An Imperial World at War: The British Empire, 1939–45 [1 ed.] 1472462106, 9781472462107

At the start of the Second World War, Britain was at the height of its imperial power, and it is no surprise that it dre

292 100 2MB

English Pages 262 Year 2016

Report DMCA / Copyright

DOWNLOAD PDF FILE

Table of contents :
Contents
List of figures
Notes on contributors
Introduction
1 The Second World War and the ‘quiet colony of Sierra Leone’ • Andrew Stewart
2 Between occupation and liberation: Italian Somalia under British rule, 1941–1945 • Annalisa Urbano
3 ‘Lady visitors’: evacuees from Hong Kong in Australia during the Second World War • Bridget Deane
4 Protecting which spaces and bodies? Civil defence, the British Empire and the Second World War • Susan R. Grayzel
5 Guided development versus New Deal internationalism: British planning for the Middle East during the Second World War and a clash of Anglo-American ideologies • Simon Davis
6 Japanese racial propaganda in occupied British Asia during the Second World War • Felicia Yap
7 Mixable and matchable army formations: the roots of Anglo-Canadian military interoperability during the Second World War • Douglas E. Delaney
8 Gold and dollars: Canada, South Africa and British war finance, 1939–1945 • Iain E. Johnston
9 Nazi hunting and intelligence gathering in India on the eve of the Second World War • Benjamin Zachariah
10 “India is a fine country after all!”: the cultivation of military morale in colonial India • Andrew Muldoon
11 Waiting for their ship to come: changing perceptions of the Japanese in postwar Southeast Asia • Euan McKay
12 Remembrance Day, the colonial press and ‘deserving ex-servicemen’ in late-colonial Nigeria • Oliver Coates
Afterword: many worlds at war: beyond the belligerents • Ashley Jackson
Index
Recommend Papers

An Imperial World at War: The British Empire, 1939–45 [1 ed.]
 1472462106, 9781472462107

  • 0 0 0
  • Like this paper and download? You can publish your own PDF file online for free in a few minutes! Sign Up
File loading please wait...
Citation preview

An Imperial World at War

At the start of the Second World War, Britain was at the height of its imperial power, and it is no surprise that it drew upon the global resources of the Empire once war had been declared. Whilst this international aspect of Britain’s war effort has been wellstudied in relation to the military contribution of individual dominions and colonies, relatively little has been written about the Empire as a whole. As such, An Imperial World at War makes an important contribution to the historiography relating to the British Empire and its wartime experience. It argues that the war needs to be viewed in imperial terms, that the role of forces drawn from the Empire is poorly understood and that the war’s impact on colonial societies is barely grasped at all in conventional accounts. Through a series of case studies, the volume demonstrates the fundamental role played by the Empire in Britain’s war effort and highlights some of the consequences for both Britain and its imperial territories. Themes include the recruitment and utilization of military formations drawn from imperial territories, the experience of British forces stationed overseas, the use of strategic bases located in the colonies, British policy in the Middle East and the challenge posed by growing American power, the occupation of enemy colonies and the enemy occupation of British colonies, colonial civil defence measures, financial support for the war effort supplied by the Empire, and the commemoration of the war. The Afterword anticipates a new, decentred history of the war that properly acknowledges the role and importance of people and places throughout the colonial and semi-colonial world. This volume emanates from a conference organized as part of the ‘Home Fronts of the Empire – Commonwealth’ project. The project was generously funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council and led by Yasmin Khan and Ashley Jackson with Gajendra Singh as Postdoctoral Research Assistant. Ashley Jackson is Professor of Imperial and Military History at King’s College London and a Visiting Fellow of Kellogg College Oxford. He specializes in the history of the British Empire, particularly during times of war. Yasmin Khan is an Associate Professor of History at the University of Oxford, based in the Department for Continuing Education. Her work focuses on British India, decolonization and refugees. She has most recently published The Raj at War: A People’s History of India’s Second World War (Bodley Head, 2015). Gajendra Singh is Lecturer in Modern South Asian History at the University of Exeter and author of The Testimonies of Indian Soldiers in Two World Wars: Between Self and Sepoy (Bloomsbury, 2014).

This page intentionally left blank

An Imperial World at War Aspects of the British Empire’s war experience, 1939–1945

Edited by Ashley Jackson, Yasmin Khan and Gajendra Singh

First published 2017 by Routledge 2 Park Square, Milton Park, Abingdon, Oxon OX14 4RN and by Routledge 711 Third Avenue, New York, NY 10017 Routledge is an imprint of the Taylor & Francis Group, an informa business © 2017 selection and editorial matter Ashley Jackson, Yasmin Khan and Gajendra Singh; individual chapters, the contributors The right of the editors to be identified as the authors of the editorial material, and of the authors for their individual chapters, has been asserted in accordance with sections 77 and 78 of the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988. All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reprinted or reproduced or utilised in any form or by any electronic, mechanical, or other means, now known or hereafter invented, including photocopying and recording, or in any information storage or retrieval system, without permission in writing from the publishers. Trademark notice : Product or corporate names may be trademarks or registered trademarks, and are used only for identification and explanation without intent to infringe. British Library Cataloguing in Publication Data A catalogue record for this book is available from the British Library Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data A catalog record for this book has been requested ISBN: 978-1-4724-6210-7 (hbk) ISBN: 978-1-315-56681-8 (ebk) Typeset in Bembo by Apex CoVantage, LLC

Contents

List of figures Notes on contributors Introduction

vii viii 1

YA SM I N K H A N A N D GAJ E N DR A S I N G H

1 The Second World War and the ‘quiet colony of Sierra Leone’

10

A N DR E W S T E WA RT

2 Between occupation and liberation: Italian Somalia under British rule, 1941–1945

30

A N NA L I SA U R BA N O

3 ‘Lady visitors’: evacuees from Hong Kong in Australia during the Second World War

46

BR I D GE T DE A N E

4 Protecting which spaces and bodies? Civil defence, the British Empire and the Second World War

66

S U SA N R . G R AY Z E L

5 Guided development versus New Deal internationalism: British planning for the Middle East during the Second World War and a clash of Anglo-American ideologies

84

S I M ON DAV I S

6 Japanese racial propaganda in occupied British Asia during the Second World War F E L IC I A YA P

103

vi

Contents

7 Mixable and matchable army formations: the roots of Anglo-Canadian military interoperability during the Second World War

118

D OU GL A S E . DE L A N EY

8 Gold and dollars: Canada, South Africa and British war finance, 1939–1945

135

I A I N E . J OH N S T ON

9 Nazi hunting and intelligence gathering in India on the eve of the Second World War

159

BE NJA M I N Z AC H A R I A H

10 “India is a fine country after all!”: the cultivation of military morale in colonial India

176

A N DR E W M U L D O ON

11 Waiting for their ship to come: changing perceptions of the Japanese in postwar Southeast Asia

193

E UA N M C K AY

12 Remembrance Day, the colonial press and ‘deserving ex-servicemen’ in late-colonial Nigeria

211

OL I V E R C OAT E S

Afterword: many worlds at war: beyond the belligerents

230

A S H L E Y JAC K S ON

Index

245

Figures

11.1 Boundaries of South East Asia Command 11.2 Senior British commanders in Burma meet their Japanese counterparts at a conference in Rangoon to discuss British strategy and tactics employed during the Burma Campaign 11.3 Japanese prisoners of war prepare for their journey from Singapore to Rempang Island 11.4 Proposed service and civil use of JSP working parties

194

198 200 204

Notes on contributors

Oliver Coates works on the literature and cultural history of colonial West Africa. His 2013 Cambridge PhD was entitled ‘A Social History of Military Service in South-western Nigeria 1939–1955’. He is author of ‘The Particular and the Work of Representation in Isaac Fadoyebo’s “A Stroke of Unbelievable Luck”’, African Research and Documentation, 125 (2015), and ‘Narrative, Time and the Archive in an African Second World War Memoir: Isaac Fadoyebo’s “A Stroke of Unbelievable Luck”’, Journal of Commonwealth Literature (2016). Simon Davis, a graduate of the universities of Oxford, London and Exeter, is Professor of History at Bronx Community College and the Graduate Center of the City University of New York. His previous works have concentrated on Anglo-American relations in the Persian Gulf. He is now working on British development policies in Arab Palestine during the Mandate period. Bridget Deane is currently undertaking a PhD at the University of the West of England (Department of History and Heritage), which focuses on evacuation within the British Empire during the Second World War. The book chapter is extracted from a MPhil thesis completed at Macquarie University, N.S.W., and presented as a paper at the Imperial World at War Conference in 2013. Research interests include home front aspects of the war in the Far East and Pacific and the experiences of British expatriates living there, particularly voluntary war work and evacuation, as well as the interconnectedness and interdependence of the British Empire during a time of global conflict. Douglas E. Delaney holds the Canada Research Chair (CRC) in War Studies at the Royal Military College of Canada (RMC). He is the author of The Soldiers’ General: Bert Hoffmeister at War (UBC Press, 2005), which won the 2007 C.P. Stacey Prize for Canadian Military History, and Corps Commanders: Five British and Canadian Generals at War, 1939–1945 (UBC Press, 2011). Susan R. Grayzel is Professor of History at the University of Mississippi. Her books include Women’s Identities At War: Gender, Motherhood, and Politics in Britain and France during the First World War (University of North

Notes on contributors

ix

Carolina Press, 1999), awarded the 2000 NACBS British Council Prize for the best book in the field of nineteenth and twentieth century British Studies; Women and the First World War (Routledge, 2002, under contract for a revised, second edition); The First World War: A Brief History with Documents (Bedford/St. Martin’s Press, 2012) and At Home and under Fire: Air Raids and Culture in Britain from the Great War to the Blitz (Cambridge University Press, 2012), as well as the co-edited collections Gender, Labour, War and Empire: Essays on Modern Britain (Palgrave Macmillan, 2009, with Philippa Levine) and the forthcoming Gender and the Great War (with Tammy M. Proctor). Ashley Jackson is Professor of Imperial and Military History at King’s College London and Vice-Dean (Research) for the Faculty of Social Science and Public Policy. He is a Visiting Fellow of Kellogg College Oxford. He specializes in the history of the British Empire, particularly during times of war, and has published extensively on the Empire and the Second World War, including The British Empire and the Second World War (Bloomsbury, 2008). He is currently writing a book on Iran and Iraq during the war (Yale University Press, forthcoming), as part of the ANRC project with Yasmin Khan and Gajendra Singh. Iain E. Johnston received his PhD from the University of Cambridge before holding positions at Sciences Po Paris and the Houses of Parliament. He has published on the British Commonwealth in several journals and edited volumes. He is currently a Tutor of Britain and Empire at the University of Oxford. Yasmin Khan is an Associate Professor of History at the University of Oxford, based in the Department for Continuing Education. Her work focuses on British India, decolonisation and refugees. She has most recently published The Raj at War: A People’s History of India’s Second World War (Bodley Head, 2015). Euan McKay is Assistant Professor at the University of Tokyo. His research focuses on Anglo-Japanese relations and the experience of Japanese troops after the Pacific War in particular. He teaches East Asian history on the University of Tokyo’s English-language undergraduate program. Andrew Muldoon is Associate Professor of History at Metropolitan State University of Denver. He received his PhD from Washington University in St. Louis. In 2009 he published Empire, Politics and the Creation of the 1935 India Act: Last Act of the Raj (Ashgate). His work has also appeared in Parliamentary History, Twentieth Century British History and the Journal of the Canadian Historical Association. His current project is an examination of the wartime experiences of British and American soldiers in South Asia between 1939 and 1945. Gajendra Singh is Lecturer in Modern South Asian History at the University of Exeter and author of The Testimonies of Indian Soldiers in Two World Wars: Between Self and Sepoy (Bloomsbury, 2014).

x

Notes on contributors

Andrew Stewart is currently the Director of Academic Studies (KCL) at the Royal College of Defence Studies based in London. He has been a member of the Defence Studies Department, King’s College London, the academic component of the United Kingdom’s Joint Services Command and Staff College, since 2002 and has previously served as the Assistant Dean of Academic Studies and the Land Historian supporting the Higher Command and Staff Course. The focus of his research relates to the Second World War and the British Empire. He has produced three sole-authored books, Empire Lost: Britain, the Dominions and the Second World War (Bloomsbury, 2008), A Very British Experience: Coalition, Defence and Strategy in the Second World War (Sussex Academic, 2012) and, most recently, Caen Controversy: The Battle for Sword Beach 1944 (Helion, 2014). In addition, he has edited a number of co-authored volumes and written various articles for leading academic journals and scholarly magazines. He is Co-Director of the King’s Second World War Research Group. Annalisa Urbano holds a PhD from the University of Edinburgh and is currently Post-Doctoral Researcher at the Bayreuth Academy for Advanced African Studies. Felicia Yap is an Associate of the London School of Economics Saw Swee Hock Southeast Asia Centre. Her research focuses on the Japanese occupation of East and Southeast Asia, chiefly the impact of the Pacific War on Europeans, Eurasians, Asians, third nationals and other colonial communities. Benjamin Zachariah read history at Presidency College, Calcutta, and at Trinity College, Cambridge. He is the author of Developing India: an Intellectual and Social History, c. 1930–1950 (Oxford University Press, 2005, 2nd ed. 2012); Nehru (Routledge, 2004) and Playing the Nation Game: The Ambiguities of Nationalism in India (Yoda, 2011) and is currently a Senior Research Fellow at the Forschungszentrum Europa, University of Trier, Germany.

Introduction Yasmin Khan and Gajendra Singh

How should the history of Britain’s Second World War be written? At the seventieth anniversary of the war’s end, as it slowly passes out of living memory, there is renewed engagement with tackling the great questions about the 1940s, as well as constant innovation in the ways that the war is approached by historians. The British Empire is sometimes the elephant in the room. The manpower of colonial subjects and their widespread role as soldiers and merchant seamen have emerged as a serious field of scholarly research over recent decades, although this has only slowly percolated into a wider, non-academic discussion of the war.1 In some regions, especially in Sub-Saharan Africa, the Second World War has long been well integrated into the thinking of historians and anthropologists concerned with the recent colonial past.2 But all over the world, for contemporaries, the British Empire was a sine qua non of the age, quite simply the context of the British war in the 1940s. At the very height of the Battle of Britain, Churchill’s speech was couched in the language of imperial revival: ‘Let us therefore brace ourselves to our duties and so bear ourselves that if the British Empire and its Commonwealth last for a thousand years, men will still say, “This was their finest hour”.’ This volume retains the perspective of contemporaries, who lived in an interconnected imperial world and who saw the war as linked to the preservation (or dissolution of ) the British Empire. Despite a wide variety of perspectives and approaches, the editors and contributors to this volume share the view that the war was fought by the British Empire, not just by Britain. The imperial war was an integral part of the British – and indeed of the Allied – war effort. Therefore, the experience of people living in territories across the British Empire is critical for comprehending the total nature of the war, as is the engagement of these peoples with the Japanese powers and the shifting sands of conquest and occupation in the East. Historians can examine this from the perspective of military and diplomatic history – and the seismic shifts in Britain’s place in the world in the mid-twentieth century are an ever-present theme here – but also through the lens of economic, social and cultural engagement with the past. This volume illustrates some of the diverse approaches to writing this emergent history and just how much scope there is for research that goes beyond fighting fronts or beyond the recovery of military voices from the colonies. It also raises a

2

Yasmin Khan and Gajendra Singh

number of questions about the ways in which histories of the imperial world at war might be framed and the diverse ways in which these histories might be written in the future. While some question whether there is anything more to say about the Second World War, the vastness of the war experience is still too often forgotten.3 The first question is who should be the subject of histories of the imperial Second World War. As this volume demonstrates, the sheer geographical reach of the Empire meant that British soldiers and citizens were caught up in the war in multiple ways across the world, from Italian Somaliland to South Africa and from Hong Kong to Australia. At the centre of these narratives are Allied and Axis soldiers but also imperial administrators, evacuees, intelligence officials and policemen and prisoners of war. People in the colonies included white Europeans and settlers, Asians and Africans, women and men. Just how far did the war change social dynamics and affect lives across the globe – and beyond the battlefield? How did the war continue to shape societies during the 1940s and long after its cessation? Although it is tempting to characterise the Europeans and the Japanese as warmongers and colonised people as victims of extraction and belligerence, the picture in reality is often of a more complex relationship, with many imperial subjects actively responding to and shaping the contours of the war. Such thinking suggests a reorientation of the geography of the war, not simplistically from centre to periphery, but rather in a broader interpretation of which locations were affected by the war. Far from the scenes of battle, the war had powerful effects. As Andrew Stewart’s chapter about Freetown and Sierra Leone reminds us, geographical uncertainties characterized the 1940s. Imperial cities could find themselves suddenly crucial, for instance Freetown in 1941 or Calcutta in 1942, and then suddenly peripheral. Commanders were uncertain about exactly how and where the war would be fought; much of the British Empire had to stand on a kind of attentive red alert. After Pearl Harbor and the fall of Singapore, the geographical orientation of the war changed dramatically. The distances between London and imperial cities could become strangely stretched or reduced in a moment: air travel suddenly expanded, men such as Wavell hopped across the Middle East, North Africa, South and Southeast Asia, while for others the isolation and distance of long furloughs without leave and dangerous or impossible shipping routes left some of the imperial ports more isolated than they had been for many decades. The Empire could be both a liability and a great asset for wartime strategists. The f lexibility and the ability to mobilize men in readiness for conflict demanded of the Empire were ultimately the most important military assets that the British had in contrast to the Axis. As Doug Delaney reminds us, within the ‘British’ Army, the ability to fuse formations and to integrate Canadian manpower was a powerful way of increasing British strength. ‘The system allowed British political and military authorities to get most of what they wanted from Canada when the Canadian Government was ready to give it’, he writes: ‘proportionately large land forces that could be integrated into a

Introduction

3

larger British Army.’ Behind this question was a more philosophical problem of national identity, citizenship and sense of belonging: who was a legitimate British citizen and a legitimate British soldier, and who would rally to support the cause of the war, even far from the epicentres of the conflict? Throughout the war, this tension between national interest and imperial interest, nationalism and imperial identity was writ large in many other places. The war delivered manifold changes, and imperial administrators expanded their functions in response: everywhere, the civil services grew in size and took on many more tasks as the state intervened in people’s lives with a heavier hand than in the past. As in Britain, colonial states had to deliver propaganda, organize information, assess internal security and police dissent, respond to the movement of refugees, reorient economies to wartime production, recruit men and women for war industries and for military service, secure borders, deal with emergencies and disasters, oversee food distribution and react to food shortages, prepare for aerial attack and drill people in air raid precautions. This brought all sorts of unforeseen problems and challenges to everyday colonial administration, even far from actual scenes of battle, and created logistical complexities of a new scale, especially around food supply. In addition, the lives of white colonials inhabiting these spaces changed as men and women responded to the war by joining up or volunteering for new services. Servicemen and -women moved around the globe and came into contact with one another in the Empire’s cities. Nurses from Canada might find themselves treating West African servicemen, Nepalese Gurkhas could find themselves prisoners of war in Germany. Displacement was another effect of the war, which extended far beyond Europe. Internal and cross-border migration, precipitated by fear of invading armies, occurred across the globe in an unprecedented way. In China, some sixty million may have been displaced because of the war. Categories like ‘refugee’ or ‘internee’ do not capture the full range of the wartime population movement, and the legal status of many individuals was not classified as ‘refugee’. Organizations such as the Red Cross and United Nations Relief and Rehabilitation Agency were not limited to Europe, even though they faced limits to their responses to similar human refugee crises in Asia and Africa. Displacement could lead to unexpected journeys and resettlement in far-flung places. British settlers and local peoples depended on the stability and dependability of the imperial system, and once the Japanese occupation of Southeast Asia took place, it jeopardized the daily life of colonized and colonizer. It also threw into question the future of the imperial system after the Japanese defeat. As Bridget Deane shows in her chapter, the movement of European people from Hong Kong to Australia in the wake of the Japanese occupation of Southeast Asia resulted in new hierarchies and discrimination against displaced people. Once they arrived in Australia, skilled workers were unable to prove their suitability for work and faced problems of integration with their host societies. Deane contributes to our growing understanding of the reverse effects of decolonisation; the impact on the colonisers themselves. Many European people made multistage journeys and had

4

Yasmin Khan and Gajendra Singh

to adjust as their older imperial comfort zones receded and as their old imperial homes were transformed through invasion and occupation. This is also a metaphor of sorts for the changing place of Britain in the world as the war coincided with increased pressure for decolonization and as, in response, proimperialists launched rearguard actions to shore up the imperial mandate. Racial hierarchies and imperial priorities indicated shifting ideas about whose bodies were worthy of (and capable of ) protection in a total war. As Susan Grayzel shows, the attempts to prepare people in the face of air raids, as well as attempts to ask and answer questions in the imperial setting about who was entitled to a gas mask, opened a gateway to thinking about imperial hierarchies and ‘which bodies and spaces would be saved’. When leaders in London made theoretical commitments to defend their imperial subjects, this rhetoric clashed with the serious shortcomings in implementing these plans. Sometimes the failure to extend protection to civilians was underpinned by racial assumptions; at other times it faltered because of pragmatic and practical difficulties. This hierarchy of rights within the Empire had devastating consequences elsewhere. During the Bengal famine, peasants in Bengal were denied vital food stocks by London, which could have protected hundreds of thousands from starvation. Their protection was being treated as a secondary matter by imperial calculations, which prioritised the imperial war effort. Ultimately, such tensions in policy and practice fatally undermined the Empire’s rationales. They highlighted the problems of fighting a war in the name of ‘equality’ in a deeply hierarchical and profoundly unequal imperial setting. Paradoxically, around the British Empire, social change brought about by the conf lict also challenged these racial pecking orders. The Japanese made lightening advances against South and Southeast Asia from December 1941, and much of the Empire was captured, while the stability of many other imperial territories remained precarious for much of the war. During this time of uncertainty and transition, older racial hierarchies were undermined. As one piece of Japanese propaganda aimed at civilians in South Asia put it, the white men had ‘melted like butter’. Older pretences to moral and scientific prowess built on nineteenth century social Darwinism became bankrupt, in the opinion of a large segment of both colonisers and colonised. As Felicia Yap explores, this provided plenty of scope for exploitation by the Japanese, who used crass simplifications to drive home their point, but the propaganda itself also tapped into deeper uncertainties about the moral right to rule and the strength of British power in Asia. Wartime mobilisation shifted away from assumptions about martial races and the use of imperial bombast towards promises of development, self-rule and modernisation. As one official put it, ‘the imperial motif alone’ was not going to be enough to sustain the morale of Europeans in Asia during wartime. Additionally, as Andrew Muldoon describes, many conscripted British troops saw ‘the East’ for the first time and became heavily critical of the elite rulers of India, making comparisons with their own state as conscripted soldiers or their own families in blitzed Britain. The Bengal famine in particular was a source of

Introduction

5

great aggravation to some of the soldiers, who saw the victims on the streets of Calcutta and began to ask hard questions about their own purpose and the costs of the war. This story complicates moral righteousness about the war, which is so often taken as a given in British histories. Even if we start from the assumption that it was a ‘good war’, justly fought by the Allies against fascism, people experienced the conflict differently around the Empire depending on their location and viewpoint. As a number of the chapters in this book make clear, from Somalia to Sierra Leone and Calcutta, the exigencies and long-term demands of the Allies could not always be easily accepted by colonial subjects on the ground. The need to defeat the Axis had to be squared with the impact that the conflict wrought on everyday lives. To put this another way, the moral imperatives of the war could start to look very different and far more ‘grey’ in locales further from London, where the costs and benefits of fighting the war could not be so easily weighed or adjudicated. Food shortages, inflation and the local dislocation of society were not easily overlooked as ‘sacrifices’ for the war, especially in subsistence economies that had long been extremely vulnerable to global prices and global economic instability because of colonial rule. Compared to civil powers, militaries have different ways of mobilizing men, constructing development projects or supplying people. And at the grass roots, imperial subjects had to respond to these changes and to negotiate the transformations that occurred in their societies, often exploiting opportunities while also trying to avoid coercion and violence.  The war was the pivot for some of the most crucial changes of the midtwentieth century international history; the confirmation of the United States of America as the greatest global power, the foundation of the United Nations, pressure for decolonization and imperial retrenchment and the origins of the Cold War. Sovereignty was continually being contested and challenged; the war was a time when national and imperial sovereignty was in transition and alternative forms of leadership at local and regional levels competed for dominance. The Anglo-American partnership has long been an area of fascination. To what extent was the war effort truly international, and how did this shape national and international politics? As Simon Davis writes, it will not do to simply disregard the war or to write from ‘post-colonial perspectives which generally dismiss the Second World War as an exogenous affair which merely froze political life for its duration.’ Development projects are commonly linked to the Second World War, and the wartime command economies gave new impetus to development plans. Frederick Cooper has long emphasised compatibilities between revived projects of colonization and development especially in Africa.4 As Simon Davis writes, ‘The 1940 Colonial Development and Welfare Act anticipated a cooperative, mutually benevolent empire based on integrative planning.’ As his chapter on the Middle East shows us, relationships between the US and Britain were forged during the war, and the ways

6

Yasmin Khan and Gajendra Singh

in which the two negotiated their positions in the Middle East had long-term repercussions. The commonalities between US and British war aims could not mask very different approaches to empire. The US was ‘shifting as soon as viable to prime interlocution with indigenous client-allies.’ The close economic interplay between private companies and the state and between national governments and agents on the ground suggests the need for micro studies of what Jack Gallagher called ‘the decline, revival and fall of the British Empire’ and for more understanding of the Great Powers’ interaction in the Middle East in the 1940s. Financially, too, the changing position of Britain in the world was underscored by the fiscal priorities of the war. Britain ceased to be the Empire’s creditor and became indebted to the dominions and to the Indian Empire. Contingent wartime deals made in the midst of crisis had much longer repercussions. Second only to Lend-Lease in importance, Iain Johnston argues that the mechanism for borrowing money from Canada, Australia, New Zealand and South Africa was worth more than £2 billion to Britain. ‘AngloDominion wartime financial relations signalled a new phase of economic interaction that mirrored interwar political developments, furthering AngloDominion relationships of partnership rather than dependence.’ In India, too, the sterling balances – £1.5 billion in credits owed to India by Britain in 1945, in return for expenditure footed in wartime by India – were a source of both economic and political conflict and sent Churchill into a ‘Wilsonian Volcano’ at their very mention, according to Leo Amery, the Secretary of State for India. The sterling balance payments paid for the first five-year plans in postindependence India and gave Nehru the potential to realize visions of statecentred development after independence. An added complication in the colonies was the sheen of rhetoric applied to the Allied cause, whether phrased in general terms of liberation and democracy or in the slightly more specific terms of the Atlantic Charter, as well as the discrepancy with the actual day-to-day priorities of serving the war cause. Too often in the Empire, this could seem like a promise of ‘jam tomorrow’ when the actual lived reality was of a continuation or even a deepening of authoritarian imperial practices. As Annalisa Urbano describes in her chapter, the realpolitik of sustaining a war effort with minimal expenditure and managing occupied territory previously held by the Italians in the British Military Administration of Somalia resulted in the continuation of many Italian imperial practices such as the use of collective punishment. Even in places with long histories of uninterrupted British rule that did not face occupation, such as India, the commencement of the war saw a retrenchment of devolution, more reliance on centralized state power and the use of defence acts, all of which gave more power to imperial administrators than they had enjoyed since the 1910s. The British Empire did not develop its liberalism teleologically, like a line on an upwards graph: it had moments when its coercive and extractive powers were more intense than others, and the Second World War was one of these moments.5 Although different in scope and scale to some of the

Introduction

7

most murderous fascist practices, the British Empire used forced labour, broke international law, arrested or tortured without trial or gunned down unarmed protestors, even while (and because of ) fighting a ‘good’ war. As historians, we can document this with sensitivity and with archival evidence, without recourse to crass moral relativism. Everywhere around the world, manpower and labour shortages had a determining effect in policy, and this ranged from the forced labour camps and genocide of the concentration camps of Europe to the hunger for manpower in the aftermath of the war. As Euan McKay describes, the use of Japanese prisoners of war as labourers by South East Asia Command at the end of the war was a case where their international status as POWs was denied and the prisoners were kept waiting with no definite date for repatriation. Asymmetries of power were already profound across the Empire, and the war had a tendency to increase these. Such asymmetries of power were problematic on the home fronts of the Empire not only among non-combatants or civilians but also among servicemen themselves. These differences persisted even after the war, as Oliver Coates suggests in his chapter on the deserving ex-servicemen and the politics of postwar commemoration in Nigeria. As Gajendra Singh has observed, binaries of ‘loyalty’ and ‘disloyalty’ are colonial constructions that obscure the strategies of everyday existence and resistance in the Empire.6 The loyal, deserving native is a seriously vexed category, yet one that we continue to live with in many popular portrayals of the war. This suggests the need for a deeper and perhaps comparative questioning of who was portrayed as loyal at the time – from Naga to Gurkha to Pathan – and how such categories were constructed and maintained. As Coates shows, veterans have often had a very different sense of entitlement to state resources, and their memories of the past are deeply imbricated with present-day politics in their home countries. The global nature of the conflict forced divisions and choices within different societies. Ideological and political commitments to supporting the war were particularly contested in imperial societies. Conflicting allegiances, different ideas about nationalism and local conflicts could all be fought out under the umbrella of the Second World War. Numerous subnational and ethnoreligious groups made bids for their own rights and made counterclaims during the 1940s. The study of these little wars within ‘the big war’ and how they might have interconnected is another vitally important yet little understood avenue. Societies mobilized and militarized, and, often in perilous situations and anxious about self-defence, people turned simultaneously to paramilitary organizations, militias and mercenaries to maintain law and order in their localities. The proximity of different ideological commitments in imperial cities could lead to strange and unusual alliances. As Benjamin Zachariah shows, the peculiar feedback loop of information about fascists, with British imperial surveillance regimes relying on communist knowledge, exposed the priorities of the Raj. Certain groups had been well monitored in the 1930s, including communists and ‘extremists’, but others – including fascists – had not been

8

Yasmin Khan and Gajendra Singh

factored in as a threat. The scramble to ascertain information about potential Nazis in India had to rely, ironically, on leftist sources of information. The communists were ultimately legalized during the war because Raj officials desperately needed new allies in the anti-fascist context to support its war aims in the face of resistance from the Indian National Congress. But these were never straightforward coalitions and created other kinds of ideological uncertainties for the officials who manned the Empire. A significant programme of work remains implicit in the footnotes and margins of this volume, and there are considerable avenues for future exploration. The environmental impact of the war for instance has begun to be explored; deforestation and mining were of considerable importance in the 1940s. Indigenous peoples such as the Indian adivasis and indigenous groups in Papua New Guinea were affected disproportionately by the conflict.7 Connections between different diasporas and trading communities were broken or reformulated by the war and by the emergence of new nation states. Another under-explored area is how arms and ammunition, as well as military stores and materials, were disposed of at the end of the war; demobilization intersected with corruption, arms sales and thriving black markets as the Allies scrambled away from Southeast Asia and the Middle East and such arms may well have been channelled into local wars and conflicts, including in Nagaland and Manipur. Many local wars and lesser conflicts were embedded under the umbrella term of ‘world war.’ Corruption and profiteering on the back of Lend-Lease (and dubious accounting practices about exactly what was spent, stored and distributed) meant an influx of dollars, which had transformative effects in some regions. Harder material histories, which probe the circulation of wartime goods and the knock-on effect of these supply chains for local societies, are still very thin on the ground. The reorientation of the Empire during the war was a staggering logistical and material achievement: a triumph of planning and implementation, of civil and military coordination, of vision and propaganda and of state-led investment as hospitals, roads and ports expanded. The sheer movement of people and materials alone was of Soviet proportions. It is this overwhelming scale of operations and the intersection between modern warfare, modern empire and millions of imperial peoples that make it such a compelling subject. As this volume reflects, there is no singular way of engaging with this global transformation, and historians differ on their methodological approach to this subject and also in the answers they provide. These answers vary depending on whether the writer is standing from the vantage point of the commanding heights or looking upwards from the battlefield or sitting among local villagers, disconnected from wartime strategy at the time but materially affected by it. An Imperial World at War above all reflects these multiple and diverse perspectives. In doing so, it reflects how the history of the Empire at war is not a subfield or narrow specialism but potentially a rich field for debate and argument about the intrinsic meanings of both war and imperialism.

Introduction

9

Notes 1 For instance, see the work of Christopher Somerville, Our War: How the British Commonwealth Fought the Second World War (London: Phoenix, 2005), Ashley Jackson, The British Empire and the Second World War (Hambledon: Continuum, 2006), David Killingray, Fighting for Britain: African Soldiers in the Second World War (Martlesham: James Currey, 2012), Heike Liebau, Katrin Bromber, Katharina Lange, Dyala Hamzah and Ravi Ahuja, eds., The World in World Wars: Experiences, Perceptions and Perspectives from Africa and Asia (Boston: Brill, 2010), Daniel Marston, The Indian Army and the End of the Raj (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2014). Work on this subject and the First World War includes Santanu Das, ed., Race, Empire and First World War Writing (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2011), Ashley Jackson, ed., The British Empire and the First World War (London: Routledge, 2015) and David Olusoga, The World’s War (London: Head of Zeus, 2014). This edited volume emanates from a research grant awarded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council for 2012–2014, on the subject of Home-Fronts of the British Empire. Contributors to this book convened at Kellogg College Oxford in September 2013 for a conference titled ‘An Imperial World at War: The British Empire, 1939–1945.’ 2 For example, David Killingray and Richard Rathbone, eds., Africa and the Second World War (London: Macmillan, 1986), David Killingray, Fighting for Britain: African Soldiers in the Second World War (Martlesham: James Currey, 2012), and most recently, Judith Byfield, Carolyn Brown and Timothy Parsons, eds., Africa and World War II (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2015). 3 Richard Overy’s lecture,‘Writing the History of the Second World War: Anything More to Say?’ at the Department for War Studies, King’s College London in March 2015, focused on interpreting the war in the Age of Imperialism. 4 Frederick Cooper’s work has consistently stressed this theme [see for instance Africa Since 1940: The Past of the Present (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2002). 5 CA Bayly, ‘Moral Judgment: Empire, Nation and History’, European Review (Vol. 14, No. 3; July 2006), pp. 385–391. 6 Gajendra Singh, The Testimonies of Indian Soldiers and the Two World Wars: Between Self and Sepoy (London and New York: Bloomsbury Academic, 2014). 7 Recent explorations into extractive and environmental implications of the war include Judith Byfield’s work on rubber extraction in Africa and Seth Garfield’s work on the extraction of rubber from the Amazon in Brazil in the 1940s. See also Judith Bennett, Natives and Exotics: World War II and the Environment in the Southern Pacific (Honolulu: University of Hawai’i Press, 2009).

1

The Second World War and the ‘quiet colony of Sierra Leone’ Andrew Stewart

The experience of the Second World War was a significant one for Sierra Leone, such was the critical nature of its strategic value. Previously a small British colonial territory in West Africa that held little interest for the vast majority of those living within the British Empire, it provided a critical link in wartime supply as men and equipment were moved through its vitally important port. Locally raised manpower was also sent overseas to fight, and these African troops would eventually return home having been exposed to new cultural, social and political ideas. The process of change that began in September 1939 would reach its natural conclusion nearly twenty-two years later with the establishment of an independent country. Prior to the Second World War, the British media wrote little about this part of West Africa. In a rare article in The Times in 1920, a correspondent explained that strictly speaking the Colony of Sierra Leone is a mere strip of the coast from one-half to one-quarter of a mile in width with two more spacious areas – one at Freetown and the other at Sherbro. The rest of the so-called Colony is really only a Protectorate. But to the visitor this is a matter of indifference. He regards Colony and Protectorate as one. For him, therefore, the Colony is an area measuring 210 miles from north to south, and 180 miles from east to west.1 Despite the decision to formally establish a Colony in 1896, it was indeed the case that a single Governor, assisted by an Executive Council of official members and with a number of Provincial and District Commissioners acting as representatives of his authority, continued to rule on London’s behalf. A new constitution dating from 1924 had pointed to self-government and eventual independence, but between the two world wars the country remained for the most part “a sad and neglected part of the British Empire”. Capital and intellectual talent were drawn to Nigeria and the Gold Coast, and, with it being too small to build up its own manufacturing industries, there was a reliance on the export of crops and, later, of iron ore and diamonds.2 What Sierra Leone did have, however, was an important strategic position and a particularly fine harbour.3 An article written in a regimental journal

The ‘quiet colony of Sierra Leone’ 11

in 1897 had correctly anticipated that, as a port of call for all but one of the steamer lines sailing to the west coast of Africa, Freetown’s “importance in time of war would be great”, and this proved to be the case.4 During the First World War, the Colony became a supply depot for expeditionary forces operating across West Africa, whilst the port was termed a “fortified Imperial coaling station” and turned into a fortress for convoys awaiting escort from Royal Navy warships to provide protection against enemy submarines.5 For local security, there was the West African Regiment (WAR), administered by the War Office in London, which consisted of 60 British officers, 25 British non-commissioned officers (NCOs) and 1,500 locally recruited troops who stood ready as potential defenders.6 In reality, there was little in the way of a local threat; hence their principal wartime role was to fight against the German garrison in Cameroon. In turn, postwar questions were raised about why ‘expensive’ permanent military forces were needed in West Africa when local police forces would be more than adequate, and eventually, in 1928, economics prevailed.7 With the WAR’s disbandment, the newly titled Royal West African Frontier Force (RWAFF) and, more specifically, its Sierra Leone Battalion assumed responsibility for local defence.8 The battalion at this stage consisted of a headquarters, a signal section and two companies that alternated between Daru and Makene, the two up-country stations that were much preferred to Freetown by the troops for their more temperate climate.9 For much of the interwar period, the RWAFF had little to do. In a piece in the venerable Journal of the Royal United Service Institution, notable for the fact that an army officer wrote almost entirely about the value of the navy, a Colonel Everett seemed to sum up the position as it stood in 1936: Half-way down the West Coast of Africa sleeps the quiet colony of Sierra Leone. It has no news value; its name seldom appears in the Press; and it has no regular garrison. To the Army officer the mention of its capital, Freetown, calls up an image of a small, hot, unhealthy station, to which he trusts he will never have the misfortune to be sent. A naval officer, if he has been there, is reminded of a large hot harbour, a lot of negroes, and a hospitable club. An Air Officer possibly has to look the place up in his atlas.10 Italy’s attack against Abyssinia in 1935 had, however, brought with it subtle changes as now there was deemed to be a regional threat. A review and reorganisation of British forces in Africa was conducted the following year by Major General George Giffard, the then Inspector-General of both the RWAFF and the King’s African Rifles. Over the course of the next two years, he “transformed the African Colonial Services” producing a common war establishment and equipment tables for the various arms and units and insisting that all West African troops be taught good English, making it much easier for their formations to absorb British officers and NCOs.11 His obituary concluded that his efforts ensured that these forces “ceased to be merely a ‘bush whacking’ force and became able to fulfil a role within a modern army”.

12

Andrew Stewart

Whilst its significance was not understood at the time, all planning was based on two suppositions: that the Royal Navy would retain command of the sea and that France would be an ally. At the same time, it had been decided in London that Freetown would be made a ‘category A defended port’, and a briefing was released to the press in November 1937 announcing that a regular garrison was once again to be provided to man the coast defences.12 The plan had in fact been agreed in the summer and called for the garrison to expand to a maximum strength of 16 British officers and 139 British other ranks and, by January 1940, for the same number of locally trained African troops. As the annual revenue generated by the Colony was so small, it having decreased over the previous ten years to just £785,414, it was accepted that no additional charge could be levied for these forces, and the cost was borne by the British Government.13 By the time of the announcement, the first forty-five African recruits had already been recruited and started their training. An advance party of three officers and thirteen NCOs under the command of a Major Nutt of the Royal Artillery had also already set sail with a mission of assisting in the training of African troops. They were joined by Royal Engineers who were to oversee the construction of improved barracks and gun batteries at Murray Town and Wilberforce.14 By May 1938, the first batch of local recruits had completed their initial training and were transferred to the commanding officer of the Freetown defences to continue their preparations; they were to be followed that same month by a second batch of another forty-five men and then a third.15 Costs were still an issue, but following the Munich crisis the British Government provided a grant of one million pounds for the provision of new equipment for West and East African forces. Although lacking a formal title, the men were referred to locally as the Sierra Leone Artillery, a title that was changed shortly afterwards to the Sierra Leone Heavy Battery Royal Artillery. Their 3.7-inch howitzers, commonly called the ‘screw guns’, had been designed as kits especially for mountain service on the North West Frontier of India but in West Africa there were no mules or other work animals as they had no resistance to tsetse flies. This meant that local labour was used to carry them either on stretchers or as head loads with a maximum load of sixty pounds.16 Given the quantities of ammunition, supplies and other stores, hundreds of bearers were required to move the battery. As the situation in Europe worsened during the summer of 1939, the Sierra Leone Battalion remained the principal unit for local defence, but as the war approached, it was at half-strength with a single lieutenant colonel commanding three companies. On 22 August 1939 the Military Headquarters in Freetown received confirmation from the colonial government that the ‘Stand-by’ telegram had been received from London. By the day’s end, the battery at Murray Town was ready for action, and, using the four civilian lorries and two small cars of the Transport Company, the infantry garrison had deployed to guard vital points around the port.17 Platoons dug themselves into position at the Power Station, Kissi Oil Tanks and King Tom Naval headquarters, while sections did the same at South and North Lumley, Goderich and Babadori

The ‘quiet colony of Sierra Leone’ 13

Bridge. The troops guarding the oil tanks, perhaps the key strategic position, had rifles, one Lewis and one Bren gun, one anti-tank rifle, a small searchlight and sixty grenades, and they were by far the best equipped within the battalion.18 The ‘Stage III’ warning followed two days later, and the defences were fully prepared and manned in time for the declaration of war. All European reservists were called up, and just before the end of September 1939 a draft of British troops arrived to supplement the garrison with four more officers – one each from the Royal Artillery, Royal Engineers, Royal Signals and Royal Army Ordnance Corps – along with an additional three warrant officers and fiftyfive other ranks.19 A contingent of Southern Rhodesian officers and NCOs also reached Freetown in October 1939 to swell the battalion’s ranks, and on the final day of the year the garrison’s strength was recorded as being 52 officers, 248 British other ranks and 839 African troops, an uncertain force to meet an uncertain threat.20 The harbour was undoubtedly key, and, as had been the case during the previous war, it immediately began to get busier, several destroyers arriving the day after the declaration of war. So vast was the harbour’s size that, at its peak later in the war, two entire convoys, a total of 300 ships, were assembled.21 During the first few months, the aircraft carrier HMS Ark Royal was also constantly in and out of the harbour as part of the naval force searching the South Atlantic for the German pocket battleship Graf Spee.22 This was significant in that the first convoy had sailed for England in mid-September; referred to as ‘SL Convoys’, a single armed merchant cruiser provided the escort until they were met by the destroyers of Western Approaches Command.23 Only later with the increased appearance of German U-boats were dedicated anti-submarine vessels sent to regional waters to provide additional local escorts.24 With the increase in shipping and troops, the European population of Freetown, which was normally 400, expanded rapidly, and within six weeks of the war’s outbreak it was varying between 5,000 and 18,000; from 35 to 50 merchant ships were now habitually in the harbour, and admirals were “three a penny”.25 Despite all this naval activity, for the land-based forces that had been assembled, there was little to do. By the year’s end there had been one false alarm about a potential air raid, and the Murray Town battery had opened fire on what was later discovered to be a piece of floating timber.26 Although, as one RWAFF lieutenant recorded, Governor Sir Douglas Jardine had “convinced himself that Freetown in general and Government House in particular would be prime targets for German aircraft, even though we were 3000 and more miles from the nearest possible German base”, the reality was somewhat different.27 With the exception of a solitary sergeant, the reservists that had been called up soon returned to their civilian occupations as there was more than enough manpower to guard key points.28 For the regular officers and NCOs who had all volunteered for this six-year posting and been seconded to the RWAFF from their regiments, many had been back in England on leave when the war began, but they were still on the payroll of the Sierra Leone authority. They all returned to West Africa but “almost without exception [they] spent

14

Andrew Stewart

the next eight months doing their utmost to escape from what they regarded as an inevitable backwater for the duration”.29 The German attack on the Low Countries and France changed the situation. Reservists were once again called up in the last week of May 1940 as the situation in Europe worsened, an additional company of the Sierra Leone Defence Corps was established and the police were also armed with rifles.30 The garrison strength now stood at 57 officers, 237 British other ranks and 986 African troops, although already nearly 10 per cent of the European manpower was in hospital, presumably suffering from malaria. The defences, however, were still far from ready, and at a meeting of senior officers on 29 May 1940 it was noted that both the fixed and anti-aircraft positions had yet to be completed. There was also a continuing shortage of adequate guns, so much so that the Royal Navy offered to loan some of its own with the proviso that the equipment would have be installed and operated by local military personnel.31 Sierra Leone’s position was certainly jeopardised by France’s stunning military defeat. Though the approaches from the west and north were through difficult country with poor communications, and Freetown could be approached overland only down a narrow peninsula, the harbour was just two days’ steaming by fast ships from neighbouring Dakar – the third largest port in the French Empire after Marseilles and Le Havre – and within range of the French aerodromes sited there.32 Under the terms of the armistice signed with Nazi Germany at Compiègne in June 1940, the French colonies were to be neutralised, its much reduced native forces to be used merely for self-defence. The Vichy regime did, however, retain control of Senegal, and the departure of the bulk of the RWAFF to strengthen the defences in East Africa against the newly declared Italian threat meant that British territories in West Africa appeared vulnerable.33 The Chiefs of Staff Committee report ‘Plans to Meet a Certain Eventuality’, produced earlier that same month, had detailed the implications for Britain were France to be defeated. The document generally described the position in West Africa, but it also included specific reference to Freetown, which represented “a link of first importance in our imperial sea communications [and] must be held and maintained”.34 It was also argued that while the naval assets available at Freetown “should be capable of preventing the enemy from using [it] or obtaining supplies from Senegal”, it would be essential to prevent Dakar being used by “enemy forces”. The attack on French naval forces harboured at Mers el-Kébir in North Africa, in which a large number of vessels were destroyed and over 1,400 sailors killed, added to British anxieties.35 With its defences still deemed to be “inadequate”, Freetown was assessed as now facing an immediate threat with the possibility of “a substantial scale air and land attack” at some later point.36 Whilst the remaining French fleet could not provide a serious threat in the Atlantic, it was believed to be capable of conducting submarine and anti-trade operations off the West African coast and possibly launching a raid. It was also felt that a battalion supported by artillery could attempt to invade from French Guinea.37 The threat facing Sierra Leone consequently assumed a greater

The ‘quiet colony of Sierra Leone’ 15

planning priority, and the Chiefs of Staff in London recommended that antiaircraft guns and reinforcements of British troops should be sent immediately whilst also noting that air facilities needed to be improved and aircraft sent as soon as they were available.38 It was also proposed that the British and colonial forces in the region that had previously been under the control of the Colonial Office would, with the appointment of a general officer commanding, become the responsibility of the War Office.39 Prior to May 1940, there was no unified command of the British and Imperial military forces in the region, with each colony responsible only to its own colonial government. The appointment of the now Lieutenant General Sir George Giffard to take charge of the newly established West Africa Command established command unity, and, as his obituary concluded, “for over two years he handled the complex politicomilitary problems in West Africa with consummate skill”.40 Known to his staff as ‘Gentleman George’, it is reasonable to suggest that Giffard was “perhaps the least known of all the British generals who held high command in the Second World War”.41 This was in part the result of his general dislike of publicity, but the fact that he had established his military reputation through his service in Africa added to his anonymity. He had served throughout the First World War with the King’s African Rifles and was considered to be uniquely qualified to take on the role of establishing a huge army of local recruits that could provide defence for the region but also potentially be used elsewhere. Having been selected for this new appointment, he arrived in Freetown at the end of July 1940 accompanied by a single staff officer – the rest of his immediate staff, many of whom had also served in the RWAFF, followed later in the month, but the heads of the services and their staffs took several weeks – before moving the next week to Achimota College near Accra, where he established his headquarters. This was geographically a much more central point for his command, which comprised the four colonies of Nigeria, the Gold Coast, Sierra Leone and Gambia.42 As an immediate step in establishing his wartime organisation, each territory was placed under an area commander who was to be responsible for its defence and for raising and training local units; Brigadier Michael Green, the distinguished cricketer, arrived in the first week of August 1940 following his appointment as Commanding Officer, Sierra Leone.43 Despite what was being written in the Chiefs of Staff reports, even before he had arrived, Giffard had been advised by the War Office that whilst the threat of a French attack could not be excluded, the “difficulties involved and lack of any real incentive seems to make such action improbable”.44 It was also made clear that equipment was in short supply and that there was no possibility of sending a full brigade to assist with the defence; the recommendation was that his troops should focus on preparing defensive positions and accommodation for the arrival of whatever European reinforcements could be found. Initially it had been suggested that it might be possible instead to use 1,800 Senegalese soldiers who had declared their loyalty to the Free French, but there were doubts about the politics of such a move, and no British officers were

16

Andrew Stewart

available to lead them. Albeit with some continuing apparent hesitancy, the decision was finally taken in July to send additional home forces to defend the Colony.45 The first infantry battalion arrived on 15 August 1940, having taken ten days to complete the 3,000-mile journey from Liverpool; they would remain until the following June.46 Drawn from the Essex Regiment, the 1/4th Battalion had not been part of the force that deployed to France in 1939 but instead had taken some months to form up and absorb a number of reservist officers and NCOs into its ranks.47 Initially based in Northumberland, a small contingent took part in the failed Norwegian expedition whilst the remainder focused on training and the preparation of local defences. Orders had been received in mid-June for immediate embarkation “to an unknown tropical destination” but were cancelled ten days later and then reissued in mid-July, confirming that the battalion would move by the month’s end. Sailing in the troopship Monarch of Bermuda as part of a convoy of seven transports and escorted by HMS Cornwall, the reinforcements (32 officers and 741 other ranks with Lieutenant Colonel G.M. Gibson commanding) had no idea they were heading for Sierra Leone.48 Travelling with them was a company from the Royal Engineers – a territorial unit, the 296th Field Company – along with 49th Field Hygiene Section and the 51st General Hospital. There were also additional drafts for the Royal Signals and Royal Armoured Service Corps.49 It had been decided that, on arrival, the 1/4th Essex would be based at Wilberforce Barracks, but it had been turned into a military hospital at the end of June, and it took some time to move the patients. There were also no mosquito nets included in the battalion’s stores, so the decision was taken that they would have to be kept on their transport ship for two weeks until this vital equipment could be sent in the next convoy.50 As the men arrived off the coast in the early morning, “steep mountains appeared through the mist”, and they saw a harbour surrounded by thickly wooded hills, the lower slopes of which were dotted with white bungalows.51 The war diary the following day, 16 August, noted that the local Africans who came out to meet them in canoes “were chattering and shouting around the ship at a very early hour, while another party with a lighter unloaded baggage. The natives appeared to be of excellent physique and happy disposition; those who were members of the Services were very smart, while the remainder had an amazing variety of dress, ranging from a top hat and umbrella alone to impeccable suits of white ducks and topees”.52 Parties of men were landed over the coming days for route marches, but all of the battalion slept on their transport vessels; it was not until 21 August that the barracks were occupied by an advance party. During the final three days of the month, the British troops at last disembarked and marched the four miles uphill from the wharves to their new home, led by the band and drums, “the first time in history that a British infantry battalion had formed part of the garrison”.53 On arrival they found “a half-built bungalow town extending over many acres” with much of the accommodation “literally being built around men who were already in occupation”; nonetheless, the conclusion was that “it gave promise of eventually being an excellent barracks”. The men set

The ‘quiet colony of Sierra Leone’ 17

about unpacking, interspersed with frequent drill and parade and some time for bathing at Lumley Bay.54 The days were generally dry and murky, but during the evenings there was torrential rain that “almost invariably fell in such quantities as to wash away sections of the laterite roads”.55 It was less than a week before there was a fatality, a young private who drowned during the very first bathing trip and was buried in the military cemetery at King Tom. The remainder of the month was spent training, reviewing the existing defences, correcting the inaccurate maps that had been issued, bathing and playing sports with football and even a game of cricket on Lumley Beach. As one of the officers later wrote to a friend in London, the work they did “could fill a book” and included “anything from restraining lunatics (of which there are many here not certified) to putting out fires”.56 According to the Freetown Defence Scheme, the newly arrived forces assumed operational command on 4 September and manned the five main defence posts each with a Bren gun and twenty armed men during the day and forty-five at night.57 On 27 September, two Vichy bombers flew over the port in the late afternoon circling for twenty minutes. This unfortunately confirmed the inadequacies of the defensive preparations to date as there was no anti-aircraft fire – “[the guns] did not open fire owing to uncertainty of instructions re engaging French ships and aircraft” – and the air raid sirens failed to sound until after the aircraft had left.58 This was repeated the following day although some of the ships in the harbour did eventually fire on the unidentified aircraft but without any success, setting a pattern that was repeated for the remainder of the year. The assessment was that the flights were to provide intelligence on Allied shipping movements for the German submarines off the coast; it was not until June 1942 that one of these aircraft opened fire with its machine guns for the first time.59 The suspicion at the time was that these aircraft were piloted by German aircrews, although the French subsequently denied this, as they flew at high speed and at sea level and well away from the shore, making it very difficult for the gun crews to engage them except at extreme range and for only brief moments.60 The reason for the heightened Vichy interest was the aborted attempt to capture Dakar made in September 1940, which, aside from being hugely embarrassing, had further increased tensions. Carried out by British and Free French ships and troops, the fiasco did have one positive outcome as the garrison was swelled with part of the attacking force, 102nd Royal Marine Brigade commanded by Brigadier R.H. Campbell, appearing in Freetown without warning and staying for some months.61 By this stage, a series of tactical training exercises had already taken place, but the expanded force soon conducted the first full exercise.62 Two battalions of the Royal Marines “landed at 0520 [on 2 November] very silently and efficiently, making a mechanised and foot advance at great speed”. They came ashore on two beaches and attacked all of the key targets around the port employing “shock tactics and speed, sacrificing control and making umpiring extremely difficult”. With the attackers suffering “heavy casualties”, the war diary concluded that “many useful lessons were

18

Andrew Stewart

learned on both sides” and cautioned that the Marine contingent’s apparently swift and overwhelming victory was perhaps not an entirely accurate representation of events. Nonetheless, they took charge of routine operational duties shortly afterwards, allowing the Essex battalion to focus on training both its own men and local forces. In many respects this was the key role for the British troops, Giffard having been told before he left London that the proportion of Africans was to be increased as quickly as possible whilst any British battalions that were sent would be quickly replaced by units from the RWAFF.63 ‘Bush warfare’ training had been started in the hills of Grafton Valley behind Freetown even before his arrival, and the tempo now increased.64 An initial training instruction distributed to every officer and NCO explained that not a moment could be wasted in training an entirely new force and that a minimum of eight hours every day, including weekends, was to be used for this purpose. Giffard also confirmed to the War Office that given the necessary instructors, he was confident in his ability to train local forces, and regular officers and NCOs with experience of working with African troops soon began to arrive from Britain. Although requests for African NCOs to be sent back from East Africa were largely unsuccessful, a number of old soldiers re-enlisted who were fit for training recruits and garrison duties. Training centres experienced a shortage of arms and ammunition in their early stages, as well as some language difficulties, so infantry recruits were initially trained within the battalions. There was also a reluctance to send officers and NCOs to the training school in Nigeria as “once a man left to attend it, he did not appear again for so long that he had been forgotten by the time he did”, and as a result, higher training was largely conducted in place with exercises organised by the brigade commanders. Within six months of the establishment of Headquarters West Africa, there were approximately twenty-three battalions, including six in East Africa that required reinforcements, but the others were available for regional defence and, later, for service elsewhere if required. At the same time as this training was taking place, defensive preparations continued, and on 16 December 1940 Major General Christopher Woolner arrived to take charge of the Colony’s defence. Known as ‘Kit’ to his equals and ‘Father’ to the troops, his goal was to turn Freetown into “a first class fortress”, but preparing for a war that might never come offered huge challenges.65 As Brigadier F.A.S. Clarke, who served in West Africa during the war, wrote in his unpublished memoirs, “the war seemed very distant”, but the potential danger of the Vichy forces “caused considerable anxiety”.66 Communications were initially difficult as there was no signal unit for many months, which meant that cables and an erratic postal service were the only means of communicating with London and the various military home commands. Visits by officers from headquarters had to be made by sea, and it was only some months after his arrival that the GOC was allowed a personal aircraft. Nonetheless, in terms of actual military equipment Freetown was amongst the best equipped of any of the designated strategic points in West Africa, thanks to the

The ‘quiet colony of Sierra Leone’ 19

programme that had begun prewar. Elsewhere, most units were incomplete in equipment and not past the elementary stage of their training. The focus of Woolner’s defensive preparations remained the deterioration in Anglo-French relations. For the Area Headquarters staff, the principal threat was from the Vichy French in French Guinea with which Sierra Leone shared 300 miles of the frontier. On the British side, much of the country along the frontier was sparsely inhabited, and only at Kailahun was there a road crossing; at no other point did a sealed road go within twenty miles of the border.67 On the French side, the roads did reach the border at many points, and it was considered relatively easy for them to set up observation points and also infiltrate their agents to find out what was going on in Freetown. Following the British commander’s arrival, every effort had been made to tighten up this situation, and as more resources became available, so it improved. The locally raised battalions spent much of 1941 mapping all possible routes from Vichy territory into the Protectorate and Colony. As a result “all Europeans did their share of trekking, often being away ten to fourteen days at a time” during which “endurance marches of up to one hundred miles were frequent”.68 Intelligence officers travelled hundreds of miles, making route reports and gathering information from local traders. Meanwhile the RAF was able to provide aerial reconnaissance photographs both of the frontier region and Conakry and the key routes in French Guinea. The French military code used for routine messages was also broken, giving the defenders accurate details of the strength of the various units opposing them. There was, however, an often confused hierarchy amongst the various competing British and colonial agencies in terms of who was responsible for collecting intelligence.69 By the beginning of 1941, the garrison numbered more than 7,000 men and still included more than 1,800 Royal Marines.70 Further reinforcements arrived during the first week of January, including Headquarters 161 Infantry Brigade commanded by Brigadier J.W.L.S. Hobart; the Essex battalion had previously been part of this brigade and was now reincorporated. Also in this convoy was another general field hospital that “had a galaxy of medical talent among its officers” prepared for studying the effects of “the hard tropical conditions of West Africa” on European soldiers.71 There were also more troops from the Essex Regiment, the 2/5th Battalion with its 32 officers and 725 other ranks who were stationed initially at the Benguema Camp that had been prepared for them by their sister battalion. By the end of January, they had moved also to Lumley Camp, despite both sites having been “condemned by the medical authorities as unfit for habitation by white troops”, and taken on a number of the duties previously carried out by the Royal Marines, the majority of whom had finally left the Colony.72 Finally, additional anti-aircraft batteries had been provided, and these were given a headquarters in Bishopscourt, the ‘palatial’ residence of the Bishop of Sierra Leone complete with tennis court and a playing field with a concrete cricket wicket.73 One troop of four 40-millimetre Bofors guns was deployed to guard the oil tank base at Kissi a few miles from the harbour, which the Royal Navy had painted in bright orange and

