Clinton Edwards


Menial work indignity prompted re-joining the RAF

1926 - 2018

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Like many passengers on the Empire Windrush, 21-year-old Clinton Edwards had served in the RAF as a Jamaican volunteer but found it hard to settle down back home after being demobbed. Facing slim prospects on the jobs front, he was more than happy to pay £28 and 10 shillings for his passage back to England.

As someone who had previously been to England, his fellow passengers asked him what to expect when they arrived in the ‘Mother Country,’ The truth is he wasn’t sure himself how well received they would be.

As things transpired, he found life as a civilian a lot different from when he was in uniform. He managed to quickly find work as a welder but when he turned up for his first day at work, he was given a wheelbarrow and a shovel instead. After putting up with the humiliation for a few weeks, he decided his best course of action was to re-enlist with the RAF, where he served a further eight years.

Born in Jamaica on November 14, 1926, Clinton Obadiah Edwards had originally joined the RAF in 1944. Aged 17, he said he was older than he was in order to qualify for enlistment. Very soon, he found himself on his way to England as part of the second contingent of volunteers heading for RAF Hunmanby Moor near Filey in Yorkshire for initial training.

Re-joining the RAF proved to be the right decision for him. He enjoyed his work, which included three years in Egypt and Iraq, and appreciated the camaraderie it offered. While still with the RAF, Clinton married Ethel Lee in Surrey in 1953.

After leaving the service, he got a job with the British Oxygen Company as a laboratory technician, where he was able to apply his welding skills. Although he lived happily in England with his wife and children, he remained a proud Jamaican and always regarded it as home, often returning there for holidays and to visit relatives.

He died in London on November 11, 2018. Towards the end of his life he had been living in the Wimbledon area of the capital.

Clinton Edwards meets Prince Charles in 1998 © Windrush Foundation

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