Saturday June 24th 2023 marks the 80th anniversary of The Battle of Bamber Bridge. So how was it remembered?

To find out more, go to Newsflash 20 at the end of this article where all will be revealed






                                                                                      







              A break from the trial                                  A quiet drink outside the Hob Inn



The Battle of Bamber Bridge - Updated
You can also hear a live commentary of the event by going to:-
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hxedbp7KCNk

Will there ever be some recognition of the battle? Find out more at the end of this article.


     As June 24th 2018 marks the 75th anniversary of the battle, we have decided to update the story with some additional material kindly sent to us by Sgt(RAFAC) John Kay of the 2376 (Bamber Bridge) sqn ATC.


Did you know that there was once a large US military camp based in Bamber Bridge during the 2nd world war? The town hosted American servicemen from the 1511th Quartermaster Truck regiment, part of the 8th Air Force. Their base, known as ‘Adams Hall’, was situated in the Mounsey Road area, part of which still exists now as home to the local  Air Cadets Training Corps (See photos below). A US Military Police Contigent was also located in the town,
     During the war years, US Armed Forces were still racially segregated, and the soldiers of 1511 Quartermaster Truck were almost entirely black, while all but one of the officers were white, as were all the MPs and leadership in the military unit was considered to be poor. Tensions were intensified by racial riots in Detroit earlier that week and an uneasy period in the town was probably the results of these racial tensions. The people of Bamber Bridge on the whole supported the black troops, and when American commanders on what was considered a knee-jerk reaction, demanded a colour bar in the town, many of the pubs reportedly posted ‘Black Troops Only’ signs on their doors. This was probably seen as the blue touch paper to a potential firecracker and all that was required to set it off was a match – and what happened next proved to be that source of ignition.
      On the night of June 24th, 1943, a number of black soldiers were drinking with Bamber Bridge townspeople in Ye Old Hob Inn. After last orders were called at 10:00 PM, several soldiers attempted to buy more beer and were refused. Two passing MPs, were alerted by the officers and when they arrived they attempted to arrest one soldier (Private Eugene Nunn) who was improperly dressed and did not have a pass. An argument ensued between the black soldier and the white MPs, with local people and British servicewomen siding with Nunn and the small group of comrades he was with.
     One soldier, Private Lynn M. Adams, advanced on the MPs with a bottle, and MP Windsor drew his gun in response. Black Staff Sergeant William Byrd was able to defuse the situation, but as the MPs left Adams threw his beer at their jeep. After driving away, the MPs picked up reinforcements and then caught up with the unit's officers. The officers were unable to help, and told the MP’s to do their duty and arrest the soldiers. The MP’s intercepted the soldiers on Station Road which was the only route back to the base. What happened next is disputed. Two black soldiers, who were not involved in the violence, claimed that the MPs threatened the soldiers, shouting "By God men, come on!", while a British Special Constable who was nearby said the MPs were initially peaceful and stopped to talk to Adams who was drinking in the road.
     As they approached, punches were thrown and a general melee broke out. One of the MP’s drew his gun and fired, hitting Adams in the neck. The crowd scattered, and jeeps arrived to rescue the wounded although it was reported that the officers refused to take the black soldiers to hospital. As the injured soldiers returned to the base, rumours began to spread that the MPs were out to shoot black soldiers, and panic spread around the base. A few black soldiers slipped out, perhaps hoping to find the MPs and get revenge, but the majority stayed on base. It fell to the acting commander of the camp, Major George C. Heris, to calm the situation. Lieutenant Edwin D. Jones, the only black officer in the ranks, was able to persuade the soldiers that Heris would be able to round up the MPs and see that justice was done.
     At midnight, several jeeps full of MPs arrived at the camp, including one improvised armoured car armed with a large machine gun. A general panic broke out, resulting in black soldiers arming themselves from the camp gun room. Around two-thirds of the rifles were taken, and a large group of men left the base in pursuit of the MPs.
     The black soldiers warned the townspeople to stay inside, and began shooting at the MPs, who returned fire. The darkness meant that both sides were confused and in reality few shots were fired. However, one black soldier, Private William Crossland, was killed (See photo below), and four people were wounded (two soldiers and two MPs). Shooting continued until around 4 AM the next morning. Eventually, the soldiers returned to the base, and by the afternoon all but four rifles had been recovered.
     The violence left one man dead and seven people (five soldiers and two MPs) injured. At the subsequent court martial, 32 black soldiers were found guilty of various crimes including mutiny, seizing arms, rioting, and firing upon officers and MPs. The sentences were all reduced on appeal, with the poor leadership and use of racial slurs by MPs considered mitigating factors. General Ira C. Eaker, commander of the Eighth Air Force, placed the majority of the blame on the white officers and MPs and to prevent such an incident happening again, he combined the black trucking units into a single special command. The ranks of this command were purged of inexperienced and racist officers, and the MP patrols were racially integrated. Morale among black troops stationed in England improved, and the rates of courts-martial fell. Although there were several more minor conflicts between black and white American troops in Britain during the remainder of the war there was never any further incidents as serious as the one that took place in Bamber Bridge.