20

Andrew Stewart

black stripes “in the firm belief that this would help conceal them”.74 The remaining guns were placed along the anchorage where their commander, Tom Durant, considered them “totally inadequate to provide more than token defence against even minor enemy air activity”.75 On his recommendation, the oil tanks, which were undoubtedly the most easily identifiable site around the port for any approaching aircraft, were repainted in blurred outlines of dull green and brown. At this point, January 1941, a secret appreciation was produced by Giffard for the Chiefs of Staff in London.76 This review of the regional military position concluded that the most important location in West Africa was still Freetown, both as the main convoy assembly and as dispersal port for shipping travelling to and from the United Kingdom, and also as the main naval refuelling base. All other key locations across the region were in many respects viewed in terms of how their loss might impact upon the port. The Gambia, for example, was recognised as having an excellent flying boat base, the first south of Gibraltar in which British aircraft could land, but it was the potential for using this to launch an attack upon Freetown that was most highlighted. The report went on to discuss the most probable form of attack, which it determined would be from the air and that could take place before any reinforcements from Britain could arrive.77 The scale was difficult to calculate, but it was known that approximately 300 bomber and fighter aircraft had sufficient range to reach Sierra Leone and carry out “an attack of great weight”.78 As such, the effects on Freetown “would be extremely serious” and could even “handicap” Britain’s ability to carry on the war. An attack by land forces could not be entirely discounted but was considered improbable due to a lack of Vichy interest, although there was a faint possibility that German pressure might force a change in this position. The prospect of any attack from the sea was almost entirely dismissed, there being thought to be no threat beyond the possibility of a raid.79 The report went on to make a series of recommendations about the level of additional forces that would be needed to provide adequate defences. To counter the danger from the air, Gifford highlighted the specific need for more fighter aircraft, but he also asked for both reconnaissance and flying boat squadrons to be sent to Freetown.80 There was also a request for a large number of additional guns for air and ground defence purposes; for the Sierra Leone Area, the submission called for an infantry brigade group reconnaissance company supported by an anti-tank unit, along with 210 anti-aircraft guns of various calibres.81 This represented a considerable level of commitment, and there seems to be little evidence that the recipients of the report in London were entirely convinced. Whilst a response was considered, the garrison continued to improve its defensive readiness. By February 1941 the Essex battalion had been involved in seven exercises and was familiar with its defensive position along the River Congo line facing Freetown.82 There was a scare the following month with reports of large German warships operating near the West African coast, and orders were issued for special vigilance, extended patrols and the enforcement of the blackout.83 Practice air raid precautions were conducted throughout the

The ‘quiet colony of Sierra Leone’ 21

immediate weeks that followed, and this ended with a training exercise titled Defence of Freetown against Attack from the Sea. On the last day of March, a further two-day Fortress Exercise began with the regular British forces guarding vulnerable points, but the return of the rainy season in late April made it increasingly difficult to continue training.84 In April, unidentified aircraft were observed flying over the port and elsewhere in the Protectorate on six different occasions. The frequency of the Vichy French reconnaissance flights remained at similar levels throughout the summer but still without any interference from the defenders.85 Finally, eleven months after the first Vichy flight had taken place, on 21 August a twin-engine Glenn Martin bomber flew over Freetown and, having been unsuccessfully engaged by anti-aircraft guns, was intercepted and shot down by a Hurricane, killing all four crew.86 Having started with virtually nothing, the garrison had now reached a considerable size. An American report had put its strength in early 1941 at 16,000 men, of whom only 2,000 were native troops; local media reports in late April claimed 30,000 troops were present in the Colony.87 The actual figures were less but by the summer Sierra Leone was the base for 6th (West Africa) Brigade supported by the Freetown Fortress, which had two Coast Defence batteries, three Heavy AA batteries and a Light AA battery – with a total of sixteen antiaircraft guns and two searchlight batteries most of which were on and around Murray Town – and with a Coast Defence Battalion forming. The original forces had gone and in mid-May Colonel Gibson had been told that his men would soon be leaving West Africa. On 13 June 1941 they set sail taking with them the men from 2/5th Essex and the brigade headquarters who were heading for the much more active war zone of the Middle East.88 Further reinforcements arrived in September 1941 with additional heavy and light anti-aircraft batteries and more medical support with a new dedicated malaria laboratory.89 As one British officer who had served in Sierra Leone prewar recounted, these new arrivals brought “loneliness, boredom, location, prickly-heat, and ‘homesickness’ ”, and it was clear that there remained a great deal of apathy about this wartime posting.90 In May, Giffard had produced an update to his initial appreciation in which he wrote that “it has been said that whereas the war cannot be won at Freetown it might be lost there” and highlighted that it was strategically the most important place in West Africa.91 In reality, nothing much continued to happen throughout the summer. With the expansion of the war following Japan’s attacks in the Far East, the revised Fortress Defence Scheme for Freetown was issued on 18 December 1941 and provided a detailed account of how it was proposed to defend the area from the battle headquarters located at Tower Hill.92 The most probable form of attack was still anticipated as being from aircraft directed against the anchorages and vulnerable points in Freetown, along with attempts by airborne forces to capture landing grounds for followup forces. The key targets were considered to be the aerodromes at Hastings and Waterloo and the Wellington landing ground; the report highlighted that airborne troops could be landed at the rate of 1,000 every hour, and hence

22

Andrew Stewart

the defence of these targets and their recapture were seen as being of vital importance. An attack from the sea was viewed as being possible, but it was still likely to be restricted to a raid involving no more than a single battalion. A land attack assumed that 6th (West African) Infantry Brigade had been defeated elsewhere in the Protectorate, and this possibility was therefore largely overlooked. This force would have a key role to play in protecting the aerodromes; 3rd Sierra Leone Regiment was also tasked with defending many of the vulnerable points. In addition, there was a small detachment of Free French troops and 50–130 armed police in the area, each with a rifle and ten rounds of ammunition apiece. Were the code word ‘Rooster’ to be issued, these forces would fight it out with their attackers, and, if all else failed, the instruction called for a number of key sites to be destroyed. There was an increased threat in the waters surrounding the Colony due to increased enemy submarine activity. During a period of six weeks in early 1942, an average of a ship a day was sunk within 500 miles of Freetown, and 1,500 rescued survivors were in the port awaiting passage back to Europe.93 The region’s significance to the expanded Allied war effort meant that in April 1942 there was discussion about the appointment of a supreme commander in West Africa who could better coordinate the activities of the various services, Allied partners and civil administration.94 Whilst Vice Admiral Sir Campbell Tait had established his Combined Headquarters in the South African port of Simonstown with a rear admiral based at Freetown for West African matters, the Air Commander, West Africa was still based in Sierra Leone, and Giffard spent much of his time there. General Sir Alan Brooke and the other Chiefs were concerned about the “unsatisfactory” nature of the system and the need for a more centralised form of command.95 Their preferred title of Military Governor-General was strongly opposed by the Colonial Office, and the dispute was eventually settled by the prime minister.96 In June 1942, Lord Swinton was appointed as Resident Minister to carry out the coordination of military and political activities, his mission “to become a Cabinet of one, a projection into West Africa of all departments of H.M. Government with the power to make decisions on the spot on behalf of all of them”.97 Swinton was described as “a man of tremendous energy” who managed to build up in a very short time an organisation in West Africa that represented “every facet of the war effort”.98 His headquarters were established in a segment of Achimota College in Accra, the same location as the regional military command centre, but he was a regular traveller, visiting the various parts of his domain as frequently as his other work allowed. As part of his role, he was tasked with presiding over a regional War Council and providing political guidance to the Commandersin-Chief to “ensure the effective co-operation in the prosecution of the war”.99 He had to travel everywhere by air, and bad weather was a frequent problem, adding to the more obvious restrictions imposed by distance; in a letter back to London, the Colonial Secretary was reminded that “distances are formidable, nearly a thousand miles from Accra to Freetown”.100 His wartime visits to Sierra Leone seem to have focused on questions of manpower and civilian

The ‘quiet colony of Sierra Leone’ 23

labour and on the maintenance and development of Freetown – “not a proper port, but a series of disconnected quays with bad approaches” – with the addition of a deep water quay.101 With the revision of the regional political structure and in response to a request from the War Cabinet, in August 1942 the Chiefs of Staff produced another appreciation of the military situation across West Africa.102 This assessed that the region’s significance still lay with its position relative to what was described as the “Central Atlantic ‘waistline’ ” and the key shipping routes passing around the British Empire. The naval base at Freetown remained of particular importance in maintaining these key transport links, and the most serious threat was from U-boats, whose focus was shipping heading to and from the port. It was argued that, were Axis forces to develop any strength in Senegal, this would entirely alter the situation, leading to a much greater level of threat across the region and, for Sierra Leone more specifically, a heightened danger of air attack. In a detailed review of the scale of this threat, one that was based upon the assumption that Russia had collapsed and was no longer in the war and Vichy had given Germany the use of all of its facilities, the assessment was that two brigades of native troops could be directed against Sierra Leone supported by thirty-five fighters and bombers carrying out attacks on a daily basis. The necessary response to this threat represented “a very formidable undertaking” with considerable challenges. The evidence for these assumptions is not, however, entirely clear. As with the raid on Dakar and the attack on Syria, it had been feared that Operation IRONCLAD, the Allied invasion of Madagascar that took place in May 1942, could lead to Vichy reprisals in West Africa. Warnings were issued, but no hostile action took place, and before the year’s end the threat was ended. According to Major General Woolner, defence had been the sole objective of the first two years of the war, but “as we got organised, thoughts of attack entered our heads until, by 8 November 1942, we were nearly ready to invade Vichy French West Africa. The landings in North Africa made that unnecessary”.103 With the principal danger removed, the planners in West Africa and London scrambled to find a new role. Although local elements of the RWAFF had not participated in the expeditionary force that had been sent to support British Commonwealth operations in East Africa, they were centrally involved in the next overseas mission. In December 1942 General Giffard, while on a visit to London, suggested that the West African troops could be usefully employed in Burma, and within four months two divisions of local troops had been earmarked, the 81st (West African) and 82nd (West African) Divisions. As part of the large West African force sent east to fight in the Burma campaign, 1st Sierra Leone Regiment served with distinction – European casualties were 21 killed, missing or wounded, against a total of 139 for African personnel – but the other two regiments remained in the colony. These were some of the very few troops left after the departure of the expeditionary force, but the decision to send it was an accurate reflection of the level of threat that now existed. In February 1943 the Vichy West African colonies all decided to come over to the

24

Andrew Stewart

Allies, and when the Mediterranean was reopened in May, following the surrender of Axis forces in North Africa, the strategic significance of the region was confirmed as being now limited to its transport hub role. Indeed, the directive issued to the General Officer Commanding-in-Chief (GOC-in-C), West Africa was revised that same month to reflect the fact that it was now considered that there was no threat of attack by the enemy. This stated that the focus of activity was now ensuring “the security of all four territories [Nigeria, the Gold Coast, Sierra Leone and the Gambia], all ports, the Air Reinforcement routes to the Middle Eat (where appropriate, in consultation with the French authorities), and those airfields which are necessary to the defence of vital sea communications through British West African waters”. In March, an appreciation was prepared for the Chiefs of Staff in London about the position in West Africa, and this concluded that “[n]o attack by land forces, surface craft or air forces is considered possible in the foreseeable future”. The same month General Giffard relinquished command and departed for India to take charge of the Eastern Army. The author of the RWAFF’s official history concluded that, building on his successes prewar as Inspector-General, the rapid expansion of the force had “depended not only on his foundation but above all on his organizing ability, determination, mental and physical energy”.104 With the threat gone and the forces in the region transferred to other theatres, those that remained were organised for internal security tasks.105 Aside from the Sierra Leone Regiment units, by April 1943 the full complement of artillery troops in Freetown consisted of just four British commissioned officers, eight or nine warrant officers and about twenty African soldiers.106 Life was “very comfortable” for the recently posted Battery Sergeant Major for the Freetown defences, an African keeping his room clean and doing all washing, ironing and odd jobs, although during the dry season he was rationed to a single bucket of water a day. Responsible for one battery of two 6-inch guns and a very modern 9.2-inch battery armed with two guns, he and another gunnery instructor, who had arrived with him in late April, were responsible for what remained of the coastal defence batteries in West Africa. Plenty of sailors and troops were passing through the port, and conditions could still be challenging, not least as a result of criminal gangs operating in Freetown. It was calculated that for the three-month period beginning April 1943, there were 133 cases where military personnel had been robbed, but very few had been reported, such was the lack of confidence in the culprits being caught.107 The remaining period of the war would see Freetown continue to hold a key strategic role but with a continued gradual reduction of manpower and equipment. The level set by London was for ten battalions plus training units, and this force would take responsibility for the security of the entire West African region. In terms of Allied strategy, the excitement of the 1940–1941 period seemed a long-time distant, and by the war’s conclusion Colony and Protectorate were rapidly returning to their prewar military strength. The final commander of the Sierra Leone Area was appointed in early March 1945; Colonel the Viscount Downe, an officer in the Green Howards, was, however,

The ‘quiet colony of Sierra Leone’ 25

absent overseas in India and did not arrive in Freetown until the last week of April, so the subcommander for the Gambia area took temporary charge.108 The final months of the war were spent disbanding units, giving lectures and programming courses to keep the men occupied, along with the occasional firing of practice rounds by the various gun batteries. The war diary for the headquarters did not even record VE Day, indicative perhaps of the degree to which events elsewhere had long since ceased to have any direct impact.109 Sierra Leone’s wartime role had been extremely important, providing permanent protection to a key British asset. Whilst no accurate data has been found, Freetown’s harbour hosted thousands of maritime convoys, the critical wartime enablers of the British Empire that helped move manpower and equipment from supply centres to support the battles and campaigns being fought around the globe. A considerable effort was made to safeguard this link with a significant number of troops and large quantities of valuable military equipment being devoted to its protection. The feared attack never came, and by the war’s end the quiet calm of the prewar years was again restored. The legacy of the dramatic wartime changes would, however, be significant, and Sierra Leonean troops returning home from service overseas were not alone in agitating for longer-term social and political change.

Notes 1 ‘Sierra Leone – The “White Man’s Grave” ’, The Times, 25 May 1920. 2 Richard West, Back to Africa: A History of Sierra Leone and Liberia (London: Jonathan Cape, 1970), p.288. 3 Handbooks Prepared under the Direction of the Historical Section of the Foreign Office: No.92, Sierra Leone (London: H.M. Stationary Office, 1920), p.14. 4 Lieutenant J.P. Mackesy, ‘Sierra Leone’, The Royal Engineers Journal (Vol.27; August 1897), pp.161–162. 5 Sir Charles Lucas (ed.), The Empire at War, Volume IV (London: Oxford University Press, 1924), pp.11–19. 6 According to the definitive account of the conflict in Africa, these troops were “cheerful, obedient, eager to learn and to please, they were, in spite of many little human failings, thoroughly good fellows”; Brigadier General E. Howard Gorges, The Great War in Africa (London: Hutchinson and Co. (Publishers) Ltd., 1930), p.32. 7 Andrew Stewart, ‘An Enduring Legacy: The British Military and Sierra Leone’, Defence Studies (Vol.8, No.3; 2008), pp.351–368. 8 It was quickly made a Royal Corps with H.M. King George V as its first Colonel-inChief; Colonel A. Haywood and Brigadier F.A.S. Clarke, The History of the Royal West African Frontier Force (Aldershot: Gale and Polden, 1964), p.320. 9 Ibid., pp.318–362. 10 Colonel M. Everett, ‘Sierra Leone’, Journal of the Royal United Service Institution (Vol.81; February–November 1936), p.501. 11 I.L.W. (?), ‘Obituary – Sir George Giffard’, The Times (London), 21 November 1964; C.R.A.S. (?), ‘Obituary – Sir George Giffard’, The Times (London), 26 November 1964. 12 ‘Freetown – Subject Matter for Issue to the Press’, Colonial Office, 30 November 1937, CO267/661/7, The National Archives, Kew (hereafter TNA). 13 Ibid., W.G. Bottomley (Colonial Office) to War Office, 20 May 1937. This letter highlighted that the authorities in Sierra Leone were making an annual contribution

26

14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24

25 26 27

28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 36 37

Andrew Stewart of £40,000 to maintain the infantry garrison and would be responsible for the cost of recruitment for the men of the proposed coast defence unit. Commanding Officer, Sierra Leone to War Office, 2 November 1937; ‘Note on the Proposed Defences of Freetown’, Colonial Office, 11 October 1937, CO267/661/9, TNA. Officer Commanding Sierra Leone Battalion to Colonial Secretary, Freetown, 9 May 1938, CO267/665/1, TNA. Colonel Tom Durant, ‘The Royal West African Frontier Force 1940–1943’, pp.69–70, Imperial War Museum (05/44/1) (hereafter IWM). ‘War Diary – Sierra Leone Area Headquarters’, September 1939, WO173/19, TNA. Ibid., ‘Manning Detail – Observation Line’, n.d. Ibid., ‘Draft Arrived on 27th September 1939 and for Retention in Freetown’. ‘History of the Sierra Leone Regiment’ (October 1945), pp.1–5; General Sir George Giffard, ‘The Royal West African Frontier Force and Its Expansion for War’, The Army Quarterly (Vol.50, No.1; April 1945), pp.191–193. Captain John Amsden, ‘Memoirs’, p.32, IWM (87/23/1); General Giffard puts the number at a maximum of 236 ocean-going ships with 150 being the norm; Giffard, ‘The Royal West African Frontier Force and Its Expansion for War’, p.194. J.P. Birch, ‘Reminiscences of Service with the RWAFF in Sierra Leone’, p.2, Oxford Development Records Project (Oxford; Rhodes House Library) (MSS Afr s.1734), Box 1/45 (hereafter ODRP). ‘War Diary – Sierra Leone Area Headquarters’, September 1939, WO173/19, TNA. Captain S.W. Roskill, The War at Sea, 1939–1945: Vol.1, The Defensive (London: H.M. Stationary Office, 1954), pp.344–345. The typical time spent at sea travelling from Britain to Sierra Leone was 19 days but it often took longer, and during the winter the travel time was always longer due to the worsening weather. Jardine to Dawe, 15 October 1939, CO267/673/32285, TNA. ‘War Diary – Sierra Leone Area Headquarters’, October–December 1939, WO173/19, TNA. Birch, ‘Reminiscences of Service with the RWAFF in Sierra Leone’, ODRP, p.2. An Australian visitor to Sierra Leone in 1939 was much taken with the governor, “a merry squire full of twinkles, quips and good stories, downright conservative but not of the plutocratic brand, a farmer-Tory with plenty of brains, and shrewd enough to be progressive in unexpected places”; Jim Davidson, A Three-Cornered Life: The Historian W.K. Hancock (Sydney: University of New South Wales Press, 2010), p.173. Ibid., p.3. Ibid., p.4; Hugh McCartney, ‘Fine Fine Soldiers – An Account of Sierra Leone and Her Soldiers and Others’, p.35, Box 8/289. ‘War Diary – Sierra Leone Area Headquarters’, May 1940, WO173/19, TNA. Unknown (Lieutenant Colonel, Royal Engineers) to War Office, 15 June 1940, WO173/19, TNA. Haywood and Clarke, The History of the Royal West African Frontier Force, pp.363–484. COS Committee, ‘Implications of French Hostility’, W.P.(40)256, 16 July 1940, p.2, CAB66/9, TNA. Chiefs of Staff (COS) Committee, ‘Plans to Meet a Certain Eventuality: French Colonial Empire and Mandated Territories’, W.P.(40)207, 15 June 1940, p.4, CAB66/8, TNA. Crowder, ‘The 1939–45 War and West Africa’. In J.F.A. Ajayi and Michael Crowder (eds.), History of West Africa, vol. 2 (New York: Columbia University Press), p.670. Additional French vessels were seized or immobilised at Portsmouth and Alexandria. ‘War Diary – Sierra Leone Area Headquarters’, July 1940, WO173/19, TNA. As it was, the principal Vichy response to the attack on their maritime forces was directed against Gibraltar with two days of bombardment by aircraft, which did little damage; Peter C. Smith, ‘French Air Strikes on Gibraltar’, World War Two Investigator (September 1988), pp.19–22.

The ‘quiet colony of Sierra Leone’ 27 38 COS Committee, ‘Implications of French Hostility’, 16 July 1940, pp.8–9. 39 ‘Defence of British Interests in West Africa – Report by the Joint Planning SubCommittee’, COS(40)480(J.P.), 22 June 1940, p.3, CAB121/189, TNA. 40 Postwar, he had been most generally remembered for having been Commander in Chief of the 11th Army Group, which fought in the Burma campaign, a position from which he was eventually dismissed; ‘Obituary – Sir George Giffard’, The Times (London), 19 November 1964. 41 ‘Giffard, General Sir George James (1886–1964) GCB, DSO’, in Nick Smart, Biographical Dictionary of British Generals of the Second World War (Barnsley: Pen and Sword, 2005), pp.117–118. 42 He also had responsibility for cooperation and consultation with both the French civil and military authorities throughout French Western and Equatorial Africa and the Belgian civil and military authorities in the Belgian Congo; ‘Directive to LieutenantGeneral G.J. Giffard CB DSO’, (Annex), 22 June 1940, CAB121/189, TNA; ‘General Sir George Giffard GCB DSO’, The Queen’s Royal Surrey Regimental Association [online]. 43 ‘War Diary – Sierra Leone Area Headquarters’, August 1939, WO173/19, TNA. 44 Ibid., War Office to Giffard, 7 July 1940. 45 Ibid., 24 July 1940. 46 ‘Conference with Colonel Jameson Carr, British Army, December 30, 1941’, US War Department (Sierra Leone – Regional Files, 1922–44), RG165, Box 2892, US National Archives and Records Administration, Maryland (hereafter NARA). Carr was a doctor with the Royal Army Medical Corps and a specialist in tropical medicine who had worked very closely with 1/4th Essex. 47 Colonel T.A. Martin, The Essex Regiment, 1929 to 1950 (Uckfield: Naval and Military Press, 2012), pp.250–251. 48 Ibid., p.252. 49 ‘War Diary – Sierra Leone Area Headquarters’, August 1939, WO173/19, TNA. 50 Brigadier F.A.S. Clarke, ‘The Memoirs of a Professional Soldier in Peace and War’, Clarke Papers, p.17, Liddell Hart Centre for Military Archives, CLARKE1/1; ‘War Diary – 1/4 Battalion, the Essex Regiment’, August 1940, WO173/40, TNA. 51 Ibid., ‘War Diary – 1/4 Battalion, the Essex Regiment’, August 1940. 52 Ibid., September 1940. 53 Martin, The Essex Regiment, p.253. 54 The period spent by the battalion in Sierra Leone is covered in the official history; ibid., pp.253–256. 55 ‘War Diary – 1/4 Battalion, the Essex Regiment’, September 1940, WO173/40, TNA. 56 Rundell (?) to ‘Dick Tate’, 3 January 1941, Bank of England Archives (AC10/18). The writer, a territorial officer who was called up in August 1939, worked at the Bank of England. ‘Dick Tate’ was the fictitious name adopted by still serving employees within the bank when writing to now former colleagues serving overseas. 57 Minute by Captain L.W.A. Chappell (Adjutant), n.d., WO173/40, TNA; ibid., ‘Defence of Freetown – Infantry’, 1 September 1940, WO173/19. At the same time, with the 1st Battalion of the Sierra Leone Regiment having left Freetown, responsibility for the RWAFF was finally transferred from the Colonial Office to the War Office. 58 ‘War Diary – Sierra Leone Area Headquarters’, September 1940, WO173/19, TNA; Max Egremont, Under Two Flags: The Life of Major-General Sir Edward Spears (London: Weidenfeld and Nicolson, 1997), pp.210–211. 59 ‘War Diary – 1/4 Battalion, the Essex Regiment’, January 1941, WO173/179, TNA. 60 Durant, ‘The Royal West African Frontier Force 1940–1943’, IWM, pp.70–71. 61 Haywood and Clarke, The History of the Royal West African Frontier Force, p.365; the Brigade’s 2nd and 3rd Battalions remained in Freetown until February 1941 before returning to Britain. 62 ‘War Diary – 1/4 Battalion, the Essex Regiment’, November 1940, WO173/40, TNA. 63 Clarke, ‘The Memoirs of a Professional Soldier in Peace and War’, pp.6–9.

28

Andrew Stewart

64 Ibid., p.5; Lieutenant Colonel J.Y. Whitfield, ‘Headquarters West Africa – Training Instruction No.1, July 1940’, 31 July 1940, WO173/19, TNA; McCartney, ‘Fine Fine Soldiers’, ODRP, p.38. 65 Woolner was a highly decorated officer who had commissioned into the Royal Engineers and served throughout the First World War, winning a Military Cross and two bars. As the GSOI to the British Expeditionary Force and a brigade commander, he had fought through the 1940 France campaign and had been mentioned three times in despatches. According to one biography, despite this, he had failed to impress his divisional commander, Bernard Montgomery, and, despite being promoted to general, he was sent to West Africa; ‘Obituary – Major-General Christopher Woolner’, The Times (London), 23 January 1984; ‘Woolner, Major General Christopher Geoffrey (1893–1984) CB, MC (and bars)’, in Smart, Biographical Dictionary of British Generals of the Second World War, pp.345–346; Major General Woolner to Colonel A. Dunlop, 20 August 1946, Woolner Papers, National Army Museum, London (9211–162–11–1). 66 Clarke, ‘The Memoirs of a Professional Solider in Peace and War’, pp.2–3. 67 Birch, ‘Reminiscences of Service with the RWAFF in Sierra Leone’, ODRP, p.7. 68 ‘History of the Sierra Leone Regiment’ (October 1945), pp.1–5. 69 Birch, ‘Reminiscences of Service with the RWAFF in Sierra Leone’, ODRP, pp.7–8. Included within this considerable group was the writer Graham Greene who arrived in 1941 at the behest of the Foreign Office to coordinate “but nothing on these lines seemed to happen”. 70 ‘War Diary – Sierra Leone Area Headquarters’, December 1940, WO173/19, TNA. 71 Durant, ‘The Royal West African Frontier Force 1940–1943’, IWM, pp.62, 68. With the arrival of a second hospital in only a matter of months, it was clear that there were seen to be considerable opportunities for research into tropical medicine. At the same time, there had been a woeful shortage prewar of medical care with only 535 hospital beds for Africans and 14 for Europeans and a total of 22 European and African doctors. 72 ‘War Diary – 2/5 Battalion, the Essex Regiment’, January 1941, WO173/180, TNA; Martin, The Essex Regiment, p.446. 73 Durant, ‘The Royal West African Frontier Force 1940–1943’, IWM, p.66. 74 Ibid., p.73. 75 Ibid., p.70. 76 Lieutenant General George Giffard, ‘Appreciation of the Military Position in West Africa on the 27th January 1941’, 27 January 1941, US War Department (British West Africa: Military Intelligence Division – Regional File, 1922–44), RG165, Box 318, NARA. 77 Ibid., p.6. 78 Ibid., pp.2–3. 79 Ibid., p.2. 80 Ibid., p.9. 81 Ibid. For the entire region, there were only an additional 118 guns. 82 ‘War Diary – 1/4 Battalion, the Essex Regiment’, January 1941, WO173/179, TNA; ibid., ‘War Diary – 1/4 Battalion, the Essex Regiment’, February 1941. 83 ‘War Diary – Sierra Leone Area Headquarters’, (10) March 1941, WO173/131, TNA. 84 ‘War Diary – 1/4 Battalion, the Essex Regiment’, March 1941, WO173/179, TNA. 85 ‘War Diary – Sierra Leone Area Headquarters’, April 1941, WO173/131, TNA. 86 Ibid., August 1941. 87 ‘Freetown – Enclosure to Serial 39’, 22 May 1941, US War Department (Sierra Leone – Regional Files, 1922–44), RG165, Box 2892, NARA. 88 Martin, The Essex Regiment, pp.256, 449. 89 ‘War Diary – Sierra Leone Area Headquarters’, September 1941, WO173/131, TNA. 90 Brigadier J.D. A. Lamont Papers, ODRP, Box 7/251.

The ‘quiet colony of Sierra Leone’ 29 91 Giffard, ‘Appreciation by the General Officer Commanding Military Forces in West Africa of the Situation in British and Free French West Africa in May 1941’, 5 May 1941, NARA. 92 ‘Freetown Fortress Defence Scheme’, 18 December 1941, WO173/131, TNA. 93 Birch, ‘Reminiscences of Service with the RWAFF in Sierra Leone’, ODRP, p.7; ibid., McCartney, ‘Fine Fine Soldiers’, p.47. 94 ‘Appointment of a Supreme Commander in West Africa – Memorandum by the Chief of the Imperial General Staff’, COS(42)226, 15 April 1942, CAB121/189, TNA. 95 Ibid., Leslie Hollis to Sir George Gater (Colonial Office), 16 April 1942. 96 Sir George Gater to Major General Sir Hastings Ismay, 9 May 1942, CO967/109, TNA; ibid., ‘Extract from Chiefs of Staff Committee – West Africa, Appointment of a Supreme Commander’, COS(42)135, 30 April 1942, CAB121/189. 97 Harold Evans, ‘Studies in Wartime Organisation: (2) The Resident Ministry in West Africa’, African Affairs (Vol.43, No.173; October 1944), pp.152–158. 98 Birch, ‘Reminiscences of Service with the RWAFF in Sierra Leone’, ODRP, p.10. 99 ‘The Minister Resident in West Africa – Directive by the Prime Minister’, W.P.(42)245, 8 June 1942, CAB66/25, TNA. 100 Swinton to Cranborne, 28 July 1942, Swinton Papers (Churchill Archives, Cambridge) Swin II 5/5. 101 Ibid., Swinton to Cranborne, 12 January 1943; Swinton to Oliver Stanley, 22 April 1943. 102 ‘Appreciation of the Military Situation in West Africa – Report by Chiefs of Staff’, W.P.(42)371, 21 August 1942, CAB66/28, TNA. 103 Woolner to Dunlop, 20 August 1946, Woolner Papers. 104 Haywood and Clarke, The History of the Royal West African Frontier Force, p.374. 105 ‘Revised Directive for General Officer Commanding-in-Chief, West Africa’, Chiefs of Staff Committee, COS(43)97, 28 May 1943, CAB121/189, TNA. 106 BSM Roy Symons, ‘The War Years’, pp.6–7, IWM (05/69/1). 107 Major General Philipps to His Excellency the Acting Governor of Sierra Leone, 11 July 1943, CO267/683/17, TNA. 108 ‘War Diary – Sierra Leone Area Headquarters’, March 1945, WO173/1213, TNA. 109 Ibid., May 1945.

2

Between occupation and liberation Italian Somalia under British rule, 1941–1945 Annalisa Urbano

Introduction In 1948, a British District Officer travelled through the Mudug Province in north-east Somalia.1 After the defeat of the Italians in 1941, the enemy’s colony had been placed under a temporary British Military Administration (BMA) pending further decisions. With the British occupation, the Second World War came to an end in the Horn of Africa. Conflicts had begun in 1935 with the attack on Ethiopia by Italian forces and reached a climax in 1940 when Italy, by then a member of the Axis coalition, launched military offensives to British posts across the Sudanese and Kenyan borders and occupied the Côte française des Somalis, today’s Djibouti, and the British Protectorate of Somaliland. But Italy’s imperial fantasies of controlling the whole Horn of Africa were short-lived. In January 1941, British Commonwealth troops launched a series of counter-attacks that forced the Italian Army to capitulate rapidly. Advancing from Kenya, British troops entered Somalia’s capital Mogadishu within less than two months, overall meeting little resistance and suffering limited casualties.2 When the British officer toured the Mudug province, the war had ended seven years earlier. Yet coming to a halt in a village, he met a local chief who enquired whether the war was over and who had won the conflict: ‘We did,’ informed the officer laconically. ‘May God be praised,’ said the Somali, as if to congratulate him for the victory, but soon after clarified his question: ‘What are you’ he asked, ‘English or Italian?’3 This story was included by the BMA in one of a hundred documents that considered how to best dispose of former Italian colonies in the postwar international order. As at the time the major powers – France, Great Britain, the Soviet Union and the United States – failed to agree with each other on the issue, the anecdote was sent to London to assure the Foreign Office that whatever the final decision on the former Italian colonies, Somali communities’ reactions would not constitute a matter of concern. They belonged to a ‘small world’, informed the BMA, with little or no clue about global political developments.4 At the same time, the story revealed a rather inconvenient fact. Seven years had passed since the Italians had been defeated, and yet to some Somalis, regardless of how distant their lives appeared to British officers

Italian Somalia under British rule

31

stationed in East Africa, the change of regime had passed unnoticed. In many ways, acknowledging the possibility that some did not see or care about the differences between British and Italian rule undermined the very basis of the BMA. The occupation of former Italian colonies by Allied forces was proclaimed as a liberal triumph over fascist oppression and presented as part of a bigger, global agenda: the liberation campaign against the Axis coalition. The wartime rhetoric highlighted the role of the BMA as ‘emancipators’, ‘rescuers’ and ‘saviours’ of local communities in the Horn of Africa. The core of the BMA was defined by virtue of its opposition to the fascist regime. Take for instance one of the first accounts of the operations in East Africa published by the Ministry of Information in 1944 with the title The First to Be Freed. The pamphlet served to illustrate the positive changes brought about by the BMA in the enemy’s colonial possessions. In doing so, it made a clear-cut distinction between the right and wrong causes, the good and bad sides and thus between the British and Italians.5 Since the Italians’ defeat, so the book contended, the BMA had assisted Somali communities and fostered their development particularly in the fields of education, trade and sociopolitical activism.6 While this narrative rightly identified a series of opportunities that arose in Somalia as a result of the change of regime, it functioned as a smokescreen that prevented the discussion of more problematic aspects of the military occupation and concealed the fact that the BMA and wartime rhetoric had several limitations. Set up with the broad aim of controlling former colonies for an unspecified period of time, the BMA had no means or scope to implement any tangible changes in the colony’s structure, to introduce reform or to draft plans for future reconstruction. Dealing with a very low budget, military authorities had to maintain law and order while harnessing local resources for the war effort. Historical research has devoted little attention to the analysis of the multiple and complex aspects of the British administration such as the process of pacification and the attempts to enforce some form of control and to foster economic outputs. Most scholarly attention has centred either on the lengthy and controversial international debate on how to dispose of Italy’s colonial possessions7 or on the emergent Somali nationalism and irredentist claims in the postwar era.8 Accordingly, the BMA is portrayed as having established a somewhat liberal and tolerant institutional framework within which international talks among the Big Four unfolded and sociopolitical organisations, forbidden under the Italians, could emerge and develop their agendas. Reducing our understanding of British-occupied Somalia to these aspects, however, is problematic because the wartime rhetoric distorted perspectives of local dynamics and the relationship between the military occupiers, the former colonial masters and the communities under occupation. This chapter critically engages with the BMA positions and discusses how the Allied rhetoric of freeing Somali communities from fascist oppression found itself ill at ease when due to war contingencies the BMA restored structures of former colonial administration that it had initially attempted to overcome. Due to its provisional character, the military administration remained ambiguously embedded with

32

Annalisa Urbano

the aims of the Allied liberation campaign and the lack of resources to further develop these objectives in former colonies. It was this ambiguity at the heart of the BMA that allowed the military rule to adopt controversial policies, such as the use of collective punishments to suppress local unrest and labour conscription to meet wartime economic needs, that did not comply with the underlying aims of the liberation campaign.

‘Pacifying’ Somalia When on 25 February 1941, a few months after launching their offence, British forces set about ‘maintaining law and order’ and establishing some form of local control in Somalia, they had not expected the Italian Army to capitulate and withdraw towards the Ethiopian highlands so quickly. Supervised by East Africa Command in Nairobi, the BMA set up a central administration in Mogadishu and distributed a handful of officers and ranks among a limited number of stations throughout the former Italian colony and the Ogaden, a Somali-speaking region in today’s Ethiopia, occupied and annexed to Somalia by the Italians in 1936.9 Preoccupied by rumours of armed groups still fighting, headquarters in Mogadishu were tasked to police the former Italian colony and disarm colonial militias and irregular bands. As rumours about insurgents were essentially different in kind, concerned several places and were delayed by poor communication facilities, the BMA felt that its effort to carry out disarmament was hampered by the paucity of resources, especially personnel and ammunition, at its disposal. Of increasing concern was reports that former colonial troops or irregular bands were assisting the few Italian soldiers scattered along the north-west Ethiopian frontier.10 Other deserters seemed to have regrouped independently and were reported to be involved in occasional looting and raids.11 The general belief was that disbanded soldiers and unspecified numbers of civilians possessed ‘large’ quantities of rifles and machine guns. In fact, rumours of the amount of ammunition allegedly possessed by Somali communities was proof of plans made by the Italians to foster local unrest and complicate the pacification process. In the months following the capitulation of the fascist regime in Somalia, the BMA lamented that the Italians ‘before leaving the country, deliberately flooded it with arms and ammunition’12 and that the area to be disarmed was so vast that their forces were ‘quite insufficient to provide the patrols which are necessary to recover arms and ammunition and stolen property and generally to restore order’.13 The sense of nervousness and agitation that characterised the early months of their occupation conditioned the general line adopted by the BMA in Somalia. Fearing its resources inadequate to face the ‘warlike nature’ of Somali communities and to enforce some form of hegemony, the Chief Political Officer in Mogadishu called for ‘a policy of military commitment’ and requested emergency troops from East Africa to assist and support the pacification process while at the same time creating a new police force, the Somali Gendarmerie,

Italian Somalia under British rule

33

to replace the previous colonial police. Increasing military forces and resorting to policing tactics reflected the belief that strong action was necessary to face unrest and recover looted goods, to intimidate local communities and to convince deserters and civilians to hand over arms and ammunition. Military authorities further supposed that this strategy would create the overall impression that British forces exercised a firm control of the area in spite of their limited number and the suddenness with which they occupied the colony. As looting and cattle raiding made up the majority of reported unrest, plans to pacify Somalia often meant the controversial enforcement of collective punishments that showed little regard for individual responsibility for the raids but were rather based on the clan ties of certain looters, punishing their community by confiscating their cattle and, in some cases, by setting their villages on fire.14 Enforcing collective punishments was condoned by the fact that the BMA enjoyed a great deal of autonomy when it came to the actual ways by which the former Italian colony was administered. When reporting to Parliament on the issue in 1945, the Secretary of State for War acknowledged that ultimately the BMA had to comply with the general principles provided by the Manual of Military Law and the Hague Convention of 1907.15 However, on the same occasion it was also noted that, technically speaking, these guidelines were inadequate sources as they contemplated the occupation of European countries and were not intended for ‘colonial territories dependent upon a metropolitan government from which such territories had become detached’.16 Making this point was not an exercise in pedantry. It provided a framework of exceptionalism that allowed the BMA not to respect the provisions of the Hague Convention on land warfare, which specifically forbade the use of collective punishments in regions under military occupation.17 Once freed from the restrictions imposed by customary international law, the BMA positioned its administrative practicalities within the realm of colonial rule.18 In this way, political officers in Mogadishu gathered their code of conduct from prior colonial experience in the area and, thus, relied on collective punishments because these were part of the British and Italian imperial policy repertoires widely adopted before and during the war.19 In the 1940s, holding collective responsibility over crimes attributed to pastoral or semi-pastoral communities became a way for the occupying forces to make up for their shortage of personnel. Hence, claiming that this conformed to local customs, the use of these sanctions became part of the Maintenance of Order Proclamation issued in 1942, which presented them as ‘the extension into legal form of Somali customary law, by which tribal groups accept collective responsibility for the misdeeds of a member of the group’.20 Yet it became readily apparent that discerning clans and sub-clans of looters and applying community sanctions for individual actions was easier said than done. At the border with the Northern Frontier District in Kenya, for instance, officers in the field anxiously reported about the activities of poachers ‘apparently of mixed origin [. . . who did not] emanate from any particular tribes’.21 These

34

Annalisa Urbano

circumstances impeded linking their activities to specific clan segments and left open the possibility of punishing communities that were not directly connected with the looting. Moreover, the fact that groups of disbanded soldiers were often believed responsible for looting farms and raiding cattle made it difficult to discern between cattle raiding among rival clans and other kinds of looting.22 As several armed bands became quite successful in eluding attempts to track them down, the BMA began to distrust police retainers and dismissed some illalos (members of local police) accused of being involved in looting or in ‘having a profitable time at the expense of the civilians’.23 If the purpose of a policy of military commitment was to hinder looting and cattle raiding, it did not work well. Reading the series of intelligence reports drafted monthly in Mogadishu suggests that similar episodes continued throughout the 1940s and that violence and intimidation were systematic aspects of attempts adopted by the BMA to reduce them. By presenting looting and raids as a given outcome of atavic cleavages among Somali clans, the BMA dismissed the socioeconomic grievances behind these conflicts. Scarcity of food caused by war pressures and easier access to weapons left by the armies intensified competition over resources and at times exacerbated old-standing feuds for access to wells and pasture. In an effort to reduce and control movements of pastoral communities and to prevent the spreading of diseases among cattle, military patrols introduced restrictions on livestock grazing. This meant that delimited grazing areas were assigned to specific clans and sub-clans. While limitations of grazing areas did not hinder movements and trespassing demarcations were granted on occasion, groups caught entering other clans’ areas without permission were chased by the police and required to pay a fine.24 What is more, these measures further pressurised pastoral communities and contributed to an escalation of local unrest. In August 1949, when the BMA was on the point of handing over its administration, it was noted in a somewhat deterministic tone that ‘[t]ribal clashes constantly take place’ and ‘[t]hese often involve military intervention’ resulting in significant casualties.25 Given the frequent occurrence of conflicts, it is hardly surprising that when a special commission of the United Nations travelled to the Horn of Africa to investigate the aspirations of local communities regarding the future dispositions of Italy’s former colonial possessions, feelings of insecurity and fear were common issues raised by representatives of Somali organisations.26 Although the commission concluded that the ‘majority of disturbances of public order were caused by inter-tribal strife’,27 Somali representatives often complained about the ‘policing’ methods adopted by the military administration that, some accused, targeted unarmed communities indiscriminately. Disillusionment towards the Allied powers for failing to have fulfilled the expectations raised by the wartime propaganda was expressed even before the visit of the UN’s special commission. In January 1947 for instance, Abdulqadir Saqawa Din, a prominent member of the Somali Youth League, a

Italian Somalia under British rule

35

Mogadishu-based nationalist movement, sent a letter to the editor of the Manchester Guardian Weekly provokingly comparing the BMA to fascist rule: To the people of Somaliland the five years since the day of our ‘liberation’ have been conspicuous for their lack of human consideration and the oppression of democratic rights. To-day the British military administration is almost as much feared and disliked as was the tyrannical Fascist rule.28 The piece questioned the extent to which the BMA’s policies conformed with the requirements of the postwar international order and with ‘the ideals and principles for which the heroes of England and the Allied countries gave their lives’, focusing particularly on the use of collective punishments that the author saw as the cause of major conflict in Somalia: Collective punishment laws have been enacted and are enforced. For instance, some askaris recently deserted. The live stock of their innocent tribesmen was seized. The criminals had not taken refuge with the tribesmen and the incident had taken place very many miles away from the tribal area. No live stock belonging to the deserters was in the hands of the tribesmen. The milk of live stock is the staple food of people, and seizure of live stock is all the more detestable in that it deprives the women and children of their means of sustenance for no fault of their own.29 But the use of collective punishments was not the only issue discussed by the Somali activist. The author claimed that the military authorities failed to amend some of most brutal aspects of fascist domination, such as forms of coercive labour and labour recruitment for use in colonial agricultural enterprises. These exactions continued to be enforced upon inter-riverine communities during the British occupation, the letter claimed. Conscription for labour exists. The poor wretches thus collected are parcelled out by the British military administration among the agricultural concessions . . . under conditions which are a mockery of democracy and of human rights.30 Although Abdulqadir Saqawa Din’s letter was soon followed by the publication in the same newspaper of a semi-official reply by a colonial army officer who had served in the area during the war and dismissed accusations of misrule, the episode cast a shadow on the legitimacy of the BMA and instigated further enquiry between the War Office in London and British headquarters in Mogadishu.31 The exchange brought out in the open the contradiction that lay at the heart of the BMA, an administration, set up to temporarily replace fascist rule, that had no power to enforce any reform or any significant

36

Annalisa Urbano

socioeconomic improvements. In practice, this meant that ultimately when it came to the day-to-day practicalities of running the former colony, the occupying forces had no means or scope other than to rely on structures put in place by the Italians. This was particularly true for the issue of sustenance in the region, which pushed the BMA to foster the outputs of colonial agricultural enterprises that, as Abdulqadir Saqawa Din’s letter pointed out, resorted to practices of forced labour. As discussed in the following section, wartime pressures, contingencies and constraints of military occupation outweighed the concerns and attempts of military authorities to improve working conditions and labourers’ relations with Italian masters.

Wartime labour policies A provisory administration, the BMA received little support from the metropole, and its sustenance had to be based on local resources. These points were made very clear at the beginning. The administration of enemy colonies ‘was required to function at the minimum of cost and had no mandate to introduce large-scale reforms or innovations’, but its exclusive aims were to ‘maintain law and order’ and to ‘harness the resources of the country to the Allied war effort’.32 As the very few industries and industrial facilities established during the prior colonial rule were in great part dismantled and shipped to within the borders of the British Empire,33 the attention of the BMA turned to the agricultural sector, the backbone of the colonial economy. In many ways, reviving this sector did not come without problems. Farms had been severely affected by military operations, and a period of looting followed the withdrawal of Italian forces, to the extent that in 1941 at least two-thirds of cultivated land was believed to have been abandoned and looted.34 Moreover, colonial agricultural enterprises, the majority of which were situated in the fertile valleys of southern Somalia, were part of a restricted economic system that was highly dependent on subsidies from Italy and whose trade was protected by the metropolitan government. Not only did the military occupation result in the collapse of the colonial economy, but conflicts affected the productivity of Somali smallholders and traders as well.35 Colonial plantations appeared to be in the worst condition. In Jannaale, for instance, a site near the Somali coastal town Marka, there were 141 European concessions producing fruit and vegetables on circa 27,200 hectares, but only 6 per cent of this land was under cultivation in 1942.36 Although some concession owners abandoned their farms following the advance of British forces from Kenya, elsewhere labourers began to mutiny against the working regime of the colonial plantations. It soon became apparent that this series of mutinies was not a marginal phenomenon or a side effect of the conflict but pointed to a larger problem concerning labour conditions and policies in the plantations. In the early 1940s, a few British officers inspected colonial farms in order to assess the potential of these investments and the extent to which their outputs would make a positive contribution to the war effort. Their expectations were soon disillusioned by

Italian Somalia under British rule

37

farmers’ dependence on subsidies from and trade with Italy, and the working regime used to support their system of production. In the majority of European farms inspected, labourers refused to return to the fields and work for Italian farmers ‘of any kind or in any capacity’.37 Broadly speaking, labour conditions appeared ‘so vicious’ that while drafting a report to the headquarters in Mogadishu, one commentator wondered ‘how any civilised nation could support them’.38 The Italians extensively resorted to violence and ‘policing’ methods and introduced forms of forced labour with the aim to overcome the scarcity of labour that affected colonial plantations and to provide colonial farms with a stable supply of labourers.39 In 1929, the colonial government had decided to directly assist concessionaires with the hiring process and crafted a new labour contract to regularise recruitment by introducing a ‘quota’ system that prescribed communities living nearby cultivations to supply labourers to serve in the plantations.40 Although very little research has been devoted to the practice of forced labour in Italian plantations, scholars suggest that the system endeavoured to exploit inequalities in Somalian society and to target minority groups that held a subordinate role within the local social structure, such as populations of Bantu origins belonging to recent settlements or settlements of slaves.41 Until recently, this regime was remembered as the years of colonya, a period ‘when families were broken up, workers suffered fatal accidents, and coercion was regularly employed to ensure that they lived up to the terms of their contracts’.42 But labour conditions in colonial plantations were not the only problem the BMA had to consider. Agricultural enterprises had played a highly symbolic role during fascist domination. In 1923, the newly posted governor launched a plan for the ‘fascistisation’ of southern Somalia, thereby occupying arable land for European cultivation. To increase the number of these farms, the colonial state allocated a series of subsidises to private concessionaires who, in return, were expected to foster the production of large-scale crops for exportation such as banana, cotton and sugar, whose commerce was protected by monopoly by Italy.43 At the time, the regime’s propaganda overemphasised the success of these investments and published overly optimistic forecasts for future exploitative possibilities of Somali agriculture. These exaggerations served to celebrate what was presented as fascist effectiveness in opposition to the alleged ineptitude of liberal governments and their ill-fated attempts to develop profitable agricultural enterprises in Somalia.44 In part, this propaganda was successful in attracting entrepreneurs to start off their business in the colony. Some settlers belonged to groups of militant fascists who obtained their concessions as a reward for their support of the colonial conquest and campaigns against the northern Somali sultanates in the mid-1920s.45 Because of their ideological affiliations and link with the regime, the BMA interned several Italian farmers in special camps in Kenya in the years immediately after their occupation. These arrests were motivated by the belief that militant fascists constituted the bulk of farmers and managers in agricultural enterprises and that these carried out anti-British propaganda and acts of reprisal against

38

Annalisa Urbano

anti-fascist sympathisers. Yet wartime contingencies ultimately made British policies more flexible in their attitude towards the question of labour and fascist elements in colonial plantations. At the beginning, British agricultural advisers drafted plans to encourage the production of Somali-run grain crops on small-scale farms and to re-allocate arable area among Somali cultivators that had been abandoned by concessionaires or whose owners had been interned for political reasons, as had many Italian farmers in Janaale.46 Conversely, in European farms under cultivations, the military administration tried to hinder labourers’ mutinies by promoting employment under so-called suitable working conditions, which prescribed better pay and dietary schemes, supervision of the working regime and weekly inspections of cultivations. These measures, however, did not suffice to provide enough food production to meet wartime requirements. This was particularly the case in 1942–1943, when East Africa Command in Nairobi circulated gloomy predictions about food shortages in Kenya and sought to export surpluses of grain production from Somalia.47 These requests overburdened Somalia’s economy, already pressured by the sustainment of destitute Italians, especially evacuees from Ethiopia waiting to be repatriated to Italy. Attempts to improve working conditions and foster local production were also sidelined by more pragmatic concerns of ‘maintaining law and order’ and achieving self-sufficiency in the occupied territory. As mutinies were considered a threat to these plans, the BMA decided to address the question of labour in the same way it attempted to pacify the area – by means of a policy of ‘military commitment’. Therefore, emergency troops requested in the early phase of occupation to disarm local communities, and disbanded soldiers were also used to oversee cultivation areas and to escort labourers to plantations.48 Officers in the field were recommended not to passively assist labourers’ mutinies but to use ‘all their influence and persuasive powers to get the labourers back on to the farms’.49 The general policy for officers was to create an ‘atmosphere of unrest’ that would intimidate labourers, convince them to keep on working in the farms and reduce mutinies. Nevertheless with an increase of economic concerns during the war, coercion also played a role in food policies.50 Specifically, some conscription of labour, modelled on wage labour systems in use in Kenya at the time, was enforced temporarily and functioned as a mechanism of social control as it attempted to drag to the fields groups perceived as potential threats to public order, such as urban dwellers in Mogadishu.51 Wartime pressures did not just overshadow concerns and efforts to improve working conditions but also affected the original policy adopted by the BMA towards fascist elements in colonial plantations. Where initially military authorities interned concessionaires considered to be too closely associated with the fascist regime, the need to foster production of grain crops and the lack of knowledgeable personnel to assist in cultivation led to the easing of the criteria according to which the BMA made prisoners of war. By 1942, agricultural advisers began to ask East Africa Command to release Italian farmers interned in Kenya, whose technical skills would contribute to increased agriculture

Italian Somalia under British rule

39

outputs. They also discouraged political officers from making further arrests among Italian farmers that would negatively affect farmers’ morale and thus hinder plans to increase agricultural production.52 Although some of these requests were eventually rejected by headquarters in Nairobi, several farmers were able to return to their farms.53 The practice of making Italian farmers prisoners of war as an incentive to persuade them to cultivate their concessions and guarantee a steady production of crops gave satisfactory results. By February 1943, half of Italian concessions and 700 hectares of arable land allocated to Somali farmers were under cultivation. As agricultural advisers noted, these outputs were the results of considerable pressures placed on cultivators: ‘[t]he progress made has been remarkable and has only been achieved’ due to the fact that farmers ‘have been working day and night to prepare the land ready for planting before the arrival of the rains’. This was carried out under a pressure ‘not maintainable for long in a country like Somalia’.54 The question of labour and difficult relations between labourers and masters was not confined to private plantations but concerned other colonial enterprises too. Consider, for instance, the case of Società Agricola Italo-Somala (SAIS), the most important and by far the largest agricultural enterprise that produced cotton and sugarcane in Jowhar, a fertile area along the Juba River, and that employed several thousands of Somali cultivators.55 Inasmuch as during the British occupation SAIS managed to maintain its production at prewar standards, military authorities tended to explain this performance as a result of a better working regime enforced upon labourers. SAIS’s system of production attempted to replicate the division of labour of precolonial client-cultivators, which regulated the relationship between patrons and labourers, their reciprocal rights and obligations.56 Thus, SAIS attempted to create ‘a paternalistic system which managed workers by guaranteeing security of tenure, regulating social behaviour, and recognising the reciprocal rights and obligations of both supervisors and workers’.57 But SAIS labour system did not necessarily imply better working conditions or relations between labourers and managers. In fact, these remained very tense throughout the 1940s. As private concessions were closely associated with the fascist regime, SAIS was also often presented as ‘a cell of fascism’ by military authorities. To a certain extent, this depiction ref lects the ways some elderly Somalis today would describe the working environment at SAIS and refer to the company’s founder as a ‘proper fascista until the day he died’, where the term refers not just to his ideological affiliation but to his harsh, fanatic, arrogant attitude in demanding obedience.58 These characteristics did not fade away with the military occupation and the then director of SAIS passed for a man with a particular ‘grip of his labour’ until the late 1940s. In fact, rather than diminishing tension, the British occupation and news of war developments, such as the victories of Allied forces in Europe or the activities of a newly opened branch of the Italian Communist Party, contributed to increased animosity among various groups at SAIS. In 1943, for instance, following the news of the fall of the fascist government in Italy, Somali labourers who

40

Annalisa Urbano

had expressed anti-fascist sympathies or who failed to give the fascist salute were threatened with acts of violence. A similar treatment was reserved for Italians who refused to listen to the Axis broadcast programmes.59 But as economic pressures conditioned the attitude towards Italian farmers in private plantations, military authorities preferred to maintain SAIS managers at work and threatened them with arrest unless they pursed a vigorous policy of agricultural development and intensive ploughing.60 Complaints and protests against this working regime were rife.61 In 1947, for instance, after a series of strikes, representatives of SAIS labourers were met by local British authorities to negotiate improvements in working conditions. During the talks, the labourers ‘were embarrassingly out-spoken in their remarks stating that they placed no reliance on Italian promises and that they could see no evidence of a change of heart in Italian policy towards them’.62 Although the BMA promised to facilitate negotiations between managers and labourers, the latter’s demands for improved working conditions and better pay could hardly be accommodated.

Conclusion The vignette that opened this chapter narrated the encounter between a British District Officer and a Somali chief in north-east Somalia in 1948, seven years after the defeat of the Italian Army and the establishment of a temporary military administration. The episode was circulated in internal correspondence because the differences between the wartime and postwar periods and between British and Italian rule seemed not readily apparent to the Somali. To British officers proudly committed to the international fight against the Axis coalition, these sounded like ridiculous points. Yet they force us to look more closely at the meanings and implications of the Allied campaign in East Africa for Somali communities. The features and plans of British rule remained ambiguously located between the aims of the liberation campaign and the colonial and racially hierarchical setting in which it operated. The BMA relied on the structures of former colonial fascist rule and on colonial and military personnel in use in the British Empire. Although military authorities clearly indicated the aim of their task – the final defeat of fascism in the name of freedom and democracy – they were more cautious about making any concrete promises or commitments about future dispositions, about what prospect awaited former colonies and local communities, and, more cogently, they refrained from clearly defining what kind of rule they represented or set of norms they adhered to. Ultimately, this lack of definition provided the BMA with an exceptional framework that allowed military authorities to strive for disarmament and pacification without respecting the code of conduct on military occupation prescribed by customary international law. At the same time, as a temporary administration pending the further decisions of the United Nations, the BMA

Italian Somalia under British rule

41

ruled the region under occupation as a colonial possession without holding responsibility for the actual ways through which the administration was carried out. Comparing the rhetoric of Allied administration in occupied Italy further illuminates the nature of the problem. As in former colonial possessions, the Allies proclaimed their occupation of the Italian peninsula during the war as part of a new spirit of progress towards anti-fascist emancipation and thus linked their rule to Italy’s pre-fascist liberal past and to the ideals of the Risorgimento.63 A similar attempt was not made in former colonies because these were not entitled to aspire to the same degree of freedom envisioned for European countries. Clearly, Somali communities were ‘freed’ from fascism in 1941, but, exposed to wartime pressures and the constraints of a military regime, they were not ‘liberated’.

Notes 1 With the term ‘Somalia’, this chapter refers to the former Italian colony Somalia Italiana and by 1950 to the region under trust administration. Names of places and localities are written according to the Somali spelling, with the exception of Mogadishu. 2 For an account of the operations, see James Rennel of Rodd, British Military Administration of Occupied Territories in Africa during the Years 1941–1947 (London: H.M. Stationery Office, 1948). 3 The National Archives (henceforth TNA), Foreign Office (henceforth FO), 371/73849, From Political Adviser’s Office in Asmara to Foreign Secretary, 22 Feb 1949, no. 3(S/ PA/36/10). 4 Ibid. 5 K.C. Gandar Dower, The First to Be Freed: The Record of British Military Administration in Eritrea and Somalia, 1941–1943 (London: H.M. Stationery Office, 1944). 6 Ibid. 7 G.P. Calchi Novati, ‘La sistemazione delle colonie italiane dell’Africa Orientale e i condizionamenti della guerra fredda’, in A. Del Boca (ed.), Le Guerre Coloniali del Fascismo (Bari: Laterza, 1991); S. Kelly, Cold War in the Desert: Britain, the United States and the Italian Colonies, 1945–52 (Basingstoke: Macmillan, 2000); G. Rossi, L’Africa Italiana verso l’Indipendenza (1941–1949) (Milan: Giuffré, 1980). 8 S. Touval, Somali Nationalism: International Politics and the Drive for Unity in the Horn of Africa (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1963). 9 War Office,‘British Military Administration of Occupied Territories in Africa during the Years 1941–43’, House of Commons Parliamentary Papers (London, 1945), p. 6. 10 TNA, FO, 371/35658, Chief Political Officer, East Africa Command, Mar 1943, J1574/46/46. 11 TNA, War Office (henceforth WO) 230/7,‘Extract from 12 Div. Intelligence Summary No. 32’, East Africa Command Headquarters, 12 May 1942, IR/46/1/5. 12 TNA, WO 230/7, From Occupied Territory Section of the Ministry of Information to Kenya Information Officer, 10 Jan 1942. 13 TNA, WO 230/7, Deputy Chief Political Officer OETA, Mogadishu, 24 Mar 1941. 14 See for instance J.G. Drysdale, History of the Somaliland Camel Corps (unpublished, 1935), Bodleian Library of Commonwealth and African Studies at Rhodes House, Oxford, MSS. Afr. s. 552. See also G. Hanley, Warriors: Life and Death among the Somalis (London: Eland, 1993). 15 War Office, ‘British Military Administration’, p. 3. 16 Ibid.

