After considerable lobbying by blacks
and by white supporters,
Canada fielded one black battalion,
but they had
to fight with shovels,
“I have been fortunate to have secured a very fine class of recruits, and I did not think it fair to these men that they should have to mingle with Negroes.”
Lieutenant-Colonel George Fowler, commanding the 104th Battalion, wrote these words in an attempt to have 20 new “coloured” soldiers removed from his unit. Despite official Canadian government policy to the contrary—which clearly stated black volunteers could be accepted—many blacks suffered rejection at recruiting stations. Amazingly, about 1,500 blacks did manage to enrol in the Canadian Expeditionary Force (CEF). After two years of tireless lobbying by black leaders, ...