chapter  26
Pages 13

A consequence of the Second World War and its aftermath was greatly increased British involvement with continental Europe. The United Kingdom had never sought to divorce itself entirely from European affairs; nevertheless, in the 19th century and the first half of the 20th century, there was a strong sense of separateness, and a greater concern and identification with its overseas possessions, particularly the old dominions where, except in South Africa, the populations were still largely of British origin. Each of the dominions lent Britain valuable support in both World Wars, providing bodies of troops which were large in proportion to their populations and raised entirely by voluntary enlistment. In the First World War, Australians, Canadians, New Zealanders and South Africans fought under British command on the Western Front and in the Middle East, and Canadian and Australian formations in particular were among the elite of the British forces. In the Second World War, the dominions similarly provided large military contingents-the first units of the Canadian Army arrived in Britain before the end of October 1939. As well as land forces, the dominions provided a significant proportion of RAF aircrew and the Royal Canadian Navy played a major role in the Atlantic convoy war. From 1941, virtually all RAF pilot and navigator training was carried out in Canada, South Africa and Rhodesia, using facilities put at British disposal by the relevant governments. Though India was affected from 1942 by a large-scale campaign for independence and terrorist activity by extremists, the Indian Army made in terms of manpower the largest contribution to the war in Burma. Volunteers from elsewhere in the Empire also served under British command in significant numbers.