Britain's Colonies in the War

BRITAIN'S Colonies, no less than the Dominions and India, are contributing their share to the war effort of the Commonwealth. The spectacular activities of the Canadian airmen over Britain, of the Australians and New Zealanders in Libya, of the Indian division in Eritrea and of the South African troops in Ethiopia should not lead us to overlook the important rôle being played by the Empire's "junior partners" -- the crown colonies, the protectorates and the mandated territories.


Before describing the part played by the British Colonies in the war, however, I should like to explain briefly just what they are. I found during a recent tour of the United States that there was considerable vagueness about the Colonial Empire even in otherwise well-informed quarters -- which is perhaps not surprising, seeing that it is none too well known at home.

The British Colonial Empire comprises some forty separate territories, large and small, at greatly varying stages of political, social and economic development, scattered across the globe, covering a land area of three million square miles (exclusive of the Anglo-Egyptian Sudan) and containing a population -- white, black, brown and yellow -- of some sixty-five million people. The whites are in a small minority, for most of the colonies are tropical or sub-tropical and are therefore, unlike the Dominions, largely unsuited for white settlement.

Let us for a moment make a bird's-eye survey of this variegated Empire. Turning first to the Western Hemisphere we find numerous colonies off the coast of North America or clustered in the Caribbean -- Bermuda, the Bahamas, Jamaica and the other British West Indies, British Honduras and British Guiana -- much in the news of late as a result of Britain's having granted the United States sites for naval and air bases on some of them. Further down in the South Atlantic lie Ascension, St. Helena, the Falklands -- all useful points d'appui in Britain's control of the sea -- as well as Tristan da

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