See below for further newspaper reports on this racial wartime battle.











































































































      Original war time hut on the Adams camp               The same hut today. Now the HQ of the  local  ATC squadron   

               


















Members of the Bamber Bridge ATC Squadron lay a wreath on the grave of Pte William Crossland

To hear a live commentary of the event just click on

https://www.lep.co.uk/lifestyle/nostalgia/when-race-riots-sparked-a-gun-battle-on-streets-of-bamber-bridge-1-9218634

The local Council are considering erecting a memorial plaque to this event on the green close by the Hob Inn where it all kicked off. Local young artist, Tom Cookson has created the artwork for the memorial (see below). We believe that it encaptures the infamous incident perfectly and will indeed be a fitting memorial for all concerned and a permanent reminder for locals and visitors alike that racism and intolerence has no place in modern society as it so often leads to violence. We sincerely hope that the Council shares our views and sanctions the erection of this fitting memorial that in no way glorifies violence but acts as a stark reminder of what can happen when a civilized society forgets that all races, creeds and religions share this planet, Watch this space for further news of the proposal.





































This is how the memorial could look and has been well received by the council who have placed the project in the top ten of 'My Neighbourhood' projects. Watch this space for further news of the proposal. It has also been suggested that a sundial could be placed on top of the plinth with an inscription on the lines of 'The time for universal peace, love and understanding is now'








Newsflash 1

     Although the majority of residents are in favour of and support the proposed memorial to what has been locally identified as the ‘Battle of Bamber Bridge’, It appears that a small number of objections have been raised to such a memorial, believing that it would act as painful reminder to the violence that occurred at that time.
     The Battle which took place during WW2 between black American servicemen stationed in the town and the white Military Police was undoubtedly a very sad affair and a direct result of the racial tensions between the black and white servicemen, not only in Bamber Bridge but in American camps throughout the UK.
     In an effort to put the matter into perspective, the idea behind erecting such a memorial is in no way intended to publicise or glorify the shameful event but rather to act as a permanent reminder to us all of the dire consequences that can occur due to bigotry, prejudice and intolerance of race, colour or creed and that there never was or ever can be a place among civilized nations for such negative beliefs. The planned text to support the artwork for the memorial will reflect this and hopefully all people, regardless of race, colour or creed, that stop to read it will also be able to reflect and act accordingly on the message of hope that it contains.
     Despite the horror of the battle, some good did emerge from this infamous confrontation. The US armed forces ‘High Brass’ examined very carefully the triggers to the uprising and put measures in place to ensure that such incidents could never happen again – and they appear to have been effective. Morale among black troops stationed in England improved, and the rates of courts-martial fell dramatically. Although there were several more minor conflicts between black and white American troops in Britain during the remainder of the war there were never any further incidents as serious as the one that took place in Bamber Bridge.

Newsflash 2

The Lancashire Post has picked up on our campaign and Local Democracy Reporter, Paul Faulkner, has written an article for the paper. To read an online version visit https://www.lep.co.uk/news/people/bamber-bridge-wartime-memorial-still-on-track-1-9960315

Newsflash 3

The idea of the memorial has promoted much recent interest in the local area including the licencee of the nearby Hob Inn, Sarah Locke. Sarah is so keen on the idea that she is even talking about funding or part funding the project. She is now about to contact Caleb Tomlinson, who is the local councillor for the area in order to discuss the project further.

