Year Nine students from Eden Girls’ School Waltham Forest, East London, have been uncovering forgotten family histories of black and Asian service in the Second World War as part of the Remember Together project.
The pupils, aged 13-14, appealed to the local community to come forward with their family stories of relatives who served in the Second World War. They printed flyers, spoke to people at local mosques, ran ads on social media and asked all the other pupils at the school to ask their parents if they had a WW2 veteran in the family. They then became historians themselves, interviewing the descendants of these WW2 veterans and documenting their stories on the school website.
This short film of the project tells some of these stories of family pride in WW2 service. It was premiered at a special event at the school, where parents and the local community were joined by invited guests to hear more about the stories the students had uncovered.
The students uncovered some amazing stories. Two of the girls found out through this project that their great-grandfathers fought in the Second World War – a near-forgotten history that had just never come up in the family before. Both veterans had received medals. One, Henry Braimah from Ghana (pictured) was a Colonel, who fought against the Japanese in Burma.
Muhammad Tanveer shared the story of his grandfather, Mir Sultan Khan, who had served in Burma and was captured and held in a prisoner of war camp for three year. That story had inspired his grandson to work for the British army, where he now serves as a cadet instructor.
The project helped connect students with their history and helped explain how our past shaped the diverse classrooms and communities of modern Britain. It also made the girls think differently about Remembrance and why we pause each November to commemorate those who served.
Maimunatu, a student at Eden Girls School, said:
“Lots of people still don’t know about the millions of soldiers from Asia, Africa and the Caribbean who fought for Britain. I’d like other people to know that our great-grandfathers served alongside theirs. It means remembrance is something for all of us.”
Dr Avaes Mohammad, teacher at Eden Girls School, said:
“Until we did this project, some students didn’t know that they had a great grandparent who fought in the war. It’s made them think about their history, and why we pause to remember it each November. And I think it’s made them think differently about their identity too.”
ITV London News covered the story, interviewing some of the students who took part:
For more information about Remember Together, which is supported by the Royal British Legion, see www.remembertogether.uk