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29/04/2015
"Pilots of the Caribbean" Highly Commended
The RAF Museum is to be congratulated that its exhibition “Pilots of the Caribbean” was given a Highly Commended Award in the “Temporary or Touring Exhibition” category at the Museums and Heritage Awards 2015 held in London on 29 April. The exhibition was runner-up in this category to “Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red” – popularly referred to as “The Poppies” – which proved a worthy winner. However, given that “The Poppies” is more properly described as an art installation, all the more credit is due to the RAF Museum’s exhibition in securing its place above three other short-listed candidates. “Pilots of the Caribbean” (below right) commemorates and celebrates the contribution of volunteers of African heritage in the RAF across two World Wars and continuing today. One such volunteer was William Robinson Clarke from Kingston, Jamaica (below left), who appears to be the only black pilot recorded as flying during the First World War. This record is taken from his Aviator’s Certificate, awarded by the Royal Aero Club on 26 April 1917. The Trust’s collection of Aviators’ Certificates can be searched online at www.ancestry.co.uk, available free at the RAF Museum and some public libraries. “Pilots of the Caribbean” was opened in November 2013 at the Museum’s Hendon site by Baroness Floella Benjamin OBE. In 2014, it was on display at the Mitchell Library in Glasgow for the Commonwealth Games, and is currently on display at the Museum site at Cosford in the West Midlands.