Arielle Spann 00033827 History 210 CRN 35943 How has World War II impacted on Trinidad and Tobago? This essay explores the impact of World War II on the development of Trinidad and Tobago. World War II played a very important role in the development of Trinidad and Tobago in terms of social, cultural, economic and political changes. World War II began in the year 1939 and continued to the year of 1945 in which the Allies that consisted of Britain, Soviet Union and the US, defeated the Axis powers that included Germany, Italy and Japan.
World War II began in September of 1939 when Britain and France declared war on Germany following the Germany’s invasion of Poland. Although the outbreak of war was triggered by Germany’s invasion of Poland, the causes of the war were more complex. Based on my research there were four main reasons why there was a World War II. These include that of the Treaty of Versailles. In 1919, Lloyd George of England, Orlando of Italy, Clemenceau of France and Woodrow Wilson from the US met to discuss how Germany would pay for the damages that World War I had caused.
The German people were very unhappy about the treaty and thought that it was too harsh. They then voted for a man who would have ripped the treaty apart. This led to the second reason which was Adolf Hitler’s action (see figure 1). Adolf Hitler became Chancellor of Germany in January 1933. Almost immediately he began secretly building up Germany’s army and weapons. In 1934 he had increased the size of the army; he began building warships and created a German air force. The third reason was the Failure of Appeasement.
Appeasement meant giving into someone, provided their demands are seen as reasonable. During the 1930s, many politicians in both Britain and France came to see that the terms of the Treaty of Versailles had placed many restrictions on Germany that were unfair. The fourth reason was the Failure of the League of Nations. The League of Nations was an international organisation set up in 1919 to help keep world peace. This failed due to a number of reasons: not all countries had joined, it had no power, no army and it was unable to act quickly. FIGURE 1 http://ahitler. reyfalcon. us/ FIGURE 1 http://ahitler. greyfalcon. us/ Before World War II had occurred, Trinidad and Tobago faced an unprecedented situation. It was the time of the great depression. The great depression was a time where a worldwide economic downturn had begun. It started in 1929 and lasted until about 1939. This caused many problems in Trinidad and Tobago. Working conditions had become extremely difficult where slaves had to work long hours and little pay. Workers where paid 35cents a day, this proved to have being insufficient because of the climbing inflation rates.
Unemployment had reached an enormous height of 20%. At this time, health conditions were very poor. Infant mortality rate had reached 127 persons per thousand and the hookworm epidemic had infected close to 80% of the population in rural communities. Malaria had become prevalent due to the disease carried on the female mosquito. Remember, working condition was unfair and little money was paid. This led to extensive malnutrition in the population because money paid was not enough to buy the required food for proper health. Poor housing conditions were also prevalent.
Worker houses had become extensively bad in quality and not easy to live in. The houses on the sugar estates and oilfields were said to be dilapidated and lacked sanitary conditions. This meant that the houses were in a state of disrepair or ruin as a result of age or neglect. Toilets, washing facilities, changing rooms and a place for rest were inadequate. This led to the formation of the Shanty Town in Sea Lots located in Port of Spain, Trinidad. The struggle for survival had led to the labour riots of 1937, which was led by Grenadian born Tubal Uriah “Buzz” Butler.
The labour riots of 1937 led to the establishment of the Moyne Commission, which was set up to deal with the grievances of the workers about their working conditions and poor living conditions. The Moyne Commission found that Trinidad workers lived in inhumane conditions and made recommendations on what should be done. This was established in the year 1938 by Lord Moyne and completed its report in 1940. It was very critical of the British colonial system in the Caribbean. The Moyne commission recommended housing construction, agricultural iversification, more representative government for the islands, and the promotion of a middle class in preparation for eventual self-government. Although the Moyne Commission’s findings were not made public until after World War II, some of its recommendations were put into effect under the Colonial Development Welfare Act of 1940. Although World War II did not hit Trinidad directly, it showed signs of the impact that led to the further development of Trinidad. Impacts in the social, cultural, political and economic were felt nationwide.
Historians argued that World War II led to a modern Trinidad; hence there were many different types of people who inhabited sweet Trinidad. Trinidad played an important role in the war: it was the convoy assembly point for the dispatch of tankers from the Caribbean oil ports across the Atlantic to North America and Europe (A history of modern Trinidad 1783-1962, Bridget Brereton, pg. 191). The first impact I will be writing about is the social impact on the development of Trinidad and Tobago.
The social impact has to do with how society was impacted or changed due to further development of Trinidad and Tobago and World War II. World War II had led to the destruction of the myth of white supremacy. The US occupation demolished this myth of white supremacy because at this time, white men were seen doing manual labour and were seen displaying behaviours unfit to the white people. By this, I mean, the white men were seen engaging in drunken behaviours. During this time, a lot of people moved to Trinidad and because of this, the white men had taken the roles of a field worker.
