US "coloured" troops in the UK

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US "coloured" troops in the UK

In October 1942 the Cabinet discussed the issues that had arisen with the arrival of US 'coloured' troops in the UK.  It was agreed that the US army's views must be considered in determining the British attitude to 'coloured' US troops and that it was desirable that the people of this country should avoid becoming too friendly with US 'coloured' troops.  However, the Cabinet also agreed that while it was right that British people and British troops should be educated to know what the US attitude was, it was equally important that the Americans should recognise that the UK faced different issues regarding its own 'coloured' troops and that a modus vivendi would need to be found. 


What is being done about social side?


All  Vol Socies. under one hat. Likely to get sensible organion. going before Winter.
They will segregate blacks. Contingents of negresses comg. to care for them.

W.M.(42)109th Meeting held on 10 August 1942.

The Cabinet agreed that the UK should not object to the Americans making use of administrative arrangements for the segregation of their troops but they must not expect the UK authorities to assist them with this policy.   It should be made clear to the US that there should be no restrictions on the use of canteens, cinemas, pubs and theatres by 'coloured' troops and those who wanted to extend invitations to both white and 'coloured' troops should seek advice before doing so. 

Viscount Cranborne was uneasy with the view that people of this country should avoid becoming too friendly with 'coloured' US troops as this was at variance with the attitude adopted towards British 'coloured' subjects who came to the UK. It might cause offence to those people now in this country and lead to their becoming a focus for discontent when they returned to their homes in the colonies.


Views of U.S. Army must be considered.
 Nothing to stand betwn. U.S. offr. and his troops : we mustn't interfere.


I accept that. What I won't have is B. Police enforcing their rules for them.


We won't segregate or discriminate in our canteens. 


Test this.   a) Victoria Stn. Canteen. If we conform to U.S. attitude then at this Canteen coloured troops can't be served.


We agree :  a) if any segregn. U.S. must do it not us. Their responsibility. b) Explain U.S. attitude and ask our people to pay attention to it.  c) There shd. be a good deal of reserve in attitude of our troops, particularly to negroes.


Educate them yes : but don't try to educate them into U.S. prejudices.
Cranb. If it can be said we have advocated "colour bar" all the coloured people here fr. our Empire will go back discontented and preach disaffection there.

W.M.(42)140th Meeting held on 13 October 1942