42

Annalisa Urbano

17 Art. 50: ‘No general penalty, pecuniary or otherwise, can be inflicted on the population on account of the acts of individuals for which it cannot be regarded as collectively responsible’, available at www.icrc.org/ihl/INTRO/195. 18 War Office, ‘British Military Administration’, pp. 3–6. 19 Similar practices were used in Kenya during the Mau Mau rebellion and later during the shifta conflict. See H. Bennett, Fighting the Mau Mau: The British Army and Counterinsurgency in the Kenya Emergency (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2013); H.A. Whittaker, ‘The Socioeconomic Dynamics of the Shifta Conflict in Kenya, c. 1963–8’, Journal of African History, 53 (2012), pp. 402–407. See also D. French, The British Way in Counter-insurgency, 1945–1967 (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2011). 20 TNA, WO 230/61, Deputy to the Chief Administrator, Mogadishu, 24 Jan 1947, 3013/35. 21 TNA, WO 230/7, Chief Secretary, ‘Border Patrols – Jubaland Frontier’, Nairobi, 9 Jun 1943, A.YAF, 12/4. 22 TNA, WO 230/7, Lieutenant Colonel Dickinson, ‘Extract from 12 Div. Intelligence Summary No. 32’, East Africa Command Headquarters, 12 May 1942, IR/46/1/5. 23 TNA, WO 230/7, Lieutenant W.H. Taylor, ‘Report on Safari to Ghimer’, El Carre, 26 Jun 1942. 24 TNA, WO 230/207, BMA, Somalia Political Intelligence Report – No. 3, Mogadishu, 31 July 1947, 3046/II/66. 25 TNA, WO 230/319, Colonel General Staff, 22 Aug 1949 Tel 4071 Ext. 31. See also ‘Incidents in Somalia during 1948–1949’, Appendix B, EAC/CR/10235/28/G(OPS). 26 Four Power Commission of Investigation for the Former Italian Colonies, Volume II: Report on Somalia (London: Reports, 1948). 27 Ibid., p. 33. 28 TNA, WO 230/61, ‘Letter to the Editor’, The Manchester Guardian Weekly, 9 Jan 1947. 29 Ibid. 30 Ibid. 31 Ibid., 30 Jan 1947. 32 J.C. Gray, L. Silberman, The Fate of Italy’s Colonies: A Report to the Fabian Colonial Bureau with Contributions by an Observer in Eritrea (London: Fabian Publications, 1948), pp. 24–25. 33 In December 1942, the BMA conscripted circa 3,000 Somalis to dismantle a 100-kilometre rail system that linked the sugar factory in Johwar to Mogadishu and Afgooye. The railway was broken down into pieces and shipped to Kenya, together with parts of the oil bulk storage and oil plant in Marka, the tuna factory at Boosaaso and the salt works at Xafuun. TNA, Foreign Office (FO), 371/35658, Lieutenant General Sir W. Platt, Political Branch, East African Command, March 1943, J1574/46/46; WO 230/87, Telegram from Troopers to East Africa Command (Undated), POL/1707/28. See also A. Del Boca, Gli Italiani in Africa Orientale: Nostalgia delle Colonie (Bari: Laterza, 1984), p. 170. 34 TNA, WO 230/7, Brigadier Deputy Chief Political Officer, Headquarters O.E.T.A., Mogadishu, 12 Apr 1941. 35 See K. Menkhaus, ‘From Feast to Famine: Land and the State in Somalia’s Lower Jubba Valley’, in C. Besteman, L.V. Cassanelli (eds.), The Struggle for Land in Southern Somalia: The War behind the War (Boulder, CO: Westview Press, 1996), 141; R.L. Hess, Italian Colonialism in Somalia (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1966), chap. 7. 36 TNA, WO 230/87, Troopers to East Africa Command Nairobi (Undated), POL/1707/28. 37 TNA, WO 230/7, Brigadier Deputy Chief Political Officer, Headquarters O.E.T.A., Mogadishu, 12 Apr 1941. 38 Ibid. 39 L.V. Cassanelli, ‘The End of Slavery and the “Problem” of Farm Labour in Colonial Somalia’, in A. Puglielli, F. Antinucci (eds.), Proceedings of the Third International Congress of Somali Studies (Rome: Il Pensiero Scientifico Editore, 1988), pp. 274–275.

Italian Somalia under British rule

43

40 Hess, Italian Colonialism, p. 166. On the issue of forced labour, see the findings published by the then secretary of the fascist party in Somalia: M. Serrazanetti, Considerazioni sulla Nostra Attività Coloniale in Somalia (Bologna: Tipografia La Rapida, 1933). Extracts of this report can be found in G. Rochat, Il Colonialismo Italiano (Turin: Loescher, 1973), pp. 148–152. 41 F. Declich, ‘Unfree Labour, Forced Labour and Resistance among the Zigula of the Lower Juba’, in E.A. Alpers, G. Campbell, M. Salman (eds.), Resisting Bondage in Indian Ocean Africa and Asia (London and New York: Routledge, 2007); L.V. Cassanelli, ‘The Ending of Slavery in Italian Somalia’, in S. Miers, R. Roberts (eds.), The End of Slavery in Africa (Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 1988); C. Besteman, ‘The Invention of Gosha: Slavery, Colonialism and Stigma in Somali History’, in A.J. Ahmed (ed.), The Invention of Somalia (Lawrenceville, NJ: Red Sea Press, 1995); V. Luling, Somali Sultanate: The Geledi City-State over 150 Years (London/Piscataway, NJ: Haan/Transaction Publishers, 2002), pp. 152–154. 42 Cassanelli, ‘The End of Slavery and the “Problem”’, p. 278. 43 A. Del Boca, Gli Italiani in Africa Orientale: La Conquista dell’Impero (Bari: Laterza, 1979), p. 82. 44 See C.M. De Vecchi di Val Cismon, Orizzonti d’Impero: Cinque Anni in Somalia (Milan: Mondadori, 1935). 45 Del Boca, La Conquista, pp. 62–67. See also M.G. Guadagni,‘Colonial Origins of the Public Domain in Southern Somalia (1892–1912)’, Journal of African Law, 22(1978): 1–29. 46 TNA, WO 230/87, Sgd. W.M. Robertson, ‘Progress Report Juba’, OTA, undated (presumably early 1943). 47 WO 230/87, J. A. Dwen, ‘Letter to Agricultural Production & Settlement Board in Nairobi’, Rongai 14 Dec 1942. 48 TNA, WO 230/7, Brigadier Deputy Chief Political Officer, Headquarters O.E.T.A, Mogadishu, 24 Mar 1941. 49 Ibid., 12 Apr 1941. 50 TNA, 230/61, Lieutenant Colonel Cusack, from Headquarters BMA Mogadishu to Civil Affairs Branch Nairobi, 24 Jan 1947, 3013/35. 51 TNA, WO 230/7, Brigadier Deputy Chief Political Officer, Headquarters O.E.T.A, Mogadishu, 14 Apr 1941. On wartime wage labour systems, see D. Killingray, R. Rathbone, ‘Introduction’, in D. Killingray, R. Rathbone (eds.), Africa and the Second World War (New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1986), p. 12. 52 WO 230/87, Agricultural Adviser, Major D. McKinstry, ‘Report on Visit to Juba Farms by Agricultural Adviser August/Sept. 1942’, 15 Sept 1942. 53 WO 230/87, ‘Extract from the Monthly Report for May 1943, for the South Eastern Province’; O. A. Spencer, to Nairobi, 5 Nov 1942, EAC/1707/49/POL. 54 WO 230/87, OTA, ‘Extract from Monthly Report for March 1943 on the South Eastern Province’. 55 Del Boca, La Conquista, p. 82. See also Hess, Italian Colonialism, pp. 163–164. 56 L.V. Cassanelli, ‘The Ending of Slavery’, p. 314. 57 Ibid., pp. 326–327. 58 Interview with A.M. (pseudonym at the interviewee’s request), 15 Mar 2008, Rome. 59 TNA, WO 230/319, ‘Extract from Somalia Intelligence Summary No. 4 for Period Ending 12 Dec 43’, 13th Dec 1943, S/37A/15. 60 WO 230/87 ‘Extract from the Senior Officers Report on the South Eastern Province for Mar 1943’. 61 Ibid. 62 TNA, WO 230/207, Chief Administrator, W. M. Donaldson, ‘Somalia Political Intelligence Report No. 4’, 14th Oct 1947, 3046/II/74. 63 M. Patti, La Sicilia e gli Alleati: Tra Occupazione e Liberazione (Rome: Donzelli Editore, 2013), p. 56.

44

Annalisa Urbano

Bibliography Bennett, Huw, Fighting the Mau Mau: The British Army and Counter-insurgency in the Kenya Emergency. New York: Cambridge University Press, 2013. Besteman, Catherine, ‘The Invention of Gosha: Slavery, Colonialism and Stigma in Somali History’, in Ahmed, Ali Jimale (ed.), The Invention of Somalia. Lawrenceville, NJ: Red Sea Press, 1995. Calchi Novati, Gian Paolo, ‘La sistemazione delle colonie italiane dell’Africa Orientale e i condizionamenti della guerra fredda’, in Del Boca, Angelo (ed.), Le Guerre Coloniali del Fascismo. Bari: Laterza, 1991. Cassanelli, Lee V., ‘The End of Slavery and the “Problem” of Farm Labour in Colonial Somalia’, in Puglielli, Annarita, Antinucci, Francesco (eds.), Proceedings of the Third International Congress of Somali Studies. Rome: Il Pensiero Scientifico Editore, 1988. Cassanelli, Lee V., ‘The Ending of Slavery in Italian Somalia’, in Miers, Suzanne, Roberts, Richard (eds.), The End of Slavery in Africa. Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 1988. Declich, Francesca, ‘Unfree Labour, Forced Labour and Resistance among the Zigula of the Lower Juba’, in Alpers, Edward A., Campbell, Gwyn, Salman, Michael (eds.), Resisting Bondage in Indian Ocean Africa and Asia, London and New York: Routledge, 2007. Del Boca, Angelo, Gli Italiani in Africa Orientale: La Conquista dell’Impero. Bari: Laterza, 1979. Del Boca, Angelo, Gli Italiani in Africa Orientale: Nostalgia delle Colonie, Bari: Laterza, 1984. De Vecchi di Val Cismon, Cesare Maria, Orizzonti d’Impero: Cinque Anni in Somalia. Milan: Mondadori, 1935. French, David, The British Way in Counter-insurgency, 1945–1967. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2011. Gandar Dower, Kenneth C., The First to Be Freed: The Record of British Military Administration in Eritrea and Somalia, 1941–1943. London: H.M. Stationery Office, 1944. Gray, John C., Silberman, Leo, The Fate of Italy’s Colonies: A Report to the Fabian Colonial Bureau with Contributions by an Observer in Eritrea. London: Fabian Publications, 1948. Guadagni, Marco M. G., ‘Colonial Origins of the Public Domain in Southern Somalia (1892–1912)’, Journal of African Law, 22 (1978): 1–29. Hanley, Gerald, Warriors: Life and Death among the Somalis. London: Eland, 1993. Hess, Robert L., Italian Colonialism in Somalia. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1966. Kelly, Saul, Cold War in the Desert: Britain, the United States and the Italian Colonies, 1945–52. Basingstoke: Macmillan, 2000. Killingray, David, Rathbone, Richard (eds.), Africa and the Second World War. New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1986. Luling, Virginia, Somali Sultanate: The Geledi City-State over 150 Years. London, NJ: Haan/ Transaction Publishers, 2002. Menkhaus, Kenneth, ‘From Feast to Famine: Land and the State in Somalia’s Lower Jubba Valley’, in Besteman, Catherine, Cassanelli, Lee V. (eds.), The Struggle for Land in Southern Somalia: The War behind the War. Boulder, CO: Westview Press, 1996. Patti, Manoela, La Sicilia e gli Alleati: Tra Occupazione e Liberazione. Rome: Donzelli Editore, 2013. Rennel of Rodd, James, British Military Administration of Occupied Territories in Africa during the Years 1941–1947. London: H.M. Stationery Office, 1948. Rochat, Giorgio, Il Colonialismo Italiano. Turin: Loescher, 1973.

Italian Somalia under British rule

45

Rossi, Gianluigi, L’Africa Italiana verso l’Indipendenza (1941–1949). Milan: Giuffré, 1980. Serrazanetti, Marcello, Considerazioni sulla Nostra Attività Coloniale in Somalia. Bologna: Tipografia La Rapida, 1933. Touval, Saadia, Somali Nationalism: International Politics and the Drive for Unity in the Horn of Africa. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1963. Whittaker, Hannah A., ‘The Socioeconomic Dynamics of the Shifta Conf lict in Kenya, c. 1963–8’. Journal of African History, 53 (2012): 391–408.

3

‘Lady visitors’ Evacuees from Hong Kong in Australia during the Second World War Bridget Deane

On 28 June 1940, the sudden announcement of the decision to evacuate thousands of women and children from the Crown Colony of Hong Kong brought chaos to its British residents. With only a few days’ notice, civilian wives and families were required to register, undergo a medical examination and have up-to-date vaccinations. Baggage was restricted, and evacuees were advised to provide themselves with travellers’ cheques. Service families – the wives and children of Army, Navy, and RAF men serving in the colony – were also required to pack and be ready to leave. A naval officer’s wife recalled that ‘we received the order to stand-by Friday night. On Saturday the order to leave was confirmed, and we left on Monday. I locked up the house I lived in and left everything as it was’.1 In total, around 3,500 were evacuated from Hong Kong, embarking on a journey that took them first to the Philippines and then to Australia, where the majority remained for the duration of the Second World War. This evacuation took place some eighteen months before the outbreak of war with Japan, but it was, at the time, a necessary one and taken as a precautionary measure. Following the Japanese invasion of China in 1937, European concessions and settlements such as Shanghai had come under increasing political and military pressure from Japan in a bid to undermine and oust Western influence in China. Hong Kong was not excluded from this, and as Fedorowich explains, was a source of concern to the Japanese, particularly as Britain, though ‘neutral’, was allowing ‘munitions and gasoline intended for Chinese nationalists to flow through the colony’.2 This led to Japanese troops menacing Hong Kong. Following a temporary and voluntary evacuation in August 1939 to the Philippines with evacuees returning by Christmas, it was decided in late June 1940 to compulsorily evacuate British women and children, this time to Australia. This chapter outlines the cooperation among the British, Australian and Hong Kong governments in making the arrangements for the reception and initial care of these evacuees while resident in the Dominion, encompassing a brief look at how each state prepared for and assisted their visitors. Imperial and kinship ties between Australia and Britain ensured the evacuees received an

Evacuees from Hong Kong in Australia

47

enthusiastic welcome, and their arrival encouraged a show of interstate rivalry that saw Queensland take a ‘bashing’ with regard to its reception arrangements and suitability as a destination. Additionally, the chapter focuses on the impact of racial discrimination both in Hong Kong and in Australia, which negatively influenced the selection of evacuees and the Australian response towards Asian or Eurasian women who made it through to the country. Firstly, it is important to place the Hong Kong evacuation in context of other evacuations from British colonies in Southeast Asia that occurred during the Second World War. Australia was a primary but not the only destination for groups of evacuees from this area, as India and South Africa also provided refuge. For example, in Burma, thousands of Indian refugees as well as many European evacuees were forced to trek across the treacherous and mountainous border between the two countries to reach safety in India.3 The majority of evacuees arrived in Australia after the outbreak of war with Japan in December 1941, coming from Malaya and Singapore, Netherlands East Indies, various Pacific islands and even the Philippines. There was also internal evacuation from the ‘Top End’ – the far north of the country – for example Darwin, Broome, Torres Strait Islands and the Australian-mandated territory of New Guinea. Furthermore, the Dominion interned its own enemy aliens and those sent from other locations within the British Empire, as well as German and Italian POWs. And as the defence of neighbouring British and Dutch colonies collapsed, essential service personnel, civilian and military last-ditchers made their way to Australia or to Ceylon and India. Lastly, American forces were based in the Dominion, an ideal starting point for the campaign to oust the Japanese Imperial Army from this corner of the Pacific arena. The reception of evacuees from Southeast Asia and the care of children sent from Britain via the Children’s Overseas Reception Board (CORB) evacuation scheme, as well as the confinement of enemy alien internees and POWs, were all therefore aspects of Australia’s involvement in the imperial war effort alongside its commitment of service men and women to the Mediterranean, Africa, Middle East and Far East. The care of evacuees in particular has been a neglected aspect of the country’s activities on the home front during the Second World War. Australia had always been the final destination for Hong Kong evacuees in an evacuation scheme drawn up in June 1939. Following a request by the British Government, the Dominion had agreed to accommodate women and children temporarily evacuated from Hong Kong in the event of a war emergency, although ‘the admission of these people would of course be subject to the provisions of the Immigration Act of the Commonwealth’.4 The evacuation itself was funded by the Hong Kong Government, and the Australian Commonwealth Government and individual state governments would have no financial responsibility for the evacuees who settled there. Any expenditure incurred would be reimbursed by the Crown Colony or British Government. The plan also outlined two options for the dispersal of evacuees: firstly, they

48

Bridget Deane

would be immediately shipped to Australia, landing at Fremantle, or secondly, the evacuees would be taken to Manila, then transported to a variety of Australian ports.5 In the event, the second option was used, with evacuees landing at Brisbane, Sydney and Melbourne. While the women and children from Hong Kong were waiting in the Philippines for their passages to Australia, the Commonwealth Government began to organise arrangements for the reception of the evacuees. A considerable number of government departments, both federal and state, were involved in this, and a plethora of memoranda, letters and cablegrams, all classified ‘secret’, were sent among them all. Within the Commonwealth Government, offices involved included the Prime Minister’s Department, Department of the Interior, the War Cabinet, Department of Trade and Customs, Treasury, Defence and the Departments of Navy and Army. At the state level, those directly responsible for arranging the reception of evacuees and their initial accommodation included each premier’s office, all departments of trade and customs and in particular the following: New South Wales Queensland South Australia Tasmania Victoria Western Australia

Department of Labour and Industry State Government Tourist Bureau Government Tourist Bureau Tourist Bureau Housing Commission Department of Land and Immigration6

Overall responsibility for the arrangements lay with the Department of the Interior and its minister, Senator Foll. There was also direct contact with both the British and the Hong Kong Governments in regard to the evacuees, as well as military authorities. In London, this involved the Secretary of State for Dominion Affairs, the Admiralty and the War Office; in Hong Kong, the Governor, Colonial Secretary, General Officer Commanding, British Troops in China and HM Naval Yard all had responsibilities; and finally the High Commissioner for the United Kingdom (Australia) and the British ConsulGeneral in Manila also communicated with the Australian Government. The involvement of the Admiralty and the War Office in London concerned the welfare of families of servicemen, particularly financially, and the administration for this was handed over to military authorities in Australia, both army and navy. With so many different parties involved in arranging the departure of the evacuees from Manila, as well as in their arrival and reception in Australia, it was inevitable that difficulties in communication arose. The main problem for the Commonwealth Government was a lack of information about the evacuees, for example the numbers and dates of arrival and types of

Evacuees from Hong Kong in Australia

49

accommodation required. This was frustrating because, due to the hurried nature of the evacuation, Australia felt there was little time to make preparations for the arrival of evacuees, and details of the evacuee ships and destinations of evacuees needed to be passed on to the relevant state departments in order to enable them to plan their reception and arrange accommodation. Additionally, there was confusion over whether any of the liners would travel down the west coast, with passengers disembarking at Fremantle and Port Adelaide. Immediately after the evacuation from Hong Kong had been announced, the Prime Minister’s Department sent cablegrams to the premiers of each Australian state informing them that advice had been received from British authorities that ‘approximately five thousand British women and children will be evacuated from Hong Kong to Australia’.7 This was an overestimation but probably accounted for all women and children resident in Hong Kong who were eligible for evacuation. Approximately 900 remained in the Crown Colony, either exempted from evacuation, or who just managed to avoid it. Premiers were asked whether they would undertake to make arrangements for the reception and housing of evacuees if any were sent to their states. It was also emphasised that ‘no portion of the cost of accommodation will fall on either the Commonwealth or State Governments’ and that details of the numbers of women and children arriving and when would be passed on as soon as known.8 All responded positively to the request to undertake arrangements for the reception and housing of evacuees if any were sent to their states. A cablegram, the first of many, was also sent to the Colonial Secretary, Hong Kong requesting detailed information.9 However, there was a delay in responding to this and to the cablegrams that followed. The lack of information proved irritating to the Department of the Interior, which was anxious to finalise arrangements. The Sydney Daily Telegraph reported: With four official cables unanswered, mystery surrounds the proposed evacuation of a number of British women and children from Hong Kong to Australia. The evacuees have arrived at Manila, capital of the Philippine Islands. The Department of the Interior knows that they will travel down by boat sooner or later – but that is all. ‘We are anxious to get some advice from the British authorities in Hong Kong, so that we can advise those making plans here to receive the evacuees,’ an official said today.10 The problem was that the Commonwealth Government wanted the ‘fullest information’ especially regarding the first evacuee ship – ports of call in Australia, the numbers of families and the total number of evacuees, the number disembarking at each port and advice as to how many were without funds.11 It was not possible for the Hong Kong authorities to give this information, although by

50

Bridget Deane

the end of July a list was circulated naming the ships, approximate sailing dates from Manila and the numbers of evacuees on board: Ship

Approximate sailing date from Manila

Number of evacuees on board

Christiaan Huygens Indrapoera Slamat Johan De Witt Awatea Zealandia

31/7/40 2/8/40 2/8/40 3/8/40 5/8/40 6/8/40

595 378 379 322 960 45012

While these details were helpful, the Department of the Interior was concerned that the British authorities at Hong Kong and Manila did not have ‘a proper understanding of the activities of this Department in connection with the evacuees or the kind of information we desire in order to ensure the smooth working of arrangements upon the arrival of evacuees at Australian ports’.13 This was not correct; it was simply the case that until arrangements had been finalised for embarking evacuees at Manila, no definite information could be passed on. The required information was finally sent through in early August, and the Australian states involved were able to complete their arrangements. However, the fact that not all states were involved proved an issue for the Australian Government. As mentioned previously, the June 1939 plan for the evacuation of non-combatants from Hong Kong had given two options for the dispersal of evacuees: either immediate shipping to Fremantle, Western Australia, or being taken to Manila and then to a variety of Australian ports.14 In the end, evacuees were landed at Brisbane, Sydney and Melbourne, but the Commonwealth Government was anxious that, as all states had expressed willingness to take evacuees, Western and South Australia received at least a token number. The authorities in Hong Kong were amenable to a request for a liner to be diverted to the western and southern states, and arrangements were put in place.15 However, this decision was questioned by the British ConsulGeneral in Manila, who noted that none of the passengers on the above vessel were destined for the western ports and that it was ‘essential that all ships carrying civilian refugees proceed to Brisbane, Sydney and Melbourne’.16 In correspondence to the state government departments responsible for the reception of evacuees, the Department of the Interior declared that, although it had done its best to have a vessel diverted to Western Australia and Adelaide, the decision had been made by British and Hong Kong authorities for all evacuees to go to the eastern states.17 By making sure that all states were aware of how and by whom the decision had been taken, the Commonwealth Government neatly deflected any reproach away from itself. As a headline from the Sydney Daily Telegraph proclaimed (‘All States Keen to Get Evacuees’), all the Australian states were eager to provide hospitality to the women and children from Hong Kong.18 Evacuees were free to choose

Evacuees from Hong Kong in Australia

51

their destination, and some went to stay with relatives or friends across Australia, while the remainder preferred to make their homes in the capital cities of the eastern states, although small groups of women and children did travel to South Australia, Tasmania and Western Australia. Reports in Australian newspapers indicated that there was a considerable rivalry among the eastern states in regard to the reception and accommodation of evacuees: Tourist Bureau officials anticipate keen competition between the States to secure the residence of new arrivals. Officially, Queensland is supposed to take 10 per cent, New South Wales 40 per cent, Victoria 40 per cent, and South Australia 10 per cent. ‘But it is unlikely these percentages will be adhered to,’ a Tourist Bureau official said yesterday. ‘Queensland will certainly try to keep as many as possible, by pointing out the advantages of that State, such as the similarity of climate with that of Hong Kong. Victoria’s chances of getting her 40 per cent quota look pretty slim, especially if the evacuees hear about Melbourne weather’.19 Queensland’s climate, or rather adverse comments about it, affected the number of evacuees choosing it as a destination, or at least this was the claim of the state government. Only an estimated 10 per cent of the women and children from Hong Kong were allocated to Brisbane, and despite much speculation, there was only a slim possibility of this increasing. Of a possible 300, only around 150 arrived. Both Sydney and Melbourne were more appealing destinations for evacuees, being the largest and most well-known cities in Australia. Each of the states welcomed the women and children in its own unique way, although difficulties arose with regard to the reception and housing of evacuees. State newspapers were quick to pick up on these shortcomings and highlighted the rivalry that already existed between the states. Brisbane was the first port of call for the evacuee ships from Manila. According to the Courier Mail, the city was ‘ready to receive the evacuees with a special information service initiated by the State Government Tourist Bureau’.20 The numbers of evacuees disembarking at Brisbane were small compared to the other states, and this no doubt influenced the reception given to the small first group who arrived on 8 August. All the leading Australian newspapers gleefully ran the same description of the dismal welcome: Twenty-three women and children evacuees who have arrived in Queensland from Hong Kong will not forget their introduction to Brisbane. After medical and passport examination on the ship in which they had travelled from Manila, they were brought by tender to a cold, wind-swept wharf near the city. This took a little more than six hours. There was not a woman to meet them. They had to wait for another hour in a draughty shed while their luggage was examined. They were not offered even a cup of tea. . . . Leaders of practically every women’s organisation in Brisbane said the same thing: ‘If only we had known – ’21

52

Bridget Deane

The Courier Mail even published a cartoon entitled ‘Hand of Welcome’, which criticised the red tape that appeared to have made entry to Australia such a lengthy process.22 The problem seemed to have arisen because for the authorities involved in the reception of the evacuees, in this case the Department of Railways, it was ‘business as usual’ and the evacuees were treated as any other visitors to Australia, going through the necessary immigration, medical and customs checks. While expressing concern at the way the evacuees had been received, the Premier of Queensland, Forgan-Smith, pointed out that the government had not been able to publicise the arrival of ships, thereby implying that it had been difficult to prepare a welcome: ‘Queensland would not tolerate people being treated in the manner described’, he declared, ‘The State’s name was synonymous with all that was hospitable.’23 Such was the furore created by the Australian press that Minister for the Interior Senator Foll intervened in making arrangements for the reception of evacuees, much to the chagrin of the Queensland premier. This intrusion by the Commonwealth Government into state affairs was resented and also threw doubt on the competency of Queensland to make suitable arrangements for the Hong Kong visitors. However, Foll’s intervention had the desired effect, and for the arrival of subsequent evacuee ships, a variety of representatives from state departments and women’s organisations were on hand to welcome women and children from Hong Kong. After the inclusion of women’s organisations, such as the Country Women’s Association, Queensland’s reception of evacuees was much improved. Additionally, evacuees were satisfied with their accommodation at Redcliffe and Coolangatta, whereas they were not in both Sydney and Melbourne. It is fair to say that Queensland was bitterly disappointed by the total of evacuees who chose to come to the state, and the state government reacted strongly when it discovered that, while in Manila, women from Hong Kong had been misinformed about the Queensland climate. For European women domiciled in Southeast Asia, a major concern was the health of their children, and a tropical climate was generally considered to have a detrimental effect on this. This was part of the reason why many children were sent ‘home’, that is back to Britain, for their education. Therefore any negative information given to the women from Hong Kong about the Queensland climate may have influenced their decision about where to settle. Investigations ordered by the Premier of Queensland that involved questioning evacuees discovered that misinformation about the state’s climate had been: supplied to the Red Cross in Manila from some Australian source, and it is a matter of importance to Queensland that the origin of such unjustifiable reflection upon the State should be discovered, and action taken which might prevent the continuance of such detrimental publicity.24 The Australian Prime Minister then asked the Consul-General in Manila to make ‘discreet enquiries’ about the origin of the incorrect information.25 He

Evacuees from Hong Kong in Australia

53

also reassured Forgan-Smith that no Federal Government authority had been responsible and that the Commonwealth had endeavoured to make sure that Queensland secured ‘a proportionate quota’ of women and children from Hong Kong.26 In retrospect, the controversy over the Queensland climate might seem a trivial matter. However, at a time when immigration from Europe had more or less ceased due to the war raging there, Australian states saw the possibility of attracting visitors and potential (and desirable white) settlers domiciled in Southeast Asia. For example, a Melbourne newspaper voiced the opportunity presented to Victoria by the arrival of Hong Kong evacuees. The state had ‘a very definite chance – should the women and children like our country – of attracting here, after the present turmoil is over, the ideal type of immigrant – the man who has made good in difficult jobs in remote parts of the Empire’.27 In Sydney, welcome arrangements were carefully made by the reception committee to ‘eliminate any possibility of the unfortunate happenings when the evacuees arrived in Brisbane’.28 The welcome given to the first evacuee ship set the standard for those that followed. Senator Foll was one of a party who greeted women and children as they disembarked from the first ship. Each woman received a bouquet of flowers and a letter from the Premier of New South Wales that extended ‘a very hearty welcome to our shores’.29 The Sydney Sunday Telegraph observed: ‘the arrivals don’t like to be called evacuees. In Manila they were referred to as ‘lady visitors’.30 Several evacuee ships were greeted by a police band playing on the wharf, while a ‘Scottish Welcome’ comprised of the Girls’ Caledonian Pipe Band was enthusiastically received by passengers on another vessel.31 In comparison to this exuberant welcome, the reception of evacuees at Melbourne was fairly muted. Evacuees were met at the wharf by Housing Commission officials and transported to guest houses and hotels by members of the Royal Automobile Club of Victoria.32 Additionally, as in Sydney, where Girl Guides and members of the Women’s Auxiliary National Service were on hand, there were volunteers to assist the evacuees, including members of the Young Women’s Christian Association and women from the Victorian Graduates’ Association. Although the arrival of evacuee ships was reported in local newspapers, more coverage was given to the subject of accommodation for the women and children and also that Melbourne was more efficient and better prepared than its rival Sydney. Although there may have been truth in this, arrangements made for initial accommodation were not without difficulties for each city. As mentioned previously, Melbourne and Sydney were popular destinations for the Hong Kong visitors, although more evacuees than expected chose Sydney as their destination. Following the arrival of the last evacuee ship from Manila, there were approximately 1,000 women and children from Hong Kong in Melbourne and 2,200 in Sydney.33 This put additional pressure on the New South Wales authorities to find suitable and affordable accommodation. Additionally, a number of evacuees were dissatisfied with the standard or tariff of the boarding house or hotel they had been allocated to, and an alternative

54

Bridget Deane

had to be found. In Melbourne accommodation was available, but difficulties occurred when proprietors and landladies who had agreed to accommodate evacuees turned away parties that included children. In both cities there was also a limit to the amount of accommodation available at tariffs that evacuees could afford. Inevitably, there were complaints from evacuees, but in general the state government departments responsible for the reception of the evacuees and voluntary organisations did their best to settle the women and children from Hong Kong into their new surroundings. Prior to the arrival of evacuees, both the Department of Labour and Industry in New South Wales (also the Overseas Reception Board) and Housing Commission in Victoria began to arrange accommodation for the women and children from Hong Kong. Civilian and service evacuees had different rates. Accommodation for the former was paid for by the Hong Kong Government and the latter by Naval and Army sources; the rate set by the Hong Kong authorities was 30 shillings per adult per week and 15 shillings for a child.34 In Sydney, a list was compiled by the Tourist Bureau of hotels and guest houses, but this had to be reviewed when it was discovered that evacuees would not be able to afford the higher rates.35 Hotels and guest houses charging the low tariff were limited and of lower standard, but the organisations responsible did their best to place evacuees appropriately. The majority of evacuees were placed in temporary accommodation in boarding houses and hotels located in the seaside suburbs of Manly and Bondi. It was only temporary as it was expected that the women from Hong Kong would find more permanent rented housing as soon as possible. Problems and complaints about the accommodation allocated to evacuees were soon reported in the Sydney newspapers. It appeared that there had been only time to give the hotels and boarding houses a cursory inspection to assess their suitability.36 Some women arriving on the first ship refused to stay in the lodgings they were taken to and asked for their accommodation to be changed. Complaints from women unhappy about the lodging they had been sent to included lack of cleanliness, inadequate bedclothes and cost. Newspaper reports reveal that although the authorities in Sydney were willing to allocate other accommodations to evacuees who were not satisfied, some took it into their own hands to find an alternative. Reverend Macintyre, chairman of the Reception Committee, became progressively more impatient as each evacuee ship arrived, and when welcoming women from Hong Kong he addressed the issue of accommodation: We want you to have roofs over your heads as quickly as possible, but, if you are dissatisfied with the accommodation that has been provided, or if you want to make a change for any other reason, you are free citizens, and can act according to your own personal wishes. We will do all we can to help you.37 It was acknowledged by people involved in arranging accommodation that there had been difficulties but also that only a small percentage of evacuees

Evacuees from Hong Kong in Australia

55

had been unhappy with the lodgings they had been allocated.38 Ever forthright, Reverend Macintyre declared that while the majority of the women from Hong Kong were settled and contented ‘the other 3 per cent are grousers who cannot adjust themselves to change’.39 In Melbourne, authorities were keenly watched events in both Brisbane and Sydney in regard to the reception and accommodation of evacuees. The city had an advantage as it was the last port of call for the ships from Manila, which gave more time to make arrangements and avoid the problems that had occurred elsewhere: Officials of the Housing Commission said yesterday that the Commission, which is arranging accommodation for 700 Hong Kong refugees is doing its best to avoid the position which is reported to have occurred in Sydney, where many of the women have complained about accommodation provided. The system of billeting which has been chosen in Melbourne differs from that in Sydney. In Sydney requests were made for private accommodation. In Melbourne the Housing Commission has arranged accommodation at guest houses and private hotels, mostly close to the city. The majority are in South Kilda and South Yarra. These guest houses were investigated by members of the Commission, and several were rejected as unsuitable. If later it were found necessary to appeal to private householders, a thorough investigation would first be made. It is thought that later women may prefer to make their own arrangements, and this they will be free to do.40 Melbourne hoped to avoid complaints, but although the Housing Commission took the step of scrupulously inspecting premises, this did not prevent problems occurring when the evacuees arrived. When the first evacuee ship berthed late, proprietors were not expecting guests that night and had not made preparations; consequently, other arrangements had to be made.41 Additionally, The Argus reported that at one boarding house that had accepted bookings, evacuees were refused admittance: ‘We will not take children at any price’, they were told.42 Following this incident with the first group of evacuees, proprietors of 30 other boarding and guest houses ‘cancelled reservations for another batch’.43 It appeared that guest house owners were not expecting children, many of whom would have been under the age of ten, and normally premises would have stipulated ‘children not allowed’ (this is still the case today). This meant that the authorities in Melbourne had to find more accommodation, especially where children were welcome. Despite such problems, the Premier of Victoria rightly praised the effort made by the Housing Commission, stressing that there had been little time to prepare: ‘In the little time available to make arrangements for the evacuees, and not knowing the types of accommodation required by them, the commission

56

Bridget Deane

did a remarkably fine job,’ Mr Dunstan said. ‘Everything possible is being done for the evacuees, and we will do everything we can to help them and make them feel welcome and happy in Victoria’.44 Once the initial difficulties were resolved, Hong Kong evacuees were able to take stock of their new surroundings and start to make their own accommodation arrangements. Most rented properties, often shared with fellow evacuees as this was the cheapest option. Children were enrolled in schools, and women found employment – sometimes a financial necessity, as civilian evacuees received an allowance taken from their husbands’ salaries, while army and naval families received allotments drawn from their husband’s pay, which did not always meet their living expenses. Support organisations were set up by both Australians and evacuees themselves to provide support, and the Hong Kong Government sent a Financial Liaison Officer to assist evacuees. However, evacuees always viewed their evacuation as temporary, and demands and protests to be allowed to return to the Crown Colony only ceased with the outbreak of war with Japan in early December 1941. They were joined by several thousand evacuees from across Southeast Asia as the peaceful country they had made home mobilised fully for a war that had, unexpectedly with the fall of Singapore, come to Australia’s front door.

Discrimination From the beginning, the 1940 Hong Kong evacuation was not without controversy as its primary aim was to evacuate British women and children domiciled in the Crown Colony, and it did not encompass other European, Eurasian or Chinese residents who wished to leave, even if they were British subjects. This was negatively reinforced by Australia’s reluctance to accept non-British evacuees, in line with the ‘White Australia Policy’ – the deep-rooted preference for only immigrants of ‘pure’ British and European descent. The Australian response to Asian or Eurasian women who made it through to Australia further demonstrated the racial discrimination that was prevalent in the country at this time and endemic within the British Empire itself. The discrimination controversy that erupted over the evacuation of women and children from Hong Kong centered on protests about the exclusion of other European, Eurasian and Chinese women and children from the evacuation scheme and on an incident in Manila when Eurasian evacuees were ‘weeded out’ from others and sent back to Hong Kong. This aspect of the evacuation has been discussed by a number of historians, for example Endacott, Lethbridge, Snow, Fedorowich and most recently Lee.45 This mainly focuses on the debate held in the Legislative Council on 25 July, 1940, in which questions were put forward by representatives of the Portuguese and Chinese communities. In essence, these British passport holders were excluded from the evacuation scheme because they were not of pure European descent, yet as British subjects they felt entitled to be included. The Hong Kong Government claimed

Evacuees from Hong Kong in Australia

57

that it was tied by decisions that had been made by the War Cabinet in London when the evacuation scheme was set up. However, the final straw for those whose families were not eligible for the official evacuation was the request that $10,000 be contributed from public finds towards the costs of evacuating civilian women and children (service families were the responsibility of the Navy and Army). This was refused by the Finance Committee of the Legislative Council, and during the debate the incident at Manila was brought up. A member of the Legislative Council, the Honourable Mr. Lo Man-Kam, reported that he knew that: many of the evacuees have very bitter tales to tell of what I can only describe as disgraceful discrimination in treatment meted out to them, not by the Manila Authorities and people to whom this Colony owes a great debt of gratitude, but by those charged by the Hong Kong Government to look after their welfare. I hope that these complaints are being fully investigated by the Government.46 A reply was not immediately forthcoming, but, after further prompting, the chairman stated that a telegram had been sent to Manila asking for the matter to be looked into and denied that government officials had been involved in allocating accommodation.47 However, the debate continued with Mr. Lo stating that ‘people were weeded out deliberately by government officials on the advice of two ladies and sent to places which were not fit to accommodate anyone’.48 The exact circumstances of this incident have always been unclear, and in her analysis of the evacuation discrimination, Vicky Lee queries how Eurasian evacuees were identified in the first place to be ‘weeded out’: ‘A British passport did not carry in it the genealogy of one’s blood descent. Many Eurasians . . . had very Caucasian-looking physical attributes and were perfectly at home with the English language’.49 If it was unlikely that they were always distinguishable by passport or appearance, then how were Eurasians among the evacuees identified? It seems from a personal statement published in the South China Morning Post by Reverend Wilson, Dean of St John’s Cathedral, who had been asked to assist with the welfare of evacuees during the journey to the Philippines, that the ladies assisting with secretarial work to tabulate the information on the nominal rolls for the ships’ passengers were the culprits.50 The information required included the nationality of evacuees. This process would have drawn attention to those women and children who were non-European. It seems likely, therefore, that some of the ladies helping to collate information drew attention to Eurasian evacuees and influenced their segregation from European women and children when it came to allocating accommodation (the responsibility of Philippine authorities and the American Red Cross). It was a disgraceful incident, and as Lee comments: The weeding of Eurasians, in the absence of any documentary proof, was very much a form of ad hoc ethnic cleansing on the spot. The pre-war

58

Bridget Deane

European and Eurasian communities in Hong Kong were very small and speculation on people’s Eurasian background was an assiduously popular subject for society gossips and malicious calumny.51 The incident at Manila was just a small part of the wider discrimination against non-European residents of Hong Kong, and as Lethbridge explains, it was ‘an example of how Chinese and Eurasians reacted to the covert, although occasionally open racialism of the European ruling classes’.52 Eurasian women and children who had been ‘accidentally’ evacuated to the Philippines were able to return to the Crown colony, and their arrival was noted in the South China Morning Post.53 The Eurasian community felt the discrimination most keenly as many them were serving in the Hong Kong Volunteer Forces.54 Also, as British subjects they felt entitled to be included in the evacuation, but the administration in Hong Kong perpetuated their exclusion, which was further emphasised by Australia’s reluctance to admit ‘non-European’ evacuees. There were plans for non-Europeans to be evacuated to other locations, for example Macao, but by mid-July after the bulk of ‘pure’ British civilian and service evacuees had been transported to the Philippines, the Hong Kong Government made a tentative overture regarding families of other nationalities with a cablegram from the Governor and Commander-in-Chief being sent to the Commonwealth Government: A scheme is being considered for the evacuation of the wives and children of Chinese residents with record of service to Hong Kong thought to justify exceptional treatment. The list includes families of past and present members of the Councils, Justices of the Peace, serving members of the Hong Kong volunteer force, etc. The maximum total is 1500, but probably much less of whom about half are British subjects. The majority are educated class possessing ample means. Original proposal to send to China or Indo-China not found practicable, owing to Japanese occupation of coastal parts and the doubtful attitudes of Indo-Chinese authorities. Should the need arise, would your Government be prepared to relax restrictions to permit the entrance for a limited period of all or some of these persons[?] It is hoped to find another destination for British subjects of Portuguese descent.55 After deliberation of this request, the Department of the Interior compiled a list of carefully worded objections to admitting Chinese evacuees to Australia that was sent to the Prime Minister for approval.56 Seven objections were given that aimed to protect the White Australia Policy. They are an example of what Fitzgerald has termed the Australian ‘mealy mouthed’ approach to immigration policy, ‘the circuitous logic of official reasoning in Australia’ that ‘ensured that Chinese would not be welcome, however they thought and behaved’.57 In particular, it was stated that state

Evacuees from Hong Kong in Australia

59

governments could not be expected to arrange the reception and accommodation of ‘Asiatics’. Furthermore, consideration was given to the idea that Chinese people already in Australia could assist Asian evacuees, but it was ‘doubtful whether the status of more than a few Chinese residents here would be such that the evacuees would mix with them. The securing of suitable private accommodation would be fraught with difficulties on account of the British nature of our population’.58 Nor was the Commonwealth Government keen to admit Chinese and mixed-race persons for a temporary period, as in the likelihood of Hong Kong being occupied, they would have to stay for a lengthy time, their presence contravening the White Australia Policy.59 Lastly, there was the fear that if some ‘privileged Chinese subjects’ were admitted, it would open the floodgates for similar requests from the Chinese National Government. This in turn would cause Japanese authorities to challenge the validity of the White Australia Policy.60 The assessment of the Chinese population in Australia was a weak excuse. While many did work in low-status occupations such as labourers, craftsmen and tailors, or ran market gardens, there were also storekeepers, businesspeople and merchants whose respectability would have been on a par with potential Hong Kong Chinese evacuees. It is doubtful that any prominent Chinese residents were approached to ask for their assistance by the Commonwealth Government in regard to Hong Kong evacuees, but the hand of friendship from the Chinese community in Australia was extended to other Asian evacuees, for example Chinese evacuees from New Guinea.61 In this case, whatever the reservations, the Australian Government had a responsibility to provide refuge for this group from an Australian mandated territory in a time of war, but in the case of the proposed evacuation of even middle-class Chinese residents from Hong Kong, there was no such obligation, and the government was anxious to discourage large numbers of Asians from coming to the country. Despite this, during the course of the Pacific War, Australia provided refuge for non-European (Chinese, Javanese, Indian, Malayan) evacuees from various locations in Southeast Asia. This was done on humanitarian grounds, but it was always emphasised that their presence was only for the duration. The cablegram sent in reply to the request from Hong Kong was brief: ‘matter has received very careful consideration of Commonwealth Government but it is felt that difficulties are likely to be experienced in regard to accommodation and other complications arise which do not apply in the case of European British women and children. The Commonwealth Government is therefore reluctantly unable . . ., to relax restrictions in favour of the Chinese referred to’.62 However, a newspaper reported there was some concession by the Commonwealth Government: ‘[t]he minister [of the Interior] added that if there are white British subjects with Eurasian wives who had been evacuated to Australia, there would be no objection to their entering Australia under special exemption, and they would be allowed to stay in Australia during the full period of evacuation’.63 In reality, the British Government could exert

60

Bridget Deane

little imperial leverage on the Dominion in regard to Asians seeking refuge as Australia was determined to maintain its White Australia Policy whatever the circumstances. Briefly, it is difficult to estimate how many Asian women and children were among those evacuated to Australia, but there is mention of them in newspaper reports and archival sources.64 Many were the wives and families of men serving in the Army and Navy, which evacuated them en masse regardless of ethnicity and, whether intentionally or unintentionally, circumvented Australia’s immigration restrictions. There are records of Chinese and Eurasian wives appealing to be allowed to return to Hong Kong, and some were successful.65 Cases were assessed as to whether there were genuine and overwhelming reasons why they should go back, and the final decision lay with the authorities in Hong Kong. This was the procedure followed for all evacuees applying to return to the Crown colony, whether British, Chinese or Eurasian. The correspondence between Australian and Hong Kong authorities with regard to these applications give insight into difficulties faced by Asian wives settling in a country that was racially prejudiced. To summarise, in the cases of two Chinese women married to men serving in the army, their reasons for applying were that they were unhappy, had no friends and spoke little or no English, and they wished to return to Hong Kong.66 Comments made in a letter by a Department of the Interior official in regard to one was sympathetic but typified the racial attitude prevalent in Australia at the time: I can vouch regarding Mrs Weaver’s limited knowledge of English. On the ‘Awatea’ and later in Sydney it was most difficult to make her understand even primitive ‘pidgin’. . . . I suppose there is little chance of Mrs. Weaver being permitted to return to Hong Kong. One cannot help feeling sorry for this wretched woman, taken from her natural home and from her own race, and transferred to a country where she requires the services of an interpreter. There are about a dozen Chinese wives of Army personnel in Australia, all of whom are, in varying degrees, situated in similar circumstances to Mrs. Weaver. It has always been a problem to find suitable accommodation for them; the fact that the population of Australia is 98% British stock and that there is no admixture of “colour” makes it difficult for both the Chinese wives and the white people for whom they come into contact. Furthermore, they are unwanted by the white wives of military evacuees. It seems a great pity that these Chinese wives should ever have been evacuated from Hong Kong.67 While the official seemed to appreciate the difficulties faced by Chinese evacuees, he also noted that their presence in the country was awkward for ‘white people’. Indigenous Australians (Aborigines) were largely segregated

Evacuees from Hong Kong in Australia

61

from the rest of the population, while the small minority of Chinese-Australians lived in established communities that were part of but not necessarily integrated into mainstream society. In the case of Mrs Bacon, Maughan, the Hong Kong Finance Liaison Officer, carried out the interview to see if her case was genuine. He found that Mrs Bacon was nineteen years old, married to a sapper in the Royal Engineers and was receiving a reasonable living allowance and allotment. Additionally, she was working in a factory and lodged near ‘the Chinese Quarter’ in Sydney. Maughan concluded that she appeared to be in good health and well dressed, and he stated that she was ‘quite happy in her work and surroundings’.68 It was also noted that Hordern, an Army Welfare Officer, believed that Bacon had probably been influenced by another Chinese wife who was ‘pressing for repatriation’.69 It was therefore decided that this application be turned down: ‘I think you will agree that, if the policy of the Military Authorities does not permit of all dependents of Army Personnel of Chinese nationality to return to the Colony, this case does not merit special consideration’, wrote Maughan to the Secretary of the Department of the Interior.70 The General Officer Commanding, Hong Kong was indeed reluctant for army wives to return to Hong Kong. In response to Mrs. Weaver’s application to return, he was, according to a member of his staff, ‘very sympathetic to her case, but before he can allow her back wants to be sure that the case really is exceptional and that she is having a rotten time. Also he does not want to start a rush of applications from Chinese and Eurasian wives to come back’.71 It seemed that Asian wives of service personnel were wanted in neither Australia nor Hong Kong. Authorities in Australia did their best to help these evacuees, but prevailing racial attitudes made it hard for Chinese wives to settle and integrate into society. With regard to civilian wives, the Hong Kong Government had little justification for preventing the return of Asian and Eurasian evacuees because, according to the terms of the evacuation scheme, they should not have been sent away in the first place. Naturally, on discovering this error many wished to go back, but the Hong Kong Government had implemented restrictions on evacuees returning, although permission was given for some to return. However, China Command did not want wives and families to return to the colony, having taken the step to evacuate all service dependents. While appreciating the unhappiness of Chinese wives, if a precedent had been set for these women to return, it would have been difficult to refuse applications from Eurasian and British wives. Instead, once the war with Japan broke out, Chinese and indeed Eurasian women now domiciled in Australia would endure a long wait to be able to return home to Hong Kong and hopefully to be reunited with their families and husbands. Despite problems that arose in Queensland, New South Wales and Victoria, in general the reception and initial accommodation arrangements for women and children evacuated from Hong Kong were successful. While communication between the Commonwealth Government and the Hong Kong authorities

62

Bridget Deane

was at times difficult and confusions arose, it did not detrimentally hinder these preparations. Australia was anxious to demonstrate its hospitality to assist those in need and gave a warm and enthusiastic welcome. As ‘The Counsellor’ explained in the Courier Mail, ‘by our reception and care of those evacuated from danger zones, we are linking up the Empire ever more closely in chains of personal friendship and mutual aid’.72 However, there were limits to the dominion’s hospitality: racial discrimination here and in Hong Kong ensured that members of the Chinese and Eurasian communities, mainly British subjects, were discounted in the evacuation scheme. Those who were inadvertently sent to the Philippines were ‘weeded out’ and returned to Hong Kong, an incident that understandably caused protest and outrage, as it was felt that they were equally entitled to evacuation. The fact was that all women and children, whatever nationality or ethnicity, were at risk should Japan decide to move against the British colony, but there was little hope of Australia agreeing to accept Asian evacuees due to its strict immigration policy. Nevertheless, the Hong Kong authorities, whether intentionally or not, circumvented this, and a significant number of Chinese and Eurasian women did arrive in the dominion. Australia could not turn them away, although as discussed this group of evacuees was alienated from mainstream white Australian society by endemic racial prejudice. While the country was to have a central role in providing refuge to evacuees from Southeast Asia, perhaps a reflection of this discrimination was that British and European evacuees could be viewed as potential settlers, while Asian and Eurasian evacuees were allowed to remain only for the duration of the war.

Notes 1 ‘First Evacuees Arrive’, Sydney Daily Telegraph, July 26, 1940, 5. 2 Kent Fedorowich, ‘ “Cocked Hats and Swords and Small, Little Garrisons”: Britain, Canada and the Fall of Hong Kong, 1941’, Modern Asian Studies, 37, No. 1 (2003), 118–9. 3 See, for example, Felicity Goodall, Exodus Burma: The British Escape through the Jungles of Death, 1942 (Stroud: Spellmount, 2011). 4 Letter from R.G. Menzies, P.M. to Sir Geoffrey Whiskard, United Kingdom High Commissioner, dated 22/6/39, ‘Evacuation of non-combatants from Hong Kong to Australia in event of war emergency’, National Archives of Australia, MP729/6, 16/401/147. 5 Letter from Sir Geoffrey Whiskard, United Kingdom High Commissioner to the Prime Minister (Australia), dated 26/8/39, ‘Evacuation of non-combatants from Hong Kong to Australia. 16/6/39–24/2/42’, National Archives of Australia, A5954, 370/1. 6 J.A. Carrodus, Department of the Interior to the Secretary of Defence Co-ordination, dated 31/7/40, ‘Evacuation of British non-combatants from Hong Kong’, National Archives of Australia, A433, 1941/2/1096, Part 2. 7 Copy of cablegram sent to the premiers of each state from the Prime Minister’s Department, dated 2/7/40, ‘Hong Kong evacuees – newspaper cuttings’, National Archives of Australia, A1593, 1940/W/13363. 8 Ibid. 9 Copy of cablegram sent to the Colonial Secretary, Hong Kong, dated 2/7/40, NAA, A1593, 1940/W/13363.

Evacuees from Hong Kong in Australia

63

10 ‘No Official Word of Hong Kong Evacuees’, Sydney Daily Telegraph, July 24, 1940, 2. 11 Copy of cablegram sent to the Colonial Secretary, Hong Kong from P.M.’s Department, dated 16/7/40, NAA, A1593, 1940/W/13363. 12 Memorandum to the Comptroller General, Department of Trade and Customs from Department of the Interior, dated 26/7/40, NAA, A1593, 1941/W/13363. 13 Letter from Carrodus to the Secretary, Department of Defence Co-ordination, Department of the Interior, dated 29/7/40, NAA, A433, 1941/2/1096, Part 2. 14 Letter from Whiskard to the Prime Minister (Australia), dated 26/8/39, ‘Evacuation of Non-combatants from Hong Kong to Australia, 16/6/39–24/2/42’, NAA, A5954, 370/1. 15 Memorandum, signed A.R. Peters, dated 24/7/40, NAA, A433, 1941/2/1096, Part 2. 16 Quoted in letter from Carrodus to the Secretary, Department of Defence Co-ordination, dated 29/7/40, NAA, A433, 1941/2/1096, Part 2. 17 Letter to the Under Secretary for Lands, Perth, W.A., dated 27/8/40. See also letter to the Director, Publicity and Tourist Bureau, Adelaide, S.A., dated 19/8/40, NAA, A433, 1941/2/1096, Part 2. 18 ‘All States Keen to Get Evacuees’, Sydney Daily Telegraph, August 1, 1940, 2. 19 Ibid. 20 ‘Four Hundred Hong Kong Evacuees for Brisbane’, Courier Mail, July 24, 1940, 1. 21 ‘Evacuees Left to Shiver on City Wharf ’, Courier Mail, August 9, 1940, 3. See also The Argus, August 9, 1940, 5; Adelaide Advertiser, August 9, 1940, 18; Sydney Daily Telegraph, August 9, 1940, 2. 22 Courier Mail, August 11, 1940, 4. 23 ‘Treatment of Evacuees – Secrecy Responsible’, The Age, August 10, 1940, 20. 24 Copy of a letter from the Premier of Queensland to the Prime Minister of Australia, dated 20/8/40, National Archives of Australia, A433, 1941/2/1096, Part 2. 25 Letter from the Prime Minister of Australia to His Britannic Majesty’s Consul-General, Manila, undated, National Archives of Australia, A433, 1941/2/1096, Part 2. 26 Letter from the Prime Minister to the Premier of Queensland, undated, NAA, A433, 1941/2/1096, Part 2. 27 Article from a Melbourne newspaper (probably the Sandringham News), quoted in ‘These Folk Are Gentlewomen: Australian Paper’s Opinion of Evacuees’, South China Morning Post, September 13, 1940, 5. 28 ‘Reception of Evacuees: Sydney Plans’, Sydney Morning Herald, August 10, 1940, 13. 29 ‘557 Evacuees Arrive’, Sydney Morning Herald, August 12, 1940, 3. 30 ‘Wharf Pass Fiasco Damps Welcome to Eastern Evacuees’, Sydney Sunday Telegraph, August 11, 1940, 8. 31 ‘More Evacuees Arrive’, Sydney Morning Herald, August 14, 1940, 13. See also ‘Last Group of Evacuees’, Sydney Morning Herald, August 26, 1940, 4; ‘Children Among Evacuees: Scottish Welcome’, Sydney Morning Herald, August 21, 1940, 4. 32 ‘301 Evacuees Arrive: Confusion in Arrangements’, The Argus, August 16, 1940, 5. 33 ‘Last Hong Kong Evacuees’, The Argus, August 28, 1940, 4. 34 ‘Evacuees from Hong Kong’, Sydney Morning Herald, August 7, 1940, 13. 35 ‘Urgent Plea to Billet Evacuees’, Sydney Daily Telegraph, August 3, 1940, 2. 36 ‘Evacuees from Hong Kong’, Sydney Morning Herald, August 13, 1940, 10. 37 ‘Evacuees from Hong Kong: Another Ship Arrives’, Sydney Morning Herald, August 19, 1940, 6. See also ‘More Evacuees Arrive’, Sydney Morning Herald, August 14, 1940, 13; ‘Reception in Sydney’, Sydney Morning Herald, August 16, 1940, 8. 38 ‘More Evacuees Arrive’, Sydney Morning Herald, August 14, 1940, 13. 39 ‘Seeking Profit on Evacuees’, Sydney Daily Telegraph, August 23, 1940, 24. 40 ‘Evacuees from Hong Kong’, The Argus, August 14, 1940, 4. 41 ‘From Hong Kong,’ The Age, August 16, 1940, 9. 42 ‘301 Evacuees Arrive’, The Argus, August 16, 1940, 5.

64

Bridget Deane

43 ‘Accommodation Cancelled: Other Homes Found’, The Argus, August 17, 1940, 5. 44 Ibid. 45 GB Endacott, Hong Kong Eclipse (Hong Kong: Oxford University Press, 1978); Henry J Lethbridge, “Hong Kong under Japanese Occupation: Changes in Social Structure.” In Hong Kong; A Society in Transition: Contributions to the Study of Hong Kong, ed. I C Jardine and Joseph Agassi (London: Routledge, 1969); Philip Snow, The Fall of Hong Kong: Britain, China and the Japanese Occupation (London: Yale University Press, 2003); Kent Fedorowich, “The Evacuation of Civilians from Hong Kong and Malaya/Singapore, 1939–42.” In Sixty Years On: The Fall of Singapore, ed. Brian Farrell and Sandy Hunter (Singapore: Times Media Private Limited, 2002); Vicky Lee, Being Eurasian: Memories across Racial Divides (Hong Kong: Hong Kong University Press, 2004). 46 Report of the Meeting of the Hong Kong Legislative Council, July 25, 1940, Hong Kong Hansard: Reports of the Meetings of the Legislative Council, Hong Kong, 113, available at www.legco.gov.hk/1940/h400725.pdf. 47 Ibid., 133. 48 Ibid., 117–118. 49 Lee, Being Eurasian, 134. 50 ‘Dean Wilson’s Statement’, South China Morning Post, July 29, 1940, 9. 51 See Lee, Being Eurasian, 134. 52 Lethbridge, Hong Kong; A Society in Transition, 93. 53 ‘More Evacuees Return: Over 80 Women and Children Back Yesterday’, South China Morning Post, August 5, 1940, 4. 54 See Jean Gittins, Excerpt From Stanley: Beyond Barbed Wire in Lee, Being Eurasian, 164–179. 55 Cablegram from Governor and Commander-in-Chief, Hong Kong to Prime Minister’s Department, ‘Question of evacuation of Chinese women and children from Hong Kong to Australia’, dated 10/7/40, National Archives of Australia, A433, 1940/ 2/1837. 56 Letter from H.S. Foll, Department of the Interior to the Prime Minister, dated 13/7/40, NAA, A433, 1940/2/1837. 57 John Fitzgerald, Big White Lie: Chinese Australians in White Australia (Sydney: UNSW Press, 2007), 28. 58 Letter from Foll to Prime Minister, dated 13/7/40, NAA, A433, 1940/2/1837. 59 Ibid. 60 Ibid. 61 See John King, “The Creation of a ‘Recalcitrant Minority’: A Case-Study of the Chinese New Guinea Wartime Refugees,” Journal of the Royal Australian Historical Society, 91, No. 1 (2005), pp. 48–57. 62 Cablegram to the Governor and Commander-in-Chief, Hong Kong, from Prime Minister’s Department, dated 26/7/40, NAA, A433, 1940/2/1837. 63 ‘Australian Views’, South China Morning Post, July 30, 1940, 8. 64 See ‘To Rejoin Husbands Soon’, Sydney Daily Telegraph, August 14, 1940, 12; ‘English Names Make Difficulties for Chinese Wives’, The Argus, August 19, 1940, 4. 65 See ‘Applications to leave Australia by Hong Kong evacuees – British women evacuees question of passports’, National Archives of Australia, A659, 1945/1/4367. 66 Correspondence regarding Mrs. Weaver, ‘Hong Kong and Shanghai evacuees – Applications to leave Australia for Hong Kong or other overseas destinations’, National Archives of Australia, A433, 1940/2/3117; correspondence regarding Mrs. Betty Bacon, NAA, A659, 1945/1/4367. 67 Copy of a letter from Hubbard, Department of the Interior to Kilpatrick, Financial Advisor, China Command, dated 21/1/41, NAA, A433, 1940/2/3117. 68 Summary of interview by Maughan with Betty Bacon, dated 17/10/40, NAA, A659, 1945/1/4367. 69 Ibid.

