30 OCTOBER

LLOYD GEORGE SCORNS ROLE OF BLACK SOLDIERS AND ‘A FEW NIGGER POLICEMEN’

French prime minister Georges Clemenceau with David Lloyd George.
Library of Congress via Wikimedia.

[ 30 October 1918 ]

On 30 October 1918, during the last days of the First World War, Prime Minister David Lloyd George met French prime minister, Georges Clemenceau, at Versailles to discuss among other pressing issues, a proposed armistice with Turkey. Clemenceau suspected that Lloyd George was attempting to unilaterally negotiate peace terms so that Britain could win a lion’s share of the post war territorial spoils. However, when he protested the lack of French participation in the negotiations, he touched a raw nerve.  According to the official minutes of the meeting, which Lloyd George proudly cited in his memoirs, the British prime minister sharply rebuked Clemenceau, contending that:

‘Except for Britain no one had contributed anything more than a handful of black troops to the expedition in Palestine… The British now had 500,000 men on Turkish soil… The other governments had only put in a few nigger policemen to see that we did not steal the Holy Sepulchre ! When, however, it came to an armistice all this fuss was made.’1

FOOTNOTE

  1. David Lloyd George, War Memoirs of David Lloyd George, 1918, Little, Brown and Company, Boston, 1937, pp. 279-180.

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