The battle of Bamber Bridge occurred from June 24, 1943, and June 25, 1943, between black and white American service members. Despite its historical significance, it remains one of the unknown racial tensions which took place in America.
It took place in Bamber Bridge, in Lancashire, a county in the north of England, and led to one death, seven injuries, and the arrest of about thirty-two military officials.
The people of Britain welcomed the presence of Black troops in the American army stationed in Lancashire.
However, unlike what the Black soldiers faced in America, the locals in Britain were friendly to the Black troops, to the extent of putting 'Black Troops Only' signs outside their pubs in Bamber Bridge.
On the night of June 24, some Black American troops attached to the 1511th were drinking with the locals of Bamber Bridge at the Ye Olde Hob Inn, which still stands on Church Road to this day.
Two military police officers were alerted after soldiers inside the pub attempted to buy beer after the last orders had been called. Upon getting into the pub, they tried to arrest Private Eugene Nunn for a minor uniform offense, which led to an argument.
The arguments became heated, as the locals all took sides with the African American troops who were preventing the arrest of the Private by the White MPs.
Things began to escalate when Private Lynn M. Adams brandished a bottle at the MPs, causing one of them, Roy A. Windsor, to draw his gun. A staff sergeant was able to diffuse the situation, but as the MPs drove away, Adams hurled a bottle at their jeep.
The MPs picked up two more MPs before intercepting the black soldiers, who were now at Station Road, making their way back to base.
A confrontation broke out, which led to Private Nunn punching one of the MPs. An MP fired his handgun, hitting Adams in the neck. Rumours spread like wildfire after that, much like the Detroit riots, causing the soldiers to arm themselves against the MPs for fear that they were targeting Black soldiers.
By midnight several jeep loads of MPs had arrived with an armoured car, fitted with a machine gun. British officers claimed that the MPs then ambushed the soldiers and a firefight began in the night.
Troops warned locals to stay indoors as they exchanged gunfire, but the darkness ensured that the fighting had quelled by 4 am and that there were few casualties.
According to official reports, one soldier, Private William Crossland, was killed while seven others were wounded.
More than 32 soldiers were found guilty of several crimes, including mutiny, seizing arms, firing upon officers, and more, at a court-martial in October 1943 in the town of Paignton.
Their sentences were, somewhat understandably, reduced following an appeal, with poor leadership and the obvious racism of the MPs used as mitigating factors.
General Ira Eaker of the Eighth Air Force made several decisions following the battle to improve the morale of Black troops stationed in the UK.
He combined the Black trucking units into a single special command. The ranks of this command were purged of inexperienced and racist officers, and the MP patrols were racially integrated.
Sadly the American troops would return to America after the war, where the Jim Crow laws existed for another 20 or so years before the civil rights movement made waves in the states.