Posted by Gabriel J Christian (U15864348) on Saturday, 5th October 2013
I just got word from Nicola Cross that her father RAF WW II hero Phillip Louis Cross had died in Port of Spain, Trinidad at 96 on October 4, 2013. Cross who later became Attorney General of Cameroon, and an esteemed judge in Ghana and Tanzania had - in 1941 - rushed to the defense of Britain in what Prime Minister Winston Churchill called its darkest hour. After the war he became a leader in the legendary West Indian Student Union (five of whose board members became Prime Ministers) and did West Indian and other programming on BBC - or so I was reliably informed by him and others in the know.
There is actually an old film from WWII filmed at the BBC studios in which a young Cross, in RAF uniform, addresses the West Indies, alongside the great West Indian cricketer Lord Learie Constantine.
Cross was the highest ranking West Indian World War II veteran still alive (until yesterday) and certainly one of the few officers left of the legendary 139 Pathfinder Squadron of RAF Bomber Command. We covered his role and that of the other 7000 British West Indians who served in WWII in For King & Country: The Service & Sacrifice of the British West Indian Military (Andre & Christian, Pont Casse Press, 2009). More information on those who served with Squadron Leader Phillip Louis Ulric Cross may be found at www.pontcassepress.com video section and at www.caribbeanaircrew-ww2.com.
We do believe that, in light of Cross' early work with the BBC, his role in the RAF and legacy of noble WWII service in freedom's cause, that the BBC should announce his passing and pay some tribute. He was a good friend of Cy Grant, another WW II hero from the West Indies who served and became well know at the BBC. The tribute could also include a program on those West Indians who served in the RAF and whose record of distinguished and unselfish service to the defense of Britain and freedom is seldom recalled. I would gladly aid in that effort and can be called upon. As the son of a West Indian, Wendell McKenzie Christian, who served in the British Army during WWII such heritage preservation would be a worthy duty to embrace. Indeed, Cross presents as a noteworthy role model when one considers that he continued his work in education and poverty eradication via the Cotton Tree Foundation well into his nineties. Both young and old can learn much from his work.
Gabriel J. Christian , Esq.
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