The British Empire and the Second World War
In 1939 Hitler went to war not just with Great Britain; he also went to war with the whole of the British Empire, the greatest empire that there had ever been. In the years since 1945 that empire has disappeared, and the crucial fact that the British Empire fought together as a whole during the war has been forgotten. All the parts of the empire joined the struggle and were involved in it from the beginning, undergoing huge changes and sometimes suffering great losses as a result. The war in the desert, the defence of Malta and the Malayan campaign, and the contribution of the empire as a whole in terms of supplies, communications and troops, all reflect the strategic importance of Britain's imperial status. Men and women not only from Australia, New Zealand and India but from many parts of Africa and the Middle East all played their part. Winston Churchill saw the war throughout in imperial terms. The British Empire and the Second World War emphasises a central fact about the Second World War that is often forgotten.
During the war Britain was also forced to champion the ideology of liberation, in
order to trump Nazism and Japan's call for Asian solidarity, at the same time as it
had to place unprecedented pressure upon colonial collaborators. In return, the ...
... there would have been no quarrel with Italy or Japan if it had not been for two
centuries of British overseas expansion on their doorsteps. The battlefields
themselves were decided by Britain's imperial history, whether on the sea routes
of the ...
The Approach of War It was not because of any criminal oversight that Britain was
so poorly placed to meet the challenges presented by Germany, Italy and Japan.
It was just that, as a sated power, recovering from the First World War and the ...
4 The Home Front On 23 December 1941 eighty Japanese bombers and thirty
fighters dropped the first bombs on Rangoon, the capital of Burma. They fell on
women in the market places, cheroots between painted lips, behind their stalls of
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11 The Islands of the Indian Ocean
12 India and Burma
13 SouthEast Asia and the Far East
14 Australia and New Zealand
15 The Pacific
9 SubSaharan Africa
10 The Indian Ocean