Black Tommies is the first book entirely dedicated to the part played by soldiers of African descent in the British regular army during the First World War. If African colonial troops have been ignored by historians, the existence of any substantial narrative around Black British soldiers enlisting in the United Kingdom during the First World War is equally unknown, even in military circles. Much more material is now coming to light, such as the oral testimony of veterans, and the author has researched widely to gather fresh and original material for this fascinating book from primary documentary sources in archives to private material kept in the metaphorical (and actual) shoe boxes of descendants of black Tommies. Reflecting the global nature of the conflict, Black Tommies takes us on a journey from Africa to the Caribbean and North America to the streets of British port cities such as Cardiff, Liverpool and those of North Eastern England. This exciting book also explodes the myth of Second Lieutenant Walter Tull being the first, or only, black officer in the British Army and endeavours to give the narrative of black soldiers a firm basis for future scholars to build upon by tackling an area of British history previously ignored.
Reviews'The book has many strengths, notably the extensive utilization of archival sources and private family letters and images. It also helps to elucidate the operation of social Darwinism in British society and in the military.... I would recommend this book to those interested in such fields as the British Empire, military history, and world history. They will find this book captivating.'
Paul Brenard, H-War
'This is a well researched and written title on a forgotten part of the Great War and is highly recommended.'
Paul Reed, WW1 Centenary
'The book has many strengths, notably the extensive utilization of archival sources and private family letters and images....I would recommend this book to those interested in such fields as the British Empire, military history, and world history. They will find this book captivating.'
Paul Brenard Chiudza Banda, H-Net Reviews
'Costello has produced a well-written, interesting, and pioneering book that will undoubtedly serve as a base for future research on Britain’s black servicemen of the First World War and, one hopes, beyond.'
Tim Stapleton, Journal of British Studies
‘Costello’s well-researched and engagingly written study shows clearly how, while small in numbers, British born or naturalised black soldiers contributed to the war itself, as well as to life in British ports, and British officers’ perceptions of race during the war years…Costello’s book is engagingly written and will appeal to a wide readership, both inside and outside the academy.’
Oliver Coates, Journal of African Military History