*Tracing Your Roots > Caribbean > Occupations
* West Indian Regiments 
The British army was permanently stationed in the West Indies. The forces were made up predominantly of recruits from Britain, with a small number of other Europeans and some West Indians. During the French Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars many regiments were raised in the West Indies or fought in the West Indies. Most of these were foreign regiments on British pay or were disbanded after the wars. For example, the York Light Infantry Volunteers was raised from Dutch garrison battalions after Britain captured the Dutch colonies of Berbice, Demerara and Essequibo in 1803; the corps was disbanded in 1817.

Much information on these regiments, including records of service, are to be found in The National Archives.

For information on West Indian regiments see:

  • *www.regiments.org
  • *website.lineone.net/~bwir/
  • Buckley, Slaves in Redcoats: The British West Indian Regiments 1795-1815 (Yale University Press, 1979)
  • The National Archives Lists and Indexes volume LIII, An alphabetical guide to Certain War Office and Other Military Records
  • CT Atkinson, 'Foreign Regiments in the British Army', in Dyde, The Empty Sleave: Story of the West India Regiments of the British Army (Hansib Publications, 1998)
  • Healy, 'Colour, Climate and Combat: The Caribbean Regiment in the Second World War', The International History Review, Vol XX11, March 2000, pp. 65-68
  • Joseph, 'The British West Indies Regiment 1914-18', Journal of Caribbean History, Vol 11, May 1971, pp. 94-124
  • Grannum, Tracing Your West Indian Ancestors , 2nd edn (The National Archives, 2002)
While white West Indians were able to join the regular British regiments, black West Indians were usually restricted to joining one of the colonial regiments or garrison battalions. The most important West Indian regiments were the West Indian Regiment, 17951927, the British West Indies Regiment, 1915-19, and the Caribbean Regiment, 1944-46. In addition, there was a Corps of Military Labourers, 1817-88, raised for garrison and general labouring duties.

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Creators: Guy Grannum