Volunteers and Pressed Men: How Britain and its Empire Raised its Forces in Two World Wars - Hardcover (224 pages)
The great heroic myth of 20th century British history is that after the fall of France in June 1940 Britain ‘stood alone’. This does a great disservice to the millions of men and women from around the world who rallied to the British cause. As in 1914-18 Britain in 1939-45 could call on the human and material resources of the world’s greatest empire, and without them could not have held off Germany and Italy, and later Japan. In the First World War Britain initially depended on volunteers to form Kitchener’s ‘New Army’, but from 1916 it had to resort to conscription. The imperial forces were mainly raised voluntarily although, as in Britain, various forms of social and economic pressure were applied to get men into uniform. In both wars some Commonwealth and Empire territories applied formal conscription. In 1939-45 these countries doubled the military manpower available from Britain itself. This book draws on official documents, diaries, memoirs and other sources to describe how, alongside Britain’s own forces, men and women drawn from the Americas to the Pacific served, fought, and suffered injury and death in Britain’s cause.