British West Indies
The first British settlement appeared in 1609 in Bermuda (which were discovered by Spaniard Juan Bermudez as early as 1503, but not inhabited) - it was founded by shipwrecked colonists heading to North America. However, Saint Kitts became the first official British colony in the West Indies, where the settlement appeared in 1623. Barbados was colonized in 1627, as a result of which Saint Kitts and Barbados are called the “mother of the British West Indies”. These islands were used by Britain as a springboard for further expansion of their colonial empire in the Caribbean.
Following the creation of the colonies of St. Kitts and Barbados, Britain began to conquer the possessions of the weakening Spanish Empire. So, in 1655, Jamaica was annexed. In 1718, the British fleet drove pirates from the Bahamas, setting British rule in the Bahamas. Trinidad Spaniards managed to keep under their control until 1797, when the island was surrounded by a squadron of British ships from 18 and the Spanish authorities had no choice but to turn it over to Britain. The island of Tobago in 1704 was declared a neutral territory, it was often used as its base by the famous Caribbean pirates, but in the 1763 year it was also attached to the British colonial possessions in the West Indies.
By 1912, the British West Indies included the island colonies of the Bahamas, Barbados, the Windward Islands, the Leeward Antilles, Trinidad and Tobago and Jamaica and the continental colonies of British Honduras (now Belize) and British Guiana (now Guyana). Thus, at various times, the power of Great Britain extended to a whole range of Caribbean territories, among which the independent states at present are Antigua and Barbuda, the Bahamas, Barbados, Belize (British Honduras), Guyana (British Guiana), Grenada, Dominica, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, Trinidad and Tobago, Jamaica. Anguilla, Bermuda, British Virgin Islands, Cayman Islands, Montserrat, Turks and Caicos remain overseas territories of Great Britain.
Until the final establishment of the borders of the colonial possessions, the West Indies remained a field of clash of interests between European powers, first of all - Great Britain and France, as well as the Netherlands, Spain, Denmark, in certain periods - Sweden and even Courland, and later - the United States of America. Therefore, there was always the risk of the seizure of colonial possessions by neighbors. On the other hand, the presence of considerable contingents of African slaves, which on the many islands constituted the overwhelming majority of the population, created quite tangible prospects for permanent uprisings.
In this regard, the presence of significant military units in the overseas colonies in the West Indies was deemed necessary. Thus, in 1780, Sir Charles Rainsfort created the Jamaican regiment, he is the 99 th infantry regiment of the British army, which for three years carried out garrison service in Jamaica before being returned to England and disbanded. Gradually, the British authorities came to the conclusion that the recruitment of colonial units at the expense of soldiers recruited in the metropolis, is an expensive pleasure. In addition, the Europeans did not tolerate the service on tropical islands, and it was quite problematic to recruit the proper number of people willing to serve as ordinary soldiers on distant islands. Of course, the military and naval units recruited in the metropolis on the West Indian islands were stationed, but they were clearly not enough. Therefore, Britain moved to the practice of creating colonial units from among the local people, which it successfully used in India and in its colonies in West and East Africa.
In the first half of the 18th century, the British authorities in Jamaica made the first attempt to induce part of the African Caribbean population to serve in their own interests. To do this, they attracted the so-called "Maroons" - the descendants of runaway slaves, who had long fled from the plantations to the depths of the island and lived there as forest tribes, periodically rebelling against the planters. A peace treaty was concluded with the Maroons from the town of Trelawney in 1738, in accordance with which they were recognized as free people, received the right to own the land occupied by them and the right to self-government, but pledged to serve to restrain other rebel slaves and search for fugitives in the forests. At the same time, British planters and military leaders relied on the good physique of the Maroons and their excellent possession of cold weapons. However, in 1760, when the Maroons were attracted to subdue another slave uprising, the Maroons cut off the ears of the rebels who died in clashes with British soldiers and tried to pass them off as evidence of their victories in order to receive the reward promised by the British. Gradually, the British authorities became disillusioned with the combat capabilities and loyalty of the Maroons, after which they decided to switch to another form of organization of the colonial units - on a regular basis, but with Afro-Caribbean rank and file.
