Many African heroes are remembered all over the continent because of the sacrifices they made for their nations. Ghanaian veteran Private Joseph Hammond reflects on the Burma Campaign of World War II. Hammond, who is now 95 years old, was one of 100,000 Africans who fought for the British Army against the Japanese. However, the multinational troops are known as the forgotten army, as many feels their contribution received little recognition.
African Soldier: Ghanaian Captain Tom.
Hammond, popularly also known as the “Ghanaian Captain Tom,” is famous for his fundraising efforts during the Coronavirus pandemic. He still vividly remembers the fighting, artillery, bombs, planes, Japanese airplanes, it was madness all over.
Back in the ’90s, 100,000 African soldiers were recruited by the British Army to join the Burma Campaign of World War Two. Among the soldiers was Hammond from Ghana. It all began when he met two police officers at the police station, and they took a liking for him. He was then drafted to go to war in India and Burma. The fighting was so ferocious. He had never seen any troops that fight like Japanese.
“When you see an enemy, and you hesitate, he will kill you straight away so we could not afford to be sluggish. We were there for a purpose, to kill or be killed.” Says Hammond.
We are Black; They Don’t See us.
They navigated through rivers that were up to their necks as they carried a few of fellow injured soldiers to safer grounds for treatment. He witnessed the death of so many soldiers, so of whom were very close to him. However, he could not go back to touch them or do anything because the troop had to keep moving. There was no time to weep for their loss. They would, therefore, wait when the surrounding was a bit calm, and they would hide and weep quietly in fear of being seen.
However, the Japanese snipers killed the British soldiers more because they were more visible compared to their African soldiers. The African soldiers were more advantaged due to their skin color, which acted as camouflage. At the end of the day, seven to eight white soldiers were killed while one or two Africans died. Therefore, the British soldiers resolved to camouflages ointment. They would smear the black-like ointment on their faces before heading out. After which the killing stopped while the injured cases were fewer.
“God has helped us, we are black they don’t see us,” the African soldiers used to make fun of the British soldiers.
African Soldiers: Laying Down Lives for Humanity.
The soldiers were more than brothers. The comradeship relationship and bonds were very strong. This applied for both the African and white soldiers. However, many feel the African soldiers deserve more recognition for the great sacrifices and contributions they made. Furthermore, they weren’t always seen or treated with enough respect. Their fathers fought with spears, but these men handled their modern weapons as expertly as crack white gunners. When they came out to civil life, they all had to play their part. The color prejudice and tribalism were all forgotten for that moment. Memories still float in his mind, he remembers it like it was just yesterday.
“War is never good. I’ve experienced it first-hand. I am 95, I have passed through it, and it’s no joke.”
These men laid down their lives for humanity to save others and get peace in return.