Review of the Battle of Bamber Bridge 80th Anniversary Celebration Festival

at Ye Olde Hob Inn, Bamber Bridge, Sat 24th June, 12 noon – 8pm

By Bernie Velvick, Preston Black History Group, Photos by Tony Maiden, Preston Black History Group.

Visit our Battle of Bamber Bridge webpage to find coverage of the rest of the anniversary weekend events.

Crowds joined us for a day of themed celebration to commemorate the 80th Anniversary of the Battle of Bamber Bridge. The battle was one of the most significant racial disputes of its type in the country. Researching and remembering the events of 24th June 1943 have been ongoing and this was a chance for people to learn more about the history.

In co-operation with Preston Black History Group, UCLAN, the US Embassy, and South Ribble Borough Council, the event took place outside Ye Olde Hob Inn and included themed entertainment – music and dance, military vehicles, food and drink and children’s activities, and a history walk following the route of the battle back in 1943.

The event began on the stage with introductory speeches from Chris Lomax, Mayor of South Ribble, Prof Alan Rice from UCLAN IBAR (Institute for Black Atlantic Research), Prof StJohn Crean, Pro Vice-Chancellor, Research and Enterprise, UCLAN, Clinton Smith, Chair of Preston Black History Group and Aaron Snipe, Spokesperson for the US Embassy. 

You can hear the speeches here. Well worth a listen as they includes a great deal of information and context to the event.

Speeches At the beginning of the Battle of Bamber Bridge 80th Anniversary event at Ye Olde Hob Inn, Bamber Bridge 24th June 2023

All afternoon we enjoyed music and dance from the 1940s while the audience explored the military vehicles from the era and viewed Danny Lyon’s documentary ‘Community Memories of the Battle of Bamber Bridge’ that was shown in Ye Olde Hob Inn throughout the day. Danny is a ‘Brigger’ (Bamber Bridge resident), film maker, sculptor and local historian.

Danny Lyons with Mayoress Kim Lomax and Mayor Chris Lomax

At 2pm Prof Alan Rice, Danny Lyons and Clinton Smith led a history walk along the Main Street, Station Rd, Bamber Bridge, from ‘the Hob’ to the site of the 1940s 1511 Quartermasters Regiment US Army base on Mounsey Rd. Alan, Danny, and Clinton shared the story of the battle with a fascinated audience. Alan described the events that started at 10pm on 24th June 1943, lasting for over four hours and resulting in over 400 bullets being fired. There is still one remaining original building left on the site of the camp on Mounsey Rd which belongs to the the Royal Airforce Air Cadets and is currently under renovation.

We would like to thank the Lancashire Constabulary South Division Cadets, and the cadet leader, Diane Baldwin, who acted as marshals and helped keep everyone safe along the route.

You can listen to recordings of the History Walk, recorded the following day on 25th June 2023.

Preston Black History Group and UCLAN film and media students collaborated on a video recording of the commemoration events and interviewed many of the main participants of the day. This recording along with recordings of other events from the weekend will be made into a documentary about the commemoration. Thank you to the students and lecturers who gave their time and expertise to help us make this possible

UCLAN Film and Media students interview Aaron Snipe US Embassy Spokesperson

Bernie Velvick from Preston Black History Group recorded interviews with many of the partners and participants – you can listen to the recordings here.

Ros Martin, British playwright, poet, performance artist, curator and activist, based in Bristol

Aaron Snipe, US Embassy Spokesperson

Jemma Rodgers, Producer of ‘The Railway Children Return’ Film

Prof Alan Rice, UCLAN, IBAR

Sarah Locke, Landlady of Ye Olde Hob Inn

The lovely sunny Lancashire weather ensured a great turn out of local people and local history enthusiasts to continue the exploration of the important events during the battle and the events that led up to them.

Prior to the commemoration weekend Clinton Smith, Gregory Cooke, filmmaker and educator who has made a documentary about Black US Servicemen, Danny Lyons and Prof Alan Rice were interviewed by NPR, the US public radio network. You can listen to the broadcast here.

The story was picked up by US media, ABC news and the Washington Post, amongst others, who published the following coverage that takes the story forward. We hope that Private William Crossland’s Niece, Nancy Croslan Adkins, is successful in her call for an investigation into her uncle’s death and that this will lead to justice for the Black Servicemen who were convicted of mutiny. We hope for a reassessment of the Battle of Bamber Bridge that recognises the poor leadership from the white officers, the white MP’s harassment of black troops for minor transgressions, and the many compassionate and heroic acts of the black servicemen during the battle which will put their contribution to the fight against fascism in its rightful place.

Visit our Battle of Bamber Bridge webpage to find coverage of the rest of the anniversary weekend events

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