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Messages, Medals, and Memorials – public art exhibition in Ladywell Cemetery Chapel Saturday 8th & Sunday 9th September 11am – 4pm

Messages, Medals, and Memorials – a public art exhibition which will be in the Chapel of the Ladywell Cemetery on Saturday 8th & Sunday 9th September 11am – 4pm, commemorates the contribution of Colonial troops and the Labour Corps to the war effort in the First World War. Though never fully acknowledged, Europe's Great War was a war of colonials and a colonial theatre of war. Over 4 million African, Indian, Caribbean and other colonial troops and personnel played a crucial role in supporting the Allied cause in World War I. The Labour Corps, formed in January 1917, grew to some 389,900 men, more than 10% of the total size of the Army by the Armistice on 11th November 1918.

In sharp contrast to notions of duty, honour and fighting for King and Country, Colonial troops and Labour corps faced a whole range of inequalities in military and non-military equipment, mobility and privileges that separated them from their white counterparts. Non-white colonial troops and labour corps were routinely segregated, closely watched, subject to curfews and other restrictions.

Messages, Medals, and Memorials through the artworks on display tells the stories of their lives before the war, their war service and their heroism, as well as the memorials that stand as a testament to their sacrifice. Nicky Scott-Francis explores the war service of the Gurkhas. Sara Scott will focus on the Sikh soldiers of the Indian Army who lost at least 174,187 soldiers during the war. Monica Wheeler tells the story of black soldier Walter Tull, whilst Louse Kosinska looks at the contribution of the North and South African Labour Corps. Elizabeta Chojak-Mysko draws attention to the Chinese Labour Corps, the soldiers of ‘menial chores’ who worked 10 hours a day, 6 days a week. Jill Rock and Jolanta Jagiello uncover the truly forgotten ‘soldiers’, Jill Rock commemorating the 210,000 Irishmen who served in the British forces, with Jolanta Jagiello highlighting Conscientious Objectors who refused to kill and were imprisoned for their beliefs fighting in the name of peace.

The exhibition was originally funded by Southwark Council Neighbourhood Fund and is curated by Jolanta Jagiello.  The exhibition is in the Chapel of the Ladywell Cemetery, Ladywell Road, SE13 7HY on Saturday 8th & Sunday 9th September 11am – 4pm. and