BBC presents programme on only black insurgent in 1944 Warsaw Uprising

BBC, on Saturday, presented a programme about August Agboola Browne, a Nigeria-born jazz musician, thought to have been the only black participant in the Polish defence war in September 1939 and the only black participant in the 1944 Warsaw Uprising.

BBC reported that Browne's history was rediscovered in 2009. His participation in the Warsaw Uprising had been confirmed, and a small monument to honour him was unveiled in Warsaw last year.

He arrived in England from Nigeria, then a British colony, aboard a British merchant ship along with his longshoreman father. From there, he joined a theatre troupe touring Europe and ended up in Poland via Germany in 1922.

In Poland, Browne became a celebrated jazz percussionist in 1930s Warsaw. After the outbreak of World War Two, Browne did not leave Poland and stayed in Warsaw, despite being a British Empire citizen. He joined the resistance movement and fought in the Uprising under the code name 'Ali.' He survived the war and continued living in the ravaged city until 1956 when he emigrated with his second wife to Britain.

The Warsaw Uprising was the largest underground military operation in German-occupied Europe. On August 1, 1944, around 40-50 thousand insurgents took part in the fighting. Planned to last several days, the fighting eventually lasted over two months.

During the fighting in Warsaw, about 18,000 insurgents lost their lives and 25,000 were wounded. Losses among the civilian population were huge and amounted to approx. 180,000. After the Warsaw Uprising was crushed about 500,000 surviving residents were forced to evacuate and Warsaw was almost completely razed to the ground.