Britain and France’s Contribution to the War Effort 1914–18

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Map Code: Ax00137

With the exception of Russia and Austria, the warring European powers had colonies in Africa, Southeast Asia, Oceania and the Americas. The Turkish army also contained a significant African contingent. This meant that, by default, a European war became a global war, with the colonies supplying both troops and raw materials. The empires believed that their large colonial armies would speed up the conflict, resolving it more quickly. British African and Caribbean troops served in the European theatre of war, as well as North and East Africa. Indian troops were immediately mobilized, with many fighting in Ypres. France drew troops from Southeast Asia and Francophone Africa. There was also a significant contribution from the ‘white dominions’, such as Canada, Australia and New Zealand. The colonies were a vital part of the military war effort, with many losing their lives to a war about which they knew very little.

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