Creation and combat path of the West Indies regiment
Between April 24 and September 1, eight West Indian regiments were established on 1795. Initially, the British colonial authorities began to recruit free black residents of the West Indies for service in the shelves and buy slaves from local plantations. Afro-Caribbean soldiers were superior in their adaptability to the climatic conditions of the West Indies to soldiers who had previously been recruited in the metropolis. In this regard, the British authorities decided not to abandon the experiment to create West Indian regiments and develop the latter. Like many other colonial units of the British army, they were built on the principle of recruiting an ordinary structure from among the Afro-Caribbean population and officers - from among the British. An incomparable advantage of the West Indian regiments recruited from the Afro-Caribbean soldiers was their cheapness compared with the military units of the metropolis.
In 1807, it was decided to release all black slaves serving in the West Indian regiments, and in 1808, the slave trade as such was prohibited. In 1812, a base was created in the British colony of Sierra Leone for the recruitment and training of local residents, who were recruited for service in the West Indian regiments. The colonial forces of the West Indies took part in hostilities on the Atlantic coast and in the Gulf of Mexico, in particular - in the attack of British troops on the French colony in New Orleans. In 1816, the number of regiments was reduced to six, which was explained by the end of the Napoleonic wars and the end of the Anglo-French confrontation in the West Indies.
In the first half of the XIX century, the West Indian regiments actively participated in the suppression of the uprisings of black slaves and the poorest segments of the population in the British colonies of the Caribbean. Thus, in the 1831, the 1. West Indies Regiment was actively involved in suppressing the uprising of the poorest segments of the population in Jamaica. Within a month, the black rebellion of the black population was brutally suppressed. By order of the governor, no less than 200 people were killed, and the famous Jamaican Maroons, who had switched to the British service, came out against the rebels together with the soldiers of the 1 West Indies Regiment.
During the entire XIX century, the number of West Indian regiments never decreased less than two, and only in 1888, both regiments were united into a single West Indies regiment of the British Army, consisting of two battalions. The reason for the reduction in the number of personnel was the termination of the confrontation of the colonial powers in the Caribbean. The West Indian regiment was distinguished by good discipline in comparison with other colonial units of the British army, although at the beginning of its existence it was between 1802 and 1837. - there were three soldiers mutiny. The commanding staff of the regiment was staffed by English officers attracted by additional allowances and benefits of the colonial service. Until 1914, the officers of the regiment acted on a permanent basis, unlike many other colonial regiments, in which officers were appointed from the British army for fixed periods.
Of particular interest is история uniforms of the West Indies regiment. The first time of its existence, the West Indian regiments of their soldiers wore the standard uniform of the British infantry - shako, red uniform, dark or white pants. A distinctive feature was the use of slippers, not heavy boots - obviously, a discount was made on the specifics of the West Indian climate. In 1856, the West Indian regiments assumed a bright form along the lines of the French Zouaves. It included a white turban, a red tank top with a yellow weave, a white vest, dark blue breeches. This uniform was retained as the parade uniform of the regiment until 1914, and the regiment orchestra until the regiment disbanded into 1927. Today this form is used as the parade in the Barbados Defense Forces - one of the historical heirs of the West Indies regiment.
In 1873-1874 The West Indies Regiment, recruited mostly from volunteers from the island of Jamaica, served in the colony of the Gold Coast in West Africa, where he participated in suppressing the resistance of the Ashanti tribes. The beginning of the First World War demanded from Great Britain the mobilization of all available military resources, including the colonial units. In particular, in August 1914 the 1 Battalion of the West Indies Regiment arrived in Freetown in Sierra Leone. A regimental communications unit participated in the British operation in German Cameroon. In the West Indies, the first battalion returned to 1916, after two and a half years in West Africa. The 2 9th Regiment Battalion arrived in West Africa in the second half of 1915 and took part in the capture of Yaoundé in German Cameroon.