We at the BBB hope the discussions are fruitful.

Newsflash 4
Things are really taking off with regards to the memorial. A committee has now been formed with a view to turning this long-held dream into a reality. Watch this space for further developments.

Newsflash 5

Well we finally made it to the airwaves. A recent broadcast from Radio Lancashire managed to extract a promise from the local council that the memorial WILL be erected and hopefully this would be sometime in 2021. Would be nice if it could be in position for the 78th anniversary in June - We live in hopes!

Newsflash 6

Due to lockdown, little progress has been made with regards to the erection of the memorial. Just a friendly reminder to the proposed committee that we can soon meet again with a view to furthering the progress of the memorial in line with promises made by the council that this would be erected in 2021 - Let's make sure that it happens!

Newsflash 7

A reminder was made to the SRBC recently and this is the response as received from Councillor Chris Lomax who is the Forum Chair of the Bamber Bridge, Lostock Hall and Walton-Le-Dale Planning Committee and responsible for the project:-
'As I said on Radio Lancashire on Thursday 24th June, we have consulted  on the project. 82% believe this is a worthy project and over 70% like the final design. We are now on with procurement of materials and hope to have the project completed at the earliest opportunity and certainly before the end of the year'.

We are assuming that this final design is in line with  that as shown in this article, where the artwork was designed by local artist, Thomas Cookson. We are currently waiting for confirmation of this from Cllr Lomax.

Newsflash 8
How wrong we were to presume anything! Just who were these '82% that believe this is a worthy project and over 70% like the final design?' No Bamber Bridge resident who we have asked knew anything about this apparent consultation. Now read below as to what has transpired since.










What do you think that the design above depicts? A new Hairdressing establishment opening up in Bamber Bridge? Maybe the latest ‘Takeaway’ shop. Then again it could be for one of the many estate agents showing how desirable it would be to live in our little town. Well I can now inform you that it’s for none of these. It is in fact the proposed design for the Battle of Bamber Bridge memorial – Yes we were surprised as well.       After years of campaigning by the BBB, we were elated when informed by Councillor Chris Lomax, the Forum Chair of the Bamber Bridge, Lostock Hall and Walton-Le-Dale Planning Committee that the design of the memorial had been approved. However, we were not quite so happy to learn that despite designs submitted by local residents that had seemed to attract universal approval, it appeared that these had now been ‘forgotten’ and that outside agencies had been appointed to design the memorial with no input from the good people of Bamber Bridge.
A recent Facebook campaign, where both designs were featured, resulted in an overwhelming vote for the original in-house design accompanied by many asking the question as to what a nondescript street scene had to do with the events of that fateful night in June 1943 and why show the Union flag when this was an all American affair – Our thoughts as well!
However, it may not be to late for the decision to be reviewed. We have been invited to attend a meeting where the subject of the design will be further discussed. In order for the thoughts of local residents to hopefully be considered, it would help enormously if you could voice your opinion on the two designs as shown below. This can be done by contacting Cllr Lomax by email on cllr.clomax@southribble.gov.uk and letting him know which of the two designs best represents the infamous Battle of Bamber Bridge in 1943 prior to our meeting, which will occur during week commencing July 26th. 

 






























                    Design 1 -  Original design by local artist and Bamber Bridge residents















                       













                                      Design 2 - By outside agencies with inscription 


Newsflash 9

Well the meeting was held with our editor and Chris Lomax, the councillor appointed by SRBC to commission the memorial and Clinton Smith of the Preston Black History Group. It was clear from the start that hopes of any compromise on the design were somewhat unlikely and that the thoughts and ideas proposed by the good people of Bamber Bridge were not considered worthy of recognition for the memorial design.
We were saddened and astounded when Cllr Lomax claimed he knew nothing about the campaign conducted by the BBB on behalf of the residents over many years, despite previous involvement by a number of his fellow councillors and a very informative article published in the Lancashire Post (see https://www.lep.co.uk/news/politics/bamber-bridge-wartime-memorial-still-track-664097).

