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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The South African government , inevitably , expressed concerns about ' black
armies ' on its borders , and was particularly unhappy about the British decision
to train High Commission Territories soldiers to use rifles , and , what ' s more , to
The soldiers were formed into three battalions of a thousand men each , officered
by Germans . After Bose left for Singapore later in 1943 , these units disintegrated
because the men only wanted to fight the British , whereas the Germans ...
As one of the soldiers who endured the British exit from Burma wrote : The Burma
retreat was in a class of its own . It was horrible to witness a beautiful country
being ravaged ; to see innocent men , women , and children dying by the