In April 1916, the 2 Battalion was redeployed to Mombasa, Kenya, for use in hostilities in German East Africa. When 4 September 1916, the British convoy entered Dar es Salaam, it also included 515 soldiers and officers of the 2 battalion of the West Indies regiment. The regiment continued to carry out garrison service in East Africa, and in October 1917 participated in the battle of Nyango in German East Africa. In September, 1918, after the cessation of hostilities in East Africa, the 2 Battalion of the West Indies Regiment was transferred to Suez and from there to Palestine, where the two remaining months of World War I passed. In Palestine, the soldiers and officers of the regiment showed great valor in the battle with Turkish troops, which was noted by General Allenby, who commanded British troops, who sent a telegram of thanks to the Governor-General of Jamaica.
In 1915, the 2 West Indies Regiment was formed as part of the British Army, staffed by volunteers from the Caribbean colonies who arrived in the UK. The regiment was formed 11 battalions. The first battalion formed in September 1915 included a company 4: company A was manned in British Guiana, company B in Trinidad, company C in Trinidad and St. Vincent and company D in Grenada and Barbados. While the 1 and 2 battalions of the regiment served in Egypt and Palestine, the 3,4,6 and 7 battalions served in France and Belgium, the 8 and 9 also began service in France and Belgium, but then were transferred to Italy. The 10 and 11 battalions of the regiment served there.
In November 1918, all regiment battalions were concentrated at the base in Taranto in Italy. The regiment began to be prepared for demobilization, but the soldiers of the regiment were actively involved in loading and unloading operations, as well as in the construction and cleaning of toilets for white soldiers from other units. This caused a great deal of indignation among Caribbean soldiers, which intensified after they learned about the salary increase for white soldiers, but keeping their salaries at the same level. 6 December 1918. The soldiers of the 9 Battalion refused to carry out orders, 180 sergeants signed a petition complaining of a low salary. December 9 refused to obey the orders of the soldiers of the 10-th battalion. Ultimately, the British units arrived at the location of the regiment. The Ninth Battalion, which refused to obey orders, was disbanded, and its soldiers were assigned to other battalions. All battalions were disarmed. Sixty soldiers and sergeants were convicted of insurrection for prison terms of three to five years, one soldier was sentenced to 20 years and one was sentenced to death. Later, many former soldiers of the regiment played an active role in the formation of the national liberation movement in the British colonies on the Caribbean islands.
Thus, we see that the West Indies Regiment took part in the First World War, especially having been noted by the valor of its soldiers and officers during the hostilities in Palestine and Jordan. In total, 15600 immigrants from the West Indies took part in combat operations as part of British troops. The main part (about two thirds) of the soldiers of the private and non-commissioned officers of the regiment were immigrants from Jamaica, the remaining third of the regimental personnel were from Trinidad and Tobago, Barbados, the Bahamas, British Honduras, Saint-Louis, Lean Islands, Saint-Petersburg, Saint-Petersburg, Saint-Petersburg, Saint-Petersburg, Saint-Petersburg, Saint-Petersburg, Saint-Petersburg. St. Vincent.
During its more than a century of history, the West Indies Regiment was awarded military orders and medals for the following campaigns: Dominic and Martinique 1809 of the year, Guadeloupe 1810 of the year (both - the confrontation with France in the West Indies during the Napoleonic Wars), the Ashantii War in West Africa in 1873-1874, the war in West Africa in 1887, the war in West Africa in 1892-1893 and 1894, the war in Sierra Leone in 1898, the Palestinian campaign of the First World War in 1917-1918. , World War I East African Campaign in 1916-1918 and Cameroon World War I campaign in 1915-1916. Victoria Cross was awarded to Samuel Hoge, who received him at 1866 for his courage in the colonial war in the Gambia. In 1891, for his participation in the further campaign in the Gambia, the Victoria Cross was received by the Jamaican-born corporal, William Gordon, from the 1 battalion, who was promoted to sergeant.
