This article follows the lives of Poles who have served in the British colonial regiments in the West Indies. The colonies were crucial for the Empire in economic terms, however in order to secure the British interests a constant presence of troops was necessary. This was strongly undermined by harsh conditions in the region which due to tropical diseases has decimated the number of British troops. High death rates have convinced London authorities to pursue a policy of sending to the West Indies regiments composed of captured prisoners from the French army rather than own British troops. Among these a group of Poles have been quite significant. Most of them have been drafted to the 60th Infantry battalion (the author established 129 Polish names serving there) and the York Light Infantry Volunteers where 81 Polish names appear. Apart from this, several Poles have been identified serving in smaller colonial regiments - York Hussars and Hompesch Hussars. In addition, the author has searched the lists from military hospital in Chelsea. According to these, soldiers that survived the climate of the West Indies, were usually suffering from serious health problems. Prior to receiving a pay-out, they were asked to sign a declaration that they do not have any claims against the British state.
Financed by the National Centre for Research and Development under grant No. SP/I/1/77065/10 by the strategic scientific research and experimental development program:
SYNAT - “Interdisciplinary System for Interactive Scientific and Scientific-Technical Information”.