The severity of World War II led Britain to call on all of it’s subjects and resources to support the war effort. More than 10,000 Caribbean men and women crossed the Atlantic, leaving their homes and families to join the British Armed Forces. British citizens from around the world worked together and helped turned the tide and defeat the Nazis.
In the aftermath of the war, Britain was left depleted. It no longer had the money needed to maintain its empire and had accumulated a huge debt by borrowing money from the USA to fund the war. There were also not enough workers to run the country’s essential services, leading to Britain once again calling for help and encouraging migration from its Commonwealth countries to help rebuild the economy.
The British Nationality Act of 1948 allowed all British subjects the right to travel and settle in the UK. This, together with British government campaigns in the Caribbean, led to a wave of immigration.
492 documented passengers boarded the Empire Windrush which set sail from Kingston, Jamaica on 24th May 1948 and came to England, as British citizens, in response to an advert in local Caribbean newspapers promoting job opportunities in Britain. Many had already served in the war, and some wished to re-join the forces. Each paid £28 (about £1000 today) for passage.