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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Like East Africa , West Africa was a region whose contribution to the war effort
was of much more than peripheral importance in British eyes , and it was itself
affected by the war in many different ways . West Africa was an important
Like other imperial units drawn to East Africa in anticipation of war with Italy ,
West African troops underwent intensive training in bush and desert conditions
along the KenyaItalian Somaliland border . The first West African unit into battle
In August 1943 there were about 8000 American personnel in British West Africa
, including 5000 at Accra Air Base Camp and 1200 at Kano in Northern Nigeria .
The RAF recruited 10 , 000 West Africans for ground duties on its base ...