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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Preface The British Empire defined Britain's war between 1939 and 1945. It was
a war fought in imperial theatres by imperial forces, all of which were dependent
upon sea power and Britain's capacity to move food, goods, munitions and troops
'The Commonwealth' refers to Britain and the Dominions of Canada, South Africa,
Australia and New Zealand. The Irish Free State was also a Dominion, though
not one usually bracketed with Britain and the other Dominions in discussions ...
Prologue The image of Britain standing alone after the fall of France in June 1940
is embedded in the public awareness of the Second World War, epitomized by
New Zealander David Low's famous Evening Standard cartoon of the defiant ...
Not only did Empire dictate where and how Britain fought the war, it also dictated
how Britain's enemies sought to defeat British power. Naturally, Britain's enemies
furthered their cause against Britain by attacking its Empire. For Italy and Japan ...
The Approach of War It was not because of any criminal oversight that Britain was
so poorly placed to meet the challenges presented by Germany, Italy and Japan.
It was just that, as a sated power, recovering from the First World War and the ...
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11 The Islands of the Indian Ocean
12 India and Burma
13 SouthEast Asia and the Far East
14 Australia and New Zealand
15 The Pacific
9 SubSaharan Africa
10 The Indian Ocean