In 1944, when the British government advertised in Jamaica for volunteers for the Royal Air Force against Germany, Arthur Curling answered the call. He was not yet 16 years of age at the time, but passed the test and enlisted. He recalled, “My parents did not approve in the beginning, but they had no choice at the time, and like everything else, its your life and your education, you gain an experience.” Like many other Jamaicans, he underwent training on the island, before travelling to England.
Arthur served on the home front until the war ended in May 1945. He was demobbed the following year and returned to Jamaica. “As a matter of fact, I had a reasonably good job in Jamaica and things were looking up. It’s just that the island is too small. You don’t realise how small until after you have travelled,” he said.
The arrival of Empire Windrush at Kingston Harbour was just what Arthur was waiting for and he did not hesitate to purchase the one way ticket to England in May 1948. At twenty years of age he found the going hard just after returning to the UK. He went for a job as a cleaner but was refused because the owner did not want any ‘darkies’ working in his business.
He later trained as a print finisher and played his part in bringing about social changes in the community. Having raised a family, in retirement he often travelled to North America, The West Indies, the continent of Africa visiting Liberia, Sierra Leone and South Africa.