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 war, the sea lanes of the world were also vital for the movement of martial
resources to and from Britain, North America and the Empire's many overseas
battle fronts. The Empire defined Britain's participation in a global war that was an
In 1942 Mackenzie King held a plebiscite to sanction his release from the
promise that conscription for overseas service would not be adopted. This
outraged many French-Canadians and the Prime Minister concluded that the
issue was best ...
6 The Caribbean The oldest overseas territories of the British Empire were to be
found in the Caribbean and the Americas. In the days of the 'First British Empire',
from the seventeenth century until the loss of the American colonies and the ...