Idris Elba helps uncover the WWII soldiers of colour who never got their due

Idris Elba helps uncover the WWII soldiers of colour who never got their due

One of Idris Elba’s grandfathers fought in World War II, but the actor doesn’t have much information about his experiences. With no pictures or stories surviving, Elba feels that part of his family’s history has been erased.

This personal connection has motivated Elba to narrate and executive produce the four-part National Geographic docuseries “Erased: WW2’s Heroes of Color,” set to premiere soon.

The series will shed light on the stories of over 8 million people of color who served with the Allies during World War II, focusing on their experiences at significant events like D-Day, Dunkirk, Pearl Harbor, and the Battle of the Bulge.

“Erased” will delve into the narratives of impactful groups like the 320th Barrage Balloon Battalion, the only all-Black combat unit to fight on the D-Day beaches, and Force K6, a lesser-known Indian regiment of mule handlers from the British army evacuating at Dunkirk.

Using a combination of archival footage, descendant interviews, soldier journals, and actor portrayals, the series aims to provide a visceral and moving account of these heroes’ contributions. For Elba, the experience of narrating the series has been deeply personal, as he reflects on the possibility of his grandfather being one of the individuals featured in the stories.

One of the highlighted figures in the series is Doris Miller, a mess attendant aboard the USS West Virginia during the Pearl Harbor attack. Despite not being trained in gunnery due to racial segregation within the Navy, Miller displayed bravery by manning an anti-aircraft gun and firing at enemy planes during the attack, earning him the Navy Cross.

Director Shianne Brown, who helmed the D-Day episode, expressed the privilege and honor of shedding light on these untold stories. The series also highlights the story of Waverly Woodson, Jr., a medic wounded during the D-Day landing who continued to treat the wounded for 30 hours on Omaha Beach, emphasizing the lack of a color barrier in times of crisis.

“Erased: WW2’s Heroes of Color” serves as a tribute to these often-overlooked individuals and their significant contributions during World War II. The series will premiere ahead of the 80th anniversary of D-Day and will be available on platforms like Disney+ and Hulu for viewers to gain a deeper understanding of these unsung heroes.