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.
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As well as keeping the Germans out of the Middle East, what has been termed
the British 'Mediterranean strategy' aimed at ... Italy's egregious failure in both
campaigns soon drew in a stiffening of German forces that prolonged the war in
It was decided by the British government that pernicious Axis influence in Syria,
Iraq and Iran had to be met head on and destroyed. If these countries fell to the
German camp it would signal the destruction of British power in the Middle East ...
The two British generals controlling the vast Middle East-South Asia region,
Auchinleck and Wavell, as well as the British General Staff and the American War
Department, believed that Russian resistance to the ferocious German invasion ...
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The Approach of War
The Home Front
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