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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Germany , Italy and Japan all wanted empire for reasons of prestige and
economic gain , as well as to relieve domestic political pressure . All had reason
to resent the provisions of the Treaty of Versailles and the world order that the
Churchill , however , wanted bolder action than this , and he wanted it now .
Distinct from Churchill ' s bombastic plan , the Admiralty emphasized that its plan
was intended first and foremost to ensure the protection of trade in and across the
After Bose left for Singapore later in 1943 , these units disintegrated because the
men only wanted to fight the British , whereas the Germans wanted to deploy
them against the Russians , the idea being that they would fight their way to India