African soldiers ‘paid less than white peers lose payout’
African soldiers who fought for Britain in World War Two will not be compensated after receiving two thirds less pay than their white colleagues, the Guardian newspaper has reported.
Soldiers serving from Britain’s colonies were paid an end-of-war bonus that was based on their rank, length of service and ethnicity. The overall amount was a third of the total that white soldiers received.
Defence Minister Tobias Ellwood told fellow MPs there would be “no current plans to take forward any further investigations of this matter”, the Guardian quotes him as saying.
He said an investigation would require “extensive resources” amid “competing demands” across government departments.
There would be “difficulty in establishing an accurate factual records base,” he added.
Six-hundred thousand African men were recruited from across the continent during the World War Two, some of them by force.
The Guardian spoke to a Kenyan veteran who said he endured “tough” conditions and corporal punishment when he fought for the British against the Japanese.
Muchara Ntiba, now aged 97, was sent to Burma and said “bullets were just raining on us”.
“We put our lives in danger for them,” he said. “The British government did not listen to our demands. We got out with nothing.”
The decision “in no way diminishes how grateful the UK is to all those servicemen and women from the Commonwealth who served with Britain during the second world war,” said Mr Ellwood.
The opposition Labour party condemned the decision. (BBC)