How Much Did The Commonwealth Contribute To The War? - Politics Forum.org | PoFo

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The Second World War (1939-1945).
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#14354104
Germany and to a certain extent Italy did not have the benefit of vast colonial empires from which they could recruit manpower. Britain could draw soldiers from its colonies in Africa, India, the Middle East and in Oceania. Would it be reasonable to say that these soldiers were critical for Britain being able to wage a protracted war against the Axis powers?

It has been said before that the Commonwealth soldiers were what saved Britain in WWII. To what extent is this true?
#14354116
1. Germany (and Japan) did recruited from occupied territories. By 1943, 20% of German forces fighting in eastern front were non Germans.

2. "Saved" is a strong word. May be British Empire (which collapsed soon after anyway) but not Britain itself (although they did contributed).

3. If we are wondering what if there are no Indian, African, Australian troops fighting for Britain, then that also means that Britain doesn't need to protect vast tracts of land in Asia, Africa etc meaning less requirement of manpower to wage war against Germany.
#14361257
Political Interest wrote:It has been said before that the Commonwealth soldiers were what saved Britain in WWII. To what extent is this true?


Said by who exactly?

Canada, Australia and New Zealand were independent nations in WWII and should not be viewed as mere colonial puppets. Their contribution was significant, and relative to their population size, absolutely heroic. But at a strategic level, their contribution was not decisive. Britain had enough spare manpower to cover up any shortfall in had the dominions not came along for the ride.

India contributed a great deal of manpower to the war in Asia, but as was pointed out by Fuser, the war only existed because the Empire existed. Had we not been masters of India, we'd have no need to fight a war there. The rest of the Empire didn't contribute a great deal to the war effort, certainly nothing significant.

So although I don't deny the contributions of Canada, Australia and New Zealand as being both heroic and significant, I don't think they were critical. The rest of the Empire did not contribute as much as you imply.
#14415336
fuser wrote:1. Germany (and Japan) did recruited from occupied territories. By 1943, 20% of German forces fighting in eastern front were non Germans.


Still the vast majority of German soldiers were German. Similarly most Japanese soldiers were Japanese. The UK used a force of 2.5,million Indians which outnumbered the number of British soldiers.

fuser wrote:2. "Saved" is a strong word. May be British Empire (which collapsed soon after anyway) but not Britain itself (although they did contributed).


Many Indian, NZ and Australian soldiers fought in Europe. In WWI Indian soldiers were responsible for holding the line in October 1914.

fuser wrote:3. If we are wondering what if there are no Indian, African, Australian troops fighting for Britain, then that also means that Britain doesn't need to protect vast tracts of land in Asia, Africa etc meaning less requirement of manpower to wage war against Germany.


I suppose without the colonies the UK would be left only with its own soldiers.

Thompson_NCL wrote:Said by who exactly?


By Indian nationalists.

Thompson_NCL wrote:Canada, Australia and New Zealand were independent nations in WWII and should not be viewed as mere colonial puppets. Their contribution was significant, and relative to their population size, absolutely heroic. But at a strategic level, their contribution was not decisive. Britain had enough spare manpower to cover up any shortfall in had the dominions not came along for the ride.


I was more thinking about India with its hundreds of thousands who enlisted for service in the British Indian Army.

Thompson_NCL wrote:India contributed a great deal of manpower to the war in Asia, but as was pointed out by Fuser, the war only existed because the Empire existed. Had we not been masters of India, we'd have no need to fight a war there. The rest of the Empire didn't contribute a great deal to the war effort, certainly nothing significant.


However Indian soldiers served in Europe as well.

Thompson_NCL wrote:So although I don't deny the contributions of Canada, Australia and New Zealand as being both heroic and significant, I don't think they were critical. The rest of the Empire did not contribute as much as you imply.


You cannot deny though that the empire did provide the manpower on a scale which made the UK a power the size of America or the USSR.
#14418720
Still the vast majority of German soldiers were German. Similarly most Japanese soldiers were Japanese. The UK used a force of 2.5,million Indians which outnumbered the number of British soldiers.


Yes, but Britain also mobilized 4.6 million of British soldiers too. Beside as I said earlier the vast number of Indian troops were used for garrison duty in the vast empire. Actual non British soldiers fighting (for Britian) in Europe was no longer than 10-15% of total British forces. Without India there is no need of 8th army (the largest Indian army also know as forgotten army) to defend her from Japan. Basically, yes they played their part but saying that they save the Britain is quite a stretch to say the least.

Many Indian, NZ and Australian soldiers fought in Europe. In WWI Indian soldiers were responsible for holding the line in October 1914.


I am not saying they didn't contributed just that they were not the most crucial aspect leading to victory or defeat for the empire.

I suppose without the colonies the UK would be left only with its own soldiers.


Yes but they also don't need that much soldier as there are no vast colonies to defend.
#14418763
The outcome of the war was contingent on many factors. The speed fall of Poland may have been fairly predictable on September 3rd 1913, although even that is questionable but the other major turning points were not. So

the disastrous Soviet invasion of Finland.
Norway fell to quick campaign.
the fall of France and Benelux
Vichy France and the choices of Italy and Spain
the successful British attack on the French fleet
the coup in Yugoslavia

None of these things were predetermined or predictable. None of them were likely events at the start and a different outcome for any of them could have radically changed the whole course of the war. So I would argue that relatively modest changes in forces could have easily changed the outcome. I would argue that it was only with the surrounding of 6th army and Roosevelt's disastrous demand for unconditional surrender that the outcome of the war became fairly predictable.
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