World War I: Black and Asian Troops

WW1 Flower_Paris_1916_Toor Collection

Many Sikh Indian troops fought for the British during WWI

Because most of the action and fighting during WWI took place within Europe many have the mistaken idea that only Europeans fought in WWI. But the reality is that WWI was a truly global war that included troops from around the world. Many African and Asian troops took part in the fighting as colonial troops with the hope that their courage and valor world win them respect and eventually self-rule and independence.


   369th Infantry Unit

When the United States entered the war in 1917 one of the most decorated and prestigious units was the  369th Infantry Unit better known as the Harlem Hellfighters. The Harlem Hellfighters were an all African American unit who fought with amazing tenacity and courage alongside French troops in Europe. Because of racial discrimination in the US during training the 369th was sent to France ahead of other troops and were allowed to fight alongside French troops because American generals did not want them fighting with white US troops. The

The French government awarded the entire regiment the Croix de Guerre. The video below  by the National Guard highlights the courage of the Harlem Hellfighters.


Below are links to the Powerpoint and assignments for the day.

Black and Asian Troops during World War One Powerpoint

Black and Asian Troops during World War One Guided Notes

Harlem Hellfighters Reading

Harlem Hellfighters Organizer Worksheet

We will also watch a trailer from the movie Joyeux Noel a movie which recounts the true and extraordinary Christmas truce of Christmas 1914 when German and Allied troops exchanged Christmas presents and played each other in soccer.

The graphic novel below is based on The Harlem Hellfighters; 300 Bonus points will awarded to students who read the novel and write a 2 page review.


For more information on Black history in Great Britain see the website Black Presence in Britain- Black British History


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