NATION

Remembering The Fiji Labour Corps

After joining the French Foreign Legion and serving in World War 1 in 1915, the late Soldier and Statesman, Ratu Sir Lala Vanayaliyali Sukuna returned to Fiji as a Lieutenant
12 Nov 2016 11:00
Remembering The Fiji Labour Corps
THE OFFICIAL VISITS TO THE WESTERN FRONT, 1914-1918 (Q 9830) King George V with Captain K. J. Allardyce inspecting a party of troops of the Fiji Labour Corps, 13th August 1918. Copyright: © IWM. Original Source: http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205245555

After joining the French Foreign Legion and serving in World War 1 in 1915, the late Soldier and Statesman, Ratu Sir Lala Vanayaliyali Sukuna returned to Fiji as a Lieutenant and wanted Fijian natives to participate in WW1.

Although the War Office in London disapproved of native Fijians’ participation, it did not dampen Ratu Sukuna’s effort in persuading the War Office for Fijian native participation on the front line.

Finally the War Office agreed to Fijian native’s participation, but as Fiji Labour Corps.

After their march through the capital city, they departed Fiji on May 18, 1917 for France.

When they set foot at Calais, a town which was also a major ferry port, they were tasked to undertake responsibilities separately from other native Labour Corps.

On July 6, the Fijian Labour Corps were kept apart from other native labours.

The Labour Camp Commandant had set a barbed wire to demarcate the hundred Fijian Labour Corps from other natives as enclosure for the safekeeping of presumed cannibals.

Later the Camp Commandant publicly declared to members of the camp that he wished he had 500 native Fijians in the camp.

They did not receive any remuneration for their contribution to the war effort, although European men recruited from Fiji remained in London and did not set foot in France received their allowance.

Money was not on their mind, but the recognition of Fijians for future participation in world peace was their utmost obligation.

Fortunately Fijian soldiers of today are reaping the fruits of their tireless and invaluable efforts.

Source: National Archives of Fiji

Feedback: jyotip@fijisun.com.fj

 



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