The rich people and Trinidadians, at this time would have gone through a period of cognitive dissonance because they were not accustomed to seeing people of their same colour doing manual labour and behaving like hooligans. They laughed and mocked the drunken or bad behaviours of the sailors. One person that aided in the demolition of this white supremacy myth was named Ulric Cross. Ulric Cross was born in the year 1917. He was of African descent (see figure 2) and because of his involvement in World War II, his achievements led to the breakdown of this myth.
In 1941, Ulric Cross had made a decision to join the Royal Air Force (see figure 3), which was one of the branches of the army, fighting in the war. He had performed greatly to such an extent that he soon after decided to join another branch of the same army. This branch was known as the elite pathfinder squadron of Mosquito Bombers. Because of his high achievements, Ulric Cross was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross and the Distinguished Service Order. FIGURE 2 http://francesannesolomon. net/in-development/ulric-cross/ FIGURE 2 http://francesannesolomon. net/in-development/ulric-cross/
What was the cultural impact on the development of Trinidad and Tobago during World War II? First I will be dealing with the entertainment industry. In 1941-1945 the carnival celebrations were banned. This was due to the unruly behaviours of individuals and some feared of possible uprising. Security measures also led to the banning of carnival between these four years. During this time, many patrons had remained in their backyards experimenting on metal instruments with the making of tins and pans. This was done to help in the making of instrument s that could play different notes and popular tunes.
From this process, steel pans were manufactured into being. It was done by Winston “Spree” Simon and Neville Jules, where they would use biscuit pans and margarine pans, and tune it to the notes of music. In 1946 an oil drum was used and experimented on, and it was found that it could produce a concave pan (see figure 4). It was founded by someone by the name of Elliot “Elle” Mannette. Soon after, steel pan had become an integral part of the carnival celebrations. At this time were carnival was banned, indoor entertainment had bloomed.
This was because people were no longer allowed or given permission to parade in the streets, so indoor entertainment were one of the few things that was accepted for leisure. FIGURE 3 http://www. topnews. in/asianorigin-raf-medic-sues-british-military-paki-and-terrorist-jibe-cover-2213305 FIGURE 3 http://www. topnews. in/asianorigin-raf-medic-sues-british-military-paki-and-terrorist-jibe-cover-2213305 The appearance of most individual give rise to the term “saga-boy”. This is simply a person that was said to be a playboy. It is a person who dresses with extreme style and very fashion forward.
Their hairstyle would be one of a side part and muff, the style of dress was totally different. The saga-boy’s apparel was one of a high-waist pants, wide legged with a tight cuff at the bottom, trousers and a long coat with lapels. Lapels are the part on each side of a coat or jacket immediately below the collar which is folded back on either FIGURE 4 http://www. forumgarden. com/forums/fashion-clothing/56381-mens-vintage-roars-life-zoot-suit-cost-much-bmw. html FIGURE 4 http://www. forumgarden. com/forums/fashion-clothing/56381-mens-vintage-roars-life-zoot-suit-cost-much-bmw. html side of the front opening.
These were known as zoot suits (see figure 4). One of the cultural impacts was the rise of prostitution. Prostitution is the practice or occupation of engaging in sex with someone for payment. It is also defined by the oxford dictionary as “the corrupt use of one’s talents for personal or financial gain. ” World War II had led to this rise in prostitution because of the large amounts of individual in uniform that maintain money and was willing to exchange it for sex or anything of the sexual nature. In 1945, British and Canadian men were around 33,640 men in uniform and the US had about 70,800 men in uniform.
Sexual behaviours were a great means of relaxation. Many patrons were involved in the exchange of money for sex and this led to a massive increase of sexually transmitted diseases. Most common were those of gonorrhoea and syphilis. Statistics show that new cases of gonorrhoea rose from about 573 in the year 1940 to about 3,445 in the year 1941. This shows that the amount of new cases of gonorrhoea was multiplied by around six (6) times the original amount, all within twelve months. Although these diseases were becoming an epidemic in society, it gave way for calypsos by artists such as The Mighty Sparrow and Lord Invader.
One of the popular calypso songs by Lord Invader called the Yankee Dollar. This song simply portrays how the Yankees come to Trinidad and the girls and mothers (prostitutes) like them because they paid them more money and treated them better. Another popular calypso that was sung by the Mighty Sparrow was called Jean and Danah. This song portrays basically the same meaning as the song Yankee Dollar. It portrays women working on a corner, selling their bodies for money and if they are broke, you could buy sex at a cheaper rate. World War II also impacted Trinidad with the introduction of gambling and crime.
Gambling dens were established and this in return gave favour to crime. Boysie Singh was one of the more prevalent mobsters that reigned over Trinidad. In the 1940’s, Boysie Singh had established gambling clubs and houses were men can visit prostitutes in Queens Street located in Port of Spain. He had a reputation of murdering around 400 persons in cold blood. His crimes of gang and drug related murders were reported almost daily in the national press. Yet, it’s said that Boysie Singh once held the world record for the number of murders he was believed to have committed.