In 1920, the 1 and 2 battalions of the West Indies Regiment were combined into a single 1 battalion, which was disbanded in the 1927 year. This was explained by the fact that the West Indies had long ago become a peaceful region, where there was no colonial confrontation between the European powers or the threat of uprisings of the black population. Moreover, the role of the main security guarantor in the Caribbean was assumed by the United States of America. However, a Caribbean regiment was formed in 1944, also staffed by immigrants from the islands of the British West Indies. He underwent short-term training in Trinidad and in the United States of America, after which he was transferred to Italy. On the western front, the regiment carried out auxiliary functions, consisting primarily of convoy of prisoners of war from Italy to Egypt. Then the regiment carried out work on demining the Suez Canal and the surrounding territory. In 1946, the Caribbean regiment returned to the West Indies and was disbanded, failing to participate in actual hostilities in Western Europe or North Africa.
Sir Gordon Leng
Perhaps the most famous soldier of the British colonial troops in the West Indies was Sir Alexander Gordon Leng (1793-1826). It is the first European traveler to reach the famous West African city of Timbuktu on the territory of modern Mali. In 1811, at the age of 18, Leng moved to Barbados, where he first served as a clerk with his uncle, Colonel Gabriel Gordon. He then entered military service and served in the 2 West Indies Regiment in officer positions. In 1822, Captain Lang, then transferred to the Royal African Corps, was sent by the Sierra Leone Governor to establish relations with the Mandingo people in Mali. In 1823-1824 He took an active part in the Anglo-Ashantian war, then returned to Britain. In 1825, Leng made another trip to the Sahara. He managed to reach the Tuareg nomads in the Ghadames area, and then the city of Timbuktu. On the way back, he was killed by a local resident - a fanatic who opposed the presence of Europeans in the region.
Regiment of the West Indies Federation
The revival of the West Indies regiment took place in the 1950s. The reason for the decision to recreate the once disbanded unit was the appearance of the Federation of the West Indies in 1958 year. It was assumed that this union of British colonial possessions in the Caribbean would be a “springboard” on the road to achieving political independence for the West Indies from the metropolis. The Federation of the West Indies includes the British possessions of Antigua, Barbados, Grenada, Dominica, Montserrat, Saint Christopher - Nevis - Anguilla, Saint Lucia, St. Vincent, Trinidad and Tobago, Jamaica with the Cayman Islands and the Turks and Caicos. It was assumed that all these colonies will achieve independence as part of a single state entity, into which the Federation of the West Indies was to be transformed. Accordingly, this state entity also needed its own armed forces — albeit small in size, but able to maintain internal order and defend the islands in the event of conflicts with neighboring states.
December 15 The West Indies federal parliament passed the Defense Act, which became the legal basis for the formation of the West Indies regiment as part of the armed forces of the Federation of the West Indies. 1958 January 1, the West Indies regiment was re-formed. His backbone was personnel recruited in Jamaica. The regimental barracks and the headquarters of the regiment were located in Kingston. It was decided to create in the regiment two battalions - the 1959, recruited and deployed in Jamaica, and the 1, recruited and deployed in Trinidad. The number of personnel of the regiment was determined in 2 soldiers and officers. Each battalion of the regiment was supposed to have 1640 soldiers. The regiment's tasks included confirming the sense of national identity and pride of the peoples of the West Indies. It was assumed that the regiment would become the basis for the formation of friendly relations between all the islands included in the Federation of the West Indies. In September, 730, in addition to the Jamaicans, served in the regiment as 1961 immigrants from Trinidad and 200 immigrants from Antigua.
The 1 Battalion of the West Indies Regiment, stationed in Jamaica, was organized in 1960 of four companies, one of which was a headquarters. The number of battalions was 500 soldiers and officers, of whom about half were from Jamaica, and 40 people were seconded British officers and sergeants - specialists. Although the battalion officers were from Jamaica, the percentage of recruits from other West Indian islands grew in the battalion. The 2 Battalion of the West Indies Regiment was formed in 1960.
