by Suzanne Francis-Brown
I was fascinated the first time I heard of Gibraltar Camp, a British Colonial Office facility established as a haven for civilian evacuees from the British Mediterranean fortress of Gibraltar, during World War II. Mostly women and children were housed in wooden barracks buildings across acres of former sugar land at Mona, on the outskirts of Kingston. Later, Jewish and other wartime refugees also lived there, on a lower level.
For my PhD thesis, at the UWI Mona, where a few weather-beaten buildings remain, I contextualized Gibraltar Camp in the local time and place, and realized that there were also three other wartime camps – this time for persons of German, Austrian and Italian origin, who had been interned in military camps. Indeed, the third of these internment camps was located at the far northern end of Gibraltar Camp.
All these strands now inform World War II Camps in Jamaica: Evacuees, Refugees, Internees, Prisoners of War, which has been published by the UWI Press and which is being launched on the anniversary of V-E Day, the end of the war in Europe on May 8, 1945. I also ponder the absence of this story from Jamaica’s history and heritage.
Join me live via the UWI Museum’s Facebook page for the book launch. If you are interested in getting a copy of the book, it is available for purchase at both UWI Press and Amazon via this link: https://www.uwipress.com/9789766409258/world-war-ii-camps-in-jamaica/.