Trinidad and Tobago

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The old coat of arms of Trinidad and Tobago

Trinidad was annexed by Britain under the Treaty of Amiens with France in 1802. In 1889, Trinidad and the neighbouring island of Tobago were united, and has since been known as Trinidad and Tobago. Trinidad was Britain’s second largest colony in the West Indies with 350,000 inhabitants and a capital with 60,000 people, Port of Spain, home to the largest wireless station in the Caribbean.

 

Trinidad had achieved great wealth from oil and became a major provider of the resource for the Admiralty. The island provided millions of gallons of oil for the Royal Navy who had a significant presence on the island. The perceived threat to Trinidad was high due to the value of the colony and its lack of defence. Trinidad and Tobago also provided Britain with an array of other goods for the war effort. In October 1914, the Legislative Council voted to send £40,820 worth of cocoa to the services overseas.  An Emergency War Tax was implemented during the war and ‘Patriotic fund’ supported a range of other relief funds, raising over £10,000. A ladies committee single handedly raised a staggering £30,000 for war charities. Trinidad and Tobago gave a total of £480,000 during the war, a colony with an annual revenue of £970,000 in 1914.

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Cocoa sent from Trinidad was used to make chocolates in Britain, like these seen in the West India Committee Circular 1915.

Local forces consisted of 100 men of the Light Horse, 160 men of the Volunteer Force  742 men of the Constabulary Force alongside numerous, smaller groups tasked with defending the islands. 458 soldiers from the islands enlisted in regiments in Britain, Canada and even France.

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Trinidadian troops in London

Between September 1915 and December 1917, 40 officers and 1,438 men from Trinidad and Tobago volunteered to serve in the British West Indies Regiment, although some sources state as many as 5,000 enlisted.