However, in 1962, the Federation of the West Indies disintegrated, the reason for which was the numerous political and economic differences between its subjects. Accordingly, it was followed by the disbandment of the unified armed forces, including the West Indies regiment. July 30 The 1962 regiment was disbanded, and the battalions that formed it became the basis for the formation of infantry regiments of the two largest islands. The first battalion became the basis of the Jamaica infantry regiment, and the second battalion - the Trinidad and Tobago infantry regiment.
The history of the Jamaica regiment began in 1954, in 1958 it was included as an 1 battalion in the revived West Indies regiment, but after the dissolution of the latter it was transformed again into the Jamaica regiment. It consisted of the 1 Battalion and the 3 Battalion of the West Indies Regiment. In 1979, from the 1 battalion, three companies and part of the headquarters were selected, on the basis of which the 2 battalion was formed. In the 1983, the Jamaica regiment participated in the invasion of the American army into Grenada.
The Jamaican regiment is currently the backbone of the ground forces in the Jamaica Defense Forces. This is a non-mechanized infantry regiment, consisting of three battalions - two regular and one territorial. The main tasks of the regiment are the territorial defense of the island and assistance to police forces in the protection of public order and the fight against crime. The first regular battalion of the regiment, stationed in Kingston, is used primarily to support the local police in the protection of public order. The second regular battalion is used to patrol for the identification and destruction of drugs. One of the important tasks of the regiment is also participation in all United Nations peacekeeping operations in the Caribbean.
The total strength of the Jamaica Defense Forces is currently about 2 830 military personnel. The Defense Forces include ground forces (2 500 military personnel), the backbone of which are 2 regular and 1 territorial infantry battalions of the Jamaica regiment, 1 engineering regiment of four companies, 1 service battalion. In service is the 4 armored personnel carrier V-150 and 12 81-mm mortars. The air force has 140 military personnel and includes 1 military transport aircraft, 3 light aircraft and 8 helicopters. The Coast Guard has 190 people and includes 3 speed patrol boats and 8 patrol boats.
The second battalion of the West Indies regiment in 1962 was the basis for the formation of the Trinidad and Tobago Regiment. This unit is the core of the Trinidad and Tobago Defense Forces. Like the Jamaican regiment, the Trinidad and Tobago regiment is designed to maintain the internal security of the state and support law enforcement agencies in the fight against crime. In 1962, the Trinidad and Tobago regiment was created on the basis of the 2 battalion of the West Indies regiment, and in 1965, the second infantry battalion was formed as part of the Trinidad regiment. However, it did not last long and was dissolved in 1972.
In 1983, unlike other states of the West Indies, Trinidad and Tobago did not support the American operation in Grenada, in connection with which the Trinidad regiment did not participate in the landing in Grenada. But during 1983-1984. Regimental units were still present in Grenada in order to ensure law and order and eliminate the consequences of hostilities. In 1993-1996 The Trinidad regiment was part of the UN peacekeeping mission in Haiti. In 2004-2005 Regimental servicemen participated in the aftermath of the devastating hurricane in Grenada.
Currently, the regiment, despite its name, is more likely to be defined as an easy infantry brigade. Its strength is 2800 military personnel consisting of two infantry battalions, one engineering battalion and a support battalion. The regiment is part of the ground forces of the Trinidad and Tobago Defense Forces. The latter are among the largest in the West Indies and have thousands of troops 4. Three thousand troops account for the ground forces, which consist of the four-battalion Regiment of Trinidad and Tobago and the battalion of support and support. The Army has six mortars, 24 recoilless guns and 13 grenade launchers. The Coast Guard has 1063 man and is armed with a 1 patrol ship, 2 large and 17 small patrol boats, 1 auxiliary ship and 5 aircraft. Trinidad Air Guard (the so-called Air Force of the country) in 1966 was created as part of the Coast Guard, but then, in 1977, was allocated to a separate branch of troops. Armed with 10 aircraft and 4 helicopter.
