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Last Updated: Saturday, 23 April, 2005, 14:01 GMT 15:01 UK
Butetown remembers World War Two
Arthur Young in RAF uniform
Arthur Young became one of the few black RAF pilots
As the 60th anniversary of the end of World War Two approaches, an exhibition has opened to tell the wartime stories of the people of Butetown in Cardiff.

Personal accounts in Butetown Remembers focus on those from the city's most ethnically-diverse area who joined up, were evacuated or stayed behind.

It highlights the wartime contribution of ethnic minority groups, which organisers said was often forgotten.

The exhibition runs at the Butetown History and Arts Centre until 3 July.

The stories are told through photographs, oral histories, film footage and other documents, many donated by members of the dockside community.

Among the story-tellers is Patti Flynn, whose father and two brothers were killed during World War Two.

Her eldest brother, Jocelyn Young, was aboard a merchant ship in the Far East when Japan declared war in the Allies in 1941.

The vessel went missing and the 20 year old was declared lost at sea.

Tommy Douglas
Tommy Douglas died at just 15 when his convoy was torpedoed

Within a year, his father Wilmot had also been reported lost at sea after the ship he was cook aboard was hit.

But the tragedy of wartime had not ended for the Young family - another of Mrs Flynn's brothers, Arthur, was also killed in action.

An accomplished trumpet player, Arthur signed up with the Royal Air Force in the same year that Jocelyn had died.

Mrs Flynn said: "In July 1944, Arthur and the crew of the Lancaster (bomber) were returning from an aborted mission over Normandy when they did not reach home base.

"Smoke was seen coming from the tail of the plane before it crashed in bad visibility, finally landing in the River Irwell in Salford.

"The cargo of bombs exploded and all the crew perished.

Patricia Smith in uniform
Patricia Smith, then Douglas, lost one of her brothers in the war

"The same week Arthur received his flying wings, becoming one of the few coloured officers in the Royal Air Force."

Patricia Smith also lost a brother, Tommy, who was just 15 when the ship he worked aboard as a galley boy went down.

Despite his young age, his service earned him two medals, which Mrs Smith was given in 2003.

Her other brother Billy, who became a decorated Army captain, survived the war, as did she having signed up for non-combat duty in 1941.

"You either had to work in a factory or you could go into the forces," said Mrs Smith.

"The lure of the uniform and the chance to go somewhere, I think that's what it was.

Vera Johnson in uniform
Vera Johnson was the subject of racist abuse during her service

"Once you'd done your training you were posted different places so, I didn't know anybody, but I soon made friends.

"I never had any trouble about black and white business. I never had any of that - none."

But Vera Johnson, who also joined the women's army, found she had to defend herself against racism.

"I was serving out the food and there was a platoon of soldiers waiting," she said.

"All of a sudden, this young chap came out and got on his knees in front of me and he started singing, 'Mammy, Mammy'.

"They were all roaring but I wasn't laughing.

"We had these big spoons for serving. I didn't mean to cut his head open. I just flicked it and I hit him across his head. He had to go to hospital.

"I was on a court martial, but I got away with it because everybody could say what the boy had done."

Butetown Remembers World War Two: Seamen, Airmen and Evacuees is open daily at the Butetown History and Arts Centre in Bute Street, Cardiff, until 3 July.

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