He has turned instead to external organizations for this privilege, namely the Preston Black History Group and UCLAN. Now we are not suggesting that such bodies should not be involved in the design process but surely the group that without doubt should have been included in the process were the residents of Bamber Bridge, many of whom have direct family links with the mutiny.
As the epitaph to accompany the memorial had only just been made available to us, the meeting ended on the understanding that this would be studied and appropriate comments made.
Subsequent feedback from a number of local residents resulted in the possibility of a compromise on the design with the street scene remaining on one plaque and that the epitaph on the other could be made more appealing and meaningful with the addition of Tom Cookson’s artwork. Also the accurate but somewhat soulless account of the sad event can be brought to life with an additional section which we have called ‘MORAL’. We believe that this will give visitors food for thought with regards to the tragic consequences that can ensue when racism and bigotry abound. A message that really does need to get home in light of recent unfortunate events both home and abroad.
This compromise design has been submitted to Cllr Lomax and Clinton Smith for their comments. As yet we have received no feedback but live in hopes that this amendment would be acceptable and show that the thoughts and ideas of local residents have been recognized.













                                                         Street scene to remain as shown



















                      Revised epitaph to include Tom Cookson's artwork and addition of the 'Moral'


We live in hopes that at least this compromise design will be considered in the final reckoning. Watch this space for further updates.

Newsflash 10

As a spin off from the memorial publicity, we have learned that there is a possibility that a fictionalized film, based on real events, could be made about the Battle of Bamber Bridge.             In an effort to gain some insight on the town and people's recollections of that tragic night, Mike Bundred, a director of the Glass Mountain Film Studio, will be visiting the Hob Inn on Thursday August 26th at 2-00pm in order to speak to local residents. If you have family connections to the battle and have a tale to tell then why not come along to the Hob Inn and have a chat with Mike. Who knows, you could be offered a starring role in the production!

Newsflash 11
Regular readers of the BBB may not be surprised to learn that the design for the memorial as submitted by external agencies and supported by the SRBC's Forum Chair of the Bamber Bridge, Lostock Hall and Walton-Le-Dale Planning Committee has been put on hold. This has come about as the authority’s own planning committee has apparently deferred a decision over whether or not to grant permission for the memorial after numerous concerns were raised over its appearance – and whether it was an accurate reflection of Bamber Bridge. One objector told the meeting that he would, 'Struggle to recognise the skyline that is proposed to form the backdrop of the sculpture.'

A council member suggested that a series of designs, including the one containing Tom Cookson's brilliant and most appropriate artwork be presented to the public for them to vote on their preferred option. Another resident present at the meeting has summed it up very well,           'There is one opportunity to do this – let’s do it right. It’s a great project which I wholly support. However, the choice of materials, the design and the layout need to be looked at again.'                  We at the BBB heartily agree with this sentiment.

To read the article as published in the Lancashire Post, go to

https://www.lep.co.uk/heritage-and-retro/heritage/memorial-to-battle-of-bamber-bridge-world-war-two-shooting-paused-for-possible-redesign-3457935

Newsflash 12

New and compelling evidence has emerged with regards to events leading up to the Battle of Bamber Bridge. This evidence puts a whole new aspect on how the battle was initially triggered. It has been supplied to us by a direct relation of George Harrison who was the landlord of the Hob Inn at the time of the battle. So powerful is this new evidence that it has inspired our resident Bard to write a new book which is to be called ‘The Battle of Bamber Bridge – The True Story’.
It is anticipated that the book will be published sometime in 2022 and may even coincide with the unveiling of the proposed memorial to the battle, if the eventual design has hopefully been approved by then.
This is unmissable reading for all who may be interested in the battle and is complimented by a range of photos and personal accounts supplied by local residents.
Keep an eye on this page for news of the book’s progress.


