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 Britain entered the Second World War its strategy in the region was the same
as it had been at the outbreak of war in 1914: to safeguard imperial
communications with India and the Far East; to keep open the Mediterranean, the
Suez Canal ...
During the war the Mediterranean Fleet faced the entire Italian fleet - large,
modern and formidable - which enjoyed base facilities throughout the region, and
on-paper superiority over the Mediterranean Fleet in heavy cruisers, submarines
By the middle of 1944 British imperial, American and allied air power in the
Middle East and Mediterranean had been reorganized. Known as Mediterranean
Allied Air Forces, it comprised the Mediterranean Allied Strategic Air Force and