During this period of World War II, mass amounts of immigration occurred. Immigration was the action of coming to live permanently in a foreign country. Immigrants came from Barbados, Grenada and Europe. Many from Europe were fleeing or running away from cities such as Hans, Stechers and Tauchers. The reason they came to Trinidad was based on the liberal immigration policy. This states that it was ok for people to come and stay in Trinidad based on work. If you were employed as a worker in Trinidad, you were allowed to stay and live. What was the economic impact on the development of Trinidad and Tobago during World War II?
The first economic impact I would be discussing is the rate of employment. During this period of war, there was a boom in employment. Workers left their field work, cocoa and sugar to become employed on the bases for the army. The unemployment rate had decrease to about 80% due to the construction of the bases. Around 30,000 individuals were employed which added up to be about 20% of the workers in Trinidad. This employment boom due to the base led to a mass shortage in the sugar industry. In 1939, it was recorded that the amount of workers had accumulated to about 30,000.
This soon decreased with a count of 18,000 workers in the year 1943. In next year of 1944, the work population had gone back up to 21,000 workers in the sugar industry. Many workers left their former jobs to work at the bases because of the benefits. It was seen that at the base, it was cleaner and the wages were more attractive. Wages were paid around 2s. Per day and were at least doubled for workers at the base. During World War II many of the young bankers were enlisted in the Canadian and British armed forces and had to go for the call of duty. This was a problem for banks because now, there were shortages in staff.
They asked themselves how they would fill the gap of the shortage. One brilliant person must have suggested hiring female workers. This is how females began to work, but before this time, females were not allowed to work because it was not part of the role as a woman in society. So to fill the gap, female workers were hired but, they were not seen. The employers would have placed them in the back ground or back offices where no one could have seen them. In 1945, during the time of war, RBC consisted approximately 71% of staff members were females. Trade had also shifted in a different direction.
USA became the trading partner with Trinidad because the U-boat threat had become unreliable with the supplies needed. Due to this, Britain was replaced. The U-boat threat were said to be German submarines, or U-Boats, that threatened Canadian merchant ships carrying troops and supplies to Britain. Britain’s war efforts depended on this support. Before World War II (1936-1939) the UK had represented 37% of the imports and USA had 34% of the imports in Trinidad. In the time of World War II (1944), the UK represented a mere 11% of imports and the USA had climbed to a height of 59% of the imports in Trinidad.
The import/export trade had become unreliable and this made an impact on the food situation. At this time food supplies had become scarce and there was a need for something to be done. A system of food rationing had begun to take effect in Trinidad because of its scarcity. Food rationing is the controlled distribution of scarce resources, goods, or services. Rationing controls the size of the ration that one’s allotted portion of the resources being distributed on a particular day or at a particular time. Although the food rationing was introduce, the import bill had increase from the amount of 34. million in the years 1939 to an overwhelming 40 million in the year 1940. This was said to be a sign of increased economic activity. It was a good thing Trinidad produced their own food and crops as this helped them to maintain the society during this time. Property prices and rent payments had gone up during the years of the war. In the years 1939-1945, rent had increased from $80. 00 to $500. 00 per month and the cheaper places to stay like flat houses had also increased from $25. 00 to $80. 00. This, I think was due to the high level of immigration that was taking place.
Another factor that could have led to this was the Yankees that would come to Trinidad to spend holidays and go again. Another economic impact World War II had on the development of Trinidad was the transfer of technology. World War II played a very important role in the transferring of new technologies and skills into Trinidad. The Yankees had bought with them bulldozers that would help with work. Bulldozes would have done the same amount of work men would take weeks to complete in a matter of minutes. Because of the new technologies and skills, the construction industry was never the same again.
Finally! What was the political impact on the development of Trinidad and Tobago during World War II? World War II led to decolonization. Decolonization is the action of changing from colonial to an independent status. After World War II, Britain had become bankrupt and began to promote self- government in the Commonwealth. Commonwealth means an independent country. Eric Williams and Norman Manley agreed for a federation as a means of gaining independence. Because of this, the British West Indies (BWI) federation was established.
In the late 1950’s and early 1960’s, Eric Williams and Norman Manley sought for self- determination as independent states. In conclusion, this essay looked at the impacts of World War II on the development of Trinidad and Tobago. Details were discussed about the social, economic, political and cultural impacts that shaped Trinidad into the place where we live in today. Although Trinidad was not directly hit during World War II, significant research has shown the extent to which Trinidad was impacted. Bibliography (MLA format) Brereton, Bridget.
A history of modern Trinidad, 1783-1962. Kingston, Jamaica: Heinemann, 1981. Print. Douglas, Sean. “ULRIC CROSS – BIOGRAPHY. ” the Trinidad & Tobago Web Directory. N. p. , n. d. Web. 11 July 2012. <http://www. search. co. tt/trinidad/ulriccross/biography. html>. “History | Oilfields Workers’ Trade Union. ” Oilfields Workers’ Trade Union. N. p. , n. d. Web. 10 July 2012. <http://www. owtu. org/content/history>. Wg Nai, Sean. “The effects of the second World War on Trinidad and Tobago. ” History 2010. COSTAATT. L4, Trinidad. 26 June 2012. Class lecture.