Did you know the first colored West Indian to receive a commission in the Royal Air Force was St. Lucian pilot, Officer Hugh Terence Etienne?

He was a civil servant in St. Lucia but left home in 1940 to join the RAF and was commissioned September 1, 1942. Unfortunately, on March 5, 1943, he and his crew went missing while on an operation; they were shot down and crashed into the sea west of Ijmuiden, Holland.

Did you know during 1942, work on a temporary runway for airplanes begun at Vigie? In March 1943 the runway was fit for use and a B.W.I.A. plane landed there on March 23, 1943. In 1945 the runway was extended and metalled.

Did you know in October 1943, bad weather hit St. Lucia and as a result there was the dramatic disappearance of the coastal launch “Bernadine II”? The boat left Laborie one early Monday morning, it failed to get to Choiseul and went adrift in the Caribbean.

Once the few provisions on board were done, they had to starve. They had been without water for six days; in addition, the boat had sprung a leak, and bucket-bailing had become a necessity. It seems to be a miracle everyone on the boat survived. It was not until the following Sunday, when the crew and passengers (19 in all) were rescued by an American warship. They were kindly received and taken to Puerto Rico and eventually returned to St. Lucia.

Source: Outlines of St. Lucia’s History by Rev. Fr. Charles Jesse – 1994

This feature runs every Tuesday and Thursday. It is compiled by daughter of the soil Anselma Aimable, a former agricultural officer and former correspondent for Caribbean Net News, who has a deep interest in local culture and history. Send ideas and tips to [email protected]   


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  1. Great job AA, its a pity we know more about American and European history than our own.
    In this reality tv, instant gratification society we now live in,more of our heroes and sheroes who were trailblazers need to be highlighted.


  2. i agree. we tend to learn everyones history but not ours. this should be made compulsory in our curriculum . i always look forward to this section . keep it alive please. we do read and have a great interest. i live in england but always share this section with my two children. well done aimable


  3. A plaque in memory of Etienne and the other guys killed in WW2 in on the Square. Etienne was very skilled. He was a Flight Officer and filled several positions before he was shot down. All the St. Lucian pilots were very young. Etienne was described as old at just 27 years old when he died (hope my memory is right). Barnard crash landed in France and the Nazis were hot searching for him. He used patois to help him. He finally made it to Spain.


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