Alpheus Dixie Campbell


William Robinson Clarke

‘We’re British citizens, not refugees, ex-RAF man told press’

1927 - 2008

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Alpheus Westford Campbell was a 21-year- old motor fitter from Westmoreland, Jamaica, when he arrived in England on the Empire Windrush. The ship’s records show that his final destination would be 5 St Peter’s Square in Wolverhampton.

Alpheus (known as ‘Dixie’) had been in the UK previously, having enlisted into the RAF in 1944. He was part of the first contingent of volunteers, arriving in England in the summer of 1944, and was posted to RAF Hunmanby Moor near Filey in Yorkshire for initial training. At the end of the war, he was demobbed and returned to Jamaica before deciding to sail back to England on the Windrush.

Alpheus stated on the ship’s passenger list and landing card that England was his ‘intended next permanent residence’. All passengers were required to declare this information but the question was often misunderstood. ‘Permanent’ was defined as ‘residence for more than a year’.

With one exception, even the 15 stowaways who were arrested when the ship docked at Tilbury were entitled to remain permanently in the UK after serving a sentence for the offences of being on the ship without permission and failing to pay their fare. The exception was a stowaway who was deported because he did not possess a passport or any proof of identity.

Thus, when Alpheus said the UK was his intended permanent residence he was not signing up to being in the country for the rest of his life, a point he made forcefully when interviewed by The Gleaner newspaper on arrival at Tilbury.

Alpheus had noted that some newspapers had referred to the passengers on board the Windrush as ‘refugees’. He explained to the reporter that this was not the case – they were in fact, British citizens. Each held a British passport that proudly proclaimed the holder as a ‘British subject by birth’.

Alpheus also pointed out that his fellow West Indians were not necessarily coming to England forever. “We have come here but many of us plan to go back one day – when we don’t know,” he stated.

Whatever his hopes or plans, within days of his arrival he was in the Midlands and would remain there for more than 60 years. The main reason was his marriage to Birmingham-born Edna Horsfall in July 1952. At the time, Alpheus was a motor mechanic living in Moseley and Edna was a paint sprayer of cycle accessories.

They went on to raise a family and lived in Tame Road in the Aston area of Birmingham for a number of years before moving to Shrub Lane in Erdington. It was while living at this address that Alpheus died on August 4, 2008. He is buried at nearby Witton Cemetery.


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