The reality of the Burma Road Riot has been largely buried under folklore and legend. This is really how all of history is truly celebrated. Once time moves on from singular events, we take from these events, the intention of the participants, while discarding the less palatable realities.

Burma Road the March, became Burma Road the Riot, which gave birth to Burma Road the Labour Movement.

In 1942 however, a stark reality was that, so many people had been arrested, tried and convicted as a result of the riot, and looting which ensued that, it was said the local jail was brimming over with inmates.

In fact, they had to stagger entry dates for the convicted to avoid overcrowding.

The vast majority of those sentenced were sentenced to hard labour. Negroes like Percy Sherwood got two months in jail, at hard labour, for stealing 1 tin of salad fruit and 1 tin of sweet corn during the riot.

John McKinney was fined £10 or three months hard labour for refusing to move away when requested to do so.

George Brice was given three months hard labour for stealing 1 woollen scarf.

Some would spend almost a decade in prison for their participation in the riot.

(The Nassau Guardian Wednesday June 10, 1942)


By Wednesday June 10, 1942, just a week after the riot, the coroner’s inquest schedule into the first four of five people shot dead during the Burma Road Riot.

Harold Macintosh, David Smith, Roy Johnson and Donald Johnson.

David Smith and Roy Johnson died during the riot.

McIntosh was shot while breaking curfew. Harold McIntosh died on 4th June 1942 from a bullet wound to the aorta. He was shot in the heart. McIntosh was a stevedore by profession and was 42 years old.

Donald Johnson was shot to death by a shopkeeper from BlueHill named Richard Holbert. Donald Johnson was attempting to steal. Johnson was a 25 year old labourer. He died from a bullet wound to the skull.


The fifth person shot died a month or so later on July 4, 1942. James Alexander Rolle was shot in the head on June 1st. 1942 and died on Saturday July 4, 1942.

(The Nassau Tribune Monday July 6, 1942)

June 3, 1942

In the early international news reports, just two days into the riot, reports were that two people had been reported dead. This number rose to five later on. What was also reported was about 30 white men, including some British soldiers, were treated for wounds as a result of fighting and defending Nassau against rioters. Those wounded defending the island were said to have been treated by the Red Cross.

(The Philadelphia Inquirer Wednesday June 3, 1942)

(The Austin American Wednesday June 3, 1942)