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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In June 1939 the British Ambassador in Washington heard of American
proposals arising out of recent naval operations. If war broke out, America would
wish to establish a patrol in the Western Atlantic, and would like bases to aid this
Russia had 120,000 troops and a thousand tanks available, whilst Lieutenant
General Quinan had 19,000 troops (8th and 1oth Indian divisions), fifty light tanks
, seven RAF squadrons and important naval assets poised for action in Iraq and ...
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 ...