Asylum Pictures in Scotland created the film Tree Fellers about "Belizean lumberjacks who in 1942 left the tropical rainforests of British Honduras to help Britain fight fascism by felling trees in Scotland."
Tree Fellers (2004, 24 mins) tells the story of the 900 Belizean lumberjacks who in 1942 left the tropical rainforests of British Honduras to help Britain fight fascism by felling trees in Scotland. Sam ( 93), Eric (87) and Amos (86) were among those who stayed on after the war to make new lives in a country where, for better or worse, the colour of their skin marked them out. Rare archive footage, long cherished memories and a last reunion are intertwined in this lyrical and moving documentary testament.
Sam Martinez shows us where in Belize he grew up
In this excerpt from an interview conducted in Edinburgh in November 2013, 103 year old Sam Martinez shows us where in Belize he grew up and went to School before leaving for Scotland in 1942 as part of the British Honduras Forestry Unit. This video is part of the Tree Fellers Revisited Project by the Screen Media Research Centre at Edinburgh Napier University/Screen Academy Scotland.
Sam Martinez Message to Belize Nov 2013
Sam Martinez was one of the 800 or so members of the British Honduras Forestry Unit (BHFU) who came to Scotland in 1942 to help defeat fascism by working on the 'home front' as lumberjacks in Scotland's forests. After the war like many of the foresters, Sam chose to settle in Scotland and has lived in Edinburgh ever since. Now 103 he sends this message to family, friends and all in Belize to mark the re-screening of the documentary film 'Tree Fellers' in which he appeared in 2004 alongside other members of the BHFU. The screening has been arranged with the kind support of Suzette Zayden and the Belize National Institute of Culture and History. The film, produced by Robin MacPherson of Asylum Pictures and directed by Sana Bilgrami, will be re-released later this year on the online platform Distrify. Meantime Robin is undertaking a research project (supported with funds from the Carnegie Trust for the Universities of Scotland) into how documentaries are perceived by their audiences.
Tree Fellers on Facebook
Here's Amos Ford in some research footage we shot (in 2003), talking about what it was like to be a logger in Belize in the 1930s
The Ship that brought the first Forestry workers (also known as the Treefellers) to Scotland.
Using historical materials and personal interviews, the documentary tells the story of some of the over 800 men who traveled from British Honduras (now Belize) to Scotland in 1941 to work as foresters. Their stories and the stories of other Black men and women from the commonwealth can be seen at the Imperial War Museum in London.
Approximately 16,000 men from the West Indies volunteered to fight for Britain in the First World War, and over 10,000 servicemen and women answered the call of the "Mother Country" during the Second World War. Thousands more served as merchant seamen. From "War to Windrush" is an exhibit that explores how, despite facing discrimination during their service, many former Black West Indian servicemen and women and civilian war workers returned to settle in Britain after the Second World War.
Imperial War Museum London
Lambeth Road, London SE1 6HZ
10.00am – 6.00pm
Enquiries 020 7416 5320/5321 www.iwm.org.uk