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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The inter-war years had seen the French pour money into the naval base at
Diego Suarez in Madagascar, although, as the British were themselves to
discover at Singapore, a great base without its own great fleet presented a
tempting hostage ...
including a Royal Naval Air Station, and by 1944 a regular air service linked it
with Madagascar and South Africa. The island was also part of the navy's
wireless network across the Indian Ocean. Considerable defensive work had to
be carried ...
Madagascar from the African mainland and used as a major shipping route, were
common from the summer of 1942. On 14 March 1942 Grand-Admiral Raeder
told Hitler that the Japanese were eyeing Madagascar for bases after occupying