Evacuees from Hong Kong in Australia

65

70 Letter from Maughan to the Secretary, Department of the Interior, dated 17/10/40, NAA, A659, 1945/1/4367. 71 Letter from Moody, Headquarters, China Command to Hubbard, Department of the Interior, dated 18/2/41, NAA, A433, 1940/2/3117. 72 The Counsellor, ‘Care of Evacuees Empire Link’, Courier Mail, September 21, 1940, 11.

4

Protecting which spaces and bodies? Civil defence, the British Empire and the Second World War1 Susan R. Grayzel

I In June 1939, amidst rising tensions that would lead to the outbreak of the Second World War that September, the British Government’s Chemical Defence Research Establishment (India) issued a report on a recent set of trials for the fitting of general civilian respirators on Indian women. As the assistant controller of the Establishment explained: “in view of the proposed issue of Respirators, Anti-Gas, General Civilian, to the families of personnel under Defence Services located in vulnerable areas, it became necessary to ascertain what percentage of large, medium and small sizes of this respirator would be necessary for Indian men and women.” While the report itself is only a two-page summation of the survey’s results, the covering memo recorded that “one hundred Indian women, comprising Hindus, Sikhs, Mohmmedans and Christians, have been fitted with General Civilian Respirators, and the relative number of large, medium and small sizes noted.” The memo also acknowledged the crucial role played by a Dr Lalinksy of the Holy Family Hospital in Rawalpindi (who carried out the test fittings), noting that without her assistance “the investigation would not have been possible . . . on account of native prejudices.”2 While leaving the “native prejudices” unexplained, the report matter-of-factly provided evidence that size “medium” would work for the majority of the population of Indian women regardless of their alleged ethnic differences. The issue of size being settled did not mean that the question of who would be protected by receiving a gas mask had been resolved. As the stated purpose of the trials explained, concern over “families of service personnel” in “vulnerable” places prompted this testing. The fate that might befall the millions of other unprotected Indian women and children – not to mention men as well as colonial subjects in other parts of the Empire – in the event of a potential chemical attack is left unaddressed. Yet the potential for that catastrophe – widespread aerochemical annihilation – haunted the British interwar imagination, and preoccupied government officials developing what would become the elaborate civil defence apparatus of the Second World War. As a by-product of German aerial attacks on British soil during the First World War, civil defence acknowledged the new era of total war; it would require governments to prepare for war without limits in terms of space and population.

Protecting which spaces and bodies?

67

This chapter takes as its starting point this obscure incident – the lining up and classifying of imperial subjects in order to determine how to protect their bodies on the eve of war – in order to analyze the imperial context of the British Government’s efforts to prepare civilians to face a potentially devastating conflict to come. The introduction during the First World War of chemical weapons in continental battle zones and air raids against British targets, including several on London that produced few but highly symbolic numbers of dead women and children, prompted a top secret government response to determine how best to safeguard the civilian population for whom there could be “no guarantee of immunity.”3 Via Air Raids Precautions (ARP, the catchall term for civil defence measures), the government addressed, well before the outbreak of the Second World War, growing anxiety about the “war to come,” acknowledging the likelihood that future battle zones would extend into regions and spaces far beyond traditionally defined front lines. It based its planning on an imagined combination of air power and poison gas being deployed against civilian targets that could decide the outcome of the next military conflict. The testing of imperial subjects and the piecemeal expansion of these measures beyond Britain proper remain an especially understudied aspect of a largely neglected topic. This chapter argues that the history of imperial civil defence may have a good deal to tell us about the efforts to legitimize the continuance of empire within the context of a global war aimed as much against civilians as combatants, including how a focus preparing noncombatants to face an external anticipated military threat may have led to the neglect of measures to counteract other tangible risks faced by the civilian population of the Empire. The development of plans to extend ARP into imperial zones, including the potential provision of civilian gas masks, signaled the incorporation of remote places and colonial bodies into the calculations required to defend an overseas empire in a modern war. The testing of civil defence measures against chemical warfare as early as 1920 and the interwar creation of the Chemical Defence Research Establishment (CDRE) in Rawalpindi can be read in a number of ways. Like the metropole equivalent of the Chemical Defence Research Department (CDRD) located at Porton Down, Wiltshire, the CDRE (India) was designed to test chemical weapons as well as devices to safeguard against them.4 However, by the time this facility was authorizing doctors to fit gas masks on local women in 1939, the development of civil defence in its imperial context also revealed a further extension of the state onto the bodies of its colonial subjects.5 This initial examination of imperial civil defence helps underscore the crucial issue that lies at the heart of this enterprise: namely that civil defence always involves calculating which bodies and spaces might be saved.

II Questions about whether civil defence measures should be undertaken across the Empire originated with the actions of the Cabinet Committee on Imperial

68

Susan R. Grayzel

Defence Sub-Committee on Air Raids Precautions (ARP). From the first meeting in 1924, under the chairmanship of Sir John Anderson, the Subcommittee members began to outline the contours of a next war waged as much against civilians as soldiers. This led them to determine how a civilian population might face direct assaults on their lives and homes. The Subcommittee’s focus was almost entirely on the metropole, and, even here, many doubts surrounded the extent to which the government could undertake any form of collective, let alone individual, protection for all inhabitants in the face of a predicted aero-chemical onslaught. Despite new international institutions such as the League of Nations and subsequent multinational agreements such as the Geneva Gas Protocol of 1925 (which extended a prohibition on the use of chemical arms), by 1929 ARP planners felt that they had to respond to the “public outcry” for some form of protection against gas and air raids. They did so while debating whether the effects of such efforts were “likely to be more moral than material.”6 From its origins, this emphasis on precautions as being as much about perception (morale) as efficacy shaped ARP’s development into the following decade. The set of policies, procedures and devices that became ARP officially came into public view only in the mid-thirties, and the question of who would get protection was critical, especially when it came to measures against chemical warfare. Crucially, preparations to defend civilians against potential aero-chemical annihilation coexisted with plans to develop chemical arms for future conflicts. The testing of gas masks and weapons continued beyond the armistice at the CDRD at Porton Down. While the work of the CDRD was hidden from public view, even more obscure were efforts to have imperial spaces serve as a laboratory for devices and practices. By March 1920, Major W.A. Salt, a “chemical adviser” working in India, was reporting back to the CDRD on tests conducted in Mussooree on the persistence of mustard and chlorine on soil and subsoil.7 He followed this report by proposing further experiments in India, noting for example that while respirators should be designed in Britain, modifications for their use in India would be necessary. As he further explained, “beard and knob of hair of the Sikh must affect the fit and speed of adjustment of the mask; the great variety in length of hair, from the close cropped hair of many regiments to the long locks of the Baluchi calls for plenty of room for adjustment of the head bands; the present nose clip will not suit everybody, particularly men of the Mongolian type, Gurkhas, Nepalese and Burmese.”8 The incorporation of colonial subjects serving in the military into such plans may not be surprising, but the detailed list of racially charged “variations” (presumably not found among other British troops) suggests something deeper at work. The extent to which anti-gas protection (the gas mask) could cover all of Britain’s subjects – military and civilian – would remain open to debate throughout the interwar years.9 Perhaps more astonishing, Major Salt proposed ordering about 50,000 respirators to be sent to India from Britain, with 20,000 to be kept in storage “and the remainder issued for training on a scale of 10% for the establishment of units.”10 While Salt’s plan received a

Protecting which spaces and bodies?

69

sceptical response, less than a year after the signing of the Treaty of Versailles, plans to test the fitness of anti-gas protection reveal an acceptance of this form of warfare and its potential use in imperial settings. This makes the formal establishment of the Chemical Defence Research Establishment (India) later in the decade more intelligible. By 1929, the CDRE (India) based in Rawalpindi had four scientific officers but seemed in a precarious position by the early 1930s. In March 1932, a report from the Army Council to the Under-Secretary of State for India was arguing for the continuance of the facility: “[i]t will be seen that in certain cases a stage has been reached where the work remaining to be done is chiefly of a routine nature, for example, work on respirators, both from the design and physiological points of view.” It had been determined in 1931, for example, that gas masks designed for regular troops would be “suitable for all classes of Indian troops,” with no mention of the concerns raised a decade earlier about hair length and beards. However, two types of experiments (deemed “important” and “valuable” in the official account) remained on “meteorological conditions affecting the behaviour of gas in India” and “the casualty producing power of chemical weapons in India.” The letter concluded that the opinion of the Army Council was that “there is no tropical country which is more likely to be subjected to gas attack than in India.” Although this implies an external threat, it is not difficult to imagine that the facility could be deemed useful in developing offensive chemical weapons as well as protection against them. For these and perhaps other reasons, the CDRE station was sustained – although the anonymous covering note on the folder containing this report reflects the frustration of some members of the British civil service: “[t]he Government of India seems to blow hot and cold in the matter of this establishment and do not trouble to give reason for their changes of mind.”11 Whatever the local perspectives, the work of the CDRE, which included testing human reactions to chemical weapons, continued. It was under the auspices of the CDRE, for instance, that larger-scale experiments on both gas masks and chemical weapons occurred a few years later. By the mid-1930s, comparative studies on the effects of mustard gas took place involving both British and Indian personnel. In a 1933 memorandum “On Preliminary Experiments Carried out to Obtain Data for a Large Scale Test of the Sensitivity to Mustard Gas of British Troops in India and of Indian Troops,” investigators at the CDRE discovered that “while there was considerable variation between individuals in each group of observers, there was a very striking difference between the two groups as a whole, and that the reactions on British skins developed much more rapidly than on Indian skins.” Moreover, the explicit racialisation of Indian troops – “subdivided into 3 groups in accordance with their colouring i.e., fair, brown and dark” – yielded the “surprising” result that “the fair skinned group proved unexpectedly resistant.” Even apart from the ethical issues raised by testing chemical weapons on human subjects, the inclusion of photographs in the files to illustrate the different “racial” types showed the racist assumptions being made about the susceptibility of reified

70

Susan R. Grayzel

categories of human beings to chemical arms. The report then further subdivided the Indian men subjected to the burning of their skin with differing strengths of mustard gas solution, according to their “classes,” in the report’s terms as “Punjabi Muslamans, Ghurkas, Pathans, Dogras and Sikh.” However, “no true comparison was possible” because of the small numbers involved.12 Other than proving that mustard gas did cause visible damage to human skin, every other aspect of this scientific inquiry asserted differences in fitness to withstand the tools of modern war based on racial categorization. The 1933 study then became the baseline for still further research to determine the consequences for using mustard gas depending on various atmospheric conditions and the “sensitivity” of different types of individuals. A “Memorandum on the Sensitivity Test,” issued in November 1936, justified the study on the basis of needing to prepare better methods for addressing chemical arms. It succinctly explained: “it is evident that fairly accurate information with regard to the sensitivity of humans to mustard gas is of great importance in deciding many chemical defence problems.” As this memorandum elaborated, data from tests conducted both in India and Porton Down would allow researchers to determine “an empirical test for assessing the sensitivity of any given individual” to traces of mustard gas left on clothing, for example. The report then listed six categories in descending order of such sensitivity to mustard gas, starting with “1. British troops in India in hot weather; 2. Indian troops in India in hot weather; 3. Porton hypersensitives [individuals identified as having an acute sensitivity]; 4. British troops in India in cold weather; 5. Indian troops in India in cold weather, and 6. British normal personnel in England.” It is noteworthy that the only category deemed “normal” is in Britain and involves non-military personnel. This suggests that concern about “normal” Indians would not factor into the proposed aim of establishing how to protect populations from chemical weapons. Further assumptions about the intermingling of alleged race (nature) and climate (environment) suggest a readiness to prepare either chemical weapons or devices to defend against them (or both) in a variety of settings. Not to be overlooked – and indeed underscored in the report – is unease that if these results are accurate, “a somewhat serious situation as regards chemical defence in the tropics” arises.13 Thus while the British Government’s ambivalence about the use of new means of warfare such as chemical weapons in the interwar empire has been investigated (along with its willingness to use air power for the purposes of “policing” and “air control”), its equally complex stance regarding the provision of civil defence, that is of tools like gas masks, has not.14 As R. M. Douglas has demonstrated, Winston Churchill, in his interwar ministerial roles at the War Office and, later, Colonial Office, actively encouraged the deployment of such weapons in Iraq and other areas where British control was contested. However, even the use of non-lethal chemical agents (such as tear gas) was avoided by the British Government for fear of the negative publicity, among other things, and the intense public antagonism to chemical weapons.15 What,

Protecting which spaces and bodies?

71

then, are we to make of the intensifying efforts in the Empire to develop and deploy such weapons as just examined, as well as the means to protect some civilians against them?

III The worsening international climate of the mid-1930s provided an impetus for an acceleration of civilian anti-aerial and anti-gas war preparations both in the metropole and in the colonies. By 1935, this intensified the sense of urgency about a lack of war preparations (civil and military), both inside the government and externally, and helped lead to the issuing of the first official statement on ARP.16 However, the July 1935 ARP Circular left out many details, especially the scope of anti-gas protection. Indeed, government planners were still working out whether or not providing civilian respirators for all was possible, having initially decided that supplying them for those under age five was unfeasible and only concluding secretly in the autumn of 1935 that gas masks would need to be free of charge and available to every British subject.17 This decision coincided with early and then widespread reports of Italy’s use of chemical arms in its war against Ethiopia. It could therefore be argued that it was the imperial context of chemical weapons that shifted the policy. Word of the Italians’ use of poison gas in their war with Ethiopia, notably chlorine gas casualties treated by the Swedish Mission, first appeared in the Times in October 1935, with further reports of the ongoing use of such weapons turning up through the autumn of 1935 and into the winter of 1936.18 In March 1936, debates in Parliament focused on the recurring accounts of poison gases used against unarmed civilians, with MPs demanding action from the British Government and the League of Nations. As the Times editorial noted, “public opinion in this country has been deeply stirred by the persistent reports of the use of gas by the Italians in Abyssinia.”19 The potentially larger stakes for Britain as well as the world of allowing the atrocity of gas warfare to stand unpunished were laid out in contributions to the Times in the spring of 1936, less than six months after the original reports. A telegram from the executive secretary of the Ethiopian Red Cross, Dr. T.A. Lambie, appearing in the Times on 25 March mounted an official protest on behalf of that organization against the indiscriminate bombing with mustard gas of “country villages” that resulted in “the permanent blinding and maiming of hundreds of helpless women and children.” For Lambie, this should signal to his audience “how dreadful an unscrupulous enemy can render war with this monstrous weapon, which surpasses in fearfulness the wildest dread of a disordered imagination.”20 This alone might spur the increased attention to anti-gas protection. However, a letter to the Editor of the Times from Sir Hesketh Bell in response to Lambie’s report suggested another motive for British war planners, namely that a failure to respond in Ethiopia would have dire consequences for the Empire and for relations between Europeans and imperial subjects. Bell started

72

Susan R. Grayzel

by taking Italy to task for being “uncivilized” by using this method of warfare against women and children: One may imagine that even the most humane of European armies might be tempted to terrible excesses in retribution for unspeakable acts of cruelty done by savages, but what excuse can the Italians offer for the deliberate blinding and maiming of women and children merely because they are the wives of and offspring of the men who are bravely dying in scores of thousands in defence of their country and liberty? Moreover, in addition to chastising Italy for employing chemical weapons against civilian populations, Bell continued: Is the voice of collective civilization going to remain silent in the presence of the horrors that are being perpetrated in Ethiopia? Are the coloured peoples throughout the continent of Africa to be allowed to believe that the latest war-methods of the white man are all that they may expect whenever a European nation covets the lands that have been the[ir] homes[?] The “nemesis” that may come to haunt all Europeans if this conduct is allowed to stand is the further loss of legitimacy of the imperial enterprise. Moreover, Bell’s rhetoric can be read as part of the ongoing justification for “civilized” imperial control, with its implied contrast between Italy’s failure to act as an appropriate colonial power and Britain, which would presumably come to the aid of its colonial subjects by potentially supplying the means to survive chemical attacks. Another cry to defend Ethiopia came in the voice of Princess Tsehai, the daughter of Emperor Haile Selassie, in a telegram to the Women’s Council of the League of Nations Union. In this passage (quoted in a number of public appeals), she called for help: “[f ]or seven days without break enemy have been bombing armies and people of my country, including women and children, with terrible gases. . . . Against this cruel gas we have no protection, no gas masks, nothing”.21 It is not only the damage being inflicted on innocents (“women and children”) but that this is compounded by the lack of protection – “no gas masks, nothing” – that figured into other public reactions to the return of chemical weapons. The horror of poison gas, compounded by the lack of masks, shaped other contemporary accounts of the conflict. In a book-length story of the war, journalist George Steer somewhat hyperbolically proclaimed: On Sunday December 22 [1935] . . . for the first time in history, a people supposedly white used poison gas upon a people supposedly savage. . . . The moral effect was even more terrible than the material. From their easy perches in high heaven the Italians could see with their own eyes, and

Protecting which spaces and bodies?

73

with a feeling of rich treasure trove, an Ethiopian force jerked suddenly backward, horrified and scattered. Bombing had never shown such fine aesthetic results. Total dispersion.22 Steer offered detailed and sustained reports of the use of poison gas in Ethiopia against both troops and civilians, stating categorically that the Italians deliberately bombed Red Cross Units to drive away witnesses. Steer then recounted local efforts to provide some means to protect the civil population. Since no external help was forthcoming, the Ethiopian Women’s Work Association (run by Lady Barton, wife of the British Minister to Abyssinia, Sir Sidney Barton) set to work. By using a basic First World War respirator as a model, the members experimented until they devised a gas mask that they could make themselves. It consisted of “head bags of flannel, done up in little canvas cases . . . [with] mica slits for eyes” and tied around the neck with tape. For camouflage, they were “coloured a rich chocolate brown” and a dozen “experts” using only sewing machines were able to concoct 1,800 such gas masks. Yet by the time Steer set out to deliver them, it was too late.23 In his introduction, where he set out the lessons to be drawn from this account of war, he emphasized that the final defeat – the sack of Addis Ababa – was made possible by “the threat of gas from the air that demoralized its people”. His proof: “[t]he crowds that gathered round Lady Barton’s committee rooms for masks were evidence of that”. Steer ended with this cautionary reminder: “Ethiopia is nearer to Europe” than those choosing to ignore this crucial aspect of the war would think. It is perhaps in the aftermath of this use of poison gas against defenceless colonial subjects, in the deteriorating international situation and in the efforts to reshape imperial dynamics (via such reforms as the India Act of 1935), that we can appreciate the rise of imperial civil defence as a defence of the imperial enterprise. For if the British Government was going to sustain imperial populations in a war to come, it needed to do better than Lady Barton’s improvised gas masks. What civil defence might offer imperial governments and their subjects was a promise of safety from modern war that only came from belonging to an empire that could provide the apparatus and training to withstand an aero-chemical war waged indiscriminately. With this supposition, the formal establishment of civil defence within India is worth closer attention. It came with an order of the Executive Council dated 25 August 1937 that set up an exploratory committee whose purpose was: to report on the need for Air Raids Precautions for the protection of civilians, key industries and essential Government services in India against gas and bomb attack and to make from time to time recommendations for the initiation and coordination . . . of Departments of the Government of India and Provincial Governments of such protective measures as may be considered necessary.24

74

Susan R. Grayzel

The Government of Britain had been exploring the need for ARP within the metropole since 1924; it was to pass the first major piece of legislation in December 1937. Yet the Government of India committee was only now opening up an inquiry into the need for civil defence, and it quickly concluded that something should be done. After receiving a report from the exploratory committee in April, in June 1938 the Viceroy then approved a letter to be sent to all Provincial Governments alerting them to the main contours of what ARP must do, from establishing lighting restrictions, firefighting, warning systems and plans to protect vital services, as well as “anti-gas protection” and, significantly, “control of the civilian population.” It further pointed out that “the probable vulnerable areas included all ports, the Asansol Industrial Area, the Poona-Kirkee Area, Aravankadu, certain areas of the Province of Sind and important cities in the North West of India.” This list ref lected concern with strategic areas, including military cantonments, rather than areas where civilians might be more vulnerable. Those working at the local or provincial level were then encouraged to send in schemes for implementing ARP, but the assistance from the central government would be “in technical matters but not with finance.” On the eve of the Second World War, this meant that active preparations occurred in Bombay, Bengal and Madras, but it was not until the outbreak of war that “paper schemes which were then in progress of preparation were converted into actual schemes” and expanded to Sind and Karachi.25 In the meantime, queries from a variety of sites reached the Colonial Office regarding the provision of gas masks, especially for civilian family members of military personnel. A November 1937 memorandum from the Committee of Imperial Defence’s Overseas Defence Committee noted that the Colonial Office “were prepared to accept the view that the Colonial Governments must be responsible, in normal circumstances for the provision of respirators for the families of service personnel as part of the civil population.” However, “a special degree of protection” might be needed under “special circumstances,” an explanation that remained unclear. Amended to the memo was a list of where such respirators would go, including to the West Indies, West and East Africa and the colonies near the Pacific. By May 1938, the Army Council was asking that family members of those serving in the military at Aden, Gibraltar, Hong Kong, Malta and Singapore be provided with masks, and calculations were further broken down into “European” and “non-European” in terms of the numbers to be provided in each locale.26 At the outbreak of the Second World War there was, at least on paper, a commitment to provide civil defence to colonial subjects. This included the transfer of gas masks, a state-sanctioned and supplied device against some of the most feared weapons of the next war, albeit in a very limited way. Similarly, there were proposals to develop the basic apparatus of ARP for a range of locales, especially in India. The full extent of plans is hard to measure as the official history of civil defence in the Second World War concerns itself only

Protecting which spaces and bodies?

75

with Britain, and there is no counterpart for the Empire.27 What follows, then, is a snapshot of two ways in which we can start to trace imperial civil defence from theory to practice.

IV Unsurprisingly, over the course of the conflict, some parts of the Empire needed civil defence more than others. While the apparatus of ARP might theoretically extend from the West Indies to Africa to Southeast and East Asia, in practice, the government focused civil defence on those spaces either deemed most vulnerable to attack or containing inhabitants considered more in need of protection. As we have seen, the planning took place before the official outbreak of the war, but the process of putting ARP into practice reveals some of the contradictions of the entire endeavour. Two case studies serve to illuminate this further. One is the implementation of ARP in India, which experienced air raids in several key places, in the context both of the mobilization of troops and of active resistance to the war effort. The second is the process whereby anti-gas protection, namely who would receive respirators, was worked out. A full year after the worst of the aerial attacks on the British Isles, ARP was still a work in progress in India, although by September 1940 “as the war developed and the possibility that India might be subjected to air raids gradually became greater,” a more formal ARP structure took shape.28 In 1941, the Government of India grouped towns into categories that were to receive differing levels of ARP. Class I locales (including most of the subcontinent’s major cities such as Agra, Ajmer, Bombay, Calcutta, Cochin, Delhi, Karachi, Lahore, Madras, Rawalpindi and Peshawar), as well as those labelled Class II (such as Ahmedabad, Amritsar, Bannu, Conconada, Gujrat, Kotri, Simla), could receive the full measures available under ARP. Those with Class III status (Abottabad, Coonoor, Cuttock, Dacca, Darjeeling and Fort Sandelman) would obtain only warning sirens and what was called “elementary training.”29 The potential weaknesses of this scheme – which stands in marked contrast to the metropole – would not emerge until later. The conduct of the war and the growing threat posed by Japan by the start of 1942 led to the further intensification of civil defence in India. This prompted new discussions about how to mobilize and, thus as important, whom to mobilise to ensure that ARP became operational and accepted by local populations. In February, Tej Bahadur Sapru (prominent member of the Liberal Party in India) wrote to Sir Maurice Hallett (then governor of the U.P.) about a recent demonstration of ARP measures that he had witnessed in Allahabad: It is true that if our slogan is to be “sit quietly in your houses in the safest room” it will fit in with the life of Purdah Nashin Ladies, but you cannot exclude the possibility of unfortunate mishaps in crowded parts of the town full of Purdah Nashin ladies and it is as against those dangers that many of us feel some anxiety. I think educated Indian ladies will be quite

76

Susan R. Grayzel

willing to help their sisters in this matter by going round but this has got to be organized.30 The “unfortunate mishaps,” of course, were air raids and the no longer theoretical bombing of civilian spaces and bodies under the protection of the British Empire. The facts that efforts to prepare for this would take place as far interior as Allahabad and that recruiting women as well as men speak to the extent to which civil defence had become something the imperial state could be seen as doing to ensure the safety (and perhaps, it hoped, loyalty) of its subjects. It was after the bombing of Singapore in December 1941 and January 1942 that ARP in India moved into a more active cadence and with new awareness of the potential limits of the policy adopted thus far. In April 1942, A.W. Ibbotson, director general of civil defence for the Government of India, sent a memo to all Provincial Governments and Chief Commissioners to offer a particular, official spin on what had transpired there. The memo began not with an account of the damages inflicted but with the assertion that as far as ARP services were concerned, “both Chinese and Indian did very well.” Ibbotson then praised the role of propaganda and the subsequent willingness of the population to adapt to such things as roof spotting and communal kitchens. If there was one failing, it was the lack of enough mobile canteens to provide for ARP workers on the job.31 A further shortcoming of imperial civil defence revealed during this bombing appeared in a circular that month from Government of India UnderSecretary C.L. Bryson. He elaborated: “air raids precautions were excellent, but shelters were not enough. The sirens were blown too late . . . Most people had shelter-mania . . . one hour passed in a shelter resulted in a loss of three hours work.” Bryson tried to paint a positive picture but ended up contradicting himself and reifying assumptions about the “character” of certain groups: “[t]here was no panic. The Chinese were brave and there was no crying or screaming. . . . The Malays were bad.” As an example of this, Bryson stated that “the police were the best service and functioned till the end. There were some desertions by the Malays. . . . The Sikhs behaved splendidly and were staunch. The Malays had to be disarmed. Up-country, orders were given to the police to disband their men and to leave. These orders broke the hearts of the European personnel.” Not until the end of his report did Bryson fully explain how despite “civil defence services (medical, A.R.P.)” being “good and staunch,” ARP lacked one crucial factor: A point which had an extremely bad effect on the labour and coolie [sic] element, was the fact that there were no public shelters available, and that many of the Europeans rapidly constructed good air raid shelters for themselves and their families, paid for out of their own pockets, and they also purchased steel hats and other protections. . . . The natural reaction to this was that the coolie [sic] said: “the Tuans have their protection, we have none, why should we stay?” And they didn’t.

Protecting which spaces and bodies?

77

This highlights a crucial distinction between ARP in the metropole and in the colonies, which is that it relied on the promise in the former of equal treatment. Within Britain, the government orchestrated the provision of shelters for everyone, even if these included ones that householders were meant to construct themselves, determined that gas masks would be distributed free to all, and consequently demonstrated in theory that no one space or population was publicly deemed of greater importance than another. Bryson’s illustration of how privilege, race and wealth separated out those able to endure an air raid and those who could not suggested a glaring limitation in the design of colonial ARP and presumably one that he wished to draw attention to for India.32 That the provision of civil defence could be seen as a way to transcend the politics that undermined imperialism can be found in several official accounts of ARP efforts in India in 1942 and 1943. An update on ARP for the National Defence Council in July 1942 contained the following explanation for its growth, despite noting gaps in recruitment as 130,000 wardens were needed but only 79,000 had been enrolled.33 Of particular interest to the spread of civil defence were “the parallel popular organisations that have sprung up in many places, in some to help, in some to supplement, and in a few to compete with the official Civil Defence Organisation.” It explained how the actions of the Congress and the Muslim League (and unnamed “others”), who “were intent on refusing to join in the official organization and raising volunteers of their own,” caused considerable consternation at first. Ultimately, this led the government to adopt a series of principles to guide civil defence going forward. “Firstly to try our utmost to dissociate civil defence from politics, we were out to save life in an emergency and the killer would not distinguish between one political party and another.” Building from this, the government would welcome all who were “really willing to help in a friendly way” and to take the risk that “these problems settle themselves . . . in the streets of the cities . . . where small personalities and real necessities would count and bring out the real wish of the people in the total.” It noted hopeful signs that “co-operation at the bottom” had led to people working together, and this had been bolstered by leaders of both Congress and the Muslim League making clear [in some undefined way] that they had “no objection to their followers joining in the good work of the official A.R.P. organisation.”34 By defining the common enemy as external and the practice of civil defence as apolitical, the British Government could claim both to be providing a basic need and to be doing so for motives that transcended politics, that were not necessarily self-interested in promoting their own authority. The political nature of civil defence – that support for its official apparatus could be read as support for Empire – can be found in later accounts of Indian civil defence such as an updated “Memorandum on Civil Defence for the National Defence Council,” issued in April 1943. This included a summary of reports on how the disturbances of August 1942 (associated with the Quit India Movement) had affected civil defence services. In essence, the report used accounts of the damage sustained to civil defence equipment or of personnel

78

Susan R. Grayzel

who left their positions as a way of assessing support for the British Government. So, for instance, it recorded that in Bengal: “11 ARP posts, several evacuation huts and ARP requisites (at one place were damaged),” and there were 1–2 resignations from the civil defence services, “but on the whole the A.R.P. Services have not been seriously affected.” In the United Provinces, it listed 11,855 rupees worth of damage as having been sustained, but that “[p]aid A.R.P. personnel in almost all cases were loyal and in many cases gave a great deal of help.” However, the following caveat appeared at the end of this section: “[o]n the whole it cannot perhaps be said with confidence that all unpaid A.R.P. personnel were loyal to Government but they were on the whole recruited from the class which is loyal to Government.” Other locales, such as Assam, saw “nearly all volunteers enrolled at North Lakhimpur, Nowgogn and Hbiganj deserted. But the general attitude of ARP personnel both paid and unpaid was satisfactory.” Of less concern to this discussion is the accuracy of “satisfactory” conduct on the part of those performing civil defence work throughout India than the perception that their willingness to participate in such services was being read as symptomatic of their loyalty to the imperial regime at a moment when it was most challenged during the Second World War.35 As air raids increased in number, ARP continued to be the focus of government officials. Summing up his perspective after a recent visit to oversee ARP measures in action, Lord Linlithgow wrote to Secretary of State for India Leo Amery on 17 May 1943: The A.R.P. seemed in good form, and from what I am told I think that people in this part of the world have now settled into the routine of air raids and that there has been a very great improvement in morale, and in the staying power of the local population so far as that is concerned. I thought the personnel I saw very smart and well turned out, and the preparations in the various places which I visited gave one the impression of being adequate.36 If ARP were adequate, given the ongoing death toll from famine, the bombings can be seen as merely adding to devastation. On the eve of the Japanese raids of December 1943, vans commissioned by the Government of Bengal for ARP casualties were re-appropriated to collect instead “sick destitutes” in the city of Calcutta. This demonstrates that civil defence could (and perhaps should) mean something quite different in a context where government policy could have saved tens of thousands of lives from starvation rather than focusing on the less acute danger of loss of life posed by air power. It spectacularly failed to do so.37 Elsewhere, as the 1939 testing of gas masks to determine their suitability for Indian women in efforts to protect the families of service personnel reveals, the policy towards individualized anti-gas protection varied enormously between metropole and colonies as a whole. On the eve of the war, British policy was committed to providing individualized anti-gas protection to every man, woman and child free of charge. It was not clear where and how such devices

Protecting which spaces and bodies?

79

would circulate to the colonial sphere despite demands and queries about so doing, as already discussed. Despite the failure of an anticipated war of poison gas and flame to arrive, the government continued to emphasize that this might take place, without warning, and cultivated continued awareness as the war continued. Asked to account for the status of anti-gas measures in the colonies, the Defence Department of the Colonial Office compiled a list in March 1942. It ranked colonies according to the extent to which civilian anti-gas provision was available. It listed only Malta, Gibraltar and Aden as “colonies where respirators are provided for the entire civilian population,” although noting that gas masks would not be provided “for civilians who would not remain in Aden under attack.” The next category contained “colonies where respirators are provided for the civilian population in principal towns” and thus only Cyprus and Palestine. A third category included those colonies where gas masks were limited to “key personnel,” largely those involved in civil defence services, such as Gambia, Gold Coast, Sierra Leone, Uganda, Zanzibar, St. Helena, Trinidad and Transjordan (where the account also noted that “other civilians [were] encouraged to buy respirators”). The final and largest grouping listed those colonial spaces where no precautions had been taken – although in some cases, a few gas masks were on hand for training purposes. This group contained most of the West Indies (including Jamaica and Barbados); the African colonies of Northern Rhodesia, Nyasaland, Tanganyika and Nigeria; and places as far-flung as Ceylon, the Falkland Islands and Fiji. Again, a note next to the entry for Fiji suggests that the Governor there had asked Australia and New Zealand to help supply anti-gas equipment. What is striking about these calculations is the way in which the bodies/spaces to be protected reflect two overriding concerns. The first is a sense of needing to be alert to a potential enemy (Italy) that had used gas in the not so distant past, hence a need to equip everyone on Malta or Gibraltar. The second seems more strategic: ensuring that colonial subjects and spaces are defended in locales that will help to preserve access to India. As for the provision of gas masks in India itself, as far back as the May 1942 report on civil defence, the government had concluded: “[t]he subject of preparations against gas attack has been, and still remains, a very difficult one. It is impossible to put four hundred million people into gas masks, or even the 25 million to be found in the towns in which A.R.P.s are to be taken.”38 It added that even if masks could be provided, “the illiterate portion of the population, which is very large, could not be educated to use them properly and to preserve them.” Furthermore, officials expressed anxiety that too much attention to anti-gas precautions would fuel panic.39 By August, this was still the policy, although efforts had been made to “do a limited amount of unobtrusive training in more likely gas target towns” and therefore to store some equipment in bulk to distribute if necessary.40 When Singapore fell, gas masks that had been on route there were diverted to India but remained held in storage rather than distributed to the civil population in 1944 (and were hardly enough to have made a difference if they had been needed).

80

Susan R. Grayzel

Prewar planning for civil defence assumed that the greatest danger facing civilian spaces would come from aerial bombardment, potentially with chemical arms. Yet during the Second World War in the British Empire, the damages sustained by the bombing of imperial cities, especially Indian sites such as Calcutta, pale in comparison with the far more calamitous disaster of famine. The effects of the British Government’s failure to respond to famine only highlight the choices made to sustain ARP and to debate the provision of gas masks, rather than other measures to safeguard the civilian population over the course of the war.

V Paying attention to this little known story of efforts to provide and promote civil defence in the British Empire reveals how the state came to understand modern war as one without limits. The imperial context also sheds light on how such efforts were aligned with other imperial projects that sought to regulate colonial bodies for their own good.41 It is difficult to disentangle the ways in which ARP mattered as demonstrating symbolically that Britain wanted to be seen as caring for its colonial populations from its desire to provide practical measures that contributed to the waging of war. This preliminary and schematic overview of civil defence suggests that its development in the Empire as in the metropole was as much a cultural project as a strategic one. The British Government’s core prewar and perhaps wartime dilemma revolved around questions of how to protect civilian bodies and spaces. It sought to do so because of the effect on morale as much as on other factors that might enable victory, including preserving the lives of its civilian colonial populations. From its origins in the interwar period to its implementation during the Second World War, those agents establishing and administering civil defence relied on assumptions about gender, ethnicity, race and class. At its core, the invention of imperial civil defence reflected government calculations about which spaces and also which bodies were most in need of – and worth – protecting.

Notes 1 My thanks to the conveners – Ashley Jackson, Gajendra Singh and Yasmin Khan – and participants at the 2013 conference on the Imperial World at War for their helpful feedback on the original paper. I gratefully acknowledge the research assistance of Mahima Machanda and my appreciation for the close readings and comments from the editors, as well as Durba Ghosh, Vivian Ibrahim, and Joe Ward on earlier versions of the piece. 2 See The National Archives (TNA), WO 89/3197. 3 The phrase comes from the 1935 Air Raids Precautions Circular. 4 An overview of experiments at Porton Down can be found in G.B. Carter, Chemical and Biological Defence at Porton Down, 1916–2000 (London: H.M. Stationery Office, 2000). It devotes one paragraph to imperial efforts on page 58.

Protecting which spaces and bodies?

81

5 Given the preliminary nature of this study, it will focus on government efforts and metropolitan debates, although the response of populations to a variety of civil defence measures across the Empire is something that I hope to take up in future work. 6 Committee on Imperial Defence Sub-Committee on Air Raid Precautions, Minutes of Meeting, 17 June 1929. TNA CAB 46/7. 7 Place names will be given as they appear in the original documents. 8 “Extracts from a letter dated 31/3/20 from Major Salt,” TNA, WO 188/58. These are also what the British characterized as the “martial races.” For more on the creation and uses of this category, see Heather Streets-Salter, Martial Races: The Military, Race and Masculinity in British Imperial Culture, 1857–1914 (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 2004). 9 Salt further pointed out that “perspiration” might be a problem as well as “the oxidizing action of the sun’s rays” on the masks, indicating an awareness of environment as a variable in creating effective devices. “Extracts from a Letter Dated 31/3/20 from Major Salt,” TNA, WO 188/58. 10 “Extracts from a Letter Dated 31/3/20 from Major Salt,” TNA, WO 188/58. 11 Civil Defence Research Establishment (India). IOR L/Mil/7/19257. 12 “Memorandum on Preliminary Experiments Carried Out to Obtain Data for a Large Scale Test of the Sensitivity to Mustard Gas of British Troops in India and of Indian Troops,” 26 June 1933, TNA, WO 188/493. 13 “Memorandum on the Sensitivity Test, with Particular Reference to the Sensitivity of Personnel in India,” 19 November 1936, TNA, WO 188/493. 14 On air power in the interwar empire, see David E. Omissi, Air Power and Colonial Control: The Royal Air Force, 1919–1939 (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 1990); Priya Satia, “The Defense of Inhumanity: Air Control and the British Idea of Arabia,” AHR 111:1 (2003) 16–51. 15 See the thorough discussion of this in R. M. Douglas, “Did Britain Use Chemical Weapons in Mandatory Iraq?” JMH 81 (2009) 1–29; and Simeon Shoul, “British Tear Gas Doctrine between the World Wars” War in History 15 (2008) 168–190. Widespread public disapproval of chemical arms provides context for the discussion in E. Spiers, “Gas Disarmament in the 1920s: Hopes Confounded” Journal of Strategic Studies 29 (2006) 281–300. 16 This became know as the “ARP Circular.” For more on its development and responses to its release, see Susan R. Grayzel, At Home and Under Fire: Air Raids and Culture in Britain from the Great War to the Blitz (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2012), especially chap. 8. 17 This is one of the most intriguing things about British policy. In contrast to both totalitarian states like Germany and democracies like France, Britain uniquely decided to provide gas masks free of charge and to the entire population. 18 See “Abyssinian Casualties from Poison Gas,” Times 16 October 1935; “Bombing of the Red Cross,” Times 2 January 1936; British Section of WIL Minutes, 1935–36. 19 “Poison Gas in Abyssinia,” Times 31 March 1936. 20 “Red Cross Official’s Protest,” Times 25 March 1936. 21 See the quote in newspaper accounts such as “Britain Warns Italians against Poison Gas,” Daily Express 31 March 1936, and in the pamphlet, Norman Angell, You and Mustard Gas (London: League of Nations Union, 1936), 2. 22 George Steer, Caesar in Abyssinia (Boston: Little Brown, 1937), 233. Further references will be made parenthetically. This is the American version of the British volume published in 1936 by Hodder & Stoughton. 23 Steer, Caesar in Abyssinia, chap. XVII for further details. 24 “Report on Civil Defence in India” 30 May 1942. This report begins with a detailed official chronology of the establishment of civil defence in India from which the paragraphs that follow are drawn. The 1937 executive council order responded to a suggestion made in August 1936 by the Chief of the General Staff for a “preliminary investigation” of the question. See IOR L/PJ/7/4728.

82

Susan R. Grayzel

25 Ibid. In this sense, the 1938 proposals resemble those of the metropole, where the division of financial burden between the national government and the local authorities (under whose responsibility ARP was largely placed) skewed heavily towards the local, with vociferous objections raised when the Air Raids Precautions Act was debated in 1937. For more on these parliamentary debates, see Grayzel, At Home and Under Fire, chap. 8. 26 File on “Provision of Respirators for the Families of Service Personnel Serving in the Colonies” with attached notes; quotes from CID Overseas Defence Committee, 15 November 1937, and Army Council Letter, 17 May 1938; TNA CO 323/1592/66. In addition, the CDRE continued to conduct trials for gas masks on Indian (mainly military) subjects. See “Trial of Respirators in India” (1938) in IOR L/MIL/7/19243. 27 T. H. O’Brien, Civil Defence (London: H.M. Stationery Office and Longman, 1955), part of the History of the Second World War: United Kingdom Civil Series. It makes no claim to cover civil defence outside the United Kingdom but has tantalizing glimpses of these dimensions, such as a reference to a type of mask for police services derived from one used on the Northwest Frontier (see 138). 28 See “Report on Civil Defence in India” 1942, which also lists the appointment in 1941 of key personnel: Raghavendra Rao as the head of Civil Defence seated on the Executive Council [until his death and replacement by Sir J.P. Srivastava in July 1942] and A.W. Ibbotson, director general of civil defence. It was also the case that the inability to resolve how to finance ARP and conflicts over the extent to which the costs fell on the central government or the provinces further delayed action. This was not resolved until January 1942, when the provincial government assumed the first level of responsibility (no more than 4 per cent of its budget) with expenditures split thereafter 50/50 for the next set of costs, and the central government taking on a greater percentage of the financing as (and if ) costs increased. An advisory role but not a financial one was also set in place for Indian States. See IOR L/PJ/7/4728. See also Yasmin Khan, The Raj at War: A People’s History of India’s Second World War (London: The Bodley Head, 2015), chap. 8. 29 National Archives of India [NAI], ARP File 174/29/41. By 1942, this scheme was reflected in colour coding in terms of potential exposure to air raids. Red for Bengal, Assam, Bihar and the coastal districts of Orissa, together with the coastal belt 25 miles deep running round the coast of India from Orissa to Sind; pink for Orissa, Madras, Bombay and Central Provinces and portion of the Universal Provinces south-east of a line drawn from Bombay to Cawnpore to the Nepal border, together with intervening Indian states; the rest of India was white. See summation of this and also note (in “Statement on Civil Defence for the National Defence Council,” 7 July 1942) that the whole of India would now be “the threatened area,” given Japanese actions. IOR L/PJ/7/4728. 30 IOR MSS Eur/E251/63. 31 NAI, ARP File 211/42 CDD Circular No. 145/42, From A.W. Ibbotson to All Provincial Governments and Chief Commissioners, 1942. 32 NAI, ARP File 211/42, CDD Circular No. 168/42, From C.L. Bryson to All Provincial Governments and Chief Commissioners, 1942. 33 Not all areas of Britain responded readily to the call to volunteer for ARP. The most interesting parallel may lie with Northern Ireland, where recruitment of wardens for ARP also fell well below anticipated needs. See PRONI, CAB3/A/69. 34 “Memorandum on Civil Defence for the National Defence Council,” 7 July 1942, IOR L/PJ/7/4728. The report also notes the growing presence of women organized for ARP work under a Central Committee for Women’s Voluntary Services under the Presidency of the Marchioness of Linlithgow. 35 “Memorandum on Civil Defence for the National Defence Council,” April 1943, IOR L/ PJ/7/4728. 36 Extract, private letter from Lord Linlithgow to Leo Amery, 17 May 1943, IOR/L/ PJ/7/4725. 37 See Janam Mukherjee, “Hungry Bengal: War, Famine, Riots, and the End of Empire 1939–1946” University of Michigan Dissertation, 2011, chap. 5, “Japan Attacks”; for

Protecting which spaces and bodies?

38 39 40 41

83

information on repurposing of ARP casualty vans into “corpse disposal” vans to cart away dying and not dead, 231. See also Madhusree Mukerjee, Churchill’s Secret War: The British Empire and the Ravaging of India during World War II (New York: Basic Books, 2010) and the brief overview in Christopher Bayly and Tim Harper, Forgotten Armies: the Fall of British Asia, 1941–1945 (Cambridge: Penguin, 2005), 282–291. “Report on Civil Defence in India” (1942), section on “Gas,” IOR L/PJ/7/4728. Ibid. “Memorandum on Anti-gas Measures to Be Undertaken by Provincial Governments and States,” 17 August 1942, IOR L/PJ/7/4728. There are many important works on this topic; I have drawn upon Bernard S. Cohn, Colonialism and Its Forms of Knowledge: The British in India (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1996); Philippa Levine, Prostitution, Race and Politics: Policing Venereal Disease in the British Empire (London: Routledge, 2003); Ann Laura Stoler, Along the Archival Grain: Epistemic Anxieties and Colonial Common Sense (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2010), and Ann Laura Stoler, Carnal Knowledge and Imperial Power: Race and the Intimate in Colonial Rule (Berkeley, CA: University of California Press, 2002).

5

Guided development versus New Deal internationalism British planning for the Middle East during the Second World War and a clash of Anglo-American ideologies Simon Davis

The British concept of ‘guided development’ in the Middle East emerged during the drafting of Foreign Secretary Anthony Eden’s Mansion House speech of 29 May 1941.1 This proclaimed that ‘cultural and economic ties yes, and political ties too should be strengthened’ with the Arab world under ‘any scheme which commands general approval’. Crucial economic aspects of these projections were to prove irreconcilable, however, with the United States, a rift that determined, at best, ambiguous and delimited cooperation between the ‘allies of a kind’ during the successive postwar crises of British neo-imperialism in the region. The latter current remains historically neglected, either by Cold War–era historians who generally proceed from 1945 or by postcolonial perspectives that generally dismiss the Second World War as an exogenous affair that merely froze political life for its duration. In either context, Britain is invariably portrayed as doomed by its own arrogance and parsimony in the face of unremedied indigenous discontent. Meanwhile, according to prevalent Cold War diplomatic histories, the Americans tried, despite Britain’s imperious delusions, to sustain their ‘welcome and benevolent senior partner’ as an anticommunist asset.2 Where Eden’s 1941 speech and the policies that followed are remembered at all, Michael Cohen caricatures them as pro-Arab appeasement, notable only for betraying Zionist entitlement to Palestine. But their deeper significance was in precipitating an Anglo-American dichotomy over how the entire Middle East would fit into what kind of global order, which in denying vital material and political support to British regional development models assigned them a slow death. Of course, limited British means, contrasting with residual hauteur, which in turn aggravated local resentment, were important, but so too were catalytic US rebuttals, lasting throughout the 1950s, of British appeals for institutionalized joint provisions marrying American resources with supposed British regional expertise in the planning of sustainable proWestern modernity.3 By contrast, diplomatic historians construct an ‘American Orientalism’ as empathically channelling British mentalities and functions into a succeeding United States neo-imperial order in the Middle East.4 A cluster of petroleum histories, written after the 1970s oil price revolution, did note wartime

British planning for the Middle East

85

Anglo-American rivalry, particularly over Saudi Arabia.5 Marxisant revisionists, led by Gabriel Kolko, also attribute American engagement in Iran in the 1940s, against both Britain and the Soviet Union, to totalizing capitalist drives excluding all other rivals. Both genres concur that American business interests, chiefly oil companies, exaggerated a British threat to solicit relief from the Roosevelt administration for their wartime financial paralysis. A ‘corporatist’ public–private symbiosis is said to have followed, privileging big business in US Middle Eastern policy.6 Anglo-American historians, led by W.R. Louis, venture that, by leaving the Middle East military-political sphere to Britain, ‘mutual and total misapprehension about wartime aims’ was reconciled. Steve Marsh posits a Cold War ‘paradigm shift’, reviving the special relationship against what David Painter labels elective Soviet affinity with third world national liberation. So the Americans regretted, even deplored, how Britain succumbed to the Iranian oil nationalization and to Nasser over Suez, as well as finally the 1967 sterling crisis after which it scuttled its residual military presence in the region.7 But such interpretations overlook the formative awakening of US official sensibilities to the Middle East during the Second World War, coming largely via pejorative interactions with British schemes for guided development. These were not seen as benevolent but as advancing a sterling-orientated bloc likely to harm the region’s peoples and American interests by closing the Middle East to equality of economic opportunity. The United States’ war aims, describable as ‘New Deal internationalism’, sought to replace such ‘old world’ spheres with a new order based on market-brokered trade and development for ‘lesser nations’. Drawing on American anti-colonialist, ‘open door’ and Wilsonian traditions, the Roosevelt administration sought to replace imperial power tutelage with sovereign rights for ‘lesser nations,’ including freedom of economic choice, within multilateral United Nations provisions.8 To any truly free people, munificent, politically unencumbered American partners were tacitly assumed as likely to appeal most. Official pump-priming was justified as being only upon recipient nation volition and as facilitating ultimate private-sector agency, as Bob Vitalis has noted of US economic diplomacy in wartime Egypt. European empires, even where quasi-informalised as Britain ventured in the Middle East, were slated for liberation along with Axis- and Japanese-occupied territories; the principle, whether articulated by Stalin or practiced by Churchill, that Allies extend their systems as far as their armies reached, was inimical in American thinking to future world peace and prosperity.9 These criteria became a moral measure of all other powers, in the Soviet case justifying the Cold War. But even where the exclusion of communist influence necessitated liaisons with European powers in the global periphery, the invariable American course was to separate political and economic from strategic considerations before shifting as soon as viable to prime interlocution with indigenous client allies. Postwar British solicitations for joint Anglo-American development institutions in the Middle East, alongside military provisions,

86

Simon Davis

were invariably rejected, notwithstanding a Vietnam War–era, late flowering of US interest in preserving Britain’s strategic role. By this time, the latter was a rump appurtenance. In most respects, regional development patterns were along American-mandated ‘free world’ lines, even where rudimentary, inelastic or otherwise marginal Soviet bloc assistance provided a fig leaf of nonaligned respectability. After 1971, ironically, British ‘gentlemanly capitalism’, supported by the exercise of what would now be called soft power, profited in the Middle East without formal imperial trappings and obligations. But their displacement has seemingly been so total as to erase even the historical memory of British neo-imperial state corporatism and how its proposed course differed from American desiderata, now considered the norms of capitalist globalization.10 The Second World War was nonetheless, as Nathan Godfried, Bob Vitalis and Robert Tignor and I have tried to show, the watershed period for an existential conflict between Anglo-American schemata. As Michael Stoff suggests: ‘A transfer of power was beginning – not just in the Middle East and not just with respect to oil’.11 Harold Wilson’s ultimate decision in 1968 to depart, far from being a wanton abrogation of power and influence, as Tore Tingvold Petersen has claimed, merely concluded processes beginning in 1941 when two variants of outwardly projected capitalism, with respective neo-imperial and liberal internationalist precepts, began to vie for supremacy. On the question of corporatism, where the American version reified the private sector, even if initially sustained by loss-leading subsidization, Britain’s war of national survival led it to embrace state planning to an extent, as Richard Overy and Keith Jeffery each observed, as close to a command economy as it would ever be.12 This facilitated the upward phase of what Jack Gallagher called ‘the decline, revival and fall of the British Empire,’ resolving the great power self-doubt that arose from interwar neoclassical retrenchment. The 1940 Colonial Development and Welfare Act anticipated a cooperative, mutually benevolent empire based on integrative planning,13 and the following year this authentically corporatist core–periphery model was extended to the Middle East. Here ‘empire on the cheap’ had left British prestige, in the words of its own servants, little more than a threadbare garment. Its ‘undeclared empire’, to use John Darwin’s term, had been a nugatory jumble of colonial, diplomatic, Indian, civil, military, multinational and localized commercial interests. Middle Eastern territories were mostly independent or quasi-autonomous. By default of alternatives, motley Britons prevailed as diplomats, technical advisers and political agents, via privileged treaty, financial and concessionary arrangements, over a reactive, parsimonious status quo that aggravated widespread and varying local resentments. In Palestine, these were uniquely provoked by Britishsponsored settler colonialism, against which its Arab population fought back. After crushing, not appeasing these rebels, Britain recognized that the regionwide hostility its repression aroused now had to be redressed for the long term.14 Official, political and scholarly partisans of systemic imperial development and integration had survived despite Treasury-induced orthodoxy after 1921.

