World War Two “Brown Babies” Exhibition at the Engine Room

“The Brown Babies” Exhibition, showing at Studio Two in the Engine Room, High St, Bridgwater, Somerset TA6 10am to 4pm, Monday 17th October to Friday 21st October, is the hidden story about the sons and daughters of African American servicemen who were stationed in Somerset and Britain is told in this exhibition. The exhibition, curated by Professor Lucy Bland following on from her award-winning book Britain’s ‘Brown Babies’. It tells the moving personal stories of how the stigma of illegitimacy coupled with racism shaped the experiences of children born to white British women and African American GI’s during and in the aftermath of World War ll. The exhibition has toured nationally in the Black Cultural Archives Museum, city libraries, university libraries and has been touring Somerset throughout the year.

Some visitors to the exhibition in Somerset commented:

This exhibition was very informative, moving and inspirational. I particularly like that Brits often preferred the company of black troops over white ones who were often arrogant and rude”; 

These British white women were brave and unconventional dating black GI’s. The black GI’s were most grateful for the freedom they had here compared to their lives back home, and this inspired many to get involved in the civil rights movement on returning to America.”

The Somerset Black GI’s Project: 

The Somerset Black GI’s project is collecting information about Somerset and the South West during WW 2. To his end we are collecting information to tell a black British history story. We are looking at the wider effect American servicemen had on the communities in Somerset. The local residents’ relationship with both black and white GIs, and their interactions. Interracial relationships between Black serviceman and white women and the children born as a result of these relationships. Identifying locations in Somerset that were involved in this period of history.

Please contact Susann Savidge if you are interested in this project, or if you have a WW2 or post-Windrush family story to tell.   Susann Savidge <>, telephone 07564640068

Dave Chapple, Secretary, Bridgwater Trades Union Council says  “Please do all you can to attend, support and publicise this important exhibition. ” Dave can be contacted on 07707869144

The photos here are of the exhibition and of some of the Somerset “brown babies” housed-segregated- at Holnicote House, Exmoor, by Somerset County Council.