David Lammy: We've got to get better at being honest about our history

22 April 2021, 14:20 | Updated: 22 April 2021, 14:26

EJ Ward

By EJ Ward

David Lammy has urged Brits to "get better at being honest about our history" after a report found the Commonwealth War Graves Commission failed to commemorate black and Asian troops due to "pervasive racism".

David Lammy has told LBC he "shed a tear" after the Commonwealth War Graves Commission (CWGC) apologised following an investigation which found hundreds of thousands of predominantly black and Asian service personnel who died fighting for the British Empire were not formally remembered in the same way as their white comrades.

David presented a documentary about the more than 100,000 Africans denied the honour of an individual grave after they died fighting for the British Empire features a document which refers to victims being "of a semi-savage nature".

Speaking to LBC's Shelagh Fogarty the Labour MP said he was moved when he heard the news and was left thinking of the people he met on his journey in "villages where they lost their sons."

He told Shelagh it was an important moment for whole areas of nations that were decimated by the loss of their men due to the war.

Expanding on his thoughts David ended the conversation by saying "we've got to get better at being honest about our history."

Following the documentary, the Commonwealth War Graves Commission (CWGC) established a special committee which has confirmed that at least 116,000 predominantly African and Middle Eastern First World War casualties "were not commemorated by name or possibly not commemorated at all".

Professor Michele Barrett appears in the documentary and tells Mr Lammy that it was not a case of "random acts of racism", but instead policy was being followed.

She said: "There was a very interesting report that was done by a chap called Major George Evans in the early 1920s.

"And he says, 'Most of the natives who have died are of a semi-savage nature and do not attach any sentiment to marking the graves of their dead'.

"He thought the erection of individual headstones in the case of African natives would constitute a waste of public money."

Prof Barrett added: "He also said that he thought the issue was that tribes are 'hardly in such a state of civilisation as to appreciate or understand such a memorial'.

More Shelagh Fogarty News

See more More Shelagh Fogarty News

Exclusive
Dr Konstancja Duff was strip-searched by the Met Police.

'Humiliated' lecturer tells LBC Met Police are 'pathetic' for 'degrading' strip-search

'I just think Boris Johnson should go': Yvette Cooper slams PM in scathing attack

'I just think Boris Johnson should go': Yvette Cooper slams PM in scathing attack

No10 officers feared 'snooping' accusations if they acted on partygate, ex-top cop says

No10 officers feared 'snooping' accusations if they acted on partygate, ex-top cop says

'They're all murderers': Caller's shocking Islamophobia experience

'They're all murderers': Caller's shocking Islamophobia experience

Headteacher tells LBC of more than £67,000 increase in her school's energy bills

Headteacher tells LBC of more than £67,000 increase in her school's energy bills

Governance 'undermined' by No10 'survival' culture, Shad. Chief Treasury Sec tells Shelagh Fogarty

Governance 'undermined' by No10 'survival' culture, Shad Chief Treasury Sec tells Shelagh Fogarty

Shelagh Fogarty's devastating takedown of Boris Johnson partygate denial

Shelagh Fogarty's devastating takedown of Boris Johnson partygate denial

'Morally inept' NDA practice in uni sex cases must be scrapped, Minister insists

'Morally inept' uni sex case NDAs must be scrapped, Minister demands

Partygate scandal: 'I will never vote Conservative again,' caller says

Partygate scandal: 'I will never vote Conservative again,' passionate caller says

Ex-Met standards boss defends lack of No10 party investigations

Ex-Met standards boss defends lack of No10 party investigation

Tory MP Sir Roger Gale tells LBC party has to replace Boris Johnson as leader

Tory MP Sir Roger Gale tells LBC Boris Johnson has to be replaced as leader

Shelagh Fogarty's passionate clash with caller defending No10 party

Shelagh Fogarty's passionate clash with caller defending Number 10 party

Pavan Sagoo passed away in the same month Downing Street held a party for staff.

Mum who lost daughter, 14, during May 2020 lockdown too devastated to say the PM's name

Cladding crisis: Caller facing bankruptcy and 'fighting it every single day on credit cards'

Cladding crisis: Caller fighting bankruptcy 'every single day on credit cards'

Colston's Girls' School ex-pupil reveals 'inappropriate' rituals to slave trader

Colston's Girls' School ex-pupil reveals 'inappropriate' rituals to slave trader

'I will now say that I forgive the person who killed my son'

'I will now say that I forgive the person who killed my son'