British planning for the Middle East

87

But what Elie Kedourie called ‘the Chatham House version’ – a progressiveutilitarian fusion of British with colonial subject interests – remained a fringe position. Nevertheless, circumstances changed during the Great Depression and perforce during mobilization for war. By 1940, finance, exchange, trade, capital goods allocations, shipping, manpower, industrial and agricultural production, investment, distribution, consumption, nutrition, health, research and development were under strategically minded state direction.15 Cohesion began to be imposed over the Middle East by a dedicated Committee of Imperial Defence sub-committee; a region-wide Middle East Command (MEC) was reconstituted under the Royal Air Force in 1938. After July 1940, Churchill’s coalition applied wider-reaching principles to this, Britain’s largest operational land theatre, via a dedicated War Cabinet subcommittee. Egypt, Palestine, Transjordan, Iraq and the Gulf emirates entered the sterling area, with Saudi Arabia and Iran also effectively bound to its provisions by default of alternatives. By spring 1941, proposals emerged (dominated by the Foreign Office Eastern Department, despite its having blocked earlier Colonial Office initiatives) for accompanying relief and development programmes, firstly to rally regional sympathies for the Allied war effort and then to lay foundations for the relationships Eden went on to invoke, which were sterling financed and implemented by British advisers and British firms working to plan with local political actors. Bob Vitalis terms these schemes ‘neo-colonialist’, undertaken by a new Cabinet-ranked Minister of State in the Middle East, Oliver Lyttleton, who presided over a new civil–military Middle East War Council and reported directly to the War Cabinet. His staff included economic adviser Richard Kahn, a Cambridge associate of John Maynard Keynes, who innovated anti-inf lationary controls and redistributed the means of life between classes and countries, while developing agriculture and industry with an eye to crafting a regional system based on mutual dependency and cooperation. Programmes were implemented by the Middle East Supply Centre (MESC), established in April 1941 under Commander Robert Jackson, an Australian transferee to the Royal Navy whose logistical experience in beleaguered Malta was now to be applied on a much larger scale.16 Directed from Cairo, MESC offices, boards, field stations, specialist missions, individual advisers and statisticians were attached to British diplomatic outlets in fifteen countries from Libya and Sudan to Iraq and into Saudi Arabia and Iran in early 1942. They coordinated trade, monetary stabilization, banking and credit, medical programmes, infrastructural and general construction, maritime, overland and civil air transport, locust elimination, agricultural experimentation and production, food distribution, industrialization and all related training. Its representatives arbitrated between indigenous constituencies, tending to blame traditional elites for pandemic hardships, while patronizing the masses. The Americans, particularly in Iran, were judged opportunistic, culturally inept interlopers, despite the inevitable necessity of their vast resources, on which the MESC drew heavily.17

88

Simon Davis

The MESC’s immediate task was to furnish imports denied by wartime shipping and exchange shortages, chiefly cement, chemical fertilizers, cereals, vegetable oils, processed foods and capital goods. The British were sensitive to famines and epidemics suffered during the First World War, which if re-emergent would undermine a sphere pivotal to their war aims. But this was hardly altruistic. Related activities were invariably subcontracted to British firms or consortia, notably the Anglo-Iranian Oil Company (AIOC) and its affiliates, British Overseas Airways Corporation, Cable and Wireless, Barclay’s Bank, regional Hong Kong and Shanghai Bank subsidiaries, Sir Alexander Gibb and Partners, Imperial Chemical Industries, Rio Tinto Zinc and many smaller firms, coordinated by the Treasury in the public–private United Kingdom Commercial Corporation (UKCC). The latter operated from MESC offices and carried out most daily MESC work, while British advisers liaised with indigenous bureaucrats to advance national projects intended to use up local sterling balances – credit accumulated by allied and occupied countries as payment for wartime goods and services. Subsequent forecasts were of returns from guided development, including petroleum operations, restoring Britain to macroeconomic solvency within ten years of peace.18 Middle Eastern economic relations with the wider world would also be British arbitraged: financial services, trade and shipping, commodity refining and distribution, along with trunk air and telecommunications linking Europe, the Mediterranean, the Indian Ocean Basin, the Far East and Australasia. Central British instrumentality in the postwar international system would thereby be assured, superseding an Indian Empire that was put on borrowed time after the Cripps mission’s failure to propitiate Congress in 1942. Regional development was crucial: Sir Bernard Reilly, the Governor of Aden, typified a dawning realization: ‘we cannot now exercise suzerainty without improving conditions’.19 Yet guided development depended on Lend-Lease for almost everything: American goodwill was therefore indispensable. Eden’s Mansion House speech was indeed contrived with this in mind, distinguishing benevolent British administration from German forms of occupation ‘built on hate,’ suggesting a humane template for future Anglo-American partnership, with Britain already applying President Roosevelt’s four freedoms in areas under its control. But as he spoke, Britain was imposing itself by force in the Middle East more completely than ever. Iraq was under invasion; the nationalist premier Rashid Ali and the military junta known as the Golden Square all but overthrown: Eden promised reformed, representative self-government there. He also pledged independence to Lebanon and Syria, imploring them to rise against Vichy: failing this, they too were invaded and occupied in June. Saudi Arabia was promised aid, prospectively remedying its poverty and insecurity but in ways facilitating convergence with its Hashemite and lesser dynastic neighbours, much against King ’Abd al-Aziz’s independent sensibilities. That the Colonial Office managed to excise Palestine from Eden’s remarks did not diminish transformative processes there, implicitly equalizing Arab and Jewish

British planning for the Middle East

89

economic standing, enhancing prospects for unitary statehood, with community rights secured within British-brokered regional guarantees. In August 1941, British power expanded beyond the Arab world via the Anglo-Soviet invasion of Iran. Finally, in Egypt in February 1942, Britain’s ambassador Sir Miles Lampson imposed a Wafd government on King Faruq. British hegemony had reached its zenith, notwithstanding Churchill’s fears of a Soviet collapse, bringing Germany into Iran or brief panic in Cairo after chimerical Axis victories at Tobruk and Mersa Metruh.20 Meanwhile, the Ministry of Information distributed Eden’s speech to the region – one of a series of pre-emptive self-denials culminating in Churchill’s signing of the Atlantic Charter in August 1941, with Roosevelt, on HMS Prince of Wales off the coast of Newfoundland. So far, the Americans seemed sanguine over the Middle East: Roosevelt rebuffed Iraqi and Iranian appeals for mediation; the US minister in Cairo, Alexander Kirk warned of a ‘most unfortunate impression’ of American abdication to British imperialism – he was ignored. So too were oil company warnings that MESC programmes in Saudi Arabia would so tie it to sterling as to preclude dollar-based oil development. Ruling King ’Abd al Aziz ‘a little too far afield for us’, Roosevelt nonetheless recommended the British subsidize ’Abd al-Aziz from their recent $425 million US war loan, while sending a small agricultural mission to al-Kharj, near Riyadh, introducing techniques to the desert from south-western US Indian reservations.21 Britain thereby mistakenly thought the Americans had consented to perpetual junior partnership; its assumptions were shaken by frictions over Lend-Lease, particularly Article VII of the governing Mutual Aid Agreement banning discriminatory economic applications. The United States resisted having its ‘most unsordid act’ misused merely to reinforce the sterling area, deny equal opportunity and allow Britain to accumulate gold and currency reserves for that purpose. Middle Eastern issues, dominated initially by oil and civil aviation, were a prime catalyst of these disputes.22 Bold theories on American capitalist aggressiveness nonetheless demand greater nuance. Initial British complaints were of sceptics, notably Army Chief of Staff General George C. Marshall, whose dismissal of the region’s significance left Britain to ‘do all the pulling’ there. Churchill had Lend-Lease coordinator W. Averell Harriman inspect the MESC in June 1941. Harriman recommended supplies be sent – on the condition that British firms not profit. This mood of ambivalent partnership was reprised in HMS Prince of Wales: Under Secretary of State Sumner Welles, New Deal internationalism’s leading ideologue, clashed with the Foreign Office’s Sir Alexander Cadogan when asserting that the Atlantic Charter prohibited ‘aggrandizement, territorial or other’ and endorsed ‘the right of all peoples to choose their own form of government’ along with ‘sovereign rights and self-government . . . to those who have been forcibly deprived of them’. Cadogan inserted ‘with due respect to their existing obligations’, only reluctantly accepting ‘enjoyment by all States, great or small, victor or vanquished, of access on equal terms, to the trade and raw materials of the world which are needed for their economic prosperity’.23

90

Simon Davis

Roosevelt ribbed Churchill on Britain’s ‘eighteenth century methods’ – closing off Africa, the Far and Middle East; Churchill replied that the Atlantic Charter applied only to Axis-occupied areas, not to the British Empire. But to American officials – especially New Dealers in the expanding federal bureaucracy such as Under Secretary of State for Economic Affairs Dean Acheson, Petroleum Administrator for War Harold Ickes and the eventual American Economic Representative in Cairo James Landis – the Atlantic Charter was universal and binding. The 1942 Declaration of the United Nations, Welles’ 1942 Memorial Day speech declaring ‘the age of imperialism is ended’ and Secretary of State Cordell Hull’s March 1943 Declaration on National Independence confirmed principles by which Britain would be judged and counterpolicies devised. As Assistant Secretary of State Adolf Berle reflected in early 1942, the British could not ‘get over the idea that no foreign government is entitled to a foreign policy without their OK, they of course reserving complete freedom. This would have to change’. Of course, Roosevelt characteristically deferred thorny particulars, but subsequent American encounters with guided development, often through openings provided by Britain for reassurance, merely aggravated tensions. By December 1943, these had broken out into systemic mutual antagonism.24 Early signs came in Iran where distress, caused by the requisition of ports, roads and railway lines to the Soviet front, was the severest in the region, compounded by drought in 1941–1942 and by Soviet grain seizures during the Nazi occupation of the Ukraine. Iran’s traditional playing of encroaching powers against one another was neutered by remarkable Anglo-Soviet accord. British anxiety up to summer 1941 over Reza Shah’s pro-German flirtations and unrelenting demands on AIOC was transformed into a sense of power by Operation Barbarossa: Stalin was now an ally, not Hitler’s catspaw. Britain’s determination to settle scores emanated from Churchill down to its minister in Tehran, Sir Reader Bullard, who scorned the ‘Persian character, smeared with villainy at every step’. Vindictive indifference to Iran’s straits followed.25 Iran’s plight was nonetheless real: Allied expenditures caused hyperinflation; Britain demanded evermore local currency from the Iranian national bank but devalued in order to conserve sterling. Deadlock resulted from the Iranian parliament’s vetoing of these disadvantageous terms, paradoxically creating monetary shortages for Iranians themselves and domestic economic paralysis. Reza Shah’s authoritarian national state all but collapsed after the Allies replaced him with his son, resurrecting prospects of an Iran partitioned into Anglo-Soviet zones of control, separated by a rump centre. The MESC entered in early 1942, establishing transport, food and medical boards but making sure of UKCC control over civilian supplies; these were trimmed according to proSoviet port clearance, road and rail priorities and British priorities in India and Arab countries. Moreover, Britain insisted on low, fixed official grain prices to remedy mass hardship, merely precipitating a rampant black market. This served Bullard’s line, which Churchill and Cadogan were eager to hear, that Iran’s problems stemmed from corruption, food hoarding and moral blackmail

British planning for the Middle East

91

by corrupt elites, using their masses’ suffering to extort more sterling from the soft-hearted British: the grandees’ ultimate fear was Soviet-backed popular revolution, implying that calculated British indifference to mounting mass discontents would bring Iran’s rulers scurrying to heel. This hard realism backfired by incurring American disgust. Where the US Minister, Louis Dreyfus, had been a lone pro-Iranian voice, US Army reports and OSS officers under cover as Lend-Lease inspectors soon confirmed British ‘work on the cheap’ as a manifold liability. A tipping point came when the MESC, urged by William Illiff, Britain’s chief financial official, withheld vaccine shipments during a severe typhus epidemic in order to break Iranian resistance on exchange rates. Dreyfus’s outrage precipitated American pledges of grain and pressure on the MESC to send medicines, vindicated by Iran’s releasing more currency. Meanwhile, the US Army took over and greatly expanded Iran’s ports, railways, and neighbouring facilities in Iraq. Largely in response to Dreyfus, the State Department also granted Iranian appeals for aid to its defunct state institutions; army, gendarmerie and civil advisers followed, including Arthur Millspaugh, who had once served Reza Shah, as Controller-General of Finances. Crucially, they served in Iran’s ministries, outside the MESC and, the State Department insisted, as Iranian state contractors, not US officials. The basis was laid for what President Roosevelt praised in 1944 as ‘an unselfish American policy,’ showing ‘lesser nations’ the benefits of United States ‘trusteeship’, in implied contrast to that of the British. Bullard lamented: Perhaps I am bitter, but the American tradition that an insult and a lie is not an insult and a lie if it is aimed at England, coupled with the other tradition (that) the slightest criticism of anything American by anyone who is English is ipso facto both a lie and an insult, becomes wearing in time.26 The British recognized that American sensibilities had to be appeased. So they invited US personnel into the MESC. Fred C. Winant, the Director of the US Office of Export Control, arrived in 1942 as chief US representative. He resigned after a year, citing British obfuscation and obstruction. US Minister Kirk now found his views better received amid an activist American epiphany.27 Washington was also changing: alongside the New Dealers, business executives in government service were lowering intervention thresholds against perceived British wiles. Lend-Lease Director Edward Stettinius, formerly chairman of US Steel, banned AIOC’s procurement of pipe and cracking equipment for the Middle East unless strict military utility was proven. Indeed, sterling oil production was generally being curtailed. With the Mediterranean closed, oil shipments to Britain were more efficient along Atlantic routes from the Western Hemisphere. British war industries therefore used Lend-Lease dollar oil, suggesting to US official firebrands such as Ickes and to Congress – notably the Truman Committee investigating the national defence programme – that

92

Simon Davis

American reserves were winning the war, leaving British-operated Middle East fields modernized and abundantly ready to win the peace. How this engaged the United States in Saudi Arabia after March 1943 is well known. Britain’s response was to seek rapprochement, fearing an ‘oil war’ that, given overall American economic ascendancy, it must lose; this is invariably cited as evidence that the oil industry concocted a non-existent British threat. Some officials concurred, notably State Department economic adviser Herbert Feis, whom Ickes and Stettinius, now at State, had sacked in November 1943, a week before he was due in London for conciliatory talks – which Stettinius cancelled.28 Feis was in the minority. Kirk and Winant collated reports from across the Middle East, not only on oil but on every aspect of MESC activities, discovering politically leveraged efforts to institutionalize British economic supremacy. Sometimes the Americans gave as good as they got: Pan-American Airways, operating long-range routes for the US Army Air Transport Command, not only trumped the under-resourced RAF and BOAC but outraged the British by beginning to sell reservations to local civilians on scheduled flights. The Foreign Office, Air Ministry and Government of India had this stopped, but it merely proved to be the first round in what Alan Dobson has called peaceful air warfare, not only for trunk and local routes but also for primacy in establishing Middle East national airlines. Similar battles followed over telecommunications between Britain’s well established Cable and Wireless and American newcomers AT&T and Westinghouse, who circumvented its telephone and wireless telegraph monopolies, often by innovating services that the British could or would not provide.29 Nor were American interests the only ones affected. In Lebanon and Syria, Major General Edward Spears’ mission undermined the Free French in favour of political and bureaucratic relationships with local nationalists, aligned with MESC programmes. Spears effectively negated French authority in November 1943 by forcing the release of local leaders who had declared national independence. He reinstated them in government and advanced their economic powers, which, as Steven Heydemann has observed, provided foundations for postwar planning, particularly in Syria. The US Consul General in Beirut, Cornelius van Engert, monitored these developments, anticipating the findings of the 1944 Culbertson mission that France’s marginalization by the British had to be outdone in turn by genuine independence and ‘open door’ international market relations. Micro level economic evidence does need investigating, however, raising the general point that the last monograph on the MESC was published in 1971; its copious records have since been fully declassified but little researched. What is clear from Cold War–era studies is that US desiderata were for new nation states to interact with the world unmediated by British regional institutions, and while Syria remained a backwater, Lebanon emerged as a major entrepôt for American multinational business. How this emerged from the Second World War awaits its dedicated historian.30

British planning for the Middle East

93

That local agency and interests were not passive is confirmed by Egyptian financiers and industrialists competing with each other while jockeying between the British and Americans. Britain’s preference was for closed contracts between compliant Wafd ministries and privileged British contractors. By the time the Wafd government fell in late 1944, such assumptions were being challenged by munificent, relatively apolitical American competitors that were therefore more congenial to nation-building and advanced by James Landis, the ex–Securities and Exchange Commission head and dean of Harvard Law School who replaced Winant at the MESC in May 1943. After returning home in January 1945, he embarked on an influential lecture tour advocating complete economic deregulation and American competition with Britain as vital to the cause of progress throughout the Middle East.31 Landis merely articulated widening American convictions. Iran was again catalytic. Britain continued in 1942 to withhold US-allocated supplies, toppling successive governments who tried to resist its will. It shut parliament down during the December Tehran food riots and ordered Shah Reza Mohammed to institute repression prior to any grain deliveries. The Shah implored Dreyfus, ‘if they can do this to my country, they can do anything’. Cadogan dismissed American demands for Bullard’s removal as lectures ‘on Persia about which they know nothing’, countering that Dreyfus had culpably undermined Allied interests. Insult was added to injury when MESC grain trucks finally arrived in the starving capital flying the Union flag and proclaiming, ‘Britain brings wheat to Persia!’32 American resolve solidified against the MESC, promoting Iran’s independent reconstruction backed by a $30 million loan. The British declaimed against incoming ice cream and air conditioners, ridiculed American advisers’ naive idealism and took unconcealed pleasure in the hostility they incurred by having, in Millspaugh’s words, to be ‘the government of the country in financial, economic and social affairs’. US policy was still to preclude British and Soviet spheres of influence. By 1944, this entailed advancing American firms in development roles, insisting that they, like US military and gendarmerie advisers and unlike the British and Soviet occupiers, were wanted by the Iranians themselves.33 A similar stance emerged over Saudi Arabia where American oil concessionaires Texaco and Standard of California succeeded by late 1942 in conveying a tangible British threat to their interests. That Britain had no desire to expropriate what was soon to be called ARAMCO misses a broader point: MESC currency plans for the indigent kingdom, drafted by Sir Francis Rugman of the Sudan civil service, proposed a London-based control board to act as a de facto central bank, per Iraq and Palestine, tying the Saudis to sterlingbased exchange and monetary policies, and implicitly to sterling trade requiring oil royalty payments in pounds. In late December, Lord Moyne led an MESC mission to Jeddah, intending to prepare the Saudis for entry into the Arab federation then being advanced by Lampson. Even if American-operated, Saudi oil was therefore likely to develop in a British-determined environment.

94

Simon Davis

Indicatively, the American agricultural station was specified by the British as best merged with MESC projects under central control. The companies were determined to preserve their dollar identity, which persuaded Roosevelt in March 1943 to declare Saudi Arabia vital to the defence of the United States, entitling it to Lend-Lease on its own account. Although ARAMCO spent most of the next two years fighting off Harold Ickes’ campaign for direct US Government control, Britain’s aggrandizing designs were an article of faith on all sides in this ‘battle of Washington’.34 Petroleum was but one front: visits to the region by the Truman Committee’s ‘Five Senators’ vindicated Kirk and Landis. Finally in 1943, Roosevelt’s personal envoy Major General Patrick Hurley confirmed Britain as working for comprehensive economic predominance, ‘daily outwitting naive Americans’ in ways ‘counter to the [United States] policy of sustaining Britain as a first-class power’. Sensing the danger, Britain’s prime directive became rapprochement, disavowing imperialist ends or its inhibition of local freedoms. Nonetheless, the War Cabinet was still advancing a postwar order whereby each Big Three ally, on United Nations authority if the Americans insisted, would oversee regions of historic interest and experience. Needless to say, the Middle East would be under British guidance.35 Arch-Tory imperialists India Secretary Leo Amery and Lord Privy Seal Beaverbrook joined with Minister of Labour Ernest Bevin in opposing American pretensions. Bevin denounced ‘nineteenth century’ American capitalism ‘preventing the 20th century in this country [sic],’ when discussing neo-imperial social and economic planning. Churchill nonetheless coaxed Middle East talks from Roosevelt: Stettinius came to London in April 1944, followed in August by an Anglo-American Petroleum Agreement that guaranteed existing concession rights and proposed regulated global supplies and prices. Stettinius was also reassured of a leading US role in Saudi Arabia and in Iran’s reconstruction and of access to Middle Eastern markets. But Britain expected the quid pro quo of American participation in a postwar MESC-successor body, the Middle East Economic Council.36 These accords unraveled when they failed to gain broader American acceptance, with their proliferating critics also sensing that Britain could do less and less to impede unilateral American wishes. In autumn 1944, the State Department sent a special economic mission to the Middle East under William S. Culbertson, the Commandant of the US Army Industrial College. Landis convinced him, citing OSS reports, that, however good Britain’s intentions might be, British-guided development would close off the region, injuring indigenous and American prospects alike. For petroleum and civil aviation, in particular, not to become ‘part of the British Empire’, full deregulation was essential, accompanied by diplomatic promotion for American culture, trade and advisory methods as forces for independence. No intra-regional planning agency, as Britain was now seeking, could be supported. Yet another US Senate touring party confirmed Culbertson’s findings in early 1945, when under anti-regulatory pressure, leavened by fears of sterling oil entering American

British planning for the Middle East

95

home markets, the Petroleum Agreement was also withdrawn from Congress, as was a renegotiated document, finally, in 1947.37 The end of the Second World War was marked by far-reaching AngloAmerican disaggregation. Bretton Woods fell short of British Keynesian expectations, while at the second Quebec conference, transitional Lend-Lease Phase III was denied. On the diplomatic front, with American involvement in Iran having precipitated Soviet counter-assertiveness in its northern province of Azerbaijan, Britain’s approach prior to and during the Yalta Conference was to seek a tripartite Allied deal. This the United States rebutted as sacrificing lesser nations to old world power politics. Roosevelt stunned the British further by announcing his plans for personal meetings with Egypt’s King Faruq, ’Abd al-Aziz al-Saud and the Ethiopian Emperor Haile Selassie immediately afterwards. Their tenor was of common anti-imperialism and national development, via well capitalized American facilitators, under open-handed United Nations principles. Accordingly, at the San Francisco conference, the Americans blocked British initiatives to have the Arab League accepted as a UNendorsed model for intermediary regional bodies. The nation state, extending neo-Wilsonian terms to the global periphery, was to be the unit of reference in the new international order. US Government financing for trade and small loss-leading aid projects followed: medical installations, airfields, and military aid, with the latter including communications and light engineering works. Economic and cultural diplomacy helped, notably with visits by Middle Eastern dignitaries to United States’ industrial, agricultural and educational facilities, contrasting an affluent society with bombed-out, broke Britain.38 But the Americans speedily dissolved most of their own corporatist experiments, including Ickes’ oil regime; the Millspaugh mission and US Army Persian Gulf Command were withdrawn from Iran, as were US staff from the MESC; President Truman trimmed Lend-Lease after VE Day and cancelled it entirely days after Japan’s surrender. Keynes called this a financial Dunkirk, which indeed stalled guided development in the Middle East. Scheduled talks on a joint successor to the MESC quickly deteriorated; Britain had little choice but to wind it up in October 1945, leaving behind an emaciated British Middle East Office (BMEO). Resources were concentrated in a new Iraq Development Board, with that country seeming most fully integrated into the sterling area, with selected American oil interests long accommodated on pro-British terms and where US ambitions seemed least apparent. But even here British officials noted American ‘bagmen and business thrusters’ starting to arrive. In May 1945, Premier Nuri as-Said and the Regent Abdulillah toured the United States, culminating in a gala night at New York’s Rainbow Room. Pressure on Britain to liquidate Iraq’s sterling balances into dollars soon began, becoming the effective price of a renewed Anglo-Iraqi defence treaty. This contrast between hegemonic appearances and underlying financial and economic atrophication became the leitmotif of postwar British experience.39 US policy meanwhile promoted expanded developmental agency for American multinational firms. In Iraq, Egypt, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia and Iran, this

96

Simon Davis

necessitated redistributive arrangements, up to the point of nationalization, for revenue-generating British-owned assets, prioritizing local needs over British postwar recovery and the rapid conversion of sterling balances into dollars. Such British capitulations were a precondition of US friendship, as Secretary of State James Byrnes put to Keynes during the autumn 1945 Anglo-US loan negotiations on which Britain’s immediate survival depended. Pro-American revisions in oil, civil aviation and telecommunications, specifically in the Middle East, followed, consolidating American holdings at the expense of the established pro-British status quo. In December 1945, State Department Near Eastern Affairs chief Loy Henderson specified ‘unilateralist’ British (and Soviet) conduct there as ‘a danger to world peace’. His staff elaborated: The British have in mind cooperating on a basis in which they would lead and guide. Our own ideas, as (we) understand them, are along the lines of free competition in trade and communications matters, complete liberty on the part of independent countries of the Middle East to select advisers and experts, and in general, a friendly vying among the Powers in the course of which each will put its best foot forward to help the Middle East countries get ahead on the basis of complete respect for their independence and sovereignty.40 Notwithstanding the subsequent US interest in preserving Britain’s military responsibility for this sector of the anti-Soviet containment perimeter, the preceding precepts determined opacity towards its vested economic position and related political interests in the crises of the 1950s. Britain’s moment of truth, which it abjured in order to preserve the comforting illusion of the special relationship, came during the October 1947 Pentagon talks on cooperation in the Middle East, which it had somewhat forlornly solicited. After spurning British overtures for Marshall Plan aid for the BMEO, US delegates vetoed any cooperation with the latter agency, also rebuffing a formal strategic partnership as uselessly antagonizing the USSR and, more importantly, compromising American economic and political legitimacy by association with British imperialism.41 This criterion remained as an underlying determinant of postwar US equanimity towards indigenous political-economic revisionism whenever it challenged Britain, with ultimate crisis resolutions sought via politically managed transitions to American-style core–periphery relationships in the geopolitical spaces thereby created.42

Notes 1 On Eden’s proposals: FO371 27043, E2703/53/65, 27 May 1941, Mansion House speech, May 29, 1941, Parliamentary Papers, Great Britain, 1941, Misc. no. 2, Cmd. 6289. 2 Mansfield, Peter, A History of the Middle East (London: Viking, 1991), 219. Stoler, Mark, ‘A Half Century of Conflict: Interpretations of US World War II Diplomacy’, Diplomatic History, 18 (1994), 376. Also, Kimball, Warren,‘The Incredible Shrinking War: the Second

British planning for the Middle East

3 4

5

6

7

8

9

10

97

World War Not (Just) the Origins of the Cold War’, Diplomatic History, 25 (2001), 347– 365. Hahn, Peter L., The United States, Great Britain, and Egypt, 1945–1956: Strategy and Diplomacy in the Early Cold War, (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1991), 11–12, 15–16. See Cohen, Michael, Palestine to Israel: From Mandate to Independence (New York: Frank Cass, 1988), chap. 7. Little, Douglas, American Orientalism: The United States and the Middle East Since 1945 (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2003). Kolko, Gabriel, Confronting the Third World: United States Foreign Policy, 1945–1980 (New York: Pantheon, 1988), 13, 18–32. Stoff, Michael, Oil, War, and American Security: The Search for a National Policy on Foreign Oil, 1941–47 (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1980). Miller, Aaron D., Search for Security: Saudi Arabian Oil and American Foreign Policy, 1939–1949 (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1980). Casillas, R.J., Oil and Diplomacy: The Evolution of American Foreign Policy in Saudi Arabia, 1933–1945 (New York: Garland Press, 1987). Anderson, Irvine H., Aramco, the United States and Saudi Arabia: A Study in the Dynamics of Foreign Oil Policy, 1933–1950 (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1981). Key ‘revisionist’ treatises include Kolko, Gabriel, The Politics of War: The World and United States Foreign Policy, 1943–1945 (New York: Pantheon, 1990), 280. Kolko, Joyce and Kolko, Gabriel, The Limits of Power: The World and United States Foreign Policy, 1945–1954 (New York: Harper & Row, 1972), 403, 413, 418. Doenecke, Justus, ‘Revisionists, Oil and Cold War Diplomacy’, Iranian Studies, 3 (1970), 24–28, 31. On American institutional dynamics in oil policy, Painter, David S., Private Power and Public Policy: Multi-national Oil Corporations and U.S. Foreign Policy, 1941–1954 (London: IB Tauris, 1986). Randall, Stephen J., ‘Harold Ickes and United States Foreign Petroleum Policy Planning; 1939–1945’, Business History Review, 57 (1983), 367–387. Also, on US corporatism, McCormick, Thomas J., ‘Drift or Mastery? A Corporatist Synthesis for American Diplomatic History’, Reviews in American History, 10 (1982), 318–328. Gaddis, John Lewis, ‘The Corporatist Synthesis: A Skeptical View’, Diplomatic History, 10 (1986), 358–362. Hogan, Michael, ‘Corporatism: A Positive Approach’, Diplomatic History, 10 (1986), 363–369. Louis, William R., The British Empire in the Middle East, 1945–51: Arab Nationalism, the United States and Postwar Imperialism (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1984), 183. Marsh, Steve, Anglo-American Relations and Cold War Oil: Crisis in Iran (Basingstoke: Macmillan, 2003), 3–7, 52. Painter, David, ‘Explaining US Relations with the Third World’, Diplomatic History, 19 (1995), on the West versus radical-Soviet ‘elective affinity’, 525–548. See for example, Fain, Taylor, American Ascendance and British Retreat in the Persian Gulf Region (Basingstoke: Macmillan, 2008), 11, 201–208. Borgwardt, Elizabeth, A New Deal for the World: America’s Vision for Human Rights (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2005). Thorne, Christopher, Allies of a Kind: The United States, Britain, and the War against Japan, 1941–1945 (London: Hamish Hamilton, 1978). On US development theory, Bright, Charles, and Geyer, Michael, ‘For a Unified History of the World in the Twentieth Century’, Radical History Review, 39 (1987), 80–82, 85. See, Gouda, Frances, and Zaalberg, Thijs, American Visions of the Netherlands East Indies, US Foreign Policy and Indonesian Nationalism, 1920–1949 (Amsterdam: Amsterdam University Press, 2002). Statler, Kathryn C., Replacing France: The Origins of American Intervention in Vietnam (Lexington: University of Kentucky Press, 2007). Honorable exceptions to the absence of economic analysis are Kunz, Diane, The Economic Diplomacy of the Suez Crisis (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1991) and Galpern, Steven G., Money, Oil and Empire in the Middle East: Sterling and Postwar Imperialism, 1944–1971 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2009). Also, Davis, Simon, ‘ “A Bloody Unpleasant Meeting”: The United States and Britain’s Retreat from East of Suez in the 1960s’, Diplomatic History, 34 (2010). On this form of British overseas interest

98

11

12

13

14

15

16

Simon Davis and its revival, Cain, P.J., and Hopkins, A.G., British Imperialism: Crisis and Deconstruction, 1914–1991 (London: Longman, 1993). Godfried, Nathan, Bridging the Gap between Rich and Poor: American Economic Development towards the Arab East, 1942–1949 (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1987). Vitalis, Robert, and Heydemann, Steven, ‘War, Keynesianism and Colonialism: Explaining State-market Relations in the Postwar Middle East’, in Heydemann, Steven, (ed.), War, Institutions, and Social Change in the Middle East (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2000), 100–146. Vitalis, Robert, ‘The New Deal in Egypt: The Rise of Anglo-American Commercial Competition and the Fall of Neocolonialism’, Diplomatic History, 20 (1996), 211–240. Tignor, Robert, ‘In the Grip of Politics: The Ford Motor Company of Egypt, 1945–1960’, Middle East Journal, 44 (1990). Davis, Simon, Contested Space: Anglo-American Relations in the Persian Gulf, 1939–1947 (Leiden: Brill, 2009). Stoff, Michael, Oil, War, and American Security: The Search for a National Policy on Foreign Oil, 1941–47 (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1980), 121. Overy, Richard J., ‘Great Britain; Cyclops’, in Reynolds, David, Kimball, Warren F., Chubarian, A.O. (eds.), Allies at War: The Soviet, American and British Experience, 1939–1945 (New York: Macmillan, 1994), 116–124. Jeffrey, Keith, ‘The Second World War’, in Brown, Judith M., and Louis, William Roger (eds.), The Oxford History of the British Empire: Volume IV: The Twentieth Century (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1999), 318, 326. Gallagher, John, The Decline, Revival and Fall of the British Empire: The Ford Lecture and Other Essays, (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1982), 73–153. Madden Frederick, and Darwin, John (eds.), The Dependent Empire, 1900–1948: Colonies, Protectorates, and Mandates: Select Documents on the Constitutional History of the British Empire and Commonwealth (Westport, CT: Praeger, 1994), 13–14, 17, 19, 25, 28–30. Beloff, Max, Dream of Commonwealth, 1921–42 (London: Macmillan, 1989), 89, 111–115, 185–196, 200–225, 331. Porter, A.N., and Stockwell, A.J., British Imperial Policy and Decolonization, 1938– 1964 (New York: Macmillan, 1987), 4, 12–13, 15, 20–22. Hancock, W.K., and Gowing, M.M., British War Economy (London: H.M. Stationary Office, 1949), 109–112, 233. British National Archives, FO371, 23179, E61/61/91, British Imperial Interests in Arabia, note by Sir Bernard Reilly, Governor of Aden, 3 January 1939. Balfour-Paul, Glen, ‘Britain’s Informal Empire in the Middle East’, in Brown, Judith, and Louis, W.R. (eds.), The Oxford History of the British Empire:Volume IV – the Twentieth Century (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1999), 498–499, for ‘empire on the cheap’. Darwin, John, ‘An Undeclared Empire: Britain in the Middle East’, Journal of Imperial and Commonwealth History, 2 (1999), 159–176. See, Silverfarb, Daniel, Britain’s Informal Empire in the Middle East: A Case Study of Iraq, 1929–1941 (New York: Oxford University Press, 1986). See, Eichengreen, Barry, and Irwin, Douglas, ‘Trade Blocs, Currency Blocs, and the Reorientation of World Trade in the 1930s’, Journal of International Economics, 38 (1995), l–24. Etherington, Norman, Theories of Imperialism: War, Conquest and Capital (London: Croom Helm, 1984), 206–216. Cain and Hopkins, Crisis and Deconstruction, 3–12, 49–53. Darwin, John, ‘Imperialism in Decline? Tendencies in British Imperial Policy between the Wars’, Historical Journal, 23 (1980), 657, 678–679. Cannadine, David, ‘The Empire Strikes Back’, Past and Present, 147 (1995), 229–236. Kedourie, Elie, The Chatham House Version and Middle-Eastern Studies: New Edition (Hanover, NH: University Press of New England, 1984), chap. 12, ‘The Chatham House Version’, 351–361, 373–393, also chap. 8, ‘Pan-Arabism and British Policy’, 220–228. Hancock and Gowing, British War Economy, 41–44, 47–50, 55, 60, 84–94, 472, 475. Overy, ‘Great Britain: Cyclops’, 114–118, 126. FO371, 23179, British Interest in Arabia, with enclosures, 3 January 1939; on FO-India Office tensions, FO371 27044, 1941. On oil industry hopes for integrated policy, R. E. Bamberg, The History of the British Petroleum Company – Volume 1: The Anglo-Iranian Years, 1928–1954 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1994), 51–54. On War Cabinet Middle East strategy and policy, Barnes, John, and Nicholson, David (eds.), The Empire at Bay: The Leo Amery Diaries, 1929–1945 (London: Hutchinson 1988), 632, 635, 638–639.

British planning for the Middle East

17 18

19 20

21

22

99

Subsequently, Public Records Office, Kew: War Cabinet Minutes, CAB66, 1941, WP (41) 116; 56 (41)4, on Arab policy. On Eden’s proposals, FO371 27043, E2703/53/65, 27 May 1941, with FO921, Records of the Minister of State, Cairo (Middle East Office) and FO 922, Records of the Middle East Supply Centre. Wilmington, Martin, The Middle East Supply Centre, (Albany: SUNY Press, 1971), 3–5, 8, 17–19. Jeffrey, ‘The Second World War’, 318, 326. Vitalis, ‘New Deal in Egypt’, 215–220. Kingston, Paul W.T., Britain and the Politics of Modernization in the Middle East, 1945–1958 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1996), 11–14. Davis, Contested Space, 47–110. Wilmington, The Middle East Supply Center, 3–8, 16–22. Kingston, Politics of Modernisation, 12–16. Hancock and Gowing, British War Economy, 106–120. Cain and Hopkins, Crisis and Deconstruction, 275. Porter and Stockwell, Imperial Policy, 20–23. Louis, William Roger, Imperialism at Bay: The United States and the Decolonization of the British Empire, 1941–45, (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1978), 100–107. FO371 28715 W10900/316/802, Lampson, Cairo, Civil Air, 6 September 1941. CAB92/13, Allied Supplies Executive, 26 November 1941; War Cabinet Committee on Supply, Production, Priority and Manpower, 28 November 1941: 27191 E6417/933/34, Richard Law, FO Minute, 4 October 1941. FO800 475 Bevin, Private Papers: Middle East, 1945–1946, Attlee letter, 1 December 1946; Sir Pierson Dixon memorandum, 9 December 1946: 476 – Attlee to Bevin, 5 January 1947; 9 January, Bevin to Attlee. Vitalis and Heydemann, ‘War, Keynesianism, and Colonialism’, is excellent on the movement from tentative interwar schemes to protoKeynesian regional planning. For British projections Galpern, Steven G., Money, Oil, and Empire in the Middle East, (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2009), 23–48. RG59 890F.51/32, Telephone conversation, Alling with Moffett, 18 June 1941: 890F. 51/23. Kirk to Hull, 26 June 1941. 890F. 51/38. Roosevelt to Jones, 7 August 1941 RG59 890F.51/32, Telephone conversation, Alling with Moffett, 18 June 1941: 890F. 51/23. Kirk to Hull, 26 June 1941. 890F. 51/38. Roosevelt to Jones, 7 August 1941. Reilly cited in Balfour-Paul, Glen, The End of Empire in the Middle East: Britain’s Relinquishment of Power in Her Last Three Arab Dependencies (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1991), 61. See, Davis, Contested Space, chap. 2. Zweig, Ronald W., Britain and Palestine during the Second World War (Suffolk: Boydell, 1986). Cohen, Michael J., ‘The British White Paper on Palestine, May 1939. Part II: The Testing of a Policy, 1942–1945’, Historical Journal, 19 (1976), 727–757. Warner, Geoffrey, Iraq and Syria 1941, (Newark: University of Delaware Press, 1979). Beaumont, Joan, ‘Great Britain and the Rights of Neutral Countries: The Case of Iran, 1941’, Journal of Contemporary History, 16 (1981), 213–228. Eshragi, F., ‘The Anglo-Soviet Occupation of Iran, August 1941’, Middle Eastern Studies, 20 (1984), 27–52. Morsy, Laila, ‘Britain’s Wartime Policy in Egypt 1940–1942’, Middle Eastern Studies, 25 (1989), 64–94. Thorpe, James, ‘The United States and the 1940–1941 Anglo-Iraqi Crisis: American Policy in Transition’, Middle East Journal, 25 (1971), 79–89. Beaumont, ‘Great Britain and the Rights of Neutral Countries’. Davis, Contested Space, 49–56, 63–73. Porter and Stockwell, Imperial Policy, 101–103. USNA, Records of the Department of State; Decimal Files RG59 890F.51/27, Roosevelt to Jesse Jones, Reconstruction Finance Corporation, 27 July 1941; 890F. 51/38. Kirk to Secretary of State Hull, 7 August 1941. Painter, Private Power, 13. Miller, Search for Security, 52. See, Kimball, Warren, ‘Lend Lease and the Open Door: The Temptation of British Opulence, 1937–1942’, Political Science Quarterly, 86 (1971), 253, 255–256. Dobson, Alan P., US Wartime Aid to Britain, 1940–1946 (London: Croom Helm, 1986), 115–116. Gardner, Richard N., Sterling-Dollar Diplomacy: The Origins and Prospects of Our International Economic Order (New York: McGraw-Hill, 1969), 173.Barnes and Nicolson, The Leo Amery Diaries. 1896-1929, 757–758, 767, 768. Hancock and Gowing, British War Economy, 246–247. Acheson, Dean, Present at the Creation: My Years in the State Department (London: Hamish Hamilton, 1970), 33.

100

Simon Davis

23 Roosevelt, Elliot, As He Saw It (New York: Duell, Sloan and Peirce, 1946), 24–41. For British views, Churchill, Winston S., The Second World War – Volume III: The Grand Alliance (London: Cassell, 1950), 385–393. Reynolds, David, The Creation of the Anglo-American Alliance, 1937–41: A Study in Competitive Co-operation (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1982), 258–259. 24 On US doubts, Heinrichs, Waldo, Threshold of War: Franklin D. Roosevelt and American Entry into World War Two (New York: Oxford University Press, 1988), 149. Leutze, J.R., Bargaining for Supremacy: Anglo-American Naval Collaboration, 1937–1941 (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1977), 260–261. For changing sensibilities, Randall, Stephen J., ‘Harold Ickes and United States Foreign Petroleum Policy Planning; 1939–1945’, Business History Review, 57 (1983), 367–387. Acheson, Creation, 39. Schwarz, Jordan A., Liberal: Adolf A. Berle and the Vision of an American Era (New York: Macmillan, 1987), 146–147. Davis, Contested Space, on Landis, 168–177. 25 Davis, Contested Space, 63–74, 86–99. Eshragi, F.,‘The Immediate Aftermath of the AngloSoviet Invasion of Iran in August 1941’, Middle Eastern Studies, 20 (1984). Hodgkin, E.C., (ed.), Reader Bullard: Letters from Tehran: A British Ambassador in World War Two Persia (New York: I.B. Tauris, 1991), 130. 26 See, MacFarland, Stephen L., ‘Anatomy of an Iranian Political Crowd: The Tehran Bread Riot of December 1942’, International Journal of Middle East Studies, 17 (1985), 51–65. Davis, Simon, ‘“A Projected New Trusteeship?” American Internationalism, British Imperialism, and the Reconstruction of Iran, 1938–1947’, Diplomacy and Statecraft, 17 (2006), 31–72. Hodgkin, Bullard Letters, 160. Millspaugh, Arthur, Americans in Persia (Washington, DC: Brookings Institution Press, 1946), gives a contemporary account of this experience, as does Vail Motter, T.H., United States Army in World War Two: The Middle East Theater: The Persian Corridor and Aid to Russia (Washington, DC: Department of the Army, 1952). 27 FO371 31539 U1938/1/71, War Cabinet Memorandum, 28 December 1942; Meeting at the Offices of Gladwyn Jebb, FO, 8 January 1943: 35166 W522/522/802, Lampson, Cairo, to Cadogan, 14 December 1942; 36462 W3710/522/802, Minister of State, Cairo to FO, 3 March 1943. Godfried, Bridging the Gap, 481–483. RG59 841.24/1227, Welles to Kirk, Cairo, 11 March 1942; 841.24/1268, Kirk to Hull, 19 March 1942; Frederick Winant, Division of Exports and Defense Aid, to Acheson, 17 April 1942. Motter, Persian Corridor, 94. RG59 800–24/294a, Hull to Kirk, 30 April 1942; 800.24/349 3/12, Kirk to Hull, 16 May 1942; 883.24/57, Hull memorandum, 18 June 1942. 28 Davis, Contested Space, chap. 4. Feis, Herbert, Seen from E.A. – Three International Episodes (New York: Alfred Knopf, 1947), 125, 129, 158. Feis, Herbert, ‘The Anglo-American Oil Agreement’, Yale Law Journal, 55 (1946), 1174–1179. 29 Davis, Contested Space, 100–105, 151, 220–229, 245–249, 268, 285, 296, 300. Dobson, Alan, Peaceful Air Warfare: The United States, Britain, and the Politics of International Aviation (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1991). 30 Roshwald, Aviel, ‘The Spears Mission in the Levant: 1941–1944’, Historical Journal, 29 (1986), 897–919. Zamir, Meir, ‘An Intimate Alliance: The Joint Struggle of General Edward Spears and Riad al-Sulh to Oust France from Lebanon, 1942–1944’, Middle Eastern Studies, 41 (2005), 811–832. Vitalis and Heydemann, ‘War, Keynesianism and Colonialism’, 3, 11, 13–18. For postwar relations, Gendzier, Irene, Notes from the Minefield: United States Intervention in Lebanon and the Middle East, 1945–1958 (New York: Columbia University Press, 1997), 65–83. Davis, Contested Space, 13, 155, 168–177, 194–195, 199–200. 31 Vitalis, ‘New Deal in Egypt’, 211–215. On Landis in the Middle East, Library of Congress, James Landis Papers, and FO371 45267 E457/456/65, Killearn, Cairo, to FO, Article by Landis in ‘Journal D’Egypte’, 3 January 1945, 19 January 1945. 32 FO371 31387 E7247/14/34, WO/MI2 on Teheran riots, 12 December 1942; E7485/14/34, Cadogan to Bullard, 19 December 1942: 31424 E77310/144/34, Cadogan, with Churchill, 14, December 1942. RG59 891.00/1962, Dreyfus to Hull, 12 December 1942; 891.00/1959, Hull to Dreyfus, 9 December 1942; 891.00/1985, Welles, with Halifax, 11 December

British planning for the Middle East

33

34

35

36

37

38

101

1942; Hull to Ambassador Winant, for FO, 11 December 1942; 891.00/1964, Dreyfus to Hull, 12 December 1942. FO371 34965 E909/784/G65, January 1943 Report by Brigadier R.T. Ransome. Middle East War Council, after tour of Iran; 35056 E5264/1/34, Bullard to FO, 26 September 1943. RG59 711.91/91 18, John Jernegan, Division of Near Eastern Affairs paper ‘American Policy in Iran’, 23 January 1943; Missions 891.51A/7–1044, Memorandum by Millspaugh, 10 July 1944. Davis, Contested Space, 189, n. 94. FO371 31454 E1231/584/25, Stonehewer-Bird to FO, 6711/6711/25, 5 November 1942: 31462 E7086/6711/25, Lampson Minute, 30 November 1942; E7280/6711/25, Halifax Minute, 2 December 1942: 31452 FO to Treasury, E7200/157/25, 9 December 1942; Lampson to FO, 20 December 1942. Library of Congress, The Papers of Harold Ickes. Container 220: ‘Report of the Sub Committee on Production of the Committee on the Impact of the War on the Petroleum Industry War Council’. 4 September 1942. USNA RG169 Petroleum Lend Lease Files: Saudi Arabia General and Miscellaneous. James McCabe, CASOC, to Stettinius, 27 October 1942. RG59 Petroleum Division 1943–1949. Box 6. CASOC: The Importance to the United States of Foreign Oil Reserves in General and of Saudi Arabian Reserves in Particular, 29 December 1942. Painter, Private Power, 47–51. FDR Library. Henry Morgenthau Diaries, Volume 482, 13. Godfried, Bridging the Gap, 10, 29, 39. Feis, Seen from E.A., 125, 129, 158. Davis, Contested Space, 116, 125–126, 132,155, on the Five Senators. FDR Presidential Library, Hyde Park, NY: President’s Secretary’s File PSF 138. Hurley to Roosevelt, 7 November 1943; PSF 40. Hurley to Roosevelt, 21 December 1943. On the need for rapprochement, FO800 431 Private Papers of Richard Law, ‘Law Report’, December 1943; Louis, Imperialism at Bay, 310, 351, 378. Thorne, Allies of a Kind, 222. FO371 34975 E5234/2551/ G65, Resolutions of the Middle East War Council, 10–13 May 1943; PREM3 296/3 WP (43) 302, Casey Memorandum: ‘British Policy in the Middle East’, 8 July 1943. FO371 34975 E4265/2551/G65, War Cabinet Office to FO, 15 July 1943. PREM3 296/3, War Cabinet: Statement of British Policy in the Middle East, 12 July 1943, and Churchill Minute, 15 July 1943. Kimball, Warren, (ed.), Churchill and Roosevelt: The Complete Correspondence, (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1984), vol. 2, 734, 744, 754: vol. 3, 3–10, 17, 27. PREM 4 424/1 Persia, August 1943 – July 1945: Churchill, 29 February 1944, RE Hurley Letter, 21 December 1943. FO371 39984 E1455/16/65, Halifax to FO, 5 March 1944. Dilks, David (ed.), The Diaries of Sir Alexander Cadogan, OM (New York: Putnam, 1971), 617. FO371 40793 War Cabinet Office ‘British Policy in the Middle East’, 19 April 1944. DeNovo, John, ‘The Culbertson Economic Mission and Anglo-American Tension in the Middle East’, Journal of American History, 63 (1977), 913–936. FO371 40007 E6422/706/65, Moyne to FO and Ministry of War Transport, 20 October 1944; E6755/706/65, Office of the Minister of State in the Middle East to FO, 3 November 1945; E7673/706/65, 3 December 1944; 41043 UE2700/24/71, Halifax to FO, 15 December 1944; AN1002/35/45, Michael Wright, HM Chancery Washington to FO, 16 March 1945, with Congressional Record, 79th Congress, First Session, Volume 91, No. 29, 15 February 1945. Stoff, Michael, ‘The Anglo-American Oil Agreement and the Wartime Search for Foreign Oil Policy’, Business History Review, 55 (1981), 59–74. Davis, Contested Space, 156–168, 193–194, 204–210, 238–243. See J.M. Keynes, ‘Overseas Financial Policy in Stage III’ War Cabinet Paper WP (45) 302, 15 May 1945, in Porter and Stockwell, Imperial Policy, 228. Davis, Contested Space, 195–199, 217. See Gallagher, Nancy, ‘Anglo-American Rivalry and the Establishment of a Medical Research Institute in Egypt, 1942–1948’, International History Review, 9 (1987), 291–298; Tignor, ‘Ford Motor Company of Egypt’; Gormly, James, ‘Keeping the Door Open in Saudi Arabia: The United States and the Dhahran Airfield, 1945–1946’, Diplomatic History, 4 (1980), 189–206. FO371 62080 Crown Prince Saud’s tour of US and UK, February 1947.

102

Simon Davis

39 Harry S Truman Presidential Library, Independence, MO: WHCF Confidential File. Box 19. Foreign Transactions of US Government. Cumulative Through March 31, 1945. FEA Director Crowley to Truman, 30 July 1945. Box 23: Grew, ‘Lend Lease to Europe’, 14 May 1945; FEA Briefing on the Lend Lease Act, 13 August 1945. Gardner, Sterling–Dollar Diplomacy, 190, 194–195. Porter and Stockwell, Imperial Policy, 53. FO800 512 (1945): Personal Papers of Mr. Ernest Bevin (United States). US/45/7, Bevin to Truman, 17 August 1945; Attlee to Truman, 1 September 1945. CAB 129/1, CP(45)144, C.R. Attlee,‘British Imperial Interests’, 1 September 1945. FO371 45753 Middle East Conference Minutes, 11 September–17 September 1945; E7151/175/G65, Bevin to Cabinet, ‘Summary of Conference Conclusions’, 25 September 1945. Kingston, Politics of Modernization, 18–19. See Gerke, Gerwin, ‘The Iraq Development Board and British Policy, 1945–50’, Middle Eastern Studies, 27, 2 (1991), 231–255. Silverfarb, Daniel, Twilight of British Ascendancy in the Middle East: A Case Study of Iraq,1941–1950 (New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1994), 24, 37. RG59 890G. 6363/5–2945, Grew, with Iraqi Minister Ali Jawdat, Nuri es Said, Acheson, Clayton, Bard, Archibald MacLeish, 29 May 1945. Truman Library. Official File 507 Iraq: Visit of Regent Abdul Ilah, 10 May 1945, program notes 28 May 1945. 40 RG59 890.00/12–2845, Loy Henderson – The Present Situation in the Near East – A Danger to World Peace. Director of the Office of Near Eastern and African Affairs, 28 December 1945; 890.00/1–446, Memorandum, Gordon Merriam, NEA, 4 January 1946. 41 Davis, Contested Space, 305–315. 42 Engerman, David C., Gilman, Nils, Haefele, Mark, Latham, Michael E., Staging Growth: Modernization, Development, and the Global Cold War (Amherst: University of Massachusetts Press, 2003), esp. Haefele, Mark, ‘Walt Rostow’s Stages of Economic Growth: Ideas and Action’, 83–102.

6

Japanese racial propaganda in occupied British Asia during the Second World War Felicia Yap

During the Second World War, the Japanese subjected the populations of their occupied territories to an extensive propaganda barrage about the racial benefits of their purported New Order. Thus far, only a limited number of academic studies have examined the nature and significance of Japanese propaganda activities across British Asia during the conflict. Few studies, too, have evaluated the impact of these propaganda measures on local populations.1 This chapter attempts to elucidate several key characteristics and effects of Japanese wartime propaganda activities through an examination of the conquerors’ use of printed media in occupied British Asia. It focuses mainly on developments in occupied Hong Kong, while citing the examples of Malaya and Singapore as supplementary case studies. More specifically, the chapter discusses the ways in which the Japanese attempted to harness the support of local communities for the occupying regime by drawing attention to the racial inequalities of British colonial rule in written propaganda. The Asians and Eurasians of Hong Kong, for instance, were frequently reminded about the professional and social discrimination they had experienced under the British and were assured that the Japanese intended to rectify these glaring deficits of colonial rule. The chapter also examines the ways in which the Japanese attempted to solicit the assistance of disaffected local residents in attempts at disseminating wartime propaganda. Finally, the chapter discusses the ways in which these developments had an impact on the thinking of both captive and non-captive British colonials during the conflict and their effects on subsequent British attempts at reform after the war. It contends that the early 1942 Japanese propaganda blitz against Western imperialism and racial inequality, followed by three and a half years of further conditioning of the local Asian and Eurasian populations, did indeed usher in a postwar legacy of change.2

Japanese propaganda during the war From the earliest days of the conflict, the Japanese employed a wide range of both overt and subtle propaganda materials to appeal to their occupied populations to cooperate with them and to support the new racial ideals that they

104

Felicia Yap

were expounding across British Asia. During the battle of Hong Kong, for instance, Japanese propaganda leaflets in multiple languages (often bearing graphic messages or images) began raining down from the skies, urging various local Asian communities to turn away from the Allied cause in support of the Japanese one. The British captain Freddie Guest recalled seeing an airdropped leaflet that: showed a Chinaman at the Cross Roads. One road led to a sordid and poverty-stricken town and was marked: ‘The British Road’. The other led to a large town of clean streets, fine buildings and prosperous-looking Chinese men and women walking happily about. The Japanese Rising Sun shone brightly overhead. Under this leaflet was written: ‘Which road will you take?’.3 Another leaflet bluntly declared that ‘Asiatic people should not fight amongst themselves, but shoulder to shoulder drive the Americans and British out of Asia’.4 The British policewoman Phyllis Harrop concluded in April 1942 that the propaganda leaflets were ‘definitely aiming at the suppression of the white population and inflaming the Chinese and Indians to turn against us’.5 A key objective of the initial Japanese propaganda blitz was to reinforce the conquerors’ message of liberation from Western control. Numerous propaganda leaflets accordingly contained crude depictions of Western moral perversion and bankruptcy, largely to reinforce the message that the Japanese had ‘emancipated the downtrodden peoples of Asia’ from depraved white imperialists.6 One such leaflet depicted British soldiers forcibly carrying off local women to satiate their perverted desires, while another pictured the British frolicking about while Asians did the fighting for them.7 Captain Guest remembered seeing a second leaflet bearing a picture of: a large, fat, white man, supposed to be John Bull. He was completely nude and was sitting on a massive ornate chair. By his side were bags of money spilling out gold and silver coins and on each of his massive knees sat a pretty Chinese girl – also completely naked. Under this effort was printed: ‘How the British destroy the morals of your womenfolk with their gold’.8 Another handbill issued in Hong Kong contained an image of an Indian atop an elephant and a rotund, whip-bearing British male astride a second Indian with the accompanying caption: ‘Elephant is employed by you and Englishman employs you . . . Elephant obeys you and you are at the mercy of Englishman’.9 The language and images employed by these leaflets were often rudimentary, stilted or crude. However, their collective message was clear: the arrival of the Japanese had marked the end of ‘oppression’ and ‘ruthless exploitation’ by degenerate whites, as well as ‘deliverance from the yoke of Western imperialism’.10 Emphasis was also placed on the stunning succession of military victories enjoyed by the Japanese during the early months of 1942, particularly their

Japanese racial propaganda in British Asia

105

capture of the so-called ‘impregnable’ fortress of Singapore and their subsequent invasion of the Dutch East Indies.11 Within weeks of the Japanese takeover of these territories, newsreels of the ‘ignominious’ British surrender of Singapore were shown in local theatres. One shot of Singapore, for instance, depicted ‘unarmed Australians with hands up being searched by a Japanese, while another covers them with a rifle’, while ‘pictures of Indians helping to move guns, supposed to have been in Malaya, were also shown’.12 Clips of large numbers of Allied POWs being herded into captivity were played to reinforce the Japanese contention that ‘the vaunted supermen of the white race have melted like butter’.13 These were supplemented by filmed images of triumphant Japanese garrisons and march-pasts of victorious Japanese troops in their newly conquered territories. The Japanese also began erecting loudspeakers at street corners for the dissemination of propaganda broadcasts, modelled on the ‘communal listening’ practices of Nazi Germany.14 Immediate control was also exerted by the Japanese over all forms of printed media within the occupied territories of British Asia. To this end, newspapers published, managed, distributed or financed by Japanese individuals before the war were rapidly resurrected and disseminated to local populations.15 Newspapers deployed by the Japanese as propaganda mouthpieces included the English-language Hong Kong News and the Syonan Shimbun (previously the Straits Times of Singapore), as well as the Chinese-language Hong Kong Yat Po.16 The primary target audiences of these publications were the literate residents of these occupied territories. These included the Eurasians, Indians, and Anglicised Chinese of Hong Kong, the Straits Chinese and Indians of Malaya and Singapore, as well as the few neutrals, third nationals and Baghdadi Jews who had remained behind in these territories after the Japanese takeover.17 The Japanese also enlisted disaffected members of these communities in the work of drafting propaganda copy for these newspapers. Many articles published in the Hong Kong News under Japanese auspices, for instance, were penned by Eurasian and Indian staff writers who had long nurtured grudges against the British and were eager to voice their support for the new regime.18 A few, too, had previously worked for Japanese news organisations before the war. One report indicates, for instance, that a semi-editor of the newspaper was a certain ‘Mr. Drake’, a former correspondent for the Domei news agency in Hong Kong.19 The Syonan Shimbun was also known to have hired a number of disgruntled Eurasian individuals as staff writers.20 As the weeks passed, the Japanese also began soliciting the assistance of Axis nationals, neutrals and Baghdadi Jews in the work of disseminating wartime propaganda. In Singapore, the British Director of the Botanic Gardens, E.J.H. Corner, was exempted by the Japanese from internment and permitted to remain at his prewar position. From his vantage point in the occupied city, he observed that a number of Axis and third national Europeans (of German, Irish, Czech and Danish backgrounds) and Eurasians were employed by the Japanese Department of Information at the Cathay Building in Singapore to prepare propaganda for the projected invasions of Australia and India.21 Albert

106

Felicia Yap

Lelah, a Baghdadi Jew in Singapore, was invited by the conquerors to a table ‘full of food and wine’ and was asked by a Japanese official if he would assist the conquerors in the production of Arabic propaganda broadcasts.22 The Japanese were also known to have pressured some Allied nationals in their occupied territories to broadcast propaganda on their behalf. Some Australian and New Zealander inmates of the Stanley Internment Camp in Hong Kong were approached by their captors ‘with a view to their transference to Shanghai whence they would be expected to broadcast by radio to their home countries some of “good-feeling” stuff, calculated to slacken the tempo of war-efforts’.23 In July 1942, the Australian war correspondent Dorothy Jenner was invited by the Stanley camp commandant Takasaki for a drink in his quarters and offered the opportunity to be released from the camp and to take up work at a Japanese news agency in Shanghai where she would urge Australian troops to abandon the Allied cause and support the Japanese.24 While Jenner refused the offer, a couple of her fellow inmates whose reactions were ‘not immediately negative’ were ‘promptly transferred from the camp to Shanghai’.25 A number of Allied nationals (such as the American journalist Don Chisholm and the British sailor J.K. Gracie) did eventually engage in broadcasting work for Japanese in the north. The motivations of these individuals varied greatly. As Bernard Wasserstein has concluded in his study of collaborators in wartime Shanghai, some individuals were largely opportunistic in their actions, while others who had been reduced to desperate straits by the conflict began to regard collaborative work with the Japanese as a solution to their financial woes.26 Within days of their takeover, the Japanese also began deploying more subtle forms of written propaganda to persuade their occupied populations of the deficiencies of British colonial rule. From mid-January 1942, the Hong Kong News began issuing scathing denouncements of the rampant ‘arrogance’ and ‘selfishness’ displayed by the previous imperial masters.27 The British, asserted the newspaper, had unashamedly ‘instituted slogans such as, “Dogs and Chinese not admitted” or “Chinese in the street, foreigners on the pavement” ’ during their time in power.28 In Singapore, it added, a young Chinese doctor who entered the lounge of the Raffles Hotel for a drink was ‘quietly told that he could not be served because he was a Chinese’.29 One article even claimed that such British snootiness had persisted at the height of the battle for Hong Kong: ‘Pompous officials exerted their authority needlessly and many of the better class Chinese were stopped from entering centres where food and other commodities were available because they seemed to be for Europeans only. Apparently, it was considered in some quarters that the stomachs of the Europeans were more important than those of the Chinese and other nationals’.30 The newspaper also stated that the Japanese were intent on removing these disgraceful features of British colonialism from their new pan-Asiatic order. As a follow-up article had assured its readers, ‘[W]hen Singapore falls, the last vestiges of British influence, symbolising the old order of exploitation and corruption, will be wiped out, not only for a day or for a year, but forever, because

Japanese racial propaganda in British Asia

107

the new outlook arising out of the new order Japan is succeeding to create will not tolerate the return of the “Boy, whisky soda” era’.31 Emphasis, too, was placed on the fact that the Japanese were adopting a comparatively ‘open’ approach to the governance of these occupied territories, especially in contrast to the obliquely autocratic practices of British colonial rule. Visible efforts, in particular, were made by the Japanese to publicise and promote their new administrative policies through the frequent staging of press conferences.32 In Hong Kong, the Japanese Governor Rensuke Isogai made a point of addressing representatives of the local media on a monthly basis. Press conferences were also regularly conducted by the Japanese head of Administration, by the chiefs of various central governmental departments and even by the head of the military police.33 In Singapore, the newspapers began allocating ‘at least one page to official notices’ on a daily basis, while the Director of the Welfare Department (Mamoru Shinozaki) began convening weekly ‘meet-the-people’ sessions on Sundays to ‘explain what they meant’.34 The Japanese also devoted themselves to exposing various racial aggravations that had simmered within these colonial territories prior to the outbreak of war, particularly the discrimination endured by Asians within professional contexts. The Hong Kong News, for instance, began publishing a series of editorials on how well qualified Asians had long been denied rightful opportunities for career advancement (and equitable salaries) by virtue of their racial backgrounds. Citing the example of British Malaya, it claimed that ‘young British doctors with hardly two years hospital experience came out on salaries four or five times bigger than those paid to Asiatic doctors with the same (British) qualifications and experience. Similar conditions applied in the Education department where teachers were paid according to their colour, and not according to their qualifications or experience’.35 An editorial by ‘A Correspondent’ promised in January 1942 that: Japan has come forward to establish a New Order for East Asia, and it is time that equality should be restored to the Asiatics. It was not uncommon for a Chinese or Indian, who had had long service in the government, to have to obey the orders of a young upstart, newly arrived from “Home,” who knew practically next to nothing and who nevertheless received several times more pay. The local staff was forced to work for a small sum while their “masters” enjoyed a typically comfortable colonial existence.36 A month later, a follow-up article promised its readers that the Japanese intended to rectify these inequities within the British colonial regime: which seemed to have as one of its objects the suppression of Asiatic peoples who, irrespective of their capabilities, were seldom given the opportunity to rise to positions of high standing either in the government or in big business concerns. But callow British youths just out of school and half-witted Englishmen were often placed in charge of departments over

108

Felicia Yap

the heads of Asiatics who, perhaps, had spent nearly half their lives in these very same departments and who, therefore, knew their work inside out . . . The people of Hongkong can be assured that this is not the Japanese idea of fair play. In fact, to eradicate such abuse of the rights of Asiatics is one of the aims of Japan.37 Ample attention was also devoted to the injustices and grievances experienced by the Eurasian community before the conflict. As a Hong Kong News editorial had asserted in January 1942, ‘the Eurasian when he seeks employment is classified as a “native” and is required to accept “native” pay . . . The Eurasian could be of great help . . . contributing valuable liaison between the ruling nation and the native population. Instead, in most British territories, those of mixed blood are under-privileged, discontented and resentful’. The British, it added, had ignored the difficulties experienced by Eurasians and largely denied them ‘representation as such in government’. Traction was also given to the rumour that the British had ruthlessly deployed Eurasian recruits to the Hong Kong Volunteer Defence Corps as cannon fodder during the battle for the colony, to shield white troops. Thus, as the newspaper pointed out glibly, ‘of all the units engaged they had more killed or wounded’.38 Reminders were also dispensed to the Eurasians of Hong Kong about the ‘uncharitableness and discrimination’ they had endured under the British, as well as the comparative ‘privileges of access to food supplies and all other conveniences and rights’ they were enjoying under the Japanese.39 The Japanese also set about condemning various racially driven social fissures and taboos that existed across colonial British Asia, especially as far as lofty British attitudes towards social contact and miscegenation were concerned. In February 1942, the Hong Kong News published an editorial by a certain Peter M. Wong entitled ‘The Question of Colour: British Snobbery That Destroyed an Empire’. The article vociferously deplored the snooty British disinclination to socialising with members of other races, stating that the British in Singapore had ‘considered themselves to be of superior clay’ and demonstrated a patronising attitude ‘bred from that inate [sic] feeling of racial superiority’. Lamenting that ‘social intercourse between Chinese and Europeans was rare where it was not artificial’ before the war, it cited the conspicuous example of how a young Hong Kong cadet was ‘severely reprimanded’ by the Committee of the Royal Yacht Club for bringing ‘a highly respectable Chinese girl, daughter of a leading Chinese family’ to the Club’s Ball. The article also contended that: [m]embers of the Colonial administrative service who showed any familiarity with the Chinese found their progress hampered; and any hint of matrimony with a Chinese or Eurasian girl resulted in the young enthusiast being sent Home. Even in the lower ranks of the Government service, European dockworkers, Police inspectors, sanitary officers and the like who married Chinese and Portuguese girls invariably thereby put a seal on their advancement.40

