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Black Tommies is the first book entirely dedicated to the part played by soldiers of African descent in the British regular army during the First World War. If African colonial troops have been ignored by historians, the existence of any substantial narrative around Black British soldiers enlisting in the United Kingdom during the First World War is equally unknown, even in military circles. Much more material is now coming to light, such as the oral testimony of veterans, and the author has researched widely to gather fresh and original material for this fascinating book from primary documentary sources in archives to private material kept in the metaphorical (and actual) shoe boxes of descendants of black Tommies. Reflecting the global nature of the conflict, Black Tommies takes us on a journey from Africa to the Caribbean and North America to the streets of British port cities such as Cardiff, Liverpool and those of North Eastern England. This exciting book also explodes the myth of Second Lieutenant Walter Tull being the first, or only, black officer in the British Army and endeavours to give the narrative of black soldiers a firm basis for future scholars to build upon by tackling an area of British history previously ignored.
Ray Costello is an independent historian and writer and an honorary research fellow of the School of Sociology and Social Science, University of Liverpool.