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Kate Werran

An American Uprising in Second World War England: Mutiny in the Duchy

Kate Werran will discuss her book, An American Uprising in Second World War England, about the incredible but little-known story of a shoot-out between black and white American soldiers stationed in England during WWII. It put a strain on the “special relationship” between the USA and Great Britain and exposed the ongoing American race struggles.

Winner, Holyer An Gof 2021 Nonfiction Award, Social, Cultural and Political History

This is the incredible story of a Second World War shoot-out between black and white American soldiers in a quiet Cornish town that ended up putting the ‘special relationship’ itself on trial. The subsequent court martial into what tabloids labeled a ‘wild west’ mutiny became front page news in Great Britain and the USA. Three thousand miles across the Atlantic, it mirrored and bolstered a fast-accelerating civil rights movement. At home it caused Churchill himself ‘grave anxiety’ while refracting an extraordinary truth about the real state of Anglo-American relations. For three long days the story raged before the turbulent war-torn world moved on and forgot forever amid ever-escalating D-Day preparations. This account of a shocking drama the authorities tried to hush up has been painstakingly pieced back together for the first time thanks to new archival research. When slotted into its unique context, extracted from wartime cabinet documents, secret government surveys, opinion polls, diaries, letters and newspapers as well as testimony from those who remember it, the story offers a rare and stunning window into a little-known dark side of the ‘American Invasion.’ By breathing new life into a vanished trial, it reveals a rare and surprising insight into the wider story of how Britain reacted to soldiers of the Jim Crow army when they came to stay.

[Recorded on February 24, 2022.]

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      Kate Werran

      After reading History at Oxford University, Kate Werran wrote for local and national newspapers before switching to television where she worked for one of Britain’s leading independent documentary makers, producing 20th Century history programmes for Channel 4, Channel 5 and the BBC. Kate is especially passionate about writing this story because it has been a life-long interest. One summer as a child, holidaying in her father’s home town, Kate put her fingers in decades-old bullet-holes left in a war monument one night and asked the question: Why? Finally, she can attempt to answer it.