Japanese racial propaganda in British Asia

109

The Japanese also took considerable pains to emphasise that significant political, social and racial advances were taking place under their new regimes, in an attempt to win over the support of various constituent communities of their occupied territories. ‘These Far Eastern races can now see before them release and liberty’, proclaimed the Hong Kong News merely six days after the Japanese takeover. ‘The Japanese Army’s attitude towards Hongkong is to make a new Hongkong in the shortest possible time and make it one of the most flourishing places in East Asia. The people must put their confidence in the Japanese Army’.41 Emphasis was devoted to the fact that Asians were rapidly being elevated to higher positions under the Japanese. In February 1942, the Hong Kong News declared that ‘already the Japanese have set a fine example by appointing an Indian as Commissioner of Police at Kuala Lumpur. Never before has an Asiatic risen above the rank of Inspector in the Malayan Police Force’.42 Over the subsequent months of occupation, the Japanese did in fact appoint influential Chinese residents to the Representative and Co-operative Councils of Hong Kong, as well as to district advisory bureaux.43 Publicity was also given by the Japanese to the fact that certain communities, such as the Indians of Hong Kong, were enjoying greater political liberties and freedoms under the occupiers. Before the war, stated the Hong Kong News, the Indian community was ‘never allowed any opportunity to take part in any form of politics. Now, however, with the kind permission of the Nipponese authorities, Indians in Hongkong are being given full freedom in expressing their national and political ideas in their own way’.44 Even as late as December 1944, the Hong Kong News continued to assert that the Japanese had successfully torn down several prewar class barriers within professional contexts.45 It stated on 3 December, for instance, that ‘all employees are treated with the same consideration’ in ‘the majority of Japaneseowned commercial enterprises’ and even ‘the humble messenger shares in all the material benefits which the other “white collar” employees might receive’. Unlike prewar Hong Kong, staff members were entertained at tea or luncheon parties by their Japanese employers and not excluded as they ‘used to be by the “aristocratic” Britishers and other “superior” white races’.46 A follow-up article on 25 December insisted that class distinction has ‘become a thing of the past, and it is now no uncommon sight to see a Japanese employer fraternizing freely, and without any display of superiority complex, with even the lowest paid member of his staff’.47 As the newspaper insisted, there was now ‘a complete absence of the “boy” and “coolie” cry that was so prevalent in the “bad old days” ’.48 The deft use of wartime propaganda by the Japanese did eventually inf luence the thinking of a number of interned British colonial officials during the conf lict. In Hong Kong, the civilian inmates of the Stanley Internment Camp received regular copies of the Hong Kong News (and even propaganda newspapers in Japanese and Chinese) from their captors. The Japanese had ostensibly regarded the contents of these newspapers – particularly

110

Felicia Yap

exaggerated reports of multiple Allied retreats and defeats in the Pacific – as a means of demoralising their captives.49 In Singapore, the Changi internees were provided with a few daily copies of the Syonan Shimbun prior to October 1943. Between May and October 1943, nightly English news broadcasts were also received from the Singapore News Broadcasting Station. From October 1943, the internees were supplied with two issues of the Voice of Nippon, a propaganda newspaper designed especially for POWs and internees.50 Although the content of these Japanese-sponsored materials were said to be ‘about 75% propaganda’ (as C.E. Courtenay, the Changi men’s representative had phrased it), many internees were nevertheless able to read between the lines and obtain valuable information about the progress of the war and key developments in the outside world.51 At Stanley, the interned Secretary for Chinese Affairs R.A.C. North prepared and circulated regular news bulletins to his inmates, filtered from the contents of the three propaganda newspapers received in the camp.52 As a result of these developments, many leading British officials within the camps were aware that things were rapidly evolving in the outside world (that some Asians, for instance, had been granted greater opportunities and higher administrative positions by the Japanese). Many also began to recognise that there could be no return to the status quo antebellum after the conflict.53 Some had grasped, too, that the restored British would have to accommodate the altered expectations of the local populations after the war. These included demands for greater equality of treatment, especially in terms of career prospects, promotions and salaries.54 In October 1943, the interned Hong Kong Police Commissioner John Pennefather-Evans prepared a report at the Stanley Camp that detailed several proposed postwar reforms for the Hong Kong Police Force. In his report, he argued that Asians should be elevated to higher-level positions within the Force and given better salaries after the war. ‘A better educated type of Chinese’ should be recruited to the Force, he wrote, for ‘educated Chinese, carefully selected and trained, can produce first class police material’.55 He was also eager ‘to try the experiment of recruiting a few Eurasian lads of good standing’ as sub-inspectors, being certain that ‘we should find some good police material among them’.56 He was confident that ‘it is possible to utilize Asiatics to perform duties hitherto performed by Europeans, without any undue loss of efficiency’.57 The pay of the Asiatic contingent, he added, should be revised upwards ‘to enable a man to marry and raise a family of three children, in a reasonable degree of comfort’.58 The extensive propaganda tactics employed by the Japanese in Hong Kong even appear to have persuaded the interned Colonial Secretary Franklin Gimson of the need for a similarly effective British propaganda machinery within the postwar territory. As Gimson had mused in his camp diary in June 1944, ‘[S]ufficient use has not been made of propaganda in British countries possibly owing to the fact that it is very difficult to use effectively. I think however that if people are to be educated politically propaganda must be more widely

Japanese racial propaganda in British Asia

111

used’.59 A month later, he remarked in his diary that he spoke to a fellow British official in the camp: on the subject of the conduct of British propaganda after the war and informed him that I thought it was a subject which would have to receive considerably more attention in the future than in the past. If Hong Kong is to be a centre of propaganda considerable expenditure will have to be incurred in the provision of a bigger broadcasting station and on the salaries of the additional staff required. Still however I think it is a subject which must be carefully investigated.60 A desire for postwar improvement was also apparent amongst several colonial hands who had escaped internment. The ex-Malayan lawyer Roland Braddell was compelled to write to The Times that ‘not only will the British have to go back to Malaya in a spirit of contrition, but with a definite plan for closer understanding between the various communities – British, Malay and Chinese’.61 A British rubber planter who had resided in rural Malaya for thirty years before the war had remarked in a letter to his Chinese friend Foo Yin-chew in May 1943 that he was certain that the British ‘can never go back to the old order and racial intolerance will go with the changing times’. He also encouraged his friend to speak up more boldly after the conflict, urging him to be frank about what the Chinese ‘want, and what they object to – You are allies, not poor relations. Be Chinese and proud of it and don’t accept the back seat’. As he added: ‘Racial exclusiveness, racial arrogance and racial privilege for us, British, have got to go. A few years ago, an [sic] hotel was opened on Cameron Highland which advertised in the Malayan Press that “Asiatics would not be admitted,” though Asiatic people were employed as servants! This sort of things does cause bitterness and anti-British feelings, and is real food for Japanese Anti-European propaganda’. The Malayan Civil Service and other state departments, he felt, should be opened up ‘to all Races domiciled in the Country’, for ‘it is only right that the truly domiciled population should have some say in their own government’.62

British innovations after the war Soon after the Japanese surrender, Franklin Gimson’s wartime calls for the use of more ‘propaganda’ in postwar Hong Kong were rapidly implemented in the form of an extensive British public relations blitz. The British internee Duncan Sloss (the prewar Vice Chancellor of Hong Kong University) was promptly appointed Chief Press Officer in Gimson’s interim government. Sloss quickly took on the necessity of clarifying British postwar policies to the residents of the territory. He even began organising daily press conferences at which ‘details of the government’s rehabilitation programme were released’ and that acted as platforms for various heads of civil departments to discuss issues of public concern.63 His first press conference at the French Mission Building

112

Felicia Yap

was attended by a number of journalists and members of the press, including an American newsman and a British naval press officer.64 As in Hong Kong, a similar form of public relations machinery was also quickly established by the British in postwar Malaya. A key figure in this regard was the ex-internee Mervyn (Mubin) Sheppard who had emerged from the Changi Camp with the new title of Director of Public Relations. As he recalled of the immediate postwar period: Meanwhile I concentrated on the creation of a completely new department: nothing of the kind had ever existed before the war . . . Renting an office in Java Street we began to issue news releases to the press . . . We also opened two public Reading Rooms in Kuala Lumpur, and [J.N.] McHugh [the Deputy Director] put together the first mobile information van, to visit rural areas, carrying a loud speaker and a 16 mm film projector.65 Over the following months, several mobile information vans were also despatched to rural areas of the Malayan peninsula to explain the restored British outlook, chiefly, that ‘since 1939 however we’ve learned quite a lot from our mistakes and now it is the policy of the Government more than ever to take the people into its confidence’.66 By 1947, the Malayan Department of Public Relations was operating with a staff of more than 300 people. It even boasted the resources of ‘twenty-eight information centres, eleven public address vans with cinema projectors and over eighty thousand photographs captioned in four languages, which had been distributed to information centres, schools, offices and special exhibitions’.67 Immediately after the end of the war, calls for political and social change were voiced by numerous articulate Asians in these liberated territories, often within the forums provided by the local newspapers. In Hong Kong, their calls for reform often mirrored the points previously raised in the Japanesesponsored Hong Kong News: that more Asians should be appointed to senior positions in both the civil government and the private sector and granted equitable pay and residential rights. It was imperative, too, for the old colonial prejudices against racial mixing and miscegenation to be broken down.68 As a ‘university-educated Chinese’ with a Eurasian wife had asserted after the conflict, ‘we deserve something out of this war . . . we have learned a lot in these last few years of Japanese occupation . . . a lot we did not know, or did not realise before’. In particular, he was convinced that ‘to marry a well-bred Chinese or Eurasian is no sin against society’. ‘Before the war’, he lamented, ‘no Chinese could ever get a really worthwhile job. If such executive jobs fell vacant, they would be filled from Britain’. The time was ripe, he felt, for these old colonial stigmas to be dissolved.69 The British response to some charges of unfair discrimination was both prompt and immediate. Key postwar innovations included the abolishment of residential segregation and the elevation of both Asians and Eurasians to

Japanese racial propaganda in British Asia

113

higher-ranking positions within the civil government and the private sector – all inequities the Japanese had gleefully highlighted in their wartime antiBritish propaganda.70 The 1904 and 1918 Peak Reservation Ordinances barring Asians from renting homes on the Peak was abolished in July 1946, while the Cheung Chau Reservation Ordinance of 1919, which restricted their residence south of the island, was also repealed.71 Soon after his return to Hong Kong, the restored British Governor Sir Mark Young (who had been interned by the Japanese in a series of holding camps in Formosa during the conflict) confirmed that more Asians would be recruited to higher government positions.72 Paul Ka-cheung Tsui was promoted to the postwar colonial administrative service and elevated to a Hong Kong cadetship in January 1948, ‘the first local Chinese person to be admitted to this exclusive group of elite administrators’.73 In October 1945, the Eurasian K.J. Attwell was appointed as the territory’s Deputy Director of Education.74 Bernard Mellor recalled that two Chinese individuals (his fellow Merton College, Oxford graduate Yu Wan as well as the Hong Kong University graduate Y.P. Law) were hired as senior inspectors in the Education Department during the same period.75 New opportunities were also opened up to Asian and Eurasian employees in private-sector institutions after the war. In 1945, Henry M.H. Lo became the first ‘Chinese’ to join the Private Office of Jardine, Matheson & Co., where he was entrusted with the responsibility of signing ‘per procuration’ papers for the firm.76 Plans were also made in 1946 for the gradual phasing out of the European inspectorate of the Hong Kong Police Force in favour of newly elected Asian candidates.77 An upwards revision of police salary scales similarly took place in Hong Kong after the war, so as to encourage a large number of Chinese recruits to the Force.78 Thus, although it was impossible for racial prejudice to be completely eradicated from the territory, some of its institutionalised forms nevertheless began to disappear after the war.79 Changes in social relations were also evident in Hong Kong during the early postwar period.80 The Australian war correspondent Russell S. Clark discovered that his ‘young, university-educated’ Chinese neighbour in Kowloon had in fact nurtured a positive impression of the ‘English occupation troops’, with the latter commenting over a shared evening meal with Clark that: we found that they put a friendly hand on our shoulder and accepted us and talked to us as they talk to each other – not down to us, or through us. They come into our homes, these men, and sit and talk and drink and eat with us – like you are doing tonight. There is no racial snobbery in their makeup.81 In August 1947, the American Consul General George D. Hopper observed in a letter to a colleague at the Office of Far Eastern Affairs that ‘much of the former resentment felt by Chinese at not being on an equal footing with the British is subsiding . . . [C]onsistent efforts have been made with very good results to cultivate the Chinese, to invite them to Government House

114

Felicia Yap

functions, and other official receptions, as well as to private homes of Britishers’. He also stated that ‘the two races are mingling more freely than before; in fact, I have noted a marked improvement since my arrival in 1945’.82 The new Hong Kong Governor Alexander Grantham (1947–1957) similarly felt that there was a ‘marked decline in the social snobbishness’ that had characterised the prewar British expatriate community.83 The idea of granting equitable treatment to the Chinese in Hong Kong was also enhanced by the emergence of a politically active, educated Chinese middle class during the immediate postwar period.84 There were also indications that some social stigmas previously attached to racial intermarriage and miscegenation began to dissolve in the wake of the conflict. As Russell S. Clark recalled, a British man who held a ‘high executive position in the Public Service’ was adamant that he would marry his ‘charming, educated Chinese’ fiancée after the war, stating that he was ‘going to try it, anyway’, even though ‘it’s never really been tried out properly’.85

Conclusion For almost four years, the Japanese had relentlessly propounded the message that the Asians and Eurasians of British Asia had suffered considerable social and professional discrimination under British colonial rule. The conquerors had also engaged in a massive wartime propaganda blitz to persuade their occupied populations of the racial benefits of the new Japanese order, through their use of newspapers, graphic leaflets and other forms of printed media. Thus, once the Japanese had shone a gleeful beam on the faults of British rule and exposed the racial schisms underpinning the prewar colonial structure, it was impossible for the British not to act in response to these charges after the war. Many British administrators who had the opportunity to reflect on their prewar inadequacies in confinement (as well as some old colonial hands who had escaped incarceration) began recognising the need for the British to manage the altered convictions of the local populations after the war. In postwar Hong Kong, Malaya and Singapore, the returning British quickly adopted a new façade of transparency in the form of regular press conferences and newly established public relations departments, knowing that their return to imperial rule would be subjected to intense public scrutiny. Vigorous calls for change were indeed voiced by articulate Asians and Eurasians during the immediate postwar period, often within the discussion forums provided by the local media. Within months after the conclusion of the conflict, steps were also taken by the restored British to abolish residential segregation and to grant better jobs and more equitable salaries to both Asians and Eurasians. Thus, although direct causal links with postwar innovations are difficult to establish, the Japanese use of wartime propaganda appears to have left an impact on the psyche of various constituent communities. As this article suggests, it exerted a catalytic influence on the desire of local Asians and Eurasians for postwar change, as well as on British attempts at political and social reform immediately after the war.

Japanese racial propaganda in British Asia

115

Notes 1 For studies on the racial dimensions of the conflict in the East, see John W. Dower, War without Mercy: Race and Power in the Pacific War (New York: Pantheon Books, 1986) and Gerald Horne, Race War! White Supremacy and the Japanese Attack on the British Empire (New York: New York University Press, 2004). For images of Japanese (and Allied) propaganda materials during the Second World War, see Anthony Rhodes, Propaganda: The Art of Persuasion: World War II (London: Angus & Robertson, 1976), pp. 243–280. Philip Snow touches on some characteristics and effects of Japanese propaganda activities in his extensive study of wartime Hong Kong. See Philip Snow, The Fall of Hong Kong: Britain, China and the Japanese Occupation (New Haven, CT, and London: Yale University Press, 2003), pp. 288, 302–303. 2 Henry J. Lethbridge, ‘Hong Kong under Japanese Occupation: Changes in Social Structure’, in I.C. Jarvie and Joseph Agassi (eds), Hong Kong: A Society in Transition (London: Routledge & K. Paul, 1969), p. 91. 3 Freddie Guest, Escape from the Bloodied Sun (London: Jarrolds, 1956), p. 32. 4 Quoted in Horne, Race War!, p. 69. 5 Phyllis Harrop to Colonial Secretary, 7 April 1942, quoted in ibid., p. 68. 6 ‘Freedom for Asia’, Hong Kong News (HKN), 20 January 1942. 7 Rhodes, Propaganda, p. 253. 8 Guest, Escape from the Bloodied Sun, p. 32. 9 Dorothy Jenner papers, qtd. in Christina Twomey, Australia’s Forgotten Prisoners: Civilians Interned by the Japanese in World War Two (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2007), p. 41. 10 ‘Message to Chinese’, HKN, 31 December 1941; ‘Ugly Past of British Empire: 300 Years of Exploitation’, HKN, 30 August 1942; ‘The Sultans of Malaya’, HKN, 1 February 1942. 11 ‘Japanese Completely Control Naval Base: Singapore Battle Goes on Fiercely’, HKN, 15 February 1942. 12 ‘Statement by S/54544 S/Sgt. Sheridan, R.A.S.C., Who Escaped from Hong Kong on June 4th’, The National Archives: Public Record Office (TNA:PRO), FO 371/31671, p. 234b. 13 ‘Defence of Hongkong’, HKN, 14 January 1942; A Special Correspondent, ‘“Glorious” Tradition of British Retreats’, HKN, 7 June 1942. 14 Rhodes, Propaganda, p. 254. 15 Snow, The Fall of Hong Kong, p. 97. 16 First published as a low-circulation English weekly in 1939, the Hong Kong News resumed publication under its Japanese managing director Toshihiko Eto on 26 December 1941, after temporary suspension during the battle for the territory. Two other propaganda newspapers were published from the same press offices within the former Morning Post building during the conflict: the Japanese-language Hong Kong Nippo and the Chineselanguage Hong Kong Yat Po (first published in 1932). See Lethbridge, ‘Hong Kong under Japanese Occupation’, p. 98. 17 Jan Morris, Hong Kong: Xianggang (London: Viking Penguin, 1988), p. 250. 18 Snow, The Fall of Hong Kong, p. 120. 19 ‘Statement by S/54544 S/Sgt. Sheridan’, TNA:PRO, FO 371/31671, p. 234b. 20 Christopher Bayly and Tim Harper, Forgotten Armies: The Fall of British Asia, 1941–1945 (London: Allen Lane, 2004), p. 337. 21 E.J.H. Corner, The Marquis: A Tale of Syonan-to (Singapore: Heinemann Asia, 1981), p. 59. 22 Albert Lelah interview, National Archives of Singapore (NAS), transcript 296, pp. 74–76. 23 ‘VII: The Period July–October, 1942’, Hong Kong Public Record Office (HKPRO), HKRS160/1/80, p. 45. 24 Twomey, Australia’s Forgotten Prisoners, pp. 78–80. 25 ‘VII: The Period July–October, 1942’, HKPRO, HKRS160/1/80, p. 45.

116

Felicia Yap

26 Bernard Wasserstein, ‘Ambiguities of Occupation: Foreign Resisters and Collaborators in Wartime Shanghai’, in Wen-hsin Yeh (ed), Wartime Shanghai (London: Routledge, 1998), p. 36. 27 ‘Usual British Selfishness’, HKN, 15 February 1942. 28 ‘Overseas Chinese . . . Remember, You Belong to the Asiatic Group of Oppressed Races’, HKN, 22 January 1942. 29 Peter M. Wong, ‘The Question of Colour: British Snobbery That Destroyed an Empire’, HKN, 17 February 1942. 30 ‘Conditions during War in Colony: Food Distribution System Was Deplorable’, HKN, 6 January 1942. 31 ‘Singapore, a Symbol’, HKN, 23 January 1942. 32 Snow, The Fall of Hong Kong, p. 99. 33 G.B. Endacott and Alan Birch, Hong Kong Eclipse (Hong Kong: Oxford University Press, 1978), p. 137; Snow, The Fall of Hong Kong, p. 99. 34 Mamoru Shinozaki, Syonan – My Story: The Japanese Occupation of Singapore (Singapore: Asia Pacific Press, 1975), p. 57. 35 Wong, ‘The Question of Colour’, HKN, 17 February 1942. 36 A Correspondent, ‘Distress Caused by War in Hongkong’, HKN, 9 January 1942. 37 ‘Life Begins Anew’, HKN, 20 February 1942. 38 ‘The Eurasian’, HKN, 14 February, 1942; Emily Hahn, Hong Kong Holiday (New York: Doubleday, 1946), p. 167; Vicky Lee, Being Eurasian: Memories across Racial Divides (Hong Kong: Hong Kong University Press, 2004), p. 67. 39 ‘The Old Order Changeth’, HKN, 8 May 1943. 40 Wong, ‘The Question of Colour’, HKN, 17 February 1942. 41 ‘Message to Chinese’, HKN, 31 December 1941. 42 Wong, ‘The Question of Colour’, HKN, 17 February 1942. 43 Lethbridge, ‘Hong Kong under Japanese Occupation’, p. 115; Endacott and Birch, Hong Kong Eclipse, pp. 136–137. 44 ‘Indian Youth Section to Hold Meeting Today’, HKN, 5 May 1942. 45 Snow, The Fall of Hong Kong, p. 215. 46 Article by ‘Realist’, HKN, 3 December 1944. 47 Article by ‘Realist’, ‘Swift Progress Made in Construction of a More Prosperous New Hong Kong’, HKN, 25 December 1944. 48 Article by ‘Realist’, HKN, 3 December 1944. 49 Morris, Hong Kong, p. 251. 50 C.E. Courtenay, ‘Preliminary Report on the Treatment of Civilian Internees in Singapore by the Nipponese Authorities’, British Association of Malaya (BAM) Archives, Royal Commonwealth Society Collection, Cambridge University Library, BAM XII/11, p. 11. 51 Ibid. 52 John Stericker, ‘Captive Colony: The Story of Stanley Camp, Hong Kong’, Hong Kong University Library Special Collections (HKUL), MSS 940.547252 S8, chap. 4, p. 15. 53 Lethbridge, ‘Hong Kong under Japanese Occupation’, p. 91. 54 Felicia Yap, ‘A “New Angle of Vision”: British Imperial Reappraisal of Hong Kong during the Second World War’, Journal of Imperial and Commonwealth History, 42, 1 (Jan 2014), p. 88. 55 John Pennefather-Evans, ‘Interim Report on the Hong Kong Police’, 1 October 1943, Hong Kong Police Archives (HKPA), pp. 4, 11–12. 56 Ibid., p. 10. 57 Ibid., p. 22. 58 Ibid., p. 25. 59 Franklin Gimson diary, 2 June 1944, Bodleian Library of Commonwealth and African Studies at Rhodes House Oxford (RHL), MSS Ind.Ocn.s.222. 60 Gimson diary, 3 July 1944, RHL, MSS Ind.Ocn.s.222.

Japanese racial propaganda in British Asia

117

61 Quoted in F.T. Coulton, ‘Comments on Malayan Reconstruction by Ex-Malayan Lawyer’, 20 June 1944, National Archives of Malaysia (ANM), 506/27, p. 1. 62 E. St.Clair Morford (‘Jumbo’), letter to Foo Yin-chew, 13 May 1943, ANM, 506/27, pp. 1–4. 63 Jean Gittins, ‘Stanley: Behind Barbed Wire’, in Clifford Matthews and Oswald Cheung (eds), Dispersal and Renewal: Hong Kong University during the War Years (Hong Kong: Hong Kong University Press, 1998), p. 279; Snow, The Fall of Hong Kong, p. 290. 64 South China Morning Post/Hong Kong Telegraph, 31 August 1945. 65 Mubin Sheppard, Taman Budiman: Memoirs of an Unorthodox Civil Servant (Kuala Lumpur: Heinemann Educational Books, 1979), p. 144. 66 ‘Broadcast from Kuala Lumpur’, Blue Network of Radio Malaya, July 1946, ANM, 2000/0006763, p. 3. 67 Sheppard, Taman Budiman, p. 148. 68 Snow, The Fall of Hong Kong, pp. 288, 302–303. 69 Quoted in Russell S. Clark, An End to Tears (Sydney: P. Huston, 1946), pp. 163–165. 70 Snow, The Fall of Hong Kong, pp. 302–303. 71 Endacott and Birch, Hong Kong Eclipse, p. 313. 72 Yap, ‘A “New Angle of Vision”’, p. 102. 73 Steve Yui-Sang Tsang, Governing Hong Kong: Administrative Officers from the Nineteenth Century to the Handover to China, 1862–1997 (London: I.B. Tauris, 1997), pp. 56–57. 74 Snow, The Fall of Hong Kong, p. 427. 75 Bernard Mellor, ‘In India, in China, and Twice in Hong Kong’, in Matthews and Cheung (eds), Dispersal and Renewal, p. 366. 76 Peter Hall, In the Web (Heswall, Wirral: Peter Hall, 1992), p. 113; Maggie Keswick (ed.), The Thistle and the Jade: A Celebration of 150 Years of Jardine, Matheson & Co. (London: Octopus, 1982), p. 98; Snow, The Fall of Hong Kong, p. 293. 77 Norman Miners,‘The Localization of the Hong Kong Police Force, 1842–1947’, Journal of Imperial and Commonwealth History, 18, 3 (1990), pp. 311–312. 78 ‘The Commander British Forces Study Day’, 22 October 1964, HKPRO, HKMS100/1/3, p. 35. 79 Morris, Hong Kong, p. 261. 80 Endacott and Birch, Hong Kong Eclipse, p. 313; Morris, Hong Kong, pp. 261–262. 81 Clark, An End to Tears, p. 165. 82 George D. Hopper (American Consul General), letter to James K. Penfield (Deputy Director, Office of Far Eastern Affairs), 7 August 1947, RG 59, Box 3316, 711.46G/8–747, U.S. National Archives and Records Administration (NARA), p. 2, also quoted in Yap, ‘A “New Angle of Vision” ’, p. 103. 83 Alexander Grantham, Via Ports (Hong Kong: Hong Kong University Press, 1965), p. 104. 84 Steve Tsang, ‘Government and Politics in Hong Kong: A Colonial Paradox’, in Judith M. Brown and Rosemary Foot (eds), Hong Kong Transitions, 1842–1997 (Basingstoke: Macmillan, 1997), pp. 72–73. 85 Clark, An End to Tears, pp. 166–167.

7

Mixable and matchable army formations The roots of Anglo-Canadian military interoperability during the Second World War1 Douglas E. Delaney

They seemed surprised. Lieutenant Colonel H.F. Cotton and six other Canadian Army officers from Pacific Command were on a liaison visit in Queensland during the spring of 1944. They were there to learn what they could about the Far Eastern theatre of war in anticipation of a Canadian contingent being deployed to the Pacific after victory in Europe, but their report on the month they spent with the 17th Brigade of the 6th Australian Division conveys a definite sense of unexpected discovery. They found much that was familiar in the Australian way of doing things: Training, staff duties, organization and administration is in nearly every instance identical with our Canadian training. Officers could be readily exchanged and be able to carry on in whatever appointment they held. . . . There are naturally many ‘tricks of the trade’ learnt in fighting the Jap[anese] that we can profit by, but it is certain that our 6 Canadian Div[ision] could do well in this type of warfare. . . . The type of training [conducted at the Jungle Warfare School, Canungra] very much resembles the Canadian battle Drill School.2 They highlighted some peculiarities of tropical warfare and a few oddities of terminology – ‘H-hour’ instead of ‘zero-hour’ and ‘tank-attack platoon’ instead of ‘anti-tank platoon’ – but, in general, they found the Australian approach to training and battle very much in line with the War Office publications Field Service Regulations Part II and Infantry Training II. Their surprise is understandable, in a way. The Canadian Army had not had any meaningful contact with Australian military forces since the First World War. And yet Cotton and his team were able to conclude that the 6th Canadian Division, or parts of it, could plug into an Australian formation in the South West Pacific Area (SWPA), easily and without deviation from their current training regimen. The Lego-like nature of British Commonwealth formations was not news to Lieutenant-General Maurice Pope, the Chairman of the Canadian Joint Staff Mission in Washington and the man who had arranged for Cotton and company to visit Australia in the first place. Pope was a graduate of both Camberley

Mixable and matchable army formations

119

and the Imperial Defence College who had served in the War Office and worked on the General Staff in Ottawa during the 1930s. He understood why the Commonwealth armies were so similar and how they got to be that way. In his 1962 memoir, he reflected on the British-ness of the Canadian Army: The war establishments of our units and the composition of our formations were precisely those of the British Regular Army. All our manuals were British and so was our tactical training. Practically all our equipment had been obtained in the United Kingdom save perhaps some forms of mechanical transport. True, we ran our own royal and provisional schools for the qualification of N.C.O.’s and officers of the Non-Permanent Active Militia, and of our regular instructors, but to qualify for higher rank our permanent force officers had to sit for examinations set and marked by the War Office. Thus, while we conducted militia staff courses for the elementary training of selected volunteer officers, we were lacking in facilities for the higher command and staff training of our little army. Instruction in these matters was sought at the Senior Officers School at Sheerness, the British staff colleges at Camberley and Quetta, and later the Imperial Defence College in London. Our army was indeed British through and through with only minor differences imposed on us by purely local conditions.3 The Canadian Army was not alone in growing up British. Pope might just as well have been writing about the Australian or New Zealand armies. Their compatibility was part and product of what might even be called an imperial army project – to shamelessly borrow Professor John Darwin’s very apt term4 – dating back to the South African War of 1899–1902. It was driven in equal part by War Office reflections on the army’s shortcomings during the South African War and an accounting of great power challengers. The project, if we may stay with that metaphor, was a very British arrangement in that it was largely uneven, mostly unwritten and very much a consensual undertaking. With so many self-governing entities, it had to be that way – even the Indian Army could not simply be told what to do. Still, with few exceptions, Canada, the other Dominions and India agreed to standardize their military education, army organizations, equipment and staff training. These were the roots of Anglo-Canadian (and Commonwealth) interoperability during the Second World War.5 The Mediterranean and the experience of the 1st Canadian Division illustrates just how well Anglo-Canadian formations were mixed and matched. It fought the Sicilian Campaign (July–August 1943) under the command of Sir Oliver Leese’s 30th Corps, then crossed the Straits of Messina in September as part of Sir Miles Dempsey’s 13th Corps. By the end of November, it had moved to Sir Charles Allfrey’s 5th Corps, with which it fought the battles of the Moro River and Ortona. The division later fought two of its most important and successful breakthrough battles with British tanks under command. In May 1944,

120

Douglas E. Delaney

it made the first hole in the Hitler Line with the help of the 25th Tank Brigade, and it broke through the Gothic Line four months later with the 21st Tank Brigade in support. As a formation of 1st Canadian Corps, at various times throughout the campaign in Italy, the 1st Canadian Division fought in conjunction with 5th Canadian Armoured, 6th South African Armoured, the 2nd New Zealand and the 4th British Divisions. There was nothing unusual about the experience of 1st Canadian Division. Nearly all Dominion, British and Indian formations served under, in command of or alongside other Commonwealth formations at some point during the war. Mixed national groupings and regroupings took place fairly efficiently and without undue fuss. No one had to think much about them, for all the reasons Pope and Cotton described. But that level of interoperability had been four decades in the making. And to understand it properly, we really have to go back to the Second Anglo-Boer War and the army the British Empire had assembled to fight it.6 The experience, notwithstanding British victory in the end, had exposed very serious problems with the army. In 1903, the Earl of Elgin chaired a Royal Commission that had been appointed to enquire into the military preparations and the conduct of operations in South Africa. Elgin’s Commission reported that the field force, which had peaked at 250,000 troops, was not really an army in any modern sense. It had no general staff to guide it, it had assembled its wartime formations in an ad hoc manner, it comprised disparate and often incompatible parts and, most disconcerting for the War Office, it was small, at least in comparison to the standing armies of the continental powers. There had to be a way of making the army both bigger and better functioning. As the commissioners noted, “[T]he true lesson of the [South African] war is that no military system will be satisfactory which does not contain powers of expansion outside the limit of the regular forces of the Crown, whatever that limit may be.”7 But armies cannot expand without a common framework, and that meant giving the imperial armies a ‘brain’, or a general staff, to guide them, plus common doctrine, equipment and staff procedures. Viscount Esher’s Committee on War Office Reconstitution, convened within a year of the Elgin Commission, recognized the shortfalls and recommended changes to redress many of the problems – dramatic reform at the War Office and a general staff for the Empire, foremost among them8 – most of which were implemented during Richard Haldane’s tenure as Secretary of State for War (1905–1912). War Office planners leaned quite naturally towards a bigger army, or at least one capable of getting bigger, quickly and efficiently. Every war scenario they conjured – against the Russians on the Northwest Frontier, against the French and the Russians on the Continent and in India, against the Germans in Belgium and France – came up against big, general staff–guided armies of conscripts that could be put into the field quickly.9 That was a problem. As one 1903 War Office Memorandum put it in relation to Germany: “The population of the United Kingdom is 41,606,220; that of Germany 57,000,000. England, however, only prepares in peace for active service abroad of three Army Corps

Mixable and matchable army formations

121

and three cavalry brigades – a total force of about 120,000 men . . . . Germany, on the other hand has available for defence an army of over 3,000,000.”10 By 1913, while all War Office appreciations acknowledged the importance of the Royal Navy to the defence of Empire, the senior army leadership increasingly came to believe that the Admiralty could do little more than help in anything but a home defence scenario. It could transport reinforcements to India and assist with raiding operations on Port Arthur and Vladivostok, but that was about all it could do to assist in a war against Russia on the Northwest frontier. It could blockade Germany and keep the English Channel open as a communication route to the Continent, but other naval operations would never have had a decisive effect. Economic warfare would take too long to work in the event of a continental war between Germany and France, and amphibious operations against Germany were simply impractical. The Russian and German armies also counted their war establishments in the hundreds of thousands or millions. So even with allies, which were a new and necessary reality for a world in which the British had much to do and too few people and resources to do it, Britain would need more than its 148-battalion Regular Army to fight them. The Auxiliary Forces – the Militia, the Yeomanry, and the Volunteers – would have to be reorganized and made usable for overseas service. And the Dominions and India would have to be tapped for men as well. As early as 1901, War Office planners were speaking of “[t]he encouragement of the organization in Australia, Canada and eventually South Africa of efficient contingents, which would be at the disposal in war of the Imperial authorities.”11 By 1903, the Elgin Commission confirmed that the Dominions, the South African colonies and India had provided almost 23 per cent of the 448,435 troops who had served in the Field Force in South Africa.12 Those manpower sources could not be ignored. The Admiralty and the cabinets of the period may not have agreed with the assessment that a bigger and more readily expandable army was necessary, especially when it came to continental war, but evidence of War Office thinking on this issue is both abundant and clear.13 General Staff appreciations on likely war scenarios, papers on the creation of a general staff for the Empire,14 personal correspondence and memoirs of the Secretary of State and key members of the General Staff15 – all are replete with references to the need for a revitalized “Imperial Army” that included reorganized Auxiliary Forces and contingents from India and the Dominions. At the Colonial Conference of 1907, Haldane told the Dominion premiers that “it would be impossible to overrate the advantage of having in every case a system of military organization capable of being readily assimilated to that of the many other contingents which would compose the Imperial army.”16 As Chief of the General Staff India, Douglas Haig wrote in 1910 of “suggestions for the better organization of the Army of the Empire of which the Army in India is an important part.”17 By 1911, the Imperial General Staff was recommending the immediate dispatch of an expeditionary force to the continent in the event of a German attack on France, plus “the completion of all plans for reinforcing the Expeditionary

122

Douglas E. Delaney

Force by troops from home, the Mediterranean, Egypt, South Africa, Indian [sic] and the Dominions.”18 In the inaugural volume of The Army Review, Sir William Nicholson, then Chief of the Imperial General Staff (CIGS), described the importance of a general staff for the Empire, “with branches in India and the Overseas Dominions,” to unite and standardize “our military forces,” by which he meant, the Regular Army, the Territorial Force, the Army in India, and the Dominion armies.19 Clearly, the War Office wanted a continental-like army, or at least as much of one as British imperial conditions would allow. Those peculiar British conditions were not insignificant, however. The British Empire was not a unitary state like its potential adversaries on the continent. The Dominions were not bound in any way to follow War Office direction, and neither was the Government of India, for that matter. Any agreements on imperial standardization, let alone participation in imperial expeditionary force operations, would have to be consensual, and there could be no guarantees involving military forces beyond the shores of the United Kingdom. There were other obstacles. The army had traditionally been resistant to doctrine, a tendency not helped by the necessity of having to prepare for both continental and imperial wars.20 The population of the home islands was relatively small (44,010,089), especially in comparison to Germany (57,000,000) and Russia (166,000,000), and national service was a political dead end in Britain.21 But there was untapped manpower scattered across the Empire – 6,463,927 in Canada, 4,182,521 in Australia, 912,556 in New Zealand and 1,278,025 (‘European’ population) in South Africa.22 And there were nine active divisions in India. The nascent General Staff saw the potential that was there, but Britain had to make better use of all available military manpower – the Regular Army, the Auxiliary Forces (the Territorial Force after 1908), the Indian Army, and the armies of the Dominions. The creation of an Imperial General Staff and the consensus of the 1907 Colonial conference to organize Dominion armies on British Army lines were important first steps, but they were only first steps. It still remained to impart common staff procedures, orders of battle and training methods. To that end, the War Office promulgated the Field Service Regulations in 1909, which all the Dominions accepted, even though they still determined to avoid any formal commitment of expeditionary forces. Other War Office publications on training and organization formed part of a common ‘song sheet’ – Infantry Training (1905, 1914), Cavalry Training (1904, 1907) and Training and Manoeuvre Regulations (1910, 1913).23 To help with reorganization, training and war planning, the Dominions accepted on ‘loan’ scores of highly trained officers, many of them graduates of the staff college at Camberley. These officers set training regimens and helped organize units and formations, at least in cadre form, in line with War Office regulations and doctrine. In 1913, for example, thirty-eight Imperial officers were on loan to Canada, a quarter of them staff trained.24 That might not sound like many, but it is significant considering that Canada had only 250 professional officers in a 2,750-man Permanent Force cadre, the primary task of which was to train a 40,500-man

Mixable and matchable army formations

123

militia.25 And it was more than triple the number of Imperial officers that had been on loan to Canada in 1906,26 a surge of sorts that reflected War Office efforts to extend the reach of the General Staff and put all the military forces of the Empire on a common footing. By 1913–1914, imperial officers held most of the key General Staff appointments in Canada. The Canadian Chief of the General Staff was on loan from the British Army, and the vast majority of the general staff appointments at Militia Headquarters in Ottawa and the six Militia division areas were held by imperial officers. They dominated military education in Canada as well, especially at the Royal Military College (RMC) at Kingston, where the commandant and most of the military instructors came from the British or Indian armies. Their role was crucial. Not only did they produce new officers for the Canadian Permanent Force and Militia, they instructed Militia officers on abbreviated staff courses, which graduated 129 officers between 1909 and 1914, including a future corps commander and an interwar Chief of the General Staff.27 By 1914, Militia Staff Course (MSC) graduates held most of the brigade major appointments in the Militia.28 Given the pervasive and rippling influence of the imperial officers on loan, it is not surprising that officers of the tiny Canadian Permanent Force were almost as ‘British’ as their imperial counterparts. Imperial officers trained them at RMC, and the best of them later went on to the British staff college at Camberley. By the end of 1914, twelve Canadians had graduated from the staff college, all of whom subsequently took important appointments on general and administrative staffs.29 Working alongside imperial officers, they helped shape the Canadian Militia into a British Army in miniature. Five decades ago, Richard Preston argued that these measures allowed the Camberley and Quetta curricula to ‘permeate’ thoroughly the senior ranks of the British, Indian and Dominion armies.30 Preston was right, especially in the Canadian case. In addition to the Camberley graduates, a good number of the Canadian instructors at the royal schools of artillery and engineering had qualified at Larkhill and Chatham. The Canadian Army could hardly have grown up anything but British. But it was a very small army, and it still needed assistance in wartime. Between 1914 and 1918, some 214 imperial officers augmented Canadian Expeditionary Force (CEF) formations to help with expansion, training and fighting. Trained staff officers were a scarce commodity at that time, and they were made even scarcer by some incomprehensible decisions early in the war, closing the staff colleges at Camberley and Quetta first among them. No one, not even the strongest War Office proponents of a continental commitment, had anticipated a British Expeditionary force of sixty divisions, so the army had only 1,004 staff college graduates on which to draw, a total that included Indian and Dominion officers, plus another 68 who had qualified for the staff as a result of ‘service on staff in the field’.31 For an expeditionary force that would require 3,310 staff officers by 1918, the shortage was a problem.32 The BEF had to develop expeditious means of training officers for employment on staffs. Until wartime staff schools were established near the end of 1916, that meant

124

Douglas E. Delaney

sending carefully selected staff-trained officers to BEF formations, including the four-division Canadian Corps, to train ‘staff learners’ on the job. In fact, in the Canadian Corps, imperial staff officers held very nearly every key staff appointment until late 1917, after which time they were gradually replaced by Canadian officers who had understudied them or attended abbreviated wartime staff courses. These ad hoc methods of producing staff officers were not ideal, but at least they conveyed a certain sameness in the imperial way of doing things, the results of which were Canadian Corps formations that could be attached to any British army with relative ease.33 This is not to say that all operations were conducted well. Far from it; there were plenty of poorly conceived and badly executed operations on the Western Front, especially early on. But British and Canadian formations were entirely compatible, despite some organizational differences. This speaks to the benefit of common military education, doctrine and training, which paid off handsomely.34 The four-division Canadian Corps proved to be a very capable fighting formation at battles like Vimy (April 1917), Amiens (August 1918) and Canal-du-Nord (September 1918), and it owed much to the imperial officers who found themselves on loan to CEF formations during the course of the war. They mentored the Canadians to a high level of efficiency and effectiveness, a task that would have been infinitely more difficult had they been required to graft themselves onto uniquely Canadian military organizations with uniquely Canadian staff procedures. It was well that the imperial armies had such a solid foundation of common doctrine, training, military education and experience because contact between the armies slackened during the interwar years. Army estimates were low for all the armies of the war-weary Empire, which meant small military establishments, increasingly outdated equipment and inadequate training. By 1921, the Canadian Permanent Force numbered only 381 officers and 3,744 other ranks, with companies and units scattered across the country, and the parttime Militia was capped at 50,000.35 Not that the numbers mattered much; funds for training declined steadily until the mid-1930s, and summer camps for Militia training were often cancelled.36 Growing Dominion autonomy also cut against the grain of imperial cooperation. The Statute of Westminster in 1931 formally recognized the autonomy of the Dominions, something that had been tacitly acknowledged since the Balfour Declaration of 1926 and even the Imperial Conference of 1917. But it was more than just legislation that loosened imperial ties. After the experience of the Great War, Canadian and other Dominion authorities were confident that they could manage most of their military affairs. Men like Sir John Monash and Sir Arthur Currie proved that the Dominions could produce, with some assistance, officers to command large formations – and well. The Dominions also had their own defence problems and interests to mind, and the knowledge gained in four years of fighting meant that they had no real need of augmentation to their general staffs or military schools. During the interwar years, there were rarely more than two or three British officers on loan to Canada, usually aides-de-camp for the

Mixable and matchable army formations

125

Governor General, or perhaps a single instructor at RMC, and never above the rank of major. Even still, no military authorities in Canada or Britain ever questioned the need to maintain a high level of interoperability, so the strands of cooperation, however thin, endured. None of the imperatives that had forced them to rethink army organization after 1902 had gone away, in any event. Manpower was at the top of the problem list for the War Office. In 1920, the CIGS, Sir Henry Wilson, pleaded with his government for some rationalization of the army’s global commitments, which included India, Mesopotamia, North Persia, Egypt, Palestine, overseas defended ports, the Army of the Rhine, the Army of the Black Sea, the Plebiscite areas and, not least, Ireland.37 There were simply not enough troops to go around, a situation only exacerbated by a drastic slashing of budgets in 1922. But the problem was more than just one of money. The population of the United Kingdom at 44,072,00038 was still small compared to other great powers, which meant that the War Office had to be prepared and organized to leverage the manpower of the United Kingdom, the Dominions and India – as long as that investment was not too large. During the Great War, a total of 619,636 Canadians had entered active service, the majority of whom served with the CEF, which peaked at 388,038 in July 1918 – a pretty reasonable effort from a population of 7,879,000, especially considering that most of it was done without conscription.39 The contributions of the other Dominions were similar in proportion; they mobilized between 11 and 19 per cent of their male populations.40 That potential was worth some investment. Thus, the interwar CIGS pursued an exchange of liaison and periodical letters, which proved to be an effective – and cheap – way to stay in touch and nurture the level of interoperability that had been gained during the Great War.41 Naturally, the various CIGS took the lead in correspondence with the military chiefs in the Dominions and India. They passed on the British assessments of the world situation. They advised of the latest experiments and developments in the mechanization of the British Army. They apprised of new equipment acquisitions. And their letters always included a section outlining which War Office publications – like the Field Service Regulations, Artillery Training, Tank & Armoured Car Training, Infantry Training, Defence against Gas – were under review, issued or under trial. Sometimes these lists included twenty-five to thirty titles. For their part, the military chiefs from the Dominions and India advised the CIGS (and the others) on the state of the own armies – the progress of officer training, the conduct of collective training exercises, the passage of budgets and the implications for military training and equipment purchases, the development of any new vehicles or equipment and so on. They also queried the CIGS on particular areas of concern. The issue of the Singapore Naval Base, for example, came up often in discussions between the Australian Chiefs of the General Staff and the CIGS. Despite Canada’s growing autonomy, Canadian soldiers and state officials, like their colleagues in the other Dominions, still found many of their interests bound up with those of Britain. They also understood that Canada would

126

Douglas E. Delaney

not likely be taking any military action independent of Britain. They had to maintain the ability to plug into British Army formations, supply chains and training establishments, if the Canadian Government decided to participate in an imperial war effort.42 So the Canadians continued to send officers to Camberley and Quetta, usually at a rate of three per year, even in the leanest years of the 1920s.43 They accepted all War Office publications as the keystone manuals for doctrine and training. There was always a Canadian field officer attached to the War Office. Selected Canadian officers and NCOs also attended arms-specific training courses in the United Kingdom and India. And, from 1927, the most promising Canadian colonels and brigadiers, albeit in limited numbers, joined their colleagues from Britain, the other Dominions and India at the Imperial Defence College, where the focus was strategiclevel planning. The Canadian Army followed the British lead, and it pretty much had to be that way. It was not just about maintaining functional levels of interoperability. Economies of scale also influenced Canadian authorities. Canada’s peacetime military establishment was too small for a Canadian staff college or even trial formations like the Experimental Mechanized Force that tested armoured warfare doctrine in Britain during the late 1920s, and there was no political appetite for making the army bigger. By the mid-1930s, rising instability in Europe and the Far East prompted the Canadians to increase their military budgets slightly, and Canadian officers passed through Camberley and Quetta in fours, fives and sixes between 1936 and 1939; but the military establishment was still small, and it had very limited capabilities in 1939, as the Canadian Army’s official historian of the Second World War noted: The tiny Permanent Force did not constitute a striking force capable either of counter-attack against a major raid or of expeditionary action. The Non-Permanent Active Militia [the militia], with its limited strength, obsolescent equipment and rudimentary training, was incapable of immediate action of any sort against a formidable enemy. The two forces together constituted a useful and indeed essential foundation upon which, over a period of months, an army could be built. They offered, however, no means for a rapid intervention in an overseas theatre of operations.44 Stacey might have added that at least that foundation had been cast in a British mould; otherwise it would have been difficult to tap into British training establishments, staff augmentation and supply sources when war came. When Britain and the Dominions did go to war in 1939, they did so with a certain sense of ‘here we go again’, but much had changed since 1914. This time, Dominion entry into the war was not automatic. The Canadian and other Dominion parliaments made their own declarations of war, and all did so with little or no dissention, with the exception of South Africa, which very nearly remained neutral.45 This time, Dominion field formations always had

Mixable and matchable army formations

127

Dominion commanders. And no one expected a quick war in 1939. Quite the contrary, everyone planned for a long one. Especially after the Fall of France in June 1940, that meant assembling a large army. In May 1941, the Field Force Committee promulgated its plan for a field force of forty-seven infantry divisions, ten armoured divisions and eight tank brigades.46 The British Army was nowhere near capable of furnishing that many formations, not with the manpower commitments of the Royal Air Force and the Royal Navy. In fact, to meet those field force projections, the Dominions, India and exiled allies would have to be tapped for a combined total of twenty infantry divisions, two armoured divisions and one independent tank brigade.47 That was a tall order. Troops had to be trained, commanders had to be selected, equipment had to be manufactured and issued and the conduits that ensured interformation and inter-army connectivity – staff officers – had to be produced. This time, military authorities in Britain and India had the good sense to keep Camberley and Quetta open, not to produce super staff officers with two-year programmes but to train adequate staff officers with twelve- to sixteen-week abbreviated courses for captains and majors. In fact, even with abbreviated courses, the output of Camberley and Quetta was inadequate for the needs of the Commonwealth armies, so new staff schools soon popped up in places like Sandhurst, Oxford, Haifa, Sarafand, Kingston, Canberra and Palmerston North (New Zealand). As might have been expected, most of these staff officer ‘factories’ had a mixture of directing staff from across the Commonwealth, some more so than others, to ensure Commonwealth interoperability.48 The interchange of officers was again a feature of British Commonwealth formations, but far less than had been the practice during the Great War. In January 1945, for example, First Canadian Army (which commanded a British corps) had only twenty British officers on its headquarters staff, mostly captains and majors.49 There were no British officers on the staffs of Canadian corps, divisions or brigades. Interestingly, officer loans sometimes went in the opposite direction during the Second World War. To help the British Army make up deficiencies in junior officers, Canada sent 673 lieutenants and captains to British fighting units, 622 of them to the infantry, under the CANLOAN programme.50 These junior officers, most of them trained in Canada in line with War Office training directives and doctrine, integrated easily into British platoons and companies. They found very little that was foreign in their British units, besides accents. They did well too. They won a combined total of forty-two Military Crosses.51 Overall, British and Canadian Army formations functioned well when they worked together – and increasingly so as the war progressed. Again, this is not to say that British and Canadian generals did not occasionally use the tools at their disposal stupidly. Oliver Leese, the Eighth Army commander, for example, spoiled the opportunity offered by the 1st Canadian Division’s breakthrough of the Hitler Line on 23 May 1944 when he tried to stuff two corps – 1st Canadian and 13th Corps – into a four-mile-wide corridor that had

128

Douglas E. Delaney

only one serviceable route.52 The ensuing traffic jams slowed what was supposed to be an armoured pursuit of a fleeing enemy to an armoured crawl that allowed an enemy to withdraw in good order. And Canadian generals were equally capable of bad decisions at times, as the disastrous raid at Dieppe in August 1942 demonstrated.53 But on the whole, British and Canadian formations operated efficiently when working ‘in combination’, even when there were significant clashes of personalities. By the early autumn of 1944, General Harry Crerar, commanding First Canadian Army and Field Marshal Sir Bernard Law Montgomery, commanding 21st Army Group, were barely on speaking terms, partially as a result of Montgomery’s unfavourable assessment of Crerar’s generalship but also because of Montgomery’s unwillingness to accept Crerar’s special position as the commander of a non-British contingent, with the right of referral to the Canadian government.54 And yet in September 1944, Canadian operations to clear the channel ports and capture Le Havre, the latter operation conducted by Sir John Crocker’s 1st Corps, proceeded in a deliberate and professional manner, almost entirely unencumbered by the brouhahas at the top of the chain of command. In a strange way, Canadian divisions and brigades were almost too much like those from the United Kingdom for senior British generals to resist treating them as anything but British, which of course annoyed Canadians like Crerar. This was a consistent irritant throughout the war. In 1941, Lieutenant General Andrew McNaughton, General Officer Commanding (GOC) 1st Canadian Corps, upbraided General Alan Brooke, then GOC Home Forces, for parcelling out Canadian divisions without consulting Canadian commanders – and that was during a training exercise in England.55 Three years later, Leese demonstrated the same tendency to regard Canadian (and other Commonwealth) formations as British ones. After the smashing of the Gothic Line, an operation in which the 1st Canadian Corps played the central part, he bragged to the War Office, “I think it is so important that this achievement of British arms should be realised. It has been done entirely by British troops, of whom 60% in this battle came from the U.K.”56 It is worth noting that the Gothic Line battles happened at a time when Leese was doing his utmost to replace the commander of 1st Canadian Corps, Lieutenant General E.L.M. Burns, something he could not do without the approval of Canadian military authorities.57 It should also be noted that Leese’s criticisms of Burns focused exclusively on what the army commander believed to be the Canadian’s personal failings – lack of command presence and failure to inspire subordinates.58 Leese never mentioned any kind of systemic problem between British and Canadian armies because that was never the issue. As noted earlier, 1st Canadian Division, an Eighth Army formation, fought two of its most successful battles of the war under the command of 1st Canadian Corps and with British tank brigades in support. In spite of his misgivings about Burns, Leese was generally full of praise for the Canadian

Mixable and matchable army formations

129

divisions under his command. He described the 1st Canadian Division as “first-class” and the 5th Canadian Armoured Division as “excellent.”59 And his favourable remarks on the 1st Canadian Armoured Brigade spoke both to his fondness for the Canadians under his command and to the state of interoperability in the Eighth Army: “The [1st] Canadian Armoured Brigade has been splendid. . . . They are acknowledged by all as the best brigade out here and every division asks for them. They are particular buddies of the 8th Indian Div[ision] – with whom we think they must use Italian as the common lingo!”60 In fact, the common ‘lingo’ of all the British Commonwealth armies was the language of Camberley, Quetta and the Field Service Regulations – as it had been for decades. Even a casual flip through the war diaries of the selected British and Canadian formations that fought in the battles of the Hitler and Gothic Lines reveals remarkable similarities in terms of format, terminology, staff duties and even content.61 They are barely distinguishable. Operation orders, intelligence summaries, administrative orders and artillery fire plans were all presented in the same way. This was not just a matter of housekeeping. It was crucial to common understanding, particularly so when it came to artillery fire plans and target lists. For the Hitler Line battle, 1st Canadian Division had 810 supporting guns, of which only 276 were Canadian.62 Especially with gunfire, everyone had to have a common understanding of targets, timings and plans. The war diaries also reflect what the staffs at various levels did and how they were connected. The Q staff at Eighth Army coordinated logistics with the Q staff at 1st Canadian Corps, which coordinated with the Q staff at 1st Canadian Division, which coordinated with the staff of 25th Tank Brigade and so on. They calculated ammunition needs based on rates of consumption for the tasks to be performed. They indented for the appropriate quantities and made plans to move the loads to gun batteries, tank regiments and infantry battalions, all of which was made easier by common patterns for equipment and ammunition. G staffs crafted attack plans and exchanged information on enemy dispositions and intentions. A staffs made casualty projections based on established wastage rates and set plans to bring up replacements. This sort of staff connectivity was not peculiar to the Eighth Army of the Italian theatre. It was a feature of Anglo-Canadian operations in Northwest Europe as well. In the Rhineland, for example, Brian Horrocks’ 30th Corps started Operation VERITABLE on 8 February 1945 with five divisions in the attack (including 2nd Canadian and 3rd Canadian) and the supporting fire of 1,034 British and Canadian guns. The after action report for Operation VERITABLE noted that the fire plan benefitted from “much useful information” from the 2nd Canadian Division, which had been holding the start line before the attack and which “had a fairly complete picture of the situation.”63 The report also noted “great team spirit” and smooth inter-arm cooperation: “the inf[antry] kept close up to the art[iller]y barrage and concentrations . . . [and]

130

Douglas E. Delaney

the air [forces] frequently engaged targets less than 300 yds ahead of our troops.”64 This was impressive, considering that there was virtually no way of distinguishing which guns or forward air controllers – British or Canadian – were supporting which formations. All the nubs and receptacles of the Lego pieces lined up as they should have done – because they had been designed that way. That system allowed British political and military authorities to get the most of what they wanted from Canada when the Canadian Government was ready to give it – proportionately-large land forces that could be integrated into a larger British Army. Viewed over the long term, the imperial army project can hardly be viewed as anything but a success. In 1902, the British Army was little more than an aggregate of battalions, and the Dominions had armies barely worthy of the name. By 1918, there was an Imperial General Staff to do strategic planning and ensure uniformity in army organization, staff work and training, and there was a British Expeditionary Force of sixty divisions in France and Belgium, to which the Dominions contributed ten well equipped and battle-hardened infantry divisions (four of them Canadian) plus a South African infantry brigade and a Canadian cavalry brigade. During the Second World War, the Dominions put the equivalent of fifteen compatible divisions into the field at one time or other, despite having had limited contact with one another during the interwar years. The Canadian portion of that field force was an army of three infantry divisions, two armoured divisions and two independent armoured brigades, a commitment that required the Dominion of 11,267,000 people to mobilize an active army of 630,052, the great majority of whom were volunteers.65 And that was on top of the 356,146 men and women who served in air and naval forces. The only thing the War Office did not get from Canada and the other Dominions was a commitment ahead of time. But, in the end, Britain did get what it needed from them – when it was needed most.

Notes 1 I am grateful to Professor Jack Granatstein, Dr. Andrew Stewart and Dr. Nikolas Gardner for reading earlier versions of this paper and for offering their comments and guidance. 2 Directorate of History and Heritage (DHH), National Defence Headquarters (NDHQ), 322.009 (D713), Interim Report No.1 – Canadian Officers [on] Aust[tralian] Attachment (26 April–26 May), dated 7 June 1944), 1–2. 3 Lieutenant General Maurice A. Pope, Soldiers and Politicians (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1962), 53. 4 John Darwin, The Empire Project: The Rise and Fall of the British World System, 1830–1970 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2009). 5 See Douglas E. Delaney, “Co-operation in the Anglo-Canadian Armies, 1939–1945.” The British Way in Warfare: Power and the International System, 1856–1956 – Essays in Honour of David French, eds. Keith Neilson and Greg Kennedy (London: Ashgate, 2010), 197–218. 6 John Gooch, The Plans of War: The General Staff and British Military Strategy c. 1900–1916 (New York: John Wiley & Sons, 1974), 1–61.

