaining significant casualties, as reported in the Guardian. 

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