Bulaya Chandra aka Samson Jackson aka Chief Luali
Samson Jackson is believed to be the only pure black African to have served as a combatant on the Western Front during the First World War. He was of the Awemba tribe and in 1925 about 30 years of age. In Northern Rhodesia he was known as Bulaya Chandra until he moved to England where he changed his name to Samson Jackson and later became known as Chief Luali.
Bulaya was a servant in the employ of Sir Stewart Gore-Brown who had been travelling in Zambia. Having received permission from the Secretary on 27 June 1914 that ‘K and B might go home with me’, in July 1914, Gore-Brown returned to England accompanied by two servants, Bulaya and Kakumbi. When war broke out the following month, Gore-Browne had his two servants put into the care of his aunt, Dame Ethel Locke King at Brooklands and enlisted for service in Europe. When Gore Browne was in Swannage in command of an Artillery Division, both servants worked for him in a domestic capacity.
Later, in May 1915 Gore Browne decided the two servants were to return to Northern Rhodesia (Zambia) making arrangements for their journey without him in the company of Mr ESB Taggart of the Northern Rhodesia Administration. However, Bulaya absconded on route to the port, having been taken to London on 30 April by Gore Browne himself. Bulaya disappeared during the night from the hotel room he was sharing with Kakumbi in the same establishment as Gore Browne. The hall porter reported Bulaya had left around 1 a.m. He left a note saying he was going to get employment in London. The police eventually traced him to the Strand Palace Hotel where he was working in the kitchen. The hotel manager was prepared to release Bulaya but Gore Browne felt this would not achieve anything ‘unless [he] could be detained and forced to embark’.
The next we know about him is his enlistment in the 19th London Regiment under the name of Samson Jackson. His regimental number of 5027 suggests that he enlisted between 18 October 1915 and 13 November 1915. This regiment was later incorporated into the Middlesex Regiment where Samson was registered 208772. According to the history of the 2/19th London Regiment by Eames, on 25 October 1915, the regiment moved from camp at Hatfield Broad Oak to Saffron Walden and then in December to billets in Hertford where they were inspected on 22 December by General Bulfin.
The 2/19 is recorded as having served at Vimy Ridge in 1916, then in 1917 at Salonika, Sheria, Nebi Samwil, Jerusalem and Shab Salah and then in 1918 at Talat Ed Dumm, Jordan and Nahr El Faliq.
The Regiment was disbanded in February 1920 and it must be at this stage that he moved to the Middlesex Regiment.
Jackson left the Army on 28 May 1921 and became an actor and entertainer.
He died as Chief Luale in Skegness in 1936.
For a more complete account on Samson Jackson, see The End of the War commemoration book.
Author: Dr Anne Samson
Date: 15 August 2018
Information on Jackson’s acting/entertainment role courtesy of Stephen Bourne