The University (College) of the West Indies came into being in the aftermath of World War II (1939-1945), on the grounds of a military camp which had taken over the grounds of a previous civilian evacuee and refugee camp. Indeed the soldiers moved off the site at the end of 1947 to make room for the university’s advent; and the name Gibraltar Camp is still part of the UWI heritage.

One tangible artefact at the UWI Museum helps tell that story, hence its value is significant though it is one of millions produced.

This scratched and corroded helmet was donated to the Museum by a retired lecturer, who literally spied it amid the rubble of the old Gibraltar Camp site while walking across the campus decades ago.

A former military officer identified it as British Brodie helmet; the shape and fabric of the inner liner identifying it as World War II issue, one of literally millions manufactured.

This one does have some barely visible letters and numbers scratched on to the underside of the rim. Unfortunately they are not completely legible: the name is incomplete and the number doesn’t appear to match any known regiment or unit.

We haven’t closed off enquiries; you never know what might emerge. But in the meantime we value this tangible link to the military iteration of Gibraltar Camp, which was UWI’s immediate predecessor on the lands where classes first started at the UCWI in 1948.


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