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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Canada, in addition to its political, trade and foreign affairs autonomy, was also
the most advanced territory of the British ... It was so mature politically, in fact, that
Canadian politicians had largely jettisoned imperial issues as topics of debate, ...
War aims had to be explained to the people in order to win their support, and the
majority of them remained acquiescent, not linked to the political agitation of their
educated peers pursuing their ambition of greater participation in the ...
Unusual in the British Colonial Empire, indigenous people held senior positions
in the political and governmental structure, and this practice continued during the
war. An astute move was the appointment of a future Governor-General, Oliver ...