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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Before the Japanese arrived in French Indo - China , indeed , the focus of the
Burma Rifles was upon possible service in Egypt and East Africa , following the
traditional Indian Army practice of looking to aid an imperial war effort by
See F . A . S . Clarke and A . Haywood , The History of the Royal West African
Frontier Force ( Aldershot , 1964 ) ; Timothy Parsons , The African Rank - and -
File : Social Implications of Colonial Military Service in the King ' s African Rifles ...
Agnes Newton Keith , Three Came Home ( London , 1948 ) . Thakin Nu , Burma
under the Japanese : Pictures and Portraits ( London , 1954 ) . John Nunneley ,
Tales from the King ' s African Rifles : A Last Flourish of Empire ( London , 1998 )