Mixable and matchable army formations

131

7 Report of His Majesty’s Commissioners Appointed to Inquire into the Military Preparations and Other Matters Connected with the War in South Africa (Elgin Commission Report), Cd.1789 (London: H.M. Stationary Office, 1903), 83. 8 Report of the War Office (Reconstitution) Committee (Esher Committee Report), Parts – III, Cd. 1932, Cd. 1968, Cd. 2002 (London: H.M. Stationary Office, 1904). It should be noted that Esher’s vision of an Imperial General Staff was not an army-only thing. He envisioned what would now be recognized as a ‘joint’ staff – one that resided in the Committee of Imperial Defence and included representatives of the Admiralty. 9 See for example the numerous war scenarios at The National Archives (TNA), WO 106/48, War with Germany & Russia Combined, Col Drake 1905, 08–02–5; WO 106/46, 20A Memorandum on the Military Policy to be Adopted in a War with Germany, February 23, 1904; Ibid., Military Policy in a War with Germany (draft), 2 July 1908; CAB 3/1 Military Needs of the Empire in a War with France and Russia, 10 August 1901; and CAB 4/3, 130-B, The Military Aspect of the Continental Problem, 15 August 1911. 10 TNA 016/46, Memorandum on the Military Policy to be Adopted in a War with Germany, February 10, 1903. 11 TNA, CAB 3/1, Military Needs of the Empire in a War with France and Russia, August 10, 1901, 30, 49. 12 Elgin Commission Report, 35, 76. 13 See for example Nicholas A. Lambert’s exposition of the Admiralty’s economic warfare strategy and the extent to which the British Cabinet considered it in Planning Armageddon: British Economic Warfare and the First World War (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2012), 1–181. 14 TNA, CAB 17/77, Colonial Conference, 1907, Possibility of Assimilating War Organization throughout the Empire, 14th March 1907; Cd. 4475, Proposed Formation of an Imperial General Staff (London: H.M. Stationary Office, 1909); LAC RG 24, Volume 6606, General Staff, War Office, Assimilation of Staff Duties and War Organization of the Home and Indian Armies, April 1909. 15 Only a sample of such correspondence and documentation is necessary. For Prime Minister Arthur Balfour’s thoughts on “The Possibility of Bringing the Indian Army into Closer Contact with the Home Army,” see CAB 2/1 Committee of Imperial Defence, Minutes of the 68th meeting, March 29 1905. On the need for homogeneity in the Regular and territorial Forces, see National Library of Scotland (NLS), Papers of Field Marshal Earl Haig (Haig Papers), Acc 3155/40, R.B. Haldane, Sixth Memorandum, 8th November 1906 (with marginal notes by Sir Hamilton). 16 TNA, CAB 17/77, Colonial Conference, 1907, The Strategical Conditions of the Empire from the Military Point of View, 14 March 1907. Emphasis added. 17 NLS, Haig Papers, Acc 3155/40, Haig to Ellison, 14.04.10. Emphasis in original. On Haig’s efforts to make the Indian Army more usable for operations outside India, See Timothy Moreman, “Lord Kitchener, the General Staff and the Army in India, 1902–1914.” The British General Staff: Reform and Innovation, 1890–1939, eds. David French and Brian Holden Reid (London: Frank Cass, 2002), 70–74. 18 Imperial War Museum (IWM), Papers of Field Marshal Sir Henry Wilson (Wilson Papers), 3/5/186, Wilson to CIGS 2/9/11, 25. See also the revised reprint that was presented to the Committee of Imperial Defence in August 1911, TNA, CAB 4/3, 130-B The Military Aspect of the Continental Problem, Appendix A, Note by the Director of Military Operations, August 12, 1911. 19 W.G. Nicholson, C.I.G.S., “Introduction.” The Army Review, Volume I, July–October 1911 (London: H.M. Stationary Office, 1911), 4–5. 20 Timothy Bowman and Mark Connelly, The Edwardian Army: Recruiting, Training and Deploying the British Army, 1902–1914 (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2012), 64–105. 21 The population figures have been gleaned from the following sources: United Kingdom (1907–1908), CO 42/976, Report by the Inspector-General of the Oversea Forces of the

132

22 23 24 25 26 27

28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 36 37

38 39 40

41

Douglas E. Delaney

Military Institutions of the Dominion of Canada, 1913, Appendix F; Germany (1903), TNA 016/46, Memorandum on the Military Policy to be Adopted in a War with Germany, February 10, 1903; Russia (1913), J.N. Westwood, Endurance and Endeavour: Russian History, 1812–1980 (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1981), Table 1. CO 42/976, Report by the Inspector-General of the Oversea Forces of the Military Institutions of the Dominion of Canada, 1913, Appendix F. The figures are for 1907–1908. Infantry Training (London: H.M. Stationary Office, 1905 & 1914); Cavalry Training (London: H.M. Stationary Office, 1904 & 1907); and Training and Manoeuvre Regulations (London: H.M. Stationary Office, 1910 & 1913). The Quarterly Militia List of the Dominion of Canada (Ottawa: C.H. Parmelee, June 1913), 38. See also Richard A. Preston, “The Military Structure of the Old Commonwealth.” International Journal, Vol. 17, No. 2 (Spring 1962), 104. TNA, CO 42/976 Report of the Inspector General of the Oversea Forces of the Military Institutions of Canada, 1913, 7. The Quarterly Militia List of the Dominion of Canada (Ottawa: Samuel Edward Dawson, June 1906), 5, 59. The corps commander was Arthur Currie, and the interwar CGS was E.C. Ashton. Directorate of History and Heritage (DHH), 733.013 (D3), Notes on the History of the Militia Staff Course, Staff Colleges and Staff Tr[ainin]g in C[ana]da, May 1957; and Stephen J. Harris, Canadian Brass: The Making of a Professional Army, 1860–1939 (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1988), 80. The Quarterly Militia List of the Dominion of Canada (Ottawa: C.H. Parmelee, June 1914). John A. MacDonald, “In Search of Veritable: Training the Canadian Army Staff Officer, 1899–1945” (Unpublished MA thesis, Royal Military College of Canada, 1992), Appendix III. Preston, “The Military Structures of the Old Commonwealth,” 108. The Monthly Army List for August 1914 (London: His majesty’s Stationary Office, 1914), 2523–2562, 2480–2481. Ibid. Douglas E. Delaney, “Mentoring the Canadian Corps: Imperial Officers and the Canadian Expeditionary Force, 1914–1918.” Journal of Military History, Vol. 77, No. 3 (July 2013), 931–954. In 1918, for example, the Canadians retained four-battalion brigades when the rest of the British Expeditionary Force (BEF) converted to three-battalion brigades. J.L. Granatstein, Canada’s Army: Waging the War and Keeping the Peace (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2002), 158–159. MacDonald, “In Search of Veritable,” Appendix III. TNA WO 33/1004, General Staff, Important Papers Written between November 1918 and February 1922, C.P. 1467, “Military Liabilities,” 9 June 1920. See also ibid., CIGS to Sectary of State, “British Military Liabilities,” 30 July 1920; and CIGS to Secretary of State, 20th January 1922. Joe Hicks and Grahame Allen, A Century of Change Research Paper 99/111 (Social and General Statistics Section, House of Commons Library, 21 December 1999), 6. Colonel G.W.L. Nicholson, Canadian Expeditionary Force, 1914–1918 (Ottawa: Queen’s Printer, 1964), 535, 546; and Colonel C.P. Stacey, The Canadian Army, 1939–1945: An Official Historical Summary (Ottawa: King’s Printer, 1948), 324–325. Archives New Zealand (ANZ), Army Department 1 (AD1), 894/39/235, Facts and Figures: An Outline of the Empire’s Effort, 1914–1918, 30/6/35. New Zealand statistics show mobilization percentages for male populations as England (24.02 per cent), Wales (21.52 per cent), Scotland (23.71 per cent), Ireland (6.14 per cent), Canada (13.48 per cent), Australia (13.43 per cent), New Zealand (19.35 per cent) and South Africa (11.12 per cent, for white male population only). The correspondence attendant with the exchange of Periodical letters is one of the best documentary sources on what was happening in the British, Dominion and Indian armies.

Mixable and matchable army formations

42 43 44 45 46 47 48

49 50 51 52

53 54 55 56 57 58 59 60 61

133

The Periodical letters from the CIGS to India and the Dominions can be found in TNA WO 32/2371 to WO 32/23400 and WO 32/4118 to WO 32/4120. The best analysis of Canadian military policy and training during the interwar years is Stephen J. Harris, Canadian Brass: The Making of a Professional Army, 1860–1939 (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1988), 141–209. The exceptional years were 1920–1922, when the Canadians sent only two candidates to Camberley. MacDonald, “In Search of Veritable,” Appendix III. Colonel C.P. Stacey, Six Years of War: The Army in Canada, Britain and the Pacific (Ottawa: Queen’s Printer, 1966), 35. Andrew Stewart, “The British Government and the 1938–1939 South African Neutrality Crisis.” English Historical Review, Vol. 123, No. 503 (August 2008), 947–972. David French, Raising Churchill’s Army: The British Army and the War against Germany, 1919– 1945 (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2000), 186. Ibid. At Kingston, for example, one-third of the Directing Staff came from the British Army on loan. MacDonald, “In Search of Veritable,” Appendix IV. At Palmerston North, New Zealand, the Commandant and two General Staff Officers were on loan from Britain. ANZ, AD 1, 1335, 92/2/18, D.319/2/18 Officers of the British Regular Army on Loan to New Zealand for Special Appointments, 15 October 1941. Only one British acting colonel was attached to the Labour Section in the Adjutant and Quartermaster General Branch. The rest were captains and majors. MacDonald, “In Search of Veritable,” Appendix II. Stacey, The Canadian Army, 1939–1945, 310–311. Ibid. They also suffered high casualties – 339 of them wounded and 126 killed. Douglas E. Delaney, Corps Commanders: Five British and Canadian Generals at War (Toronto and Vancouver: University of British Columbia Press, 2011), 85, 98–99; and Douglas E. Delaney, The Soldiers’ General: Bert Hoffmeister at War (Toronto and Vancouver: University of British Columbia Press, 2005), 143–144. In nine hours, the 2nd Canadian Division lost 3,367 all ranks, including 907 killed, from a force of 5,000 men. Stacey, Six Years of War, 342–408. Douglas Delaney, “When Harry Met Monty: Canadian National Politics and the CrerarMontgomery Relationship.” The Canadian Way of War: Serving the National Interest, ed. Colonel Bernd Horn (Toronto: Dundurn, 2006), 213–231. John Nelson Rickard, The Politics of Command: Lieutenant-General A.G.L. McNaughton and the Canadian Army, 1939–1943 (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2010), 54–59. Ibid., Leese to Kennedy, 22 September 1944. On the removal of Burns from command of 1st Canadian Corps, see Delaney, Corps Commanders, 101–120; and J.L. Granatstein, The Generals: The Canadian Army’s Senior Commanders in the Second World War (Toronto: Stoddart, 1993), 133–144. See for example IWM, Leese Papers, Box 2, Leese to his wife, 4 June 1944; and ibid., Box 4 Leese to Sir John Kennedy, 25 July. Ibid., Box 4, Leese to Kennedy, 1 August 44; and Ibid., Box 4, Leese to Kennedy, 26 August 44. Ibid., Box 4, Leese to Kennedy, 1 August 44. See for example TNA, WO 170/200, Eighth Army Headquarters G (Plans) War Diaries (WD), 1 January 1941–31 October 1944; WO 170/160 Eighth Army Headquarters G (Main), WD, 1 May–31 May 1944; WO 170/206 Eighth Army Headquarters A, WD, 1 January 1944–31 December 1944; WO 170/204, Eighth Army Headquarters, GS In[elligence], WD, 1 September–31 December 1944; WO 170/207, Eighth Army Headquarters, Q, WD, 1 January 1944–31 December 1944; WO 170/591 WD 25 Tank Brigade, 1 January 1944–31 December 1944; WO 170/576, WD 21 Tank Brigade, H.Q., 1 September 1944–31 December 1944; LAC, RG 24 Vol. 13684 WD 1st Canadian Corps, General Staff, February 1944–May 1944; RG 24 Vol. 1431, Headquarters Royal Canadian Artillery, 1st Canadian Corps, May 1944–August 1944; RG 24 Vol. 13728, WD 1st

134

62 63 64 65

Douglas E. Delaney

Canadian Division, General Staff, March 1944–May 1944; RG 24 Vol. 13740, WD 1st Canadian Division, Assistant Adjutant and Quartermaster General, May 1944–August1944. Colonel G.W.L. Nicholson, The Gunners of Canada, Volume II, 1919–1967 (Toronto: McClelland and Stewart, 1972), 202. TNA, CAB 106/991, Operation VERITABLE: Clearing the Area between the R Maas and the R Rhine, 8 Feb–10 Mar 1945, 49. Ibid., 46. Stacey, The Canadian Army, 1939–1945, 324–325.

8

Gold and dollars Canada, South Africa and British war finance, 1939–1945 Iain E. Johnston

The Dominions were essential in sustaining the United Kingdom (UK) financially during the Second World War. This financial provision reversed the traditional matriarchal role the UK had held with its former settler colonies and was worth in excess of £2 billion (£2bn).1 Through various methods of assistance and to dramatically different extents, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and South Africa eased the financial burden that total war exerted on London’s resources. The UK finished the war victorious but was transformed from major creditor to the world’s largest debtor; the Dominions all emerged from the war in improved financial condition and with economies that had advanced industrially. The Dominions thus managed to provide major assistance to the UK without ending the war in the same financial plight.2 This can be explained by the motivating factors behind Dominion financial policy. As the extent of the assistance suggests, one important consideration was the Dominions’ desire to do their utmost to win the war alongside the UK. Other concerns, however, clearly ranked above this. Finance was a point where the external war effort overlapped with the home front: sometimes the two areas collided because greater sacrifices at home facilitated greater overseas expenditure. Thus the sacrifices civilians were willing to make were of crucial importance to governments trying to manage global warfare. More important still, the political implications of any economic measures and the standard of living on the home front were always at the forefront in decision-making on external aid. Second only to possible and immediate political vicissitudes were the implications of any action on the postwar economic position of a Dominion. What the Dominions could afford to pay externally was not the dominant factor in what was provided. This was particularly important for Canada and South Africa because these two Dominions were best placed to underwrite large portions of the UK’s financial war effort. London’s perennial difficulty in funding the war was a lack of hard currencies – solving this problem was the basis for Lend-Lease provision from the USA, the outstanding and singularly most crucial element in meeting the UK’s shortages. Nevertheless, even with Lend-Lease provision, the UK lacked the necessary Canadian dollars to fund its substantial and growing purchases from booming Canadian production, and London required

136

Iain E. Johnston

a steady supply of South African gold to trade with neutrals – not just directly for purchases but also to underwrite confidence in sterling, so that the UK’s currency would remain an acceptable source of payment for most neutral countries. The provision of Canadian dollars and South African gold was fundamental to London’s continuing ability to finance its massive and increasingly expensive war effort. Without this assistance, the UK’s war effort would have been seriously curtailed. Although both Ottawa and Pretoria considered similar factors when deciding what provision of financial aid they would supply to the UK, there were very different outcomes from these deliberations. The crucial factors involved for the Dominion governments – their domestic wartime economies, national political climates and the perceived importance of future economic relations with the UK and the British Empire – formed motivations for large-scale Canadian assistance, financial support that was hailed as probably the most generous of that provided by any Allied nation. Yet the same considerations convinced South Africa to adopt a policy that resulted in accusations of frugality and economic opportunism from British officials. This chapter first explores Canadian financial aid before considering South African assistance in a comparative context.

Canadian dollars Canada was the pre-eminent Dominion in terms of wartime financial effort, supporting the UK with over $5bn.3 Canada benefitted from its geographical proximity to the US and UK, its relatively large population, its natural resources and established industrialisation as it transformed itself into a major producer of armaments. More significant still, its financial strength allowed not just the UK but indeed the entire Sterling Area4 to continue accessing its large raw material and munitions exports long after the ability to pay had passed. Before the war, Ottawa devised a plan of limited liability that privileged financial and material support over military commitments. In the event, Canada was capable of committing large armed forces on land, sea and air concurrent with this significant economic assistance. Nevertheless, the aid provided was not as altruistic as the sums suggest; instead, British requirements facilitated Canadian assistance in a form that benefitted both countries and protected Canada’s long–term interests. First and foremost, it was the domestic economy and political considerations that determined the nature and extent of Canada’s contribution. Canada’s interwar reliance on London for hard currency to finance American imports, earned by selling Canadian imports to the UK, ended quickly upon the outbreak of war. With a serious dollar gap, the UK considered what North American imports it could restrict to save dollars, while Canada conversely sought action to ensure that the UK did not reduce its Canadian expenditure.5 Canada thus assured the UK that it would do what it could to finance the British shortage of Canadian dollars for purchases. During the first year of

Canada, South Africa and British war finance

137

war, this entailed the provision of $200m credit from the Canadian Government, leaving the UK to find the means to pay the rest of the deficit, some $40m–$120m.6 Ottawa’s willingness to pay around two-thirds of the UK’s deficit so early was a statement of intent regarding Canadian aid for the rest of the conflict. More important still, Canada also accepted sterling, within defined limits, as partial payment.7 This decision was the basis of the major programmes of financial aid that Ottawa subsequently provided. Canada ran a trade surplus with the UK and the Sterling Area, but influential neutrals like the US would not accept sterling as payment; this meant that sterling was not a liquid currency for Canada in wartime. Accruing sterling balances in fact allowed the UK to build up a debt in Canada that could be paid off only postwar. Given the results of debts among Allies in the interwar period, this was considered highly undesirable but was accepted due to the wartime emergency and the wish to maintain British business in Canada. Mindful of the post-1918 story, one Canadian official warned the Cabinet War Committee (CWC) that any large sterling debt would ‘never be paid in full or, possibly, in large part. Any reliance on this . . . invites disappointment . . . and . . . later will create a bitter war-debt controversy. We know what that means’.8 Canada therefore initially placed a strict limit on the amount of sterling it would accept as payment and added the proviso that this sterling debt would be paid down with the repatriation of British-held securities in Canada whenever possible. The strategic crisis of mid-1940 completely transformed the UK’s attitude; its reserves of dollars (largely US) and gold were now committed to any immediate war expenditure deemed necessary. Nevertheless, dollars and gold were mainly directed towards the US, because Canada had already expressed its willingness to continue to supply goods even if the UK could not provide full payment. Although Canada still insisted on some hard payment to finance the necessary equipment and materials from the US, which were used to expand Canadian production, this was not to any great extent.9 As British needs in Canada grew and hard currency dwindled, a sustainable method of payment was sought. Gold, for instance, covered only 10–15 per cent of total payments in Canada up to February 1942.10 Indeed, the sheer lack of gold in London meant that there was simply no more to spare for payment to Canada after December 1940.11 Another method employed was the repatriation of British holdings in Canada. The first securities to go in large proportion were Canadian debts to British bondholders, but other business interests and holdings followed.12 British import requirements fast outran what could be repatriated, however, and increasingly the major means of payment was Canada’s acceptance of sterling balances – essentially Canadian credit.13 The immediate burden therefore fell on the Canadian economy. British expenditure repeatedly overtook the limit of sterling that Canada agreed to hold and the idea of any ceiling figure was removed altogether in March 1941.14 Ottawa therefore pledged to throw the main burden of financing the Sterling Area deficit upon its own resources, a move that allowed the UK to place

138

Iain E. Johnston

orders freely in Canada without fear that the Canadian extension of credit would dictate a limit on purchases. Canadian Finance Minister James Ilsley claimed that it was simply ‘unthinkable that any shortage of Canadian dollars should make it impossible . . . for Britain to secure from Canada . . . munitions and supplies’.15 There were several reasons why this situation was considered untenable. Like the UK, Canada learned during the Great War and the Great Depression that war debts among allies were fraught with complications. This was no less true with sterling balances.16 During the 1930s, Canada based its postDepression returning prosperity on an export drive, particularly aimed at the British market. This not only brought the nation internal wealth but also the American dollars to finance essential purchases in the US. If Canada held a significant postwar British debt, it would encourage the UK to restrict Canadian purchases after the Second World War and aim for its own (and a Sterling Area) surplus in trade with Canada to meet its obligations at the conclusion of hostilities. Put simply, holding huge British debt at the end of the war would seriously harm Canada because the UK was an important market for exports and a crucial source of American dollars.17 By the end of 1941, the size of Canada’s sterling balances and the rate at which they were increasing demanded some significant action,18 particularly since the debt had reached a level considered uncollectable. Furthermore, Ottawa was increasingly worried by uninformed world opinion, which it felt would view Canada’s acceptance of sterling payment as a demand for ‘cash on a barrel head’ from its close ally – much less generous terms than the USA’s provision of Lend-Lease, whose terms of settlement remained unclear.19 Options to solve the accumulation of sterling included an increased repatriation scheme,20 greater payments for Canadian forces based in the UK, writing down British debt and the purchasing of British interests in Canada, but all of these actions had drawbacks and, even when combined, were considered insufficient to meet the British deficit. Instead, in January 1942, Canada announced a bold plan of a series of measures to aid the UK, which would be implemented as of April.21 The central provision was the Billion Dollar Gift (BDG) – a staggering $1bn with which it was estimated the UK could continue to secure its share of Canadian output for over a year, free of charge.22 The size of the gift was truly huge in relation to the Canadian economy: during the life of the gift, Canadian exports to the Sterling Area represented about 10 per cent of gross national product, the majority of which were accessed through the BDG. Furthermore, the sum of money was nearly a quarter of Canada’s national budget in 1942–1943.23 In a deliberate act to court public and world opinion, the announcement of the gift preceded an American announcement on the terms of Lend-Lease, and the BDG’s nature, without any need for settlement at the end of war, clearly trumped the American scheme as an act of generosity and largesse.24 Nor was this Canada’s only financial provision to the UK – the gift ensured that the UK could access Canadian exports from April without Canada accumulating

Canada, South Africa and British war finance

139

additional sterling balances; however, the outstanding balance still needed to be taken care of. Canada therefore extended its accumulated sterling as a dollar loan back to the UK. This meant a further provision of $700m dollars, interest free during the war, with the terms of postwar interest and repayment left to be decided after the conclusion of hostilities. The BDG and dollar loan were calculated to allow the UK largely unfettered access to Canadian resources for fifteen months. The rate of use, however, was much quicker than this, and it soon became apparent that the dollars would run out within a year, as the Allies prepared for the offensive phase of the war. Canada was therefore faced with the question of repeating or replacing the gift to meet future British needs. What emerged was a scheme of Mutual Aid, which provided access for the UK and other Allies to Canadian munitions production, foodstuffs and raw materials for the duration of the war, on a model of distribution similar to American Lend-Lease.25 The factors behind the decision to provide the BDG, dollar loan and Mutual Aid are instructive of how Ottawa viewed financial aid and what influences dictated these decisions. The issues were largely decided by the government’s concerns over the future of the Canadian economy and domestic public reaction to government initiatives, and the debate is worth examining in detail. With other options exhausted or unsuitable, the BDG was considered the best possible scheme for initial financial aid. This provided the UK with Canadian output, ensuring that British orders, which were driving Canada’s economy, were not placed elsewhere and that the billion dollars were directed back into the Canadian economy. Aware that a suitably small debt still kept some claim on the UK, even if it was just used as a postwar bargaining chip and not actually reclaimed, the $700m loan was considered to be sufficiently large without being prohibitive to future trade. Crucially, the accumulated sterling that formed the basis of the loan was converted into dollars, so that even if the UK were forced to devalue sterling postwar, the value of the loan to Canada would remain intact.26 The generous nature of the BDG and loan were considered very important for world opinion because Canada wanted to end the war with general goodwill in the interests of future global trade.27 In practice, the BDG worked well as a method of financial aid. Canada reaped the benefits it sought, and the UK acquired indispensable war materials in return free of charge. Yet one year later, it was necessary for the gift to be altered slightly and rebranded. The story demonstrates the continuing concerns of the Canadian Government for postwar economic advantage and immediate support from its electorate. Contrary to expectations, the Canadian public’s response to the BDG had been mixed at best, making a repeat gesture politically uncomfortable for King’s Liberal Government.28 In Quebec, polls showed outright opposition to this method of financial aid, while even in English-speaking Canada the reaction was muted and by no means universally positive.29 The main problem was the form, especially the name. A billion dollars sounded monumental; a gift is something for which you have no claim for reciprocation or benefit

140

Iain E. Johnston

in return. When suggesting the gift, Canadian civil servants suggested that its value should be stressed to the public in terms of goods and supplies, the production of which were beneficial to the Canadian economy, not as free money.30 Instead, Canadian politicians emphasised the generosity of the act and its financial size. Ilsley, for instance, publicly declared it a ‘free and unconditional gift from the people of Canada’ to the UK.31 This was, of course, not empty rhetoric. The BDG was a monumental offer, large-minded and unstinting, more so than what the US or even others within the Commonwealth were offering. The BDG was, however, also in Canada’s own interests; it was conceived to be so, and it was shaped to help Canada. Canadian production was geared towards British needs; it was British orders that were providing such wide employment and productivity. Furthermore, the British market was seen in Ottawa as crucial to postwar prosperity and future high levels of exports. As Deputy Finance Minister William Clark explained, it was ‘most definitely in Canada’s selfish interests’ that the UK retained some strength and independence after the war. ‘We need a strong United Kingdom in the worst possible way. We need a United Kingdom which has some chance of struggling through to multilateralism in due course’.32 Yet in the midst of the emphasis on the aid the BDG was providing for the UK, attempts to explain to the Canadian public the domestic benefits of the BDG became a secondary consideration and were easily lost. Canada was already footing the cost of the majority of the British orders that were keeping so many factories open.33 The BDG was essentially government investment in ensuring the continued massive production and employment in Canadian factories, in Canadian mines and on Canadian fields. The loan removed a burden on Anglo-Canadian postwar trade and gave Ottawa a helpful bargaining counter. To the public, however, it appeared that the Canadian Government was not only handing over a large portion of its output to the UK free of charge but also giving away a prodigious sum of the nation’s accumulated wealth.34 The press attention and criticism this received domestically ensured that the gift would not be repeated in the same form again.35 A gift of this nature was considered uniquely feasible for the UK, due to Canada’s ‘close political and sentimental relationship’ with the ‘mother country’.36 But whatever some politicians thought, large sections of the Canadian public did not share these sentiments. Whereas American Lend-Lease helped all those nations opposed to the Fascist powers and therefore was harder for Anglophobes to undermine, Canada’s gift helped only the UK, suggesting that imperial, as much as wartime, considerations were behind it. It was easily portrayed by nationalists as inspired by excessively familial feelings for the stricken ‘mother country’, as aid that did not redound to the benefit of all the Allies; for many, it appeared to put the UK’s needs ahead of Canadian interests. With the UK now additionally moving away from ‘the centre of the stage’ in the war, the Canadian Government felt another direct gift would be simply too hard to sell to the Canadian public.37

Canada, South Africa and British war finance

141

Alongside public reaction, Canada cared about its position as a prominent trading nation in an open postwar world economy.38 The Canadian Government, when announcing the BDG, made several references to the benefits that the whole Sterling Area would enjoy.39 This mattered because the Sterling Area was full of potential postwar trading partners, and it earned American dollars that could end up in Canada’s reserves if wartime trade surpluses with the Area persisted following the conclusion of hostilities.40 The fact that Canada’s first gift was solely to the UK, however, did not escape attention within the Commonwealth, particularly because of London’s selfish administration of the financial aid.41 The UK considered that the BDG’s main importance was in relieving its own position, a point that was contested, particularly in Canberra.42 The UK chose to sell the Canadian dollars it was receiving for free to the rest of the Sterling Area to improve its own sterling position vis-à-vis the buying countries. Neither Canada nor the rest of the Sterling Area benefitted from the UK’s handling of the BDG, and this did little to enhance Canada’s image in these countries.43 Canada warned London that it would not favour the selling of its free dollars, but,44 despite Australian protests, Ottawa decided not to embarrass the UK by pursuing its objections once the BDG was in action.45 Australian protests were simply redirected to London,46 where they were pursued until, in June 1943, the UK agreed to waive over $24m of outstanding Australian debt to London.47 Nevertheless, Canberra’s initial outrage was directed at its fellow Dominion; Australian External Affairs minister Herbert Evatt subjected the Canadian High Commissioner to a diatribe on Canada’s lack of Commonwealth unity and its consistent privileging of the UK,48 wrapping the issue up with other grievances about arms supplied to China before Australia and the refusal of Canada to provide a token military unit when Japan was menacing Australian territory.49 Evatt’s points were grossly exaggerated, but at root they contained an element of truth. Some of this Australian feeling reached the American press, while Wellington also took issue with the distribution of dollars (although more politely than Australia). New Zealand also contested a statement released by the Canadian Government claiming that New Zealand had received free aid through the BDG, a point that was, as the complaints highlighted, simply false.50 This international reception was the opposite of what Ottawa had intended. In formulating a new scheme of aid, it was decided that the UK should not be responsible for administering it to the whole Sterling Area and that, furthermore, Canada should also receive the benefits of supplying other Allies like Russia and China directly. This earned postwar goodwill for Ottawa in many countries, placated the other disgruntled Dominions and removed domestic criticism of the privileged position of the UK. Canada’s concern about the reaction around the whole Commonwealth shows how important considerations of future trade were. With South Africa too, despite the fact that Ottawa knew the Union could pay for all of its requirements in Canada, Mutual Aid was offered for the majority of exports solely for the rationale of encouraging

142

Iain E. Johnston

future trade with its fellow Dominion.51 As an exporting country, Canada always kept potential trade considerations at the forefront. Any state receiving Canadian aid now was more likely to view Canadian exports kindly when the new era of world trade began. The majority of Mutual Aid, initiated in May 1943, still went directly to the UK. It was, however, received much more kindly – even by French Canadians – than the BDG. Undoubtedly terminology again played its part, this time favourably: ‘Mutual’ suggested a reciprocal arrangement; ‘Aid’ was charitable and more appropriate for Allies at war than a gift. The billion dollar appropriation was not mentioned in the title because Mutual Aid would be rolling until the conclusion of hostilities, and, perhaps most important of all, it was for the Allies, not just the UK.52 The delivery placed emphasis on the nature of the aid: ‘Under Mutual Aid Canada . . . does not give money or credit to other countries’; the ‘money voted to the Mutual Aid Board goes . . . to the wage earner and farmer’.53 Despite the fact that the UK had received a similar amount of financial assistance in an almost identical manner the year before, Mutual Aid was accepted relatively uncritically in Canada. Indeed, Mutual Aid was not very well known around the country and did not draw press attention similar to that for the BDG.54 By the end of the war, Canada had spent around $2bn on Mutual Aid for the UK and the Commonwealth.55 The unstinting wartime support Canada provided for the UK is best summarised by the substantial figures involved. On top of $2bn of Mutual Aid for the UK and the rest of the Sterling Area, Canada provided the BDG and the $700m interest-free loan. The UK spent a further $1.6bn in Canada by paying gold and dollars, through the Canadian repatriation of British assets and, most important of all, by Canada’s accrual of sterling balances. The approximately $4bn from Mutual Aid, the dollar loan and the BDG was roughly equivalent to two-thirds of the Sterling Area’s requirements in Canada during the war.56 Canadian generosity (and self-interest) did not stop at these measures: the UK’s outstanding debts of $1.2bn were written down after the war, and Ottawa further offered London a $1.25bn-dollar loan to help maintain purchases in Canada during the reconstruction phase.57 Canada could afford such action because its production had boomed during the war and its relationship with the US had left it in a similarly safe position regarding hard reserves in 1945 compared to that of 1939.58 Canadian provision for the UK was therefore staggering: in all, over $5bn, or roughly £1.125bn, for the UK during the war. This was a truly substantial source of external finance that allowed the UK to keep purchasing food, raw materials and munitions in Canada. The BDG, whatever the Canadian rationale, was an example of munificence that was not matched in any other Allied exchange during the war. London described it in such terms: ‘more generous than that employed by any other member of the British Commonwealth or Ally’.59 Nevertheless the fundamental reason for this aid was continually its benefit to the Canadian economy, as London was well aware.60 In 1939, the UK was implored to keep making purchases in Canada; the British outlet for Canadian

Canada, South Africa and British war finance

143

production was why the provision of credit began. The Canadian economy quickly came to rely on large British orders, and sustaining these purchases became vital for Canada. The generosity of the BDG was in line with Canada’s goals for developing its economy; the loan was viewed as an eventual bargaining chip; British debt was kept down precisely so that it could eventually be repaid or at least to prevent its becoming an impediment to future Canadian exports to the Sterling Area. The BDG was altered to Mutual Aid on the basis of domestic public opinion and to enhance the potential of Canadian trade in the postwar world. Canada was undoubtedly the most generous Dominion in terms of the level of its provision, but its generosity represented, as one Canadian historian has argued, an ‘enlightened self-interest’.61

South African gold The considerations behind the Union of South Africa’s financial support were akin to those that influenced the Canadian Government. The similarities included concerns about maintaining the current government’s power, upsetting public opinion and the strength of the domestic economy, both present and future. Crucial differences existed between the two Dominions’ economies and internal politics, however, which caused the level of South African aid to be radically lower than what Canada provided. Yet although this financial provision has been termed frugal and ungenerous, what was provided remained an essential element of the UK’s economic war effort. The conditions in South Africa led to very different decisions on financial provision: the government’s political opposition was more dangerous, public opinion was more divided and the future of South Africa’s economy was understood to rest on the power of exporting gold, not on international goodwill and foreign export markets. In Canada, the benefits of financial aid were felt in the domestic economy immediately – the BDG and Mutual Aid consisted of government money spent on production in its own economy, the output of which formed the gift. In South Africa, where the UK needed gold more than munitions, foodstuffs and raw materials, this complementarity was not possible. What benefitted the UK did not necessarily help the Union, and relations were therefore much more difficult. South Africa was a Sterling Dominion, like Australia and New Zealand, but it had a more complicated relationship with the Sterling Area. Gold made up over 70 per cent of the Union’s exports by value between 1932 and 1939, and the mineral gave the country significant financial independence.62 In most of the Sterling Area, gold, along with other hard currencies produced and earned, was automatically sold to London for sterling, adding to the whole Area’s central pool of reserves.63 Following the Great Depression, South Africa decided to peg its currency to British sterling, but in 1934, the Union further legislated to hold its own gold as a national reserve, selling it to the Sterling Area only when trade required it.64 The Union effectively kept one foot out of the currency bloc because it could use its gold to trade independently of the Sterling Area.

144

Iain E. Johnston

Union overseas trade became increasingly diversified in the interwar years, but by the outbreak of war, the UK and the British Empire remained its largest export markets.65 Even with South Africa’s significant degree of financial independence, lack of interest in the fate of the Sterling Area was therefore not possible. Minerals, particularly gold, remained the Dominion’s most valuable commodity by a considerable measure, but the traditional settler-colony and ‘mother country’ relationship had not totally disappeared. The UK still took the majority of the Union’s agricultural exports: while gold-mining employed around 5 per cent of the white and 7 per cent of the non-white population, agriculture, forestry and fishing employed 25 per cent and 64 per cent of these populations respectively.66 The importance of gold therefore had some limitations, and the Union still required export markets for other goods to maintain its employment levels. The main resource that the UK required from the Union during the war was gold.67 The UK did acquire sufficient gold from the Union to finance the war; however, it was always denied the quantity it desired, and the financial relationship was decidedly imbalanced in the Union’s benefit. Despite repeated pleas from the UK, the Union was exceptional among the Dominions in its refusal to accept the accrual of sterling balances as payment throughout the war and, in fact, initially ran down what little sterling balances it held in London.68 Looking at gold alone, the Union could be viewed as pursuing such actions purely on the grounds of its own economic interests. When taking other financial negotiations into account, notably payment for the Union’s overseas forces, it is apparent that the influences on government policy significantly included public opinion and the political opposition, in addition to the economy. The Union provided the UK with substantial amounts of gold: £90m a year from 1939 to 1941, approximately £40m in 1942 and, for 1943–1945, the UK had the option to buy a further £90m a year. Gold never lost its importance to the UK; however, the latter option was never fully exercised – in part because the Union simply refused to accept sterling for gold (or in other words to relinquish gold for credit).69 Since the UK was receiving around the same level of gold prewar as during the period 1939–1941, with the exception of 1942 there appears to be little cause for complaint. What then were the UK’s issues? First, the gold that London could acquire was sold to the UK in exchange for currencies other than sterling or for British and Sterling Area exports. This was, in the latter case, a direct trade transaction; in the former, it was just a straight exchange of financial resources. There was no sacrifice, even partial, for the war effort by the Union in these transactions. Moreover, the Union was producing gold at a comfortably higher rate than it was selling it to the UK; the excess that was not necessary for the Union’s trade purposes simply accrued in South Africa’s reserves and was not employed in the war effort.70 Nor were the Union’s reserves dwindling, even as the UK’s were completely exhausted: Pretoria argued it required a base level (£90m) of gold to underwrite current and future economic commitments

Canada, South Africa and British war finance

145

and, from the middle of the war, kept its reserves substantially above even this level. The UK, spending all of its resources in the war, was disappointed that the same measures were not taken by a fellow belligerent, ally and Commonwealth member. London felt it had a moral claim – in addition to a Commonwealth and imperial claim – to this gold for the war effort, particularly the excess gold above that which was claimed to be essential economic insurance (a luxury with reserves that London itself did not enjoy).71 Further issues arose because the Union pursued repatriation in exchange for gold to an extent that almost entirely removed the UK’s interests in the country. Repatriation of British-held debt for gold was initially suggested by the UK, as one possible means of acquiring gold in a time of emergency immediately before Lend-Lease aid was received. Even then, this was only suggested to a limited extent.72 Pretoria subsequently tied future financial deals to the continuance of repatriation, which was nearly completed in its entirety by the end of the war. Where other Dominions perceived that such actions were taking advantage of the UK’s predicament and removing the UK’s financial links with their countries, the Union had no such reservations. From London’s viewpoint this was, once again, simply the exchange of one asset for another, and the securities the UK lost reduced its continuing capacity to acquire gold from South Africa in the postwar period.73 The UK was therefore disappointed with numerous actions: that South Africa was so willing to use London’s weakness to sever financial ties; that the Union would not accept sterling balances, which the rest of the Sterling Area and many neutrals were doing, in exchange for gold; and that the Union was using the war emergency to build up its reserves and reduce its external debt. Lord John Maynard Keynes, adviser to the British Treasury, claimed that South Africa had ‘profiteered out of the war remorselessly, for all General Smuts’s fine words (perhaps because of them)’.74 These points were driven home in 1942, when the UK received just £40m of South Africa’s gold.75 Pressure from Washington on the Union to divert its machinery and manpower to war industries resulted in falling output from South Africa’s gold mines because the US refused to supply critical mining materials such as steel.76 This was effective but hurt other areas of the Union’s economy too: for instance, the lack of steel created shortages for the railway network, which in turn lowered the efficiency of the Union’s ports.77 The US shut its major gold mines completely to release manpower and machinery for the war effort and expected others to follow its lead. Canada and Australia partially complied, without ever accepting that full closures were necessary.78 In South Africa there was outright refusal: gold underwrote the entire economy.79 The US instead suggested that the Union could release more gold to the UK if production was not cut (gold that would, in large part, subsequently end up in Washington’s coffers). Pretoria remained intransigent on the point. It defined its ‘excess’ production as the gold it released to the UK, not the gold it was using to steadily build its reserves.80 Any fall in production would reduce what went to the UK (and therefore Washington).81 In 1942, the UK was sold just £40m in order to display how the Union’s shortages would primarily

146

Iain E. Johnston

affect its Allies.82 Hurt by the loss of gold and anxious to prevent a new trend of diminished gold sales, the UK agreed to defend Pretoria’s position on gold production in Washington and allow South Africa to repatriate two-thirds of the remaining British-held debt, in exchange for securing a firm arrangement on the option of £90m gold sales in subsequent war years.83 The incident neatly defined the Union’s order of priorities, with the UK and the war effort ranking comfortably below its own domestic interests. To fully understand the Union’s approach, it is therefore important to consider South Africa’s home front. The main issue for the South African Government was its vocal right-wing opposition. Unlike in Canada, where English Canadians formed a majority, the white population most likely to oppose the war, the Afrikaners, outnumbered those of British origin and descent. Furthermore, disenfranchised non-whites – who made up around 80 per cent of the total population – were most often ambiguous about the war effort at best. Smuts was relatively secure with voters of British heritage but needed to court enough of the Afrikaner population to maintain power. The UK was acutely sensitive to Smuts’s position because his opposition, preaching a narrowly Afrikaner nationalism, supported neutrality and cutting ties with the Commonwealth. Smuts came to power narrowly in September 1939 on the back of a resolution to fight the war, using the economic benefits of the Commonwealth connection in debates.84 Any subsequent reduction in living standards within the country could easily be utilised by the opposition to unsettle Smuts’s fragile support and undermine the war effort. While London appreciated the difficulties Smuts’s government faced, it still appeared that the Union Government could contribute much more. Wartime budgets delivered by the South African Minister of Finance, Jan Hofmeyr, were routinely and often scathingly criticised by UK officials.85 Union Government spending and taxation were low by Commonwealth standards; its rate of tax, for instance, was around 60 per cent of the average level across the rest of the Commonwealth. Of complete tax revenues, 40 per cent came directly from gold-mining, and indirect taxes on the industry took the total it raised to well over 50 per cent. Put simply, taxes on individuals were low, and this suggested, certainly from an overseas perspective, that there was room for increased taxation and expenditure on the war. Such measures, despite lowering living standards, were being employed elsewhere to hold down inflation and restrict individuals from non-essential purchases. In South Africa it was very much ‘business as usual’ for the economy.86 The issue was that the majority non-white population held a very small portion of the country’s wealth; any significant tax rises would therefore need to fall on white South Africans to be effective. The white population was bitterly divided on participation in the war; it held the power to make political change, and it had, to some degree, been sold on the war effort by the economic benefits that Commonwealth membership wrought. White South Africans were accustomed to relatively little state interference through taxation and, by 1939, had just experienced seven consecutive years of impressive economic

Canada, South Africa and British war finance

147

expansion and rising living standards. Revenue through taxation of individuals, a controlled economy, and heavy government expenditure on the war were all fraught with political risk for the South African Government. Pretoria repeatedly used this rationale to deflect pleas from the UK to release gold or institute an automatic system of gold in exchange for sterling.87 The Union’s intransigence also had a firm economic basis. Whereas in Canada permitting unlimited sterling accrual was undesirable but accepted in order to keep production booming, an automatic system of sterling in exchange for gold lacked any similar rationale in South Africa: in Canada, the benefits permeated the entire economy; in South Africa, there would be no comparable effect. Gold was South Africa’s primary export, a valuable source of international exchange that provided the country a degree of financial independence; in contrast, unlimited sterling balances could harm postwar trade with the UK and would tie South Africa to the UK and the Sterling Area, a development that would undermine the moderate Afrikaner support Smuts enjoyed. Worse still, any large sterling balances accrued would need to be written down or, at the very least, would prove inaccessible in their entirety in the immediate postwar period, given the huge sterling debts the UK was building globally. Put simply, South Africa would be acquiring balances of little immediate value and dubious future worth in exchange for a very valuable commodity that allowed it to trade internationally, all without any real benefit to its internal economy. The Union thus agreed to provide gold only when it benefitted its economy.88 Such a stance was difficult for the opposition to attack. Repatriation of British-held debts and business interests in the Union in exchange for gold was one such move. Repatriation made financial sense for South Africa: reducing external indebtedness was good for the country, took the corresponding interest charges off future balance of payments calculations and furthermore reduced South Africa’s economic ties to the UK.89 The latter reason particularly appealed to the Afrikaners Smuts was trying to court. Gold negotiations show the government’s concern for the economy and public support. Looking at payments for South Africa’s forces highlights how far this attitude extended, to the point of taking advantage of the war situation in spite of existing agreements and obligations. Commonwealth policy, established in repeated interwar imperial conferences, dictated that each Dominion paid for its own forces in the field, the size of which it was free to determine. With Canada, for example, this arrangement was complicated only when Canadians were detached from the Canadian armed forces and serving directly with the RAF. Australia and New Zealand debated issues such as the capitation rate for their soldiers in the Middle East.90 Although the UK never felt that any Dominion actually met the initial costs that London had to bear for Dominion service members,91 for Canada, Australia and New Zealand – with the exception of special cases like British Commonwealth Air Training Plan graduates – the principle of payment was not contested and the financial remuneration provided for the UK was in reasonable proximity to the total costs.

148

Iain E. Johnston

South Africa was the exception. Smuts at first expressed a willingness to follow the established principle for payment of overseas forces, when South Africans took part in large numbers in the East African campaign against Italian forces.92 This was sold to the domestic electorate as being in the interests of South Africa’s regional defence. South Africa was supplying stores and equipment for the campaign in addition to its personnel, as was the UK; so for costs above the pay and allowances of South African troops, the two countries agreed upon a 50–50 basis of payment. This was a reasonable and uncomplicated distribution of costs.93 Problems arose when the Union’s forces were sent to North Africa. Domestically, the political opposition questioned how battles in Egypt and Libya were in South Africa’s interests – this was, by their account, an imperial war that South Africans were dying for and paying for.94 Pretoria now adopted a completely different attitude. Smuts’s earlier adherence to the Commonwealth principle of paying for forces was claimed to be a limited pledge for East Africa, not relevant to the Middle East.95 For the UK, full compensation of initial expenditure was of double importance. As well as reducing its huge costs, the payment was made in gold. The UK thus urged the Union to take into account the ‘standards set up by other parts of the Commonwealth, whose ability to aid is in fact less rather than greater’.96 The Union further insisted that a decision on this issue should be reached in Pretoria, not London, and that the War Office (WO) should send an official to the Union authorised to make a settlement. When an official was dispatched, he soon requested to be returned home after meetings were cancelled with less than an hour’s notice, and he became ‘convinced the Union [was] trifling with [the] problem’ and had no intention of reaching any agreement that would ‘necessitate [a] supplementary budget’.97 The Union’s attitude was well captured by one South African official who tersely commented that he was ‘not moved . . . by impulses of financial generosity in these inter-Governmental matters’.98 Although discussions first began in March 1941, it was fully two and a half years later, in late 1943, that a settlement was eventually reached. The Union still refused to pay the full cost of its forces. By this time, early Union claims that paying for its forces was ‘far beyond the financial means of the country’ had been exposed as false; indeed, in one such meeting where this claim was made, the British Chancellor confidently asserted that the Union was by the middle of the war, in fact, ‘a rich country’.99 When challenged, Pretoria always fell back on the argument that the issues were actually domestic and political, an area in which London was simply unwilling to intervene. The UK, sensitive to the Union’s position, agreed to a settlement that let Pretoria repay only around, but probably under, 60 per cent of its air and ground force expenses.100 The importance of the domestic reaction to any agreement was obvious when these settlements were discussed in the South African parliament. In the first place, it was no coincidence that eventual settlement over payment for the Union’s armed forces was not decided until after Smuts was returned

Canada, South Africa and British war finance

149

with an improved majority after the election of July 1943. Smuts, who continually tried to stay out of financial negotiations and leave them to his deputy Hofmeyr – perhaps because of the risks of being implicated in any negative deal – admitted that prior to July 1943, it was simply impossible to approach parliament with a request for large defence funds for overseas forces.101 When challenged domestically on the agreement over paying for overseas forces at the end of the year, Smuts became agitated and responded that the ‘agreement was in every respect to South Africa’s advantage’, representing ‘good business’ for the Union. Other government representatives boasted that the Union had driven ‘a very hard bargain indeed’.102 Smuts’s government met its needs to satisfy domestic opinion and undermine its opposition’s attacks. The Union therefore provided no financial gifts to the UK, and what action it took was firmly in its own interests. The domestic repercussions of any financial arrangement were always a key consideration, particularly the public response and the opportunities this created for the political opposition. Such concerns were taken so far that the Union was willing to gain advantage from London’s predicament and weak position; no offer from the UK was ever accepted without being renegotiated in better terms for the Union. At times, the UK virtually subsidised Smuts’s political security through these arrangements, a move it was willing to take to keep South Africa in the war.103 Unsurprisingly, South Africa did well financially during the war. The Union reduced external public debt by £82m, almost doubled its balances in London to £72m (foreign exchange balances grew by £58m) and steadily built its independent gold reserves to £205.8m, from just £44.4m in 1939.104 At the same time, it developed its harbours and industries, was able to pay for its overseas forces at a reduced rate and avoided any taxation or decline in the living standard of its European population similar to that seen elsewhere in the Commonwealth. The composition of the Union’s economy did not lend itself to complementary agreements with the UK. The UK required gold, preferably provided as credit, an arrangement that offered South Africa no benefit. The Union consistently had the means to provide more for the UK and to lessen the cost of its forces on London but privileged its domestic concerns over the risk of a negative public reaction to providing aid. Whatever the limitations on the gold received, however, the UK always acquired enough for its strategic needs. This was simply essential to meet London’s currency requirements throughout the different phases of the war; gold often proved much more valuable than any measurement based on its initial sterling value can determine.105 Its greatest importance was in underwriting the strength of sterling, the continued confidence in which allowed the UK to acquire over £3bn of materials on sterling credit during the war.106 Although South Africa protected its own interests, its willingness to release the gold that it did – gold that was simply unavailable to the UK in the same quantities or on similar terms elsewhere – was essential to London’s financial plans.

150

Iain E. Johnston

Conclusion The story of Anglo-Dominion wartime financial aid stands apart from the colonial empire and follows more closely a Statute of Westminster narrative of cooperation through increasing partnership and emerging independence.107 The UK’s traditional matriarchal financial relationship with the Dominions, particularly Canada and South Africa, was held at the beginning of the war only brief ly; indeed, the ‘mother country’ was increasingly forced to lean on the Dominions as the conf lict progressed. The financial support that the UK actually received from Canada and South Africa involved a complex balancing act, with the Dominions continually weighing the UK’s wartime plight against national economic considerations, political conditions and perceived domestic opinion. Canada provided the greatest financial support because it had the means and the requisite political stability for significant aid and because, ultimately, it benefitted the Canadian economy. Conversely, there was simply no economic rationale for South Africa to provide gold as credit. The South African Government was continually courting its support base and trying to undermine the attacks of its political opposition. Indeed, the domestic political situation led Pretoria to avoid anything that hinted at imperial-minded generosity – the Union Government tried to cultivate the perception that it was always striking ‘hard bargains’ in negotiations with the UK. Even though South Africa was a reluctant contributor, its gold was nonetheless indispensable for two reasons. Firstly, the UK consistently required gold for exchange purposes, and, perhaps more crucially, the global perception that the UK was receiving a steady stream of South African gold underwrote confidence in the Sterling Area throughout the war. This allowed the UK to finance a substantial portion of its purchases, otherwise impossible, on credit. South Africa’s lack of generosity is apparent, relative to Canada, but this does not make its contribution any less crucial. Indeed, Canadian ‘generosity’ was based on national gain, which happened to dovetail with the UK’s interests. Whatever the motivations, the financial support the UK received from the Dominions was second only to Lend-Lease in its importance, and, whereas neutral and colonial financial cooperation tended to entail the accrual of large sterling indebtedness, the Dominions largely prevented significant adverse balances from developing, sparing the UK additional postwar financial strain. The Anglo-Dominion wartime financial relations signalled a new phase of economic interaction that mirrored interwar political developments, furthering Anglo-Dominion relationships of partnership rather than dependence.

Notes 1 Billion will be expressed as £bn throughout. Million will be expressed as £m. 2 The key economic adviser for the British government, John Maynard Keynes, in 1942 bemoaned that the UK had ‘in fact . . . borne the brunt of the financial sacrifice of

Canada, South Africa and British war finance

3 4

5

6 7 8

9 10 11 12

13

14

151

the war and literally alone amongst the Allies will have suffered a serious reversal of our overseas financial position.’ ‘Our prospective Dollar Balances’, note by Keynes, 10 September 1942. Donald Moggridge, The Collected Writings of John Maynard Keynes, Vol. 23: Activities 1940–1943: External War Finance (London: Macmillan, 1979), 247. The dollar sign represents Canadian dollars throughout the chapter, unless otherwise stated (as US$). Wartime conversion with the UK, £1 = $4.45. The Sterling Area grew out of the interwar sterling bloc, mainly imperial but including Nordic and South American countries, all of which held reserves of sterling in London. These nations traded mainly in sterling and thus chose to peg their domestic currencies to sterling, following the UK’s decision to leave the gold standard in October 1931. On 7 November 1939, Canadian representatives in London warned Ottawa, with regard to exports to the UK, that the ‘more we study the whole matter of supply as related to finance in war effort the more impressed we are that at the present time and for some time to come this question of finance will be the dominant one’. Crerar to King, 7 November 1939, British Treasury Conference file, LAC, W.C. Clark’s departmental papers, vol. 3992. For more on the Canadian Department of Finance, see Robert B. Bryce, Canada and the Cost of World War II: The International Operations of Canada’s Department of Finance, 1939–1947 (London: Queen’s University Press, 2005). ‘Memorandum Made up by the Bank of England during Visit of G.F. Towers, December, 1939’, Foreign Exchange Control: Sterling – Can. Dollar Relationships, LAC, W.C. Clark’s departmental papers, vol. 3971. Crerar to King, 7 November 1939, British Treasury Conference file, LAC, W.C. Clark’s departmental papers, vol. 3992. ‘The Problem of Sterling Balances’, 19 June 1941, Documents of the Cabinet War Committee (CWC), vol. V, April–June 1941, LAC, RG-2-7-C, vol. IV. In a similar vein Prime Minister King explained in plain terms that the accrual of sterling was simply for the UK ‘a steadily growing war debt to Canada. We all remember the international problems and difficulties caused after the last war by the existence of huge war debts’. British High Commissioner in Canada to Dominions Office (DO), 23 January 1942, Financial Assistance from Canada, TNA, Records of the Prime Minister’s Office (PREM), PREM 4/44/9. These imports were desperately needed because Canadian production was so reliant on American assistance. Charles P. Stacey, Arms, Men and Governments: The War Policies of Canada, 1939–1945 (Ottawa: Queen’s Printer, 1970), 49. ‘Proposal for Reducing Canada’s Accumulating Sterling Balances’, W.L. Gordon, 11 December 1941, Documents of the CWC, vol. VII, November–December 1941, LAC, RG-2-7-C, vol. VI. This situation persisted until after the Billion Dollar Gift and was, in part, down to the attitude of the US. Keynes to Hopkins, 14 March 1941, Moggridge, External War Finance, 50. By February 1942, $525m had been repatriated – $400m by the government and a further $125m by private companies, a move that also helped to hold down inflation. ‘Canada’s Billion Dollar Gift to Britain’, Lease and Lend: Canada’s Billion Dollar Gift to Britain (Canadian Mutual Aid), National Archives of Australia (NAA), Australian High Commission London correspondence, A2908, A67/15, PART 1. Sterling was accepted as payment for Canadian dollars, which London then used for making purchases in Canada. Since Canada could not usefully use the sterling it was accepting, it was providing the dollars as credit, the extent of which was highlighted by its fast rising sterling balances. Measured in dollars, Canada first capped the value at $50m in May 1940. By the end of October, the ‘cap’ had reached $170m. The rate of British expenditure continued to increase following this point. Sterling–Canadian Dollar Relationship, LAC, W.C. Clark’s departmental papers, vol. 3971.

152

Iain E. Johnston

15 ‘Canada’s Billion Dollar Gift to Britain’, J.L. Ilsley, Address to the Canadian House of Commons, 18 March 1942. 16 One report on Mutual Aid, for instance, explicitly noted that it was designed to ‘avert the tragic consequences of the . . . debts of the last war, which were responsible . . . in part, for the outbreak of this war’. ‘Report of the Canadian Mutual Aid Board for the Period Ending March 31, 1944’, External Affairs (Mutual Aid), LAC, C.D. Howe papers, MG 27 III B 20, vol. 2, folder 4. 17 Ottawa also wanted to take the initiative because uncollectable debts at the end of the war would transfer much of the negotiating advantage back to London. ‘Proposal for Reducing Canada’s Accumulating Sterling Balances’, W.L. Gordon, 11 December 1941, Documents of the CWC, vol. VII, November–December 1941, LAC, RG-2-7-C, vol. VI. 18 From September 1939 to the end of November 1941, the UK’s total adverse balance in trade was $1.483bn. This was met by repatriation ($398m), the sale of securities ($48m), private capital payments ($457m) and payment in gold and US dollars ($250m). The difference, some $728m, was accepted in sterling. ‘Proposal for Reducing Canada’s Accumulating Sterling Balances’, W.L. Gordon, 11 December 1941, Documents of the CWC, vol. VII, November–December 1941, LAC, RG-2-7-C, vol. VI. 19 ‘Financial Arrangements between Canada and the United Kingdom’, 10 August 1944, LAC, W.C. Clark’s departmental papers, vol. 4369. The British High Commissioner in Ottawa wrote to inform London that the UK’s lack of Canadian dollars was becoming increasingly embarrassing and that the country had been living off ‘hand-to-mouth advances . . . being made by the Bank of Canada’ since January 1941. UK High Commissioner, Ottawa, to the Secretary of State for Dominion Affairs, London, 21 May 1941, Canada: Balance of Payments with the Sterling Area, TNA, T 160/1095. 20 ‘Financial Arrangements between Canada and the United Kingdom’, 10 August 1944, LAC, W.C. Clark’s departmental papers, vol. 4369. 21 The War Appropriation (United Kingdom Financing) Act, 1942. 22 Due to its size, the BDG was not accepted immediately in the Canadian Cabinet. The British High Commissioner in Ottawa reported home of ‘keen controversy inside the Council of Ministers about the proposals as originally made by Mr Ilsley. Some Ministers thought them far too generous in Canada’s financial position’. British High Commissioner in Ottawa to the Secretary of State for Dominion Affairs, 19 January 1942, Financial Assistance from Canada, TNA, PREM 4/44/9. 23 Hector Mackenzie, ‘Transatlantic Generosity: Canada’s “Billion Dollar Gift” to the United Kingdom in the Second World War’, The International History Review, 34, 2 (2012), 309. 24 CWC meeting, 15 December 1941, Minutes and Documents of the CWC, vol. V, April–June 1941, LAC, RG-2-7-C, vol. IV. 25 American assistance was also required for Canada. Ottawa’s bold policies of aid to the Sterling Area were possible only because of the Canadian-American Hyde Park Agreement of April 1941, which secured a minimum (and maximum) Canadian balance of American dollars, maintained through American purchases in Canada. It also provided for the American materials that went into Canadian-manufactured munitions supplied to the UK free of charge. For Canada’s worries over its dollar reserves, see ‘Canada-USA-UK’ financial arrangements, incl. Hyde Park Agreement’, LAC, W.C. Clark’s departmental papers, vol. 3971. 26 ‘Proposal for Reducing Canada’s Accumulating Sterling Balances’, W.L. Gordon, 11 December 1941, Documents of the CWC, vol. VII, November–December 1941, LAC, RG-2-7-C, vol. VI. 27 ‘Preliminary Notes re Sterling Problem, 10 December 1942’, Financial Arrangements with the UK – Statistics, LAC, W.C. Clark departmental papers, vol. 3436. 28 ‘Financial Relations with Canada’, July 1942, UK War Financing in Canada and the US, TNA, DO 35/1029/6.

