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Dave Lewis: West Indian Ex-Servicemen

Portraits of the Windrush generation who fought for Britain during the Second World War

West Indian Ex-Servicemen is a series of formal portraits of Caribbean men of the Windrush generation who volunteered to fight for Britain during the Second World War, photographed at the Association of West Indian Ex-Servicemen and Women in Lambeth, South London. The series, by Dave Lewis, was commissioned by Autograph in 1994 and is now a part of our permanent collection. 

Tens of thousands of men and women from the Caribbean volunteered during the First and Second World Wars in the army, the RAF and as merchant seamen. These men and women were amongst the first post-war Caribbean migrants to settle permanently in Britain during the late 1940s, and they made a significant, yet often forgotten, contribution to the country during and after the war. Dave Lewis said: "One of the questions I wanted to ask through the images was, 'Would the second generation of black children born of Caribbean parentage, like myself, ever consider fighting for their mother country?'"

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E. S. Burton, London, 1994

Allan Wilmot, London, 1994

Laurant Phillpot, London, 1994

Rene Webb, London, 1994

W. E. Walker, London, 1994

Allen Pinder, London, 1994

C. Holness, London, 1994

Reg Willis-Eversley, London, 1994

A. Leieh, London, 1994

Noel Hawkins, London, 1994

William Nulty, London,1994

A. Armstrong, London, 1994

A. Alphonse, London, 1994

A. McPherson, London, 1994

George Bentham, London, 1994

E. A. Elden, London, 1994

Alan Alexander, London, 1994

C. Edwards, London, 1994

about the artist

Dave Lewis

Dave Lewis is a photographer and lecturer teaching photographic practices across the disciplines of anthropology, fine art and commercial photography. His work has been exhibited in a number of venues such as The Photographers' Gallery, London - The Stephen Lawrence Report & Wall (2001); the National Gallery - Seduced by Art (2012); and Venice Biennale - Once Removed/My Father’s land (2017/2019). He is currently working on a new series of image/text works around making and being.

Discover more

In Focus with Dave Lewis

The artist discusses the series in more detail

Watch | 7 min video

Strength, Resilience and Struggle

Reflecting on key moments in the struggle for justice for the Windrush generation

Read blog post | 5 min read

Journeys to Hope: Windrush Narratives

Images of the Windrush generation before, during and after arriving in the UK

View image gallery

Images on page: Dave Lewis, West Indian Ex-Servicemen, 1994. Commissioned by Autograph, London.

About the artist image: Dave Lewis. Photograph by Franklyn Rodgers.