Flight Sergeant James Hyde Spitfire Pilot
Although the colour bar was lifted from 1939 the RAF did not go to the West Indies to start recruitment of black aircrew until 1940, after they experienced great losses and in the Battle of Britain. It was only then that the colour bar was reluctantly, properly lifted. Beforehand, only British men of European descent could be officers in Her Majesty’s Armed Forces.
Despite the lifting of these restrictions Caribbean personnel still found it difficult to enlist there. Many found that the only way to join the Allied forces was to pay their own way to travel to Canada and join the Royal Canadian Air Force.
Black pilots knew that if they were shot down, they were most likely to be shot immediately and not sent to a POW camp, like the white aircrew, therefore, their chances of survival were almost nil. Of course, there were a few exceptions, like that of Cy Grant and Basil Anderson.
Having previously upheld the colour bar before 1939 the RAF confidentially ordered at the end of the war that there should be no more colour bar in the RAF and hostility should be severely checked.
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