In addition to the West Indies regiment, the Barbados Volunteer Forces were also part of the military units that were recruited in the British colonies of the Caribbean. They were formed in 1902 year to protect the territory of the island and maintain order on it after the withdrawal of the British garrison. Barbados volunteers took part in the First and Second World Wars as part of the West Indies and Caribbean Regiments. In 1948, the Barbados Volunteer Forces were restored and renamed the Barbados Regiment. In 1959-1962 Barbados, a member of the Federation of the West Indies, formed the 3 Battalion of the West Indies Regiment on the basis of the Barbados Regiment. After the collapse of the Federation and the independence of Barbados, the Barbados regiment was restored and became the basis of the Barbados Defense Forces. Its tasks include protecting the island’s territory from external threats, maintaining internal security and helping the police in their fight against crime. The regiment is also actively involved in peacekeeping operations. In its present form, the regiment was formed in the 1979 year - like all the Barbados Defense Forces. He participated in the American operation in Grenada in 1983.
The Barbados Regiment consists of two units - regular and reserve battalions. The regular battalion includes a headquarters company, which provides logistics and the work of the regimental staff; engineering company; a company of special operations, which is the main combat unit of the regiment as a rapid reaction force. The reserve battalion consists of a headquarters company and two rifle companies. It is the reserve part of the Barbados Defense Forces that is the custodian of the historical traditions of the Barbados Regiment. In particular, the military orchestra of the Barbados Defense Forces still uses Zuav uniform, which was worn by soldiers of the West Indian regiments in the second half of the XIX century.
The Barbados Defense Forces include four components. The basis of the Defense Forces is the Barbados Regiment. The Barbados Coast Guard includes patrol boats, whose crews are engaged in territorial waters patrols, rescue and humanitarian operations. The headquarters of the Defense Forces manages and logistics all other components of the Defense Forces. The Barbados Cadet Corps is a youth paramilitary organization, founded in 1904 year, and includes infantry and marine cadets. There are also medical units in the cadet corps. Since 1970's women were accepted into the cadet corps.
Antigua and Barbuda, Saint Kitts and Nevis
In addition to Jamaica, Trinidad and Barbados, Antigua and Barbuda also has its own Defense Forces. The Royal Defense Forces of Antigua and Barbuda carry out the tasks of maintaining internal security and public order, combating drug smuggling, controlling fishing, protecting the environment, helping with natural disasters, and performing ceremonial duties. The strength of the Antigua and Barbuda Defense Forces is a total of 245 troops. The Regiment of Antigua and Barbuda includes a service and support service, an engineering detachment, an infantry company, flotilla Coast Guard consisting of several boats. In 1983, 14 units of Antigua and Barbuda took part in the American operation in Grenada, and in 1990 12 soldiers participated in maintaining order in Trinidad while suppressing an unsuccessful coup attempt by black Muslims there. In 1995, the soldiers of Antigua and Barbuda took part in a peacekeeping operation in Haiti.
The St. Kitts and Nevis Defense Forces are historically rooted in plantation defense units created in 1896 to maintain order on the sugar cane plantations. After the cessation of unrest in the plantation, the defense forces were disbanded. However, in 1967, due to the unrest in Anguilla, it was decided to create its own Defense Forces. Currently, the St. Kitts and Nevis Defense Forces include an infantry unit (St. Kitts and Nevis Regiment) and the coast guard. The regiment of St. Kitts and Nevis is essentially an infantry company from a control platoon and three rifle platoons. The total strength of the Defense Forces is 300 troops, another 150 man is being trained in the St. Kitts and Nevis Cadet Corps. The tasks of the Defense Forces also come down to maintaining internal security, public order and combating drug smuggling.
At present, the overwhelming majority of the states of the West Indies in matters of foreign and defense policy follow in the wake of the interests of the United States of America and their former colonial metropolises. To a large extent, this applies to the countries of the British Commonwealth. Their small defense forces, which are the heirs of the colonial units of the British West Indies, are used as auxiliary and police formations if the need arises. Of course, the combat capabilities of the Defense Forces are extremely low in comparison with the armed forces of most countries of the same Latin America. But they do not require serious military power - for large-scale operations there are British or American armed forces, and the Jamaican or Barbados military can perform auxiliary functions, as it was, say, in Grenada in 1983.