Newsflash 13

We understand that in January 2022, a consultation meeting was held with regards to the memorial. This meeting no doubt was in response to the deferral of the original design made by the SRBC Planning Department in light of adverse comments made by members of the public. Apparently, the meeting date was published within the SRBC website. Although this is understandable, it is unfortunate that such important announcements are not given wider publicity.
It has become obvious that after an article published in the ‘Proud to be a Brigger’ website on Facebook, that many local residents, including us at the BBB, were unaware of the meeting. This became apparent with the number of positive responses to the plinth alternative, designed some time ago with artistic and text contributions from a number of local residents.
To give you an idea as to how the plinth would look in the proposed community garden we have published an artistic view of it below. As yet we are not sure if this plinth design is in the reckoning, although we have requested this information from SRBC. However, the final design has to be approved and accepted by the Planning Department at a public meeting. We will certainly be sending a delegate and hope that many of our readers who have an interest in the memorial will also be present. As soon as we have a date for this meeting we will publish it on this page – So keep looking and let’s do our best to make sure that the memorial is what the local people have designed and want and not some meaningless contribution from outside agencies.


















 





Newsflash 14

It now appears that a design mounted on a lectern is likely to be the design of choice by the Council. This being the case, one of the Peoples designers has suggested a compromise design that incorporates the best of the two designs. This compromise design is now in the hands of the local Council officials. How it will be received we still don’t know as we have had no reaction to date. We believe it would be hard to ignore as it incorporates the best of the Councils and the Peoples design and includes what many consider to be essential for this particular memorial – a meaningful epitaph.
As we mentioned in an earlier Newsflash, there will be a Planning meeting at which designs will be presented. The BBB will attend this meeting and if necessary will voice an opinion.
The local Community News is also carrying a similar storyline to this and we are urging readers of both these online publications to express their opinions on the merits or otherwise of the designs on show.
When we know the date and time of the public Planning meeting, we will publish it on this page and would love to see readers of both the BBB and the CN present to see democracy (or otherwise) at work.



                                                                                                 Council design











                                                                                                                                                          

                                                                                                                                                               Peoples design

                                                                                                                                                                With artwork on one face

                                                                                                                                                            and text/photos on the other three



















                                                                                                                                                               Compromise design










Newsflash 15

We are now informed that the Planning meeting, where the subject of the memorial will be discussed, is scheduled to take place at the SRBC offices on Thursday March 3rd, starting at 6pm. The subject of the memorialis the 3rd item on the agenda. The BBB are sending a representative to the meeting, who has been given permission to address the meeting with regards to our concerns about the design to be presented for planning approval. We are also aware that these concerns are shared by many local residents.

To all our readers who are interested in ensuring that the final design for the memorial meets with universal approval, then why not join us at the meeting and see how democratic decisions are made (hopefully).

Newsflash 16

    Have you ever believed that you have wasted your time? This is how our representative at the recent SRBC Planning meeting felt after addressing the meeting with a view to them at least considering both the People’s and/or the compromise design for the memorial. It was also difficult to understand why a planning officer should state that the addition of significant artwork was tantamount to hijacking the proposed design. I can only suggest that she should look up the meaning of the word ‘hijack’ and why it should apply to the suggestion of adding something positive and meaningful to a proposed design.
And who decreed that the structure was commemorative rather than a memorial. I don’t recall this distinction been put forward for public comment. For the record, commemorative alludes more to a positive or celebratory occurrence, while a memorial is an object which serves as a focus for the memory of someone or something, such as a historical or tragic event. I believe that the ’Battle of Bamber Bridge alludes more to the later than the former, and as such should be recognised as a memorial.
Apart from an impassioned plea by Cllr Barrie Yates to defer the decision to allow further consideration to these designs, there was obviously no appetite among other committee members to accept this and the Council’s design was duly approved.
What is most concerning about this decision is not that the chosen design is in anyway unsuitable, but rather the uneasy fact that designs submitted by local residents have been totally ignored and not even included in the recent poorly advertised SRBC consultation that attracted only 19 responses. Compare this with the 203 responses from the BBB and Facebook, the overwhelming majority being in favour of the People’s or the compromise design.
We would like to think that these words may prick a few consciences, and that just maybe the words and actions of the residents who elect these councillors to represent them are at least listened to and hopefully acted upon.   

