Staff Sergeant Louise Banton
In 2000, aged 19, Staff Sergeant Louise Banton joined the Royal Artillery, following in the footsteps of her grandfather who fought at Monte Cassino during the Second World War. Louise’s heritage has mixed white and black roots; her paternal grandparents were part of the Windrush generation who moved from Jamaica to the UK.
Louise served several tours of duty in Iraq and Afghanistan as a UAV (Unmanned Aerial Vehicles) operator and equipment manager attached to infantry units on the ground. Enduring such physically and emotionally challenging conditions were the defining moments of her career.
In 2022, Louise was awarded the Meritorious Service Medal (MSM) in HM Queen Elizabeth’s final honours list for her pioneering work promoting diversity and inclusion networks in her regiment, which influenced policy and practice. She regards Black History Month (BHM) as an opportunity for people to learn about different cultures, backgrounds and to show their support.
Louise’s advice to her younger self echoes a sentiment often found among veterans: to persevere, always remain true to oneself and “it’s okay to fail. Everybody fails in life. Just always move on to the next thing and learn from it. Learn from mistakes.”
(Source: Black History Month website article dated 18 Sept 2023: “Saluting Our Sisters: Commemorating the Outstanding Contributions of Black Women Veterans Louise and Valerie”, written by the Royal British Legion.)