The Cayman Islands
in Colonial naval culture and British imperialism, 1922–67
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During the Second World War, out of a population of just over 6,500, around 800 Caymanians served in the British Merchant Navy with another 201 in the Trinidad Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve (TRNVR). Caymanians possessed a hereditary link back to Britain, a connection visibly reinforced by their lighter physical complexion compared to other West Indians. Although within a colonial naval force such as the TRNVR Caymanians garnered more respect than their West Indian colleagues, they were still viewed as inferior to regular British sailors. Upon their arrival at the TRNVR base in Staubles Bay, Caymanians encountered a foreign environment, poor facilities, professional neglect, and lack of proper uniform and medical care, causing many to fall ill. As with the sailors, the collective wartime experience at home strengthened Caymanian identity beyond skin colour, with the Islanders united in prayer for the safe return of their men.


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