Newsflash 17
    Once again the ideas submitted by the good people of Bamber Bridge were ignored as to the final design and the SRBC inspired memorial (sorry commemorative plaque) is now in place on the Green opposite the Hob Inn. Well it was until someone spotted a glaring spelling error. It has now been removed in order to correct the error.

However, the good news is that the newly published book about the battle, 'The Battle of Bamber Bridge - The True Story', is now available from many bookshops including Waterstones and is also available from Amazon. If you want to get your hands on a discounted signed copy then these are available for sale at the Hob Inn - But you had better hurry as they are going fast.   

Newsflash 18
As 2023 will be the the 80th anniversary of the Battle of Bamber Bridge, we wondered if there was anything planned to mark this significant piece of local history. We have now learned that South Ribble BC are again working with the Preston Black History Group and UCLAN on a project for this date.  Cllr Chris Lomax is the motivator behind this project and says 'We hope to be able to release the details soon for the project and we are all very excited.' As these details are released, we will publish them on this page.

Newsflash 19
We are pleased to report that there is now an itinary for some of the events planned to mark the 80th anniversary of the Battle. This has been supplied to us by Clinton Smith of the Preston Black History Group. There are also activities planned on the anniversary date by the local Council. These events will take place in and around Ye Olde Hob Inn in Bamber Bridge. Further details can be found on the poster below.



























Thursday 22nd June 2023.

The film The Railway Children Return, will be shown at the Methodist Church, Station Road. Bamber Bridge. PR5 6ED. Doors open at 18.40hrs. film starts at 19.00hrs This film is set in Yorkshire during world war two, where a group of young children evacuated to a small village encounters a young African American soldier (Abe) who like them is far away from his home. The film is based loosely on a real life incident in Lancashire in 1943 which left one soldier dead. The film will be introduced by  it's producer Gemma Rodgers.


Saturday 24th June 2023.

The main celebrations will take place in and around the area of Ye Olde Hob Inn.  Full details about the day can be sought from Sam Jones at sam.jones@southribble.gov.uk


Saturday 24th June 2023.

The film Choc! Late Soldiers From The USA will be shown at the Methodist Church, Station Road. Bamber Bridge PR5 6ED Doors open at 18.40hrs film starts at 19.00hrs. This Emmy award winning film tells the story about some of the 140,000 black American soldiers who came as a part of the American involvement in world war two. The film, some of which was shot in Bamber Bridge,  includes interviews with former residents of Bamber Bridge. The film will be introduced by it's producer who will be joining us from America for these celebrations. This is a free event.


Sunday 25th June 2023.

The church service at the Methodist Church, Station Road, will be dedicated to the memory of the events of June 24th 1943. This service will be lead by the minister Karen Le Mouton, with contributions from a number of our visitors. This is an open invitation, and a warm welcome awaits all.

Newsflash 20

All the planned events were successfully carried out. Many of the activities were performed in the vicinity of Ye Olde Hob Inn with many people in attendance. However the stand out event which to us epitomised the sad conflict of June 24th 1943 was captured by one-time resident, Stu Bateson. Stu and his daughter Charlotte laid flowers and a small wooden cross in memory of Private William Crossland, a black soldier who was shot and killed during the battle. With Stu's permission we have published the photos that he took of his daughter carrying out this very caring and considerate act of rememberance. Well done Stu and Charlotte.
































There was also an article written by Danica Kirka from Associated Press about the battle which is certainly worth reading. It can be found at

https://apnews.com/article/world-war-ii-black-troops-bamber-bridge-5ab0daff5ce9c316aa200cacc853d743


Newsflash 21

Well we are pleased to confirm that Bamber Bridge was visited by a contingent of US military personell on Thursday 5th October. This visit allowed the guests to meet with and share memories with the people of the town in the year of the 80th anniversary of the Battle of Bamber Bridge. The visit was hosted by Clinton Smith of the Preston Black History Group. He informed us that the visit was a great success and could indeed be the first of many such visits in the future. There were a number of photographs taken and it is hoped that some of these will be available for display at our next update - So watch this space.

Looks like we are not going to receive the photos promised - But we live in hopes!






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