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UCLan cultural historians mark 70th anniversary of Battle of Bamber Bridge

19 June 2013

Lyndsey Boardman

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Experts gather to examine landmark event

Cultural historians from the University of Central Lancashire (UCLan) will mark the 70th anniversary of the infamous African American Black GI mutiny in Preston known locally as the Battle of Bamber Bridge.

With support from the Embassy of the United States, Preston Black History Group and the Collegium for African American Research, UCLan will hold a symposium on the incident involving the American military police, African American troops and local residents which led to the death of one soldier and the arrests of numerous others.

For the first time since the event in 1943, academics will examine what happened and reflect on its importance as a landmark event that showed how the American military imported their racist Jim Crow tendencies to Britain and the more enlightened response of British civilians like those in Bamber Bridge.

The one day seminar is called When Jim Crow met John Bull: The Battle of Bamber Bridge 1943.

“On this the 70th Anniversary weekend of the incident the time is ripe for reflection on its importance as a landmark event.”

battle of bamber bridge

It will include a showing of the film Choc’late Soldiers from the USA, produced by Gregory Cooke, and a performance fresh from the Edinburgh Fringe Festival of Lie Back and Think of America, a play by Natalie Penn of Front Room Theatre written with UCLan’s Professor of English and American Studies Alan Rice as consultant.

Alan Rice, who has organised the event, said: “The event is still remembered in local folklore and American military records of the trials of the arrested soldiers. It has, however, not been the object of particular academic scrutiny for several decades and on this the 70th Anniversary weekend of the incident the time is ripe for reflection on its importance as a landmark event.”

Over the following weekend there will be a series of events to memorialise the event including a church service and a tour of the site of the “battle” by a local historian.

The symposium will be held on Friday 21 June from 12.30pm - 7.30pm and attendance is free. The event is at UCLan’s Media Factory in room 414. To confirm attendance please contact Alan Rice on arice@uclan.ac.uk.

View the symposium report.

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Lyndsey Boardman

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