Project launched to study African American GIs in Dorset

Important milestone in UK’s multi-cultural history to be told through the real stories of local people

A NEW project has been launched to tell the story of the African American GIs stationed in Dorset during the Second World war.

Local charity DEED has been awarded �34,900 from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) and �500 from the JP Morgan Foundation to fund the work.

It will be called: “1944 We Were Here: African American GIs in Dorset.”

Led by local volunteers and staff, DEED will work with Walford Mill Crafts, the Priest’s House Museum and local theatre group State of Play to discover the stories of thousands of African American soldiers stationed in the county in 1944 while they practised for the D Day landings, as well as those of their colleagues, friends and families.

Louise Boston-Mammah, Project Manager at DEED said: ‘We will involve local people and support local volunteers to use local skills and expertise to investigate and bring to life some amazing stories for the whole community to enjoy and learn about Dorset’s important role in the Second World War.”

Now former Lyme Regis resident Louisa Adjoa Parker, project researcher at DEED wants local support. She said: “This is an exciting new opportunity to tell the stories of young, black American soldiers in Dorset for the first time about to fight a war to protect people’s freedom, and the local people they met here. This is an important

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part of local history, and the stories have not been explored in great detail until now.”

Commenting on HLF’s support for the project, Acting Head of South West, Richard Bellamy said: “During the Second World War more than 100,000 African American GIs were stationed in Britain. For most people in the communities where they were based, this was their first experience of

meeting a black person. DEED’s project will focus on this important milestone in the UK’s multi-cultural history and through the real stories of local people and the servicemen who lived alongside them, will help to bring the period alive for a new generation.”

The project will produce a touring exhibition, short film, series of talks and workshops, and a schools’ programme over the following year. The project also needs local volunteers to help support the project and learn new skills in local history research, publishing and promotion.

Anyone who has a story to tell about the African American GIs based in Dorset in 1944, documents relating to

this or wish to volunteer to help research the stories, should contact Louisa Adjoa Parker at or ring DEED on 01202 739422.