Canada, South Africa and British war finance

153

29 The results of a Gallup Poll are recorded in a Dominions Office note on ‘The “Billion Dollar Gift” ’, 9 September 1942, which showed that only 53 per cent favoured a second gift and 35 per cent were against it. UK War Financing in Canada and the US, TNA, DO 35/1029/6. 30 ‘Proposal for Reducing Canada’s Accumulating Sterling Balances’, W.L. Gordon, 11 December 1941, Documents of the CWC, vol. VII, November–December 1941, LAC, RG-2-7-C, vol. VI. 31 ‘Canada’s Billion Dollar Gift to Britain’, J.L. Ilsley, Address to the Canadian House of Commons, 18 March 1942, Lease and Lend: Canada’s Billion Dollar Gift to Britain (Canadian Mutual Aid), NAA, Australian High Commission London correspondence, A2908, A67/15, PART 1. 32 Financial arrangements between Canada and the United Kingdom’, 10 August 1944, LAC, W.C. Clark’s departmental papers, vol. 4369. 33 British High Commissioner in Canada to DO, 23 January 1942, Financial Assistance from Canada, TNA, PREM 4/44/9. 34 Heeney to Clark, 9 September 1942, Billion Dollar Gift to UK, LAC, W.C. Clark departmental papers, vol. 3992. 35 As one Australian official put it, it was ‘found politically inexpedient’ to repeat the gesture. Mr. Moore to Mr. Macgregor, Commonwealth of Australia War Supplies Procurement, 29 January 1943, Lease and Lend: Canada’s Billion Dollar Gift to Britain (Canadian Mutual Aid), NAA, Australian High Commission London correspondence, A2908, A67/15, PART 1. 36 ‘Preliminary notes re Sterling Problem, 10 December 1942’, Financial Arrangements with the UK – Statistics, LAC, W.C. Clark departmental papers, vol. 3436. 37 ‘Preliminary Notes re Sterling Problem, 10 December 1942’, Financial Arrangements with the UK – Statistics, LAC, W.C. Clark departmental papers, vol. 3436. 38 For Canada’s postwar trade policy, see Robert Bothwell and John English, ‘Canadian Trade Policy in the Age of American Dominance and British Decline, 1943–1947’, Canadian Review of American Studies, 8, 1 (1977), 52–65. 39 ‘Canada’s Billion Dollar Gift to Britain’, J.L. Ilsley, Address to the Canadian House of Commons, 18 March 1942, Lease and Lend: Canada’s Billion Dollar Gift to Britain (Canadian Mutual Aid), NAA, Australian High Commission London correspondence, A2908, A67/15, PART 1. 40 In a report on ‘The problems of the Sterling Area’, 23 January 1945, it was contended that the importance of trade with the Area could ‘scarcely be exaggerated . . . to . . . the future wellbeing of Canada’. Cash Positions: Sterling Area, LAC, Mutual Aid Board papers, RG-36-21, vol. 15. 41 Clark to Robertson, 1 September 1942, LAC, W.C. Clark departmental papers, vol. 3992. 42 See, Canada’s Billion Dollar Gift to Britain (Canadian Mutual Aid), NAA, Australian High Commission London correspondence, A2908, A67/15, PART 1. Canadian and British reactions to Australia’s complaints were that they represented little more than a ‘general grumble’. DO to the British High Commissioner in Canberra, UK War Financing in Canada and the US, TNA, DO 35/1029/6. 43 ‘Financial Arrangements with the United Kingdom (and Other Countries)’, 15 December 1942, ‘Finances, U.K.–Canada’, LAC, J.L. Ralston papers, MG 27 III B II, vol. 166. 44 Clark to Robertson, 1 September 1942, Billion Dollar Gift to UK, LAC, W.C. Clark departmental papers, vol. 3992. 45 It was claimed that Canada ‘did not and could not know enough about the interrelationships between Britain and each individual part of the sterling area. As it stands . . . any such arrangements must be made between the parties concerned’. Clark to MacGregor, 16 November 1942, Billion Dollar Gift to UK, LAC, W.C. Clark departmental papers, vol. 3992.

154

Iain E. Johnston

46 Clark to Robertson, 14 October 1942, Billion Dollar Gift to UK, LAC, W.C. Clark departmental papers, vol. 3992. 47 This was a compromise after an initial claim for $60m. For the negotiations over this settlement, see Canada’s Billion Dollar Gift to Britain (Canadian Mutual Aid), NAA, Australian High Commission London correspondence, 2908, A67/15, PART 1; UK War Financing in Canada and US, TNA, DO 35/1029/6. 48 High Commissioner for Canada, Canberra, to the Secretary of State for External Affairs, Canada, 28 August 1942, Billion Dollar Gift to UK, LAC, W.C. Clark departmental papers, vol. 3992. 49 High Commissioner for Canada, Canberra, to The Secretary of State for External Affairs, Ottawa, 13 October 1942, Billion Dollar Gift to UK, LAC, W.C. Clark departmental papers, vol. 3992. 50 See correspondence between Nash and Ilsley, beginning 26 January 1943, Economic Aspects–Finance–General, Archives New Zealand (ANZ), Department of External Affairs papers (EA), EA1 712, 91/3/1, Part 1. See also ‘Financial Arrangements with the United Kingdom (and Other Countries)’, 15 December 1942, Finances, U.K.– Canada, LAC, J.L. Ralston papers, MG 27 III B II, vol. 166. 51 ‘Illustration of How Distribution of Mutual Aid to Sterling Area Might Be Based on Particular Circumstances of Each Part of Area’, R.B.B./A.M., 4 June 1943, Financial Arrangements with the UK – Statistics, LAC, W.C. Clark departmental papers, vol. 3436. 52 ‘The fact that it will mean aid to Russia, China, Australia and New Zealand, etc. as to Britain, should call to its support many sections of the Canadian people who may not have been over-enthusiastic about the gift to Britain.’ ‘Financial Arrangements with the United Kingdom (and Other Countries)’, 15 December 1942, Finances, U.K.– Canada, LAC, J.L. Ralston papers, MG 27 III B II, vol. 166. 53 ‘Report of the Canadian Mutual Aid Board for the Period Ending March 31, 1944’, External Affairs (Mutual Aid), LAC, C.D. Howe papers, MG 27 III B 20, Vol. 2, folder 4. 54 Hector Mackenzie, ‘Sinews of War and Peace: The Politics of Economic Aid to Britain, 1939–1945’, International Journal, 54, 4 (1999), 661. 55 Mackenzie, ‘Sinews’, 669. 56 Richard S. Sayers, History of the Second World War, United Kingdom Civil Series: Financial Policy, 1939–45 (London: H.M. Stationary Office, 1956), 362. 57 This included writing off $425m of outstanding UK debt related to the British Commonwealth Air Training Plan. See Hector Mackenzie, ‘The Path to Temptation: The Negotiation of Canada’s Reconstruction Loan to Britain in 1946’, Historical Papers, 17, 1, (1982), 196–220. 58 Sayers, Financial Policy, 362. 59 ‘Statistics Bearing on the Dimensions of the United Kingdom’s Problem of External Finance in the Transition’ enclosed with Keynes to Clark, 7 August 1944, Financial Relations with the UK, LAC, W.C. Clark’s departmental papers, vol. 4369. 60 For instance with Mutual Aid, it was pointed out that Canada was, in fact, ‘meeting part of the cost of her own war effort via the Mutual Aid appropriation, although the latter purports to be a financial contribution to the Allied war effort.’ ‘Outline of Discussions Towards a Financial Settlement’, undated, Financial Relations with the UK, LAC, W.C. Clark’s departmental papers, vol. 4369. 61 Mackenzie, ‘Sinews’, 668. 62 H.M. Robertson, ‘S.A. War Economy 1939–1945: The War & the South African Economy’, Department of Defence Documentation Centre South Africa (DOD SA), Union War Histories (UWH), 1. 63 In the case of dollars, this was a strict policy, whereas gold was optional. See ‘Our Prospective Dollar Balances’, note by Keynes, 10 September 1942, Moggridge, External War Finance, 246.

Canada, South Africa and British war finance

155

64 J.W. Garmany, ‘Papers on Aspects of S.A. Economy before the War’, DOD SA, UWH, 1. 65 In 1938, trade with the UK and Empire made up 51 per cent of imports and 50 per cent of exports. In 1939 these percentages were 53 per cent and 56 per cent, respectively. Garmany, ‘Papers on Aspects of S.A. Economy before the War’, DOD SA, UWH, 1. 66 The UK took 74 per cent of the Union’s agricultural exports in 1938. Garmany, ‘Papers on Aspects of S.A. Economy before the War’, DOD SA, UWH, 1. 67 It was even claimed that gold production was the most valuable contribution the Union offered to the Allied war effort. British High Commissioner, Pretoria, to DO, London, 11 September 1942, COUNTRIES: Africa, South: Representations to South Africa on her financial war effort, 9 September 1942–16 March 1944, TNA, T 160/1359. 68 They were at £7m at the outbreak of war and reduced to £0.6m by February 1941. ‘Financial Relations with the Union of South Africa’, 31 August 1942, TNA, T 160/1359. 69 Note on folder, 31 April 1943, TNA, T 160/1359. 70 For instance, in 1940, the Union’s gold output was 14 million ounces, of which 10 million were sold to the UK. J.W. Garmany, ‘Consultations with U.K. Govt. on Economic Warfare’, DOD SA, UWH, 8. 71 ‘Financial Relations with the Union of South Africa’, 31 August 1942, WAR-TRADE: War Finances: South Africa, TNA, DO 35/1028/2. 72 Garmany, ‘Consultations with U.K. Govt. on Economic Warfare’, DOD SA, UWH, 8. Keynes argued that the UK ‘should not vest South African Government securities against gold and, if we have to agree to the transaction in principle, we should put off its consummation as long as possible’. ‘Our Prospective Dollar Balances’, note by Keynes, 10 September 1942, Moggridge, External War Finance, 250. 73 ‘The Overseas Assets and Liabilities of the United Kingdom’, undated, Moggridge, External War Finance, 281. 74 ‘Overseas Financial Policy in Stage III’, note by Keynes, May 1945, Donald Moggridge, The Collected Writings of John Maynard Keynes, Vol. 24: Activities 1944–1946: The Transition to Peace (London: Macmillan, 1979), 268. For more on Keynes and British finance, see Robert Skidelsky, John Maynard Keynes, Vol. III: Fighting for Britain, 1937–1946 (London: Macmillan, 2000) and George C. Peden, Keynes, the Treasury and British Economic Policy (Basingstoke: Macmillan Education, 1988). 75 A.T.C. Slee, ‘S.A. War Economy 1939–1945: Aspects of Anglo–South African Wartime Financial Relations’, DOD SA, UWH, 6. 76 For the USA’s efforts to receive South African gold, see Warren F. Kimball, The Most Unsordid Act: Lend-Lease, 1939–1941 (Baltimore, MD: Johns Hopkins Press, 1969), 149; David Reynolds, The Creation of the Anglo-American Alliance 1937–41: A Study in Competitive Co-operation (London: Europa Publications, 1981), 159, 163; Sayers, Financial Policy, 383–385. 77 The attitude of the US and South Africa’s intransigence eventually necessitated an exchange of telegrams between President Roosevelt and Prime Minister Smuts, as diplomats failed to solve the two countries’ differences. J.W. Garmany, ‘S.A. War Economy, 1939–1945: Aspects of the S.A. War Economy, Vol. I’, DOD SA, UWH, 1. 78 ‘Re Policy on Gold Mining’, A.D.P. Heeney, 14 October 1942, Minutes and Documents of the CWC, vol. XI, October–December 1942, LAC, RG-2-7-C, vol. XI. 79 A comparison shows that South Africa was relatively successful in its efforts, despite the USA refusing to supply vital materials. During the period 1941–1945, gold output in South Africa fell by 15 per cent. The corresponding figures elsewhere in this period were Canada 50 per cent, Australia 56 per cent and the US 79 per cent. The USA’s policy was still effective, however, because Washington demanded an initial 15 per cent drop in output from Pretoria, and its refusal to supply South Africa in part brought this figure about. See Slee, ‘S.A. War Economy 1939–1945: Aspects of Anglo–South African

156

80

81

82

83 84 85

86 87 88

89

90

91 92

Iain E. Johnston Wartime Financial Relations’, DOD SA, UWH, 6; and External Affairs: United States Lend-Lease Bill, Delivery of Gold Mining Requirements under Union, USA, UK Joint Supply Council, National Archives of South Africa (NASA), Treasury papers, vol. 63, FS1/88/4, Part 1. Secretary of State for External Affairs, Cape Town, to South African High Commissioner, London, 16 January 1942, External Affairs: United States Lend-Lease Bill, delivery of gold mining requirements under Union, USA, UK Joint Supply Council, NASA, Treasury papers, vol. 63, FS1/88/4, Part 1. The UK claimed that ‘[South African Finance Minister] Mr. Hofmeyr’s policy seems aimed at making it as plain as possible to the world that their production of gold is serving no war purpose whatever’, going on to say that ‘to hoard ingots as well seems a very short-sighted policy’. ‘Brief for the Chancellor of the Exchequer for His Meeting with Mr. Sturrock on 7 Sept. 1942’, WAR-TRADE: War Finances: South Africa, TNA, DO 35/1028/2. During the same year, by the most conservative (South African) estimation of the value of gold, the Union’s reserves climbed from £44.4m to £77m. Slee, ‘S.A. War Economy 1939–1945: Aspects of Anglo–South African Wartime Financial Relations’, DOD SA, UWH, 6. Note on meeting between the Chancellor and the Prime Minister (South Africa), COUNTRIES: Africa, South: Representations to South Africa on her financial war effort, 9 September 1942–16 March 1944, TNA, T 160/1359. Sayers, Financial Policy, 306–307. For instance the British High Commissioner in South Africa described the budget of 1943–1944 as the ‘annual tragi-comedy’. Letter from the British High Commissioner, Pretoria, to DO, London, 5 March 1943. COUNTRIES: Africa, South: Representations to South Africa on Her Financial War Effort, 9 September 1942–16 March 1944, TNA, T 160/1359. At the end of the war, Keynes commented that ‘the South Africans have grossly refrained from playing their full and proper part’. Keynes to Eady, 5 October 1945, Moggridge, Transition to Peace, 532. Slee, ‘S.A. War Economy 1939–1945: Aspects of Anglo–South African Wartime Financial Relations’, DOD SA, UWH, 6. ‘Note of a Meeting between the Chancellor of the Exchequer and Mr. Sturrock on 7 September 1942’, WAR-TRADE: War Finances: South Africa, TNA, DO 35/1028/2. The High Commissioner warned London that the Union was ‘not prepared . . . to take any political or financial risks commensurate with the military risks they readily face’. ‘Financial Relations with the Union of South Africa’, 31 August 1942, WARTRADE: War Finances: South Africa, TNA, DO 35/1028/2. In discussions with the Chancellor of the Exchequer, the Union’s representative Mr. Sturrock was encouraged to reconsider the continuing emphasis on repatriation. The UK argued that repatriation was only a partial answer to the problem of British acquisition of South African gold and that ‘it seemed a pity that this tie between the two countries should be completely broken’. In fact, this latter reason was, in part, why repatriation was so appealing to the Union government. ‘Note of a Meeting between the Chancellor of the Exchequer and Mr. Sturrock on 7 September 1942’, WARTRADE: War Finances: South Africa, TNA, DO 35/1028/2. The capitation rate was a fee paid per head, per day, for the forces. It was reached by taking into account the composition of the units (fighting personnel, rearward services, etc.) and the expenditure each group incurred, then calculating an overall average per person. ‘Overseas Financial Policy in Stage III’, Note by Keynes, May 1945; and ‘Statistics Bearing on the Dimensions of the United Kingdom’s Problem of External Finance in the Transition’, Moggridge, Transition to Peace, 91, 269. ‘Notes on Anglo–South African Finance’, undated, WAR-TRADE: War Finances: South Africa, TNA, DO 35/1028/2, 63–67.

Canada, South Africa and British war finance

157

93 Section III: Finance, South African Year Book (Pretoria, 1946), DOD SA, UWH, 70. 94 Keith Hancock, Smuts, Vol. II: The Fields of Force 1919–1950 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1968), 370. 95 ‘Notes on Anglo–South African Finance’, undated, WAR-TRADE: War Finances: South Africa, TNA, DO 35/1028/2. 96 ‘Brief for the Chancellor of the Exchequer for His Meeting with Mr. Sturrock on 7 September 1942’, WAR-TRADE: War Finances: South Africa, TNA, DO 35/1028/2. 97 Military Mission, Pretoria, to War Office, London, 18 September 1942, WARTRADE: War Finances: South Africa, TNA, DO 35/1028/2. By December, officials in the DO were still complaining that the Union was continuing to ‘leave us in the air on gold and military expenditure.’ Note on folder, 2 December 1942, WAR-TRADE: War Finances: South Africa, TNA, DO 35/1028/2. 98 This was written by Brigadier Williamson, the Union Treasury Controller and Secretary to the Defence Finance Committee (a small body that made all the key finance decisions from November 1941, composed only of the Minister for Railways and Harbours in addition to Smuts and Hofmeyr). E. Williamson, ‘S.A. War Economy 1939–1945: Secondment of Union Personnel to U.K. Forces’, DOD SA, UWH, 8. 99 ‘Note of a Meeting between the Chancellor of the Exchequer and Mr. Sturrock on 7 September 1942’, WAR-TRADE: War Finances: South Africa, TNA, DO 35/1028/2. 100 See Dominions Expeditionary Forces, Union: Financial Settlement in Respect of the Union Land, Sea and Air Forces, TNA, DO 35/1220 and E. Williamson, ‘S.A. War Economy 1939–1945: Financial: War Settlements–S.A.–U.K. 1945’, DOD SA, UWH, 7. 101 Anglo–South African Defence Finance Negotiations: East African and Middle East Campaigns, Slee, ‘S.A. War Economy 1939–1945: Aspects of Anglo-South African Wartime Financial Relations’, DOD SA, UWH, 6. 102 This was reported back to London by the British High Commissioner, Pretoria, who somewhat defended Smuts’s responses, claiming the statements made were made under intense pressure from the opposition and ‘clearly not premeditated’. British High Commissioner, Pretoria, to DO, 17 March 1944, Union: Financial settlement in respect of the Union Land, Sea and Air Forces, TNA, DO 35/1220. 103 Anglo–South African Defence Finance Negotiations: East African and Middle East Campaigns, Slee, ‘S.A. War Economy 1939–1945: Aspects of Anglo–South African Wartime Financial Relations’, DOD SA, UWH, 6. 104 Section III: Finance, South African Year Book (Pretoria, 1946), DOD SA, UWH, 70. 105 Apart from its main purpose of underwriting confidence in the Sterling Area, South African gold acquired by the UK was sold, for a period, to India and countries in the Middle East at a significant profit. For more on this, see Sayers, Financial Policy, 280–284. 106 At times, this was stated explicitly by British officials. ‘Moreover, one of the reasons why other countries will hold sterling is because it is known that we acquire a large part of the South African gold production and if we cease to acquire this gold, sterling will lose some of its prestige in the eyes of other countries.’ ‘Notes on Anglo–South African Finance’, undated, WAR-TRADE: War Finances: South Africa, TNA, DO 35/1028/2. 107 This was a point that Dominion governments were keen to get across quickly, perhaps even before the fact. In Anglo-Canadian negotiations over wheat purchases in 1939, for instance, the UK was told that ‘Canada would consider all . . . problems as the United Kingdom’s partner in a great enterprise, and not in any narrow mercantile spirit. Once it was appreciated that Canada intended to make her partnership a real thing, there need be no misunderstandings or difficulties’. This statement was made by Mr. Towers, the Governor of the Bank of Canada. ‘Visit of Ministers from the Dominions and of a Representative from India: Questions Relating to Canadian War Finance’, minutes of a meeting held at the Treasury, 1 December 1939, British Treasury Conference file, LAC, W.C. Clark’s departmental papers, vol. 3992.

158

Iain E. Johnston

Bibliography Bothwell, Robert, and John English. ‘Canadian Trade Policy in the Age of American Dominance and British Decline, 1943–1947’, Canadian Review of American Studies, 8, 1 (1977): 52–65. Bryce, Robert. Canada and the Cost of World War II: The International Operations of Canada’s Department of Finance, 1939–1947. London: Queen’s University Press, 2005. Hancock, Keith. Smuts, Vol. II: The Fields of Force 1919–1950. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1968. Kimball, Warren. The Most Unsordid Act: Lend-Lease, 1939–1941. Baltimore, MD: Johns Hopkins Press, 1969. Mackenzie, Hector. ‘The Path to Temptation: The Negotiation of Canada’s Reconstruction Loan to Britain in 1946’, Historical Papers, 17, 1 (1982): 196–220. Mackenzie, Hector. ‘Sinews of War and Peace: The Politics of Economic Aid to Britain, 1939–1945’, International Journal, 54, 4 (1999): 648–670. Mackenzie, Hector. ‘Transatlantic Generosity: Canada’s “Billion Dollar Gift” to the United Kingdom in the Second World War’, The International History Review, 34, 2 (2012): 293–314. Moggridge, David. The Collected Writings of John Maynard Keynes, Vol. 23: Activities 1940– 1943: External War Finance. London: Macmillan, 1979a. Moggridge, David. The Collected Writings of John Maynard Keynes, Vol. 24: Activities 1944– 1946: The Transition to Peace. London: Macmillan, 1979b. Peden, George. Keynes, the Treasury and British Economic Policy. Basingstoke: Macmillan Education, 1988. Reynolds, David. The Creation of the Anglo-American Alliance 1937–41: A Study in Competitive Co-operation. London: Europa Publications, 1981. Sayers, Richard. History of the Second World War, United Kingdom Civil Series: Financial Policy, 1939–45. London: HMSO, 1956. Skidelsky, Robert. John Maynard Keynes, Vol. III: Fighting for Britain, 1937–1946. London: Macmillan, 2000. Stacey, Charles. Arms, Men and Governments: The War Policies of Canada, 1939–1945. Ottawa: Queen’s Printer, 1970.

9

Nazi hunting and intelligence gathering in India on the eve of the Second World War Benjamin Zachariah

Introduction India under British rule was ill-prepared to deal with a Nazi ideological onslaught. Throughout the interwar period, the British Indian administration was geared towards a war against communists and ‘terrorists’. After 1938 and following the Munich Pact, which condemned Czechoslovakia to Nazi dismemberment, when the state administration finally awoke to the danger of National Socialist organisations in India and to their Indian representatives, they could rely in the first instance mainly on the very organisations they had regarded as enemies for so long, tapping into their information networks and reading their publications. There began, therefore, a curious arm’s-length collaboration between communist and socialist publications and the police and intelligence organisations that had persecuted them for so long. It was not clear to what extent the collaboration was acknowledged: surveillance methods aimed at controlling leftist networks were now employed in tapping into the leftist networks’ own intelligence, while not a few of these leftist networks’ publications dropped broad hints to government agencies as to who the Nazis in India were.1 It was not too long before that major members of the British and the British Indian administrations were at least broadly sympathetic to a Nazi movement that appeared to be dealing properly with the communist danger. The British Indian state was not interested in National Socialism, at least not as a threat and not in India. The first discussions on Nazism among British Indian administrators and their colleagues in London took place informally from the early 1930s. Details of Nazi policy innovations or financial manoeuvres could be discussed with no apparent distrust or distaste for Nazi methods. The Nazis were viewed with no great suspicion by colonial officials, who were not particularly concerned with codes of democracy. Their openness to the Nazi Government and its methods was often shared at home in Britain, where despite some success by the British Fascists, this enthusiasm could not be openly acknowledged.2 The Governor of the Bank of England, Montagu Norman, wrote to the Finance Member of the Government of India, Sir James Grigg, who had formerly been Principal Private Secretary to the Chancellor of the Exchequer

160

Benjamin Zachariah

from 1921 to 1930 and was later to be Secretary of State for War under Winston Churchill, from February 1942, commenting on Hitler’s purge of the Nazi Party in 1934, the so-called Night of the Long Knives: Late as many think and therefore more bloody; but maybe not too late to save and maintain a moderate situation. My friends declare that the lateness of Hitler has been due to his affection for the buccaneers and burglars who stood with him throughout the hard years of whom he was loth to believe extreme intentions and still less disloyalty.3 That Hitler was a ‘moderate’ seemed to need no further comment. Meanwhile, in India, so-called terrorists, anarchists and communists remained the central concern of policing and surveillance. From the time of the agitations against the first Partition of Bengal in 1905, the police had been revamped to create networks of informers and surveillance in Special Branches and Intelligence Bureaux, and during the course of chasing Indian networks of subversives and revolutionaries in their wanderings across the world, an organisation called Indian Political Intelligence (IPI) had been created, which intelligence historians now widely regard as a predecessor organisation to MI5 and MI6.4 Much information was thus gathered at various levels of activity of an emerging secret state.5 The question was to what extent such material was available for use when it had to be out in the open. At a legal level, the problems of the methods of gathering information were such that the information could often not be used in an ordinary trial under ordinary laws.6 Testimony by a single police informant, even when believed, also ran the risk of compromising the government’s often underhand means of collecting information and therefore could often be used only to guide investigations pending the discovery of more conventional evidence or for the extortion or purchase of perjury from a witness or ‘approver’.7 In fact, the British Indian state was unexpectedly concerned with procedures and norms of justice, although they had in their possession plenty of means to create states of exception, which they also used. But perhaps the attention to the appearance of procedure was important because the colonial state could not hope to maintain legitimacy without it: a resort to extraordinary powers too often exposed the lack of hegemonic control and appeared too easily as coercion without consent. And though sometimes a British Indian policeman would go to or be sent to London to consult the IPI files, some information was routinely withheld from those in India by IPI’s leadership, lest it compromise or complicate channels of information transfer by being made relatively public, even among a small ‘public’ of discerning government officials and police officers.8 So far, so familiar. This meant, of course, that informers (and there were various levels of informers) were submitting reports that were of uncertain accuracy, given that corroborating sources were often lacking and that many reports were filed and often not drawn upon. So too the activities of communists, socialists and antifascists in the 1930s were routinely recorded, as had

Intelligence gathering in India

161

been the activities of Indian exiles or itinerant intellectuals from the First World War onwards.9 The material in the files, however, was not always considered worth revisiting, that is, until after 1938, when the European crisis that led to the first great threat of war and the apparent ‘reprieve’ of the Munich Pact caused the British Empire’s intelligence establishment to rally behind the state’s call for information on a movement that had only just become a threat.10

Intelligence and information on Nazis and their sympathisers The British Indian state was a latecomer in this awareness. Anti-fascists of various descriptions had been carrying out a vigorous debate for over a decade as to the importance of fascist or near-fascist ideas in Indian politics, as well as to the nature of Indian engagements with European fascist movements. There were Indians at home and abroad who wrote eloquently on aspects of the Nazis’ administration, economics, social security policies, race hygiene.11 And there was a preoccupation with what can, after Robert Paxton, be seen as a style of movement,12 with paramilitary training and the organisation and maintenance of armed youth groups like the black or brown shirts. Surveillance of such paramilitary groups were within a long-standing tradition of policing the potential for disorder, but the ideological propensities of these groups did not necessarily attract much attention at the time.13 The debate as to how far India(ns) was(were) in danger of adopting (a version of ) world fascism was of course quite integral to leftist debates about the nature of world politics and India’s place in it, as well as to India’s interpretation of the Dimitrov Line of the Comintern from 1935 onwards, at a time when the Communist Party of India was an illegal organisation, having been banned in the aftermath of the Meerut Conspiracy Case. The Indian National Congress, in its dealings with the outside world, relied not merely on Jawaharlal Nehru, who although he did the bulk of work on international(ist) liaisons, could not possibly do it all. It also relied on persons whose anti-fascism could not be entirely relied upon and whose sometimes unambiguous sympathies for generic fascism, for Fascism in Italy or for Nazism in Germany were not quite possible to attribute to clever diplomacy among the ranks of enemies’ enemies, given that the enemies’ enemies were not yet their enemies.14 Two books by Bengalis about Germany published around 1933 could have summed up the contrasting perspectives on the coming of the Third Reich, represented the spectrum of opinion that was Indian public debate and could also stand for opinion within the Indian National Congress, seeking to act as the umbrella organisation of all anti-colonial nationalists in India. The educationist, pioneering sociologist, Swadeshi activist and economist, Benoy Kumar Sarkar, welcomed the coming of Hitler to power, describing him as ‘Vivekananda multiplied by Bismarck’.15 The communist, Soumyendranath Tagore, nephew of the poet Rabindranath, who spent the late 1920s up to 1933 moving in and out of Berlin, wrote on the brutality of the Nazi regime and commented for the benefit of his Indian audience that Indians were too easily taken in by

162

Benjamin Zachariah

the Nazis’ apparent respect for ‘Aryan’ culture and the Aryan race, to which Indians claimed to belong. They did not know, he wryly commented, that the Nazis believed Indians to be degenerate Aryans due to their many generations of miscegenation and were therefore willing to leave Indians to their fate under British rule.16 Later on, in 1942, when the old anti-communism of the British Government had given way to an uneasy alliance with the communists after Germany attacked the USSR and the Nazi-Soviet Pact of 1938 ended, Soumyendranath Tagore was among the communists in India who was not released from prison, despite his never having accepted the Nazi-Soviet Pact in the first place. He had, he wrote in 1944 in an angry letter to the Bengal Government, been anti-fascist while the ‘gangsters’ Franco and Mussolini ‘received holy unction’ from Chamberlain, Hoare ‘and such other Imperialist Fascists of Great Britain’: I did not blossom forth as an anti-fascist only when it became quite safe to be an anti-fascist, but long ago when it was still not the fashion to be one. I did not become an anti-fascist because Churchill and Stalin embraced each other and the society ladies, including Mrs. Churchill, started selling red flags in streets and drawing rooms. I did not become an anti-fascist under the patronage of British Imperialist Fascists.17 In 1933, of course, the British Indian Government was not yet interested in Nazis, Fascists or the Axis powers as a threat or even as a curiosity. The ideological concerns of the left–right divide were not the concerns of the colonial state. But as the 1930s drew to a close, the state started to find a growing awareness that the Axis could not be wished away or entirely appeased and therefore that their networks in India were not all that harmless.

Eavesdropping on the left, chasing fascist propaganda One of the sources British administrators relied upon to find the fascists in India and in the Bombay presidency in particular was the Bombay Sentinel, edited by the British journalist Benjamin Guy Horniman. Horniman had, as editor of the Bombay Chronicle, broken censorship regulations in 1919 to report on the Jallianwalla Bagh massacre in Amritsar and had been deported from India as a consequence, thereafter returning to India to edit the Bombay Chronicle again and from 1933 the Bombay Sentinel, which he helped found and ran from 1933 to 1945.18 Horniman’s old paper, the Bombay Chronicle, was also active in providing information on Nazi and Fascist activity, notably with a series of articles by Khwaja Ahmad Abbas, communist and progressive writer.19 Many of the details from Abbas’s articles found their way directly into the surveillance concerns of the government.20 Abbas was perhaps accurate in his diagnosis of fascism in India as a Bengali propensity: ‘[p]erhaps Hitler’s pesudo-mystical justification of force appealed to some of the sensitive Bengali patriots smarting under the indiginity of

Intelligence gathering in India

163

foreign domination.’21 Abbas pointed out that all three Axis powers carried out propaganda in India, that Indian exiles were attracted to the Fascist cause in Italy, that the practice of buying space in some – in particular vernacular – newspapers by the Axis powers was relatively well known and that Japan was exploiting pan-Asiatic sentiment and the services of Indians who could not return to India but who continued to have communication with organisations such as the Hindu Mahasabha (Abbas all but named Rash Behari Bose). Meanwhile, the Germans had decided to publish Mein Kampf in translation ‘in all the major Indian languages’ and were particularly adept at planting sympathetic news items in Indian newspapers. In Aligarh Muslim University, there were Muslims sympathetic to the Nazis, and the Nazi paper Spirit of the Times, an English version of Geist der Zeit, was published by the German wife of a professor at Aligarh Muslim University (the wife of the pan-Islamist and Nazi, Abdul Sattar Kheiri, again not named; the paper was technically part of the official propaganda of the Deutsche Akademische Austauschdienst, the DAAD, which of course like the Goethe Institut still exists). The Gestapo had their agents in India, who among other things were deputed to spy on German Jewish and socialist refugees in India.22 Abbas noted the Hindu tendency to see Nazi pro-Aryanism and the Nazi adoption of the swastika as a means for Hindus to identify with the Nazis. He quoted extensively from Mein Kampf to show Hitler’s contempt for Asians and his support for the continuation of British imperialism in India over those ‘who are clearly of racial inferiority’.23 The ‘paradoxical’ nature of Muslim support for Nazism was attributed in part to the Nazis’ adoption of an antiJewish position in Palestine. He was quick to point out the opportunism of Hitler’s Nazi propaganda: But just as it suits his purpose to support the Arabs (themselves Semitics) against the Jews in Palestine, it is not surprising that he wants to woo the Indian nationalists, his original racial doctrines notwithstanding. As for the Indian exiles (some of whom, leading a desperate life of penury and privations, have now accepted financial aid from the Nazi propaganda ministry), they are harmless enough and exercise very little influence over Indian politics, except in so far as they represent existing trends among the politically conscious Indian.24 The last statement conceded a point sotto voce that was not to be conceded publicly because it was not in accordance with the official CPI line on India in its interpetation of the Dimitrov Line: that fascism was not a significant threat in India and that in the colonies, imperialism was the facet of capitalism that needed to be fought most strongly. Abbas nevertheless pointed explicitly to the affinities of the Nazis and Fascists with a number of ‘communalist’ organisations, though he was quick to point out that there were mainstream ‘nationalists’ who were also sympathetic to fascism. He pointed in particular to various physical culture organisations

164

Benjamin Zachariah

and military schools run by Hindu communalists; several ‘German clubs’ across the country; the Bratachari Movement in Bengal, run by ‘an ex-member of the British Indian Civil Service’ (Gurusaday Dutt, again not named);25 the Khaksars in north India, who paraded with spades ‘in frank imitation of Hitler’s Labour Corps’.26 This was again an unusual acknowledgement of the strength and depth of pro-fascist sympathies in India. The Bombay Sentinel ’s assessment was that the Nazis were most innovative and resourceful in terms of their propaganda and networks: every German business and office, as well as several individuals, had become part of the Nazi propaganda machine. They named the Bayer corporation, Captain Hechstedt of the German Hansa Line, who used Bhavnagar State as his refuge, and one Erich Reti who might have been a Jewish refugee going to Shanghai but whose presence on almost all boats indicated that he was perhaps a spy for the Nazis. The Government of India was slow to wake up to the threat because the Axis agents were ‘all working under the garb of anti-communism, which they know is a very ingenous mask to fool the Indian Government and the business magnates of India’.27 The Sentinel named the Bombay Press Service, which operated through ‘our Mill-owners and some Parsi financiers’ – and though they did not mention it directly, hinted at pro-Aryan sympathies among some Parsis28 – and in addition the Indo-German News Exchange of New Delhi, the Aligarh University German Society, the Bratachari Movement in Bengal, the Khaksar Movement, the German Institute of Bombay, ‘some Hindu Mahasabhas in Maharashtra’. Among the pro-Nazi papers in India were Princely India and Salar-e-Hind, edited by Saif Azad, an Iranian subject who had lived in Germany for fourteen years. The Sentinel also traced advertisements from German companies to pro-Nazi papers and even outed the bandleader at the Majestic Hotel, one Peppo, as a Nazi. Hjalmar Schacht, who visited India in early 1939 ostensibly as a private person, had apparently, according to the Sentinel ’s information, brought instructions to the German community in India that should war break out, the Nazis should leave India and repair to Afghanistan. The article signed off recommending the film ‘Confessions of a Nazi Spy’ for viewing, which was about to be released in Bombay on 21 July.29 The Government of India and various Provincial Governments noted these leads with interest and traced a number of these connections, including tracking down the Nazi links of newspapers and companies. They confirmed, for instance, that the Hansa (India) Trading Company was linked to several Nazi agents and distributed Nazi propaganda literature, for instance to the paper Salar-e-Hind and its editor, Saif Azad.30 It traced the founding statement of the Salar-e-Hind, published in Gujarati, English and ‘Irani’, which announced ‘War to Communism [sic]’ as its creed and, among other things stated, ‘Any patriot should be proud to be a National Socialist’ and ‘National Socialism with the help of Indian patriots is going to oust Communism’.31 They monitored the content of the paper Princely India and the activities of its editor, P Gopal Pillai, who also wrote under the pseudonym PJ Zachariah, as well as the contributions from Berlin of

Intelligence gathering in India

165

the pro-Nazi journalist M Habibur Rahman.32 Princely India unsurprisingly carried a strong defence of Subhas Chandra Bose in 1939, against the alleged ‘intolerance of Congress leaders’.33 The government obtained advance information of a planned ‘Anti-Comintern Congress’ to be held by an ‘Italo-German-Japanese Friendship Society’ and asked its police and intelligence agencies to alert them to any Indians who proceeded to Japan to attend it.34 The ‘Oriental Translator to the Government’ was thereafter also more vigilant about pro-Nazi pieces in the vernacular press, including the Mahratta35 and the Kesari,36 both long-standing Maratha nationalist papers founded by Bal Gangadhar Tilak. It was noted that one Madhav Kashinath Damley, a Chitpawan Brahmin and a follower of Tilak, whose father ran the Aryan Typewriting Institute at Girgaum, was busy translating into Marathi an English version of Mussolini’s ‘book on Fascism’, was interested in Nazi labour unions, was ‘enamoured of the history of Italy and Nazi Germany’ and had just started a paper called the Lokhandi Morcha that was in all probability funded and ‘inspired’ by ‘Italian interests’.37 It was soon establised that Damley was in touch with the German Consulate as well, and censorship was imposed upon his post for a period of six months.38 His paper provided evocative and enthusiastically positive descriptions of the new Fascist substitute for a Parliament, the ‘House of the Fasci and Corporations’.39 The Oriental Translator reported that a paper called the Trikal on 1 July 1939 had noted that Nazi propagandists in India had been instructed by Dr Goebbels to communicate to the Indian princes that Hitler ‘feels for the Indian ruling families of Aryan descent and will convince them of the great similarity that exists between the present system of government in Germany and the Indian Princes’ conception of the system of government’. Hjalmar Schacht’s ostensibly private visit to India was supposedly to strengthen the propaganda organisation in India.40 The Times of India, usually a pro-government paper, reported on 11 July 1939 that the Government of India was alert to ‘the question of foreign propaganda in India’ but the situation was not as yet ‘sufficiently acute’ as to warrant special measures, though it was admitted that certain provinces such as Bombay had a more ‘acute’ problem.41 The arm’s length cooperation of leftist press and Government of India was an instrumental one, of course, and not without its tensions. The Bombay Sentinel noted this ironic situation and doubted that the government was qualified to do enough to combat Axis and fascist propaganda, especially given its normal publicity and propaganda alliances with papers such as the Times of India : The Anglo-Indian Press, which has been frankly pro-Nazi until after the annexation of Bohemia and Moravia, and to some extent even now, has been doing not a little in support of the Nazi cause. But the Anglo-Indian Press cannot be wholly blamed for it since the whole British Cabinet was pro-Nazi until a short time ago and was busy making concession after concession to Hitler.42

166

Benjamin Zachariah

The Bombay Sentinel commented acerbically: ‘But for the campaign started by the “Sentinel” since sometime ago, the Government of India would have soundly slept over the matter.’43 The limits of cooperation were swiftly reached when T.K. Menon, Secretary of the Anti-Nazi League of India and occasional writer for the Sentinel, printed a wanted poster of Hitler, offering 50,000 rupees for Hitler ‘dead or alive’ as he was wanted ‘for murder’. This was printed at the Times of India Press on behalf of his League, prompting an apology from the Times of India stating that ‘the Business Department took the view that the offending publication was a humorous poster of no consequence’.44 Menon surrendered 5,000 copies of the poster before it was published, as it was deemed to be ‘an unauthorised news-sheet’ and ‘may have been misconstrued in India as an incitement to murder’.45 The British Consul at Damascus had, however, seen a copy of the design of the poster and was so delighted by it as to request six copies ‘for publicity purposes’.46 The poster, though banned in India, therefore had a Syrian afterlife. Peculiarly, the poster was banned after war broke out, as it was deemed to have been ‘a gross insult to the German nation and its leader’.47 T.K. Menon himself had been cooperative in surrendering the poster: he at least understood the needs of cooperation in the face of a greater enemy; in fact, he had done secret intelligence work for the Bombay CID but had been deemed unreliable as he was ‘ “in the habit of maneouvring things for his personal benefit” ’ – after which he was ‘used for similar work by the Military Intelligence Staff’.48

The knowable and the less known Had they been looking at the Nazi and Fascist sides of Indian émigré activities carefully and, indeed, had they been reading their own intelligence reports carefully, the government would already have had a number of leads much earlier. But, as we have already noted, communication among different agencies and collation of material was not always efficient. Nevertheless, much of the material for reproducing the following narrative comes from British intelligence archives. In 1923, the ‘Bavarian extremist leader Hitler’, as British intelligence put it, was attempting to mobilise various maverick intellectuals from Turkey, Egypt or India behind him.49 Although these early attempts were not particularly successful, with Mussolini’s Italian Fascists winning more recruits among Indians, both ideological and organisational Indo-German Nazi connections were formed reasonably early. In 1928, an ‘Indischer Ausschuss’ of the Deutsche Akademie was founded; the parent organisation had been founded in 1925, the forerunner of today’s Goethe Institut, which started off as the languageteaching branch of the Deutsche Akademie.50 The co-founders of the ‘Indische Ausschuss’ were Dr Karl Haushofer, a specialist in ‘geopolitics’ and one of the popularisers of the theory of Lebensraum so beloved of the National Socialists, and the Bengali nationalist Tarak Nath Das.51

Intelligence gathering in India

167

Tarak Nath Das had been, along with Benoy Kumar Sarkar, part of the National Council of Education in Bengal, which had debated a ‘Swadeshi’ curriculum for an Indian education that would be free from the domination of colonial models of education and acculturation that the Swadeshi intellectuals believed had provided the ideological underpinnings to colonial domination. Das had moved to the United States as a fugitive from British ‘justice’ in connection with the Swadeshi Movement. There, he became associated with organising Indian immigrant labour in the US and Canada and with the beginnings of the notorious Ghadar Party, which had mobilized Indian immigrant labour during the First World War and had attempted to send bands of immigrants back home to foment rebellion from within India.52 He had acquired his US citizenship as early as 1913, had been a member of the wartime Independence for India Committee in Germany, and had spent a number of years in Fascist Italy before returning to Germany.53 An Intelligence Bureau report from 1933 recorded in some detail the Indian connections with Fascist Italy, naming Tarak Nath Das (‘the genius behind the Munich “Hindusthan Association” – presumably the Indisches Ausschuss of the Deutsche Akademie),54 Amiya Nath Sarkar, Subhas Chandra Bose, Dr Bidhan Chandra Roy and Kalidas Nag as link figures connecting Indians in Europe with Fascist Italy, the Hindusthan Association of Italy as the important institutional base for Indian activities in Italy. The Italian contact persons were Professor Giuseppe Tucci of Naples University, who had also spent some time in Santiniketan, and the Italian Consul General in Calcutta, Dr Scarpa, who was a good friend of Kalidas Nag. The Indian journal Liberty was identified as proFascist, and there were hints that the Amrita Bazar Patrika was soft on fascism. Fascist Italy’s diplomatic propaganda also relied upon targeting Indian students to go to Italy ‘for higher studies’; Kalidas Nag’s journal, India and the World, also popularised this idea: Nag ‘emphasises that there is a great difference between Italian Fascists and German Hitlerites and says that the former are more sympathetic towards the Indian Congress and towards the nationalist ideals of young India’.55 The report also noted Gandhi’s visit to Italy after the 1931 Round Table Conference and a visit by Madan Mohan Malaviya of the Hindu Mahasabha.56 The Deutsche Akademie’s India Institute awarded scholarships to about 100 Indian students between 1929 and 1938. From 1937, it was headed by the Indologist and member of the SS, Professor Walther Wüst,57 displacing Dr Franz Thierfelder, who himself had switched his allegiance easily to the Nazis in 1933, signing his letters ‘mit deutschem Gruß und Heil Hitler’.58 The Institute also became active in pro-German propaganda during the Nazi period, was incorporated into the NSDAP Auslands-Organisation (NSDAP-AO) and was instrumental in starting Nazi cells in various firms in Calcutta that were under German control. It also funded German Lektors who taught German to Indian students desiring to come to Germany: one such person taught German at the Calcutta YMCA, and Horst Pohle, the Nazi agent who was the German Lektor at Calcutta University, was said to be very close to the Arya Samaj, whose members

168

Benjamin Zachariah

were singled out as desirable students for the Munich-based India Institute.59 Among the other Indians to be closely associated with the Institute were Benoy Kumar Sarkar, a convinced supporter of National Socialism, and Ashok Bose, the nephew of the collaborator with Nazism, Subhas Chandra Bose.60 In 1933, the left-leaning and Congress-recognised representative organisation of Indian interests in Germany, the Indian Information Bureau was – quite literally – broken up by the Nazis: its office at Friedrichstrasse 24 in Berlin was smashed to pieces, documents and equipment strewn on the ground. The Gestapo arrested A.C.N. Nambiar, who was for good measure also beaten up by the Hitler Jugend. British intelligence reports say that Nambiar was then released, following the intervention of Subhas Chandra Bose from Vienna, who was apparently able to call in favours from persons who had contacts with the Nazis. The Nazis paid Nambiar compensation of 2,000 marks, and he agreed to complain not about the Gestapo but about the Hitler Jugend.61 He then went, with his lover and until then the Secretary of the Indian Information Bureau and a former typist at the office of the Kommunistische Partei Deutschlands (KPD), Eva Geissler, to Prague. He was in Prague in 1938 as a correspondent of Nehru’s paper, the National Herald, started in that year, and Nehru himself came to Prague around the time of the Munich Pact at which France and Britain effectively handed Czechoslovakia over to Hitler’s Germany.62 Nambiar, incidentally, played all his ideological hands during the interwar period, with British intelligence reports suspecting him earlier on in his career as being a spy for the Soviet Union.63 Tarak Nath Das and Benoy Kumar Sarkar continued to be associated with an extended circle of Nazis in the new Reich, not least through the Deutsche Akademie, whose complete title was ‘Akademie zur wissenschaftliche Erforschung und zur Pflege des Deutschtums’.64 A stream of Indian students continued to pass through German universities and polytechnics throughout the 1930s, many of whom were to a greater or lesser extent impressed by the Nazis; the Indisches Ausschuss of the Deutsche Akademie continued to fund a number of these and to provide backup support.65 Not all of these students acquired a long-lasting fascination with German Nazism, though some at least returned to a home university with a tradition of support for National Socialism, such as Calcutta University, where Benoy Kumar Sarkar was the leading light of its German Club. In Aligarh, Dr Spies, the German professor, ran the Aligarh University Nazi cell from 1935, along with Professor Abdur Sattar Kheiri, formerly associated with the First World War Berlin India Committee; and in 1937 Kheiri led a Brown Shirts’ march at his university in honour of the Prophet’s birthday.66 (Spies returned to Germany during the Second World War and was in charge of teaching ‘Hindustani’ to German officers entrusted with commanding the Wehrmacht’s India Legion, composed of deserted Indian prisoners of war and coordinated by Nambiar, future Ambassador of India in Germany.) The Kheiri brothers, the aforementioned Abdur Sattar Kheiri and his brother Abdul Jabbar Kheiri, referred to early in their careers as the ‘Beirut brothers’, had been Boy Scout masters in Lebanon, language teachers in Istanbul, pan-Islamists in Berlin, travellers to the USSR

Intelligence gathering in India

169

and, as returnees to India, propagandists for the National Socialists.67 Both brothers pleaded their case for being allowed to return to India for a long time before actually being permitted to do so, arguing that as believing Muslims they had had no choice but to act against the British Empire during the First World War, as the Empire had been at war with the Khilafat.68 Much of this information was, as is evident from the writings in the Bombay Chronicle and the Bombay Sentinel, well known in leftist circles. A number of the details that the various governments of British India and His Majesty’s Government in London had to return to their files to unearth were common knowledge among leftist groups; they were discussed openly, written about in journals, their significance discussed at public meetings or private ones at which there was almost always a police informer present, and the left did not, of course, have access to the vast intelligence and surveillance machinery of the imperial state apparatus. On the side of the state, in the battle of ideas and the thought-policing attempts of the early years of the twentieth century, fascism generically and Nazism in particular did not register as worth combatting, until in 1938 it made sense to collate the information at their disposal.

What is to be done? But as war was clearly approaching, the police establishments across British India started making lists of foreigners who might be hostile and of citizens of the Axis powers, in addition to Indians who might be hostile. The trawl for information from districts and mofussil towns led to long lists being compiled, in particular of Italian missionaries, priests and nuns, of Germans who were now naturalised British subjects and/or who had become Buddhists or of language teachers at Rabindranath Tagore’s Vishwa Bharati university, but also of German subjects working for various companies, the Czechoslovak employees of the Bata Shoe Company, now German subjects since the swallowing up of Czechoslovakia by Germany, some German and Austrian Jews who had made it to India, and a large number of German wives of Bengali men.69 A number of these wives had left, on the eve of the war, for Germany.70 Many districts also reported no movements or no resident foreigners of the Axis powers. The German wives in particular created a logistical problem, as a memorandum from the Home Department’s Intelligence Bureau stated: [R]ecent information points to the increasing necessity of keeping in touch with and improving our knowledge of the German wives of both British and British Indian subjects in this country, whose status as British subjects protects them from any action under the Registration of Foreigners’ act. In order to do this effectively, it is necessary to obtain information not only of their activities in this country, but of their antecedents prior to their marriage.’71 Lists were also made of ‘British Indian subjects likely to be influenced by the potential powers in the event of a war’ – among lesser-known names stand out

170

Benjamin Zachariah

those of ‘Kalidas Nag of Calcutta’, doyen of the Greater India Society, celebrant of past Indian empires and close associate of the poet Rabindranath Tagore at Santiniketan; ‘Subhas Ch. Bose ex-Congress President’; and ‘Prof. Benoy Kumar Sarkar’.72 In 1938–1939 a survey of the NSDAP Auslandsorganisation and its Indian links were felt to be necessary in the light of ‘developments before and after the September (1938) crisis’.73 The note on the NSDSAP-AO’s Indian activities acknowledged its debts to anti-Nazi Indian newspapers such as the Bombay Chronicle and the Bombay Sentinel. It reported that the activities of the Indian Landesgruppe of the NSDAP-AO was controlled from Bombay and was intended to cover British India, Burma and Ceylon; that pro-Nazi press propaganda was now taking ‘a noticeably anti-British tone’ to ‘reach a wide public’; that Indian students in Germany, in particular through the Deutsche Akademie, were being educated along Nazi lines whenever possible; and that ‘at least three important Universities – Aligarh (Muslim), Benares (Hindu) and Calcutta (cosmopolitan)’ had Nazi networks as well as German Lektors who were Nazis. Bombay, Calcutta, Lahore, Rangoon, Colombo, Tatanagar (Jamshedpur), Cawnpore, Ahmedabad and Karachi also had smaller NSDAPAO units, and an organised Nazi presence in India could be dated back to as early as 1934.74 The Nazi use of Germans working in private companies, their attempt to blackmail German Jewish refugees into providing information and intelligence on account of their still having relatives in Germany and their ability to plausibly blackmail non-Nazi Germans in India was also noted. The Nazi presence in Afghanistan, as a base near India, was also noted.75 ‘One Habibur Rahman Qureshi, Secretary of the Muslim Association in Berlin’ had been sending ‘pro-Nazi and anti-Jewish articles to papers in India’ since 1935.76 Clear links were drawn between the Berlin Muslim Association, founded by the Kheiri brothers, and the Aligarh University Nazi cell.77 It was also cautiously noted that the Nazis dealt with the socialist Ram Manohar Lohia within the Congress, at the time the AICC’s Foreign Secretary, but no strong conclusions were drawn from it.78 Of Subhas Bose, British intelligence sources were no longer in doubt as to his ability to deal with the Nazis: At the end of 1934 Subhas Bose was said to be in touch with the German Government through Dr. Frank, a Nazi official in Berlin, who was trying on behalf of Subhas to interest the German Foreign Office in Indian affairs. In October of the same year attention was drawn to a document entitled “The future programme of work in India”, which was said to have been drawn up by the German “shadow” Foreign Office (Das Aussen Politisches Amt) [sic], as a result of negotiations in the spring of that year, between Subhas Bose, A.C. Nambiar, and certain important German Foreign Office officials. According to this document, India, Burma, and Ceylon, were to be divided into a large number of areas for propaganda purposes, controlled from centres at Delhi, Bombay, Madras, Benares,

Intelligence gathering in India

171

and Dacca, which would, in turn, be in direct communication with the headquarters in Calcutta. The details of this scheme, which are available, include the creation of a Press organisation, and of clubs for ex-soldiers and Indians returning from abroad. No information is available to show that Subhas Bose is now in any way connected with the Auslands Organization, but it seems likely that he knows of its continued existence, and that he might at some later date prove to be approachable.79 A number of interviews were conducted by the police with students who had been funded or hosted by the Deutsche Akademie; without exception, they insisted that there was no politics discussed at their workplaces, places of study or postings.80 Meanwhile, the expected exodus of Germans to Afghanistan started to happen. This was noted in August 1939 and should have been treated as an early warning of impending war, as predicted by the Bombay Chronicle and the Bombay Sentinel ’s reports on Hjalmar Schacht’s visit to India. Intelligence sources noted Germans returning home, in particular Nazi party members leaving Calcutta for Germany; and Horst Pohle, the Deutsche Akademie Lektor in Calcutta, was noted to have moved his money to the Bank of Holland for safety.81

Conclusions British imperial policing was usually marked by very specific concerns; certain categories – such as ‘anarchist crimes’ (notwithstanding the fact that the ‘anarchists’ would not ideologically be considered ‘anarchists’ by any rigorous application of any known principles of anarchism), ‘terrorist outrages’ and ‘communism’ – were recognised. ‘Sedition’, more vaguely, was a recognisable concern, known quite clearly to be vague, with police recording speeches by hand and bureaucrats poring over typewritten reports of speeches and underlining passages that could potentially persuade a judge or magistrate that the passages could be deemed adequately seditious. Intelligence gathering, on the other hand, though ubiquitous (and impressively so, in the absence of the technologies of surveillance that we nowadays take for granted) was less discriminating, more haphazard – a vacuum-cleaner technique that required a later rummaging in dustbags to find relevant particles to piece together. And since for much of the time the British did not know what they were looking for, this was less than a perfect solution. Nazism and generic fascism were not in the categories of danger for much of the time. There were certainly people in imperial bureaucracies who knew the dangers concerned, and who wrote about them with that awareness. But filed reports leading to action taken were rare. In any case, as already mentioned, legal redress was limited, especially in cases where the information gathered was by such means as intercepting correspondence or the use of informants, which could not be admitted as evidence in a court of law or acknowledged for fear of compromising the sources. The powers of the state to control and curtail

172

Benjamin Zachariah

any or all activities only increased in a time of self-declared emergency, but this could not be overused for fear of compromising the performative legitimacy of the colonial state, apparently so careful about procedure, legality and propriety. The Defence of India Rules kicked in after the declaration of war, which made things easier in law, though not necessarily in practice, for the state.82 And while the evidence in this chapter suggests that intelligence gathering on Nazis and Fascists in India relied heavily on leftist networks, this is no indication that at least to some extent information did not flow in the other direction, from intelligence gatherers to leftist networks – though it is safe to say that this was probably less the case. Nevertheless, there were individuals who spoke to each other across the barriers of state and anti-state, and often these unlikely comings together facilitated information on the threat of fascism. On the side of the left, acting conjointly at the time at least officially, a ‘Popular Front’ ideology did not facilitate official cooperation with a colonial government, especially given that the Indian interpretation of the Dimitrov Line was that the Popular Front in India would be against imperialism and against fascism in Europe, both imperialism and fascism being manifestations of the depredations and distortions of capitalism, the former being more important in India and the latter in Europe. This of course caused a dilemma with an impending war between imperialism and fascism, and these dilemmas have been outlined before. But they apply to official positions, and the courting dances of unlikely allies leading up to and during the Second World War also allowed for information flows such as those we are discussing here. By 1939, the colonial state, drawing on its own intelligence networks, on eavesdropping on the left, and on imperial, metropolitan and European intelligence, all of which began to be collated in the anticipation of a general world war, had a reasonably accurate picture of fascist and Nazi networks and organisations, their Indian collaborators, and the potential for subversive activity that existed.

Notes 1 In this chapter, ‘fascism’ with a small ‘f ’ refers to generic fascism as an ideological tendency, to be distinguished from Fascism with a capital ‘F’, which is reserved for the Italian movement and party that held that name. Nazism and the Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei (NSDAP) are treated as fascist, without losing sight of their special significance. This chapter is based on research conducted in intelligence archives, police documents and Home Department papers in Calcutta (the Writers’ Building and Theatre Road branches of the West Bengal State Archives, hereafter WBSA), Bombay (Maharashtra State Archives, hereafter MSA), Delhi (National Archives of India, hereafter NAI), London (mostly the Indian Political Intelligence, hereafter IPI, files, in the India Office Records, hereafter IOR, British Library, supplemented by files from the National Archives, UK), corroborated by work on papers relating to organisations or private persons in various collections in Delhi (PC Joshi’s papers at the Archives for Contemporary History, hereafter ACH, Jawaharlal Nehru University, or the Nehru Memorial Museum and Library, hereafter NMML), London (British Library collections), Amsterdam (International Institute of Social History archives) and Berlin (the Bundesarchiv). The corroborating material allows some degree of judgement to be made on the veracity of various policing or intelligence claims, without which much material would have to be taken at face value or examined for internal (in)consistency alone.

Intelligence gathering in India

173

2 For an exception, see Ian Kershaw, Making Friends with Hitler: Lord Londonderry, the Nazis and the Road to War (New York: Penguin, 2004). On British Fascism, see Thomas Linehan, British Fascism 1918–1939: Parties, Ideology and Culture (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 2000); Richard C Thurlow, Fascism in Britain: From Oswald Mosley’s Black Shirts to the National Front (revised ed., London: IB Tauris, 1998). 3 Montagu Norman to James Grigg, personal letter, 4 July 1934, PJ Grigg Papers, Churchill College Archive Centre, Cambridge, PJGG 2/16/1(a)–(b). 4 This is acknowledged in the notes to the document series IOR: L/PJ/12, British Library, London. See also Daniel Brückenhaus,‘The Transnational Surveillance of Anti-Colonialist Movements in Western Europe, 1905–1945’ (unpublished PhD thesis, Yale University, 2011). 5 On the ‘secret state’ and the overlapping of personnel between Britain and British Indian intelligence networks, in particular the figure of David Petrie, see Richard C Thurlow, The Secret State: British Internal Security in the Twentieth Century (London: Blackwell, 1995). 6 See David Petrie, Communism in India 1924–1927 (Calcutta: Government of India Press, 1927). 7 Shahid Amin, ‘Approver’s Testimony, Judicial Discourse: The Case of Chauri Chaura’, in Ranajit Guha (ed), Subaltern Studies V (Delhi: Oxford University Press, 1987), pp. 166–202 and Penderel Moon, Strangers in India (London: Faber & Faber, 1944), on the resort to purchased perjury on the part of the state. 8 WBSA, IB Sl No. 124/1921, File No 83/21, ‘Notes by Mr Kidd in London regarding Indian agitation abroad’. The original files in London were released in the 1990s and the WBSA Intelligence Bureau files in the 2000s. 9 WBSA, IB Sl No. 44/1928, File No. 53/28. ‘Notes on Persons Passing through Dhanushkodi Port’. 10 Jean-Paul Sartre, The Reprieve (New York: Alfred A Knopf, 1947, trans. Eric Sutton). 11 Benjamin Zachariah, Developing India: An Intellectual and Social History, c. 1930–1950 (Delhi: Oxford University Press, 2005), chap. 4. 12 Robert O. Paxton, The Anatomy of Fascism (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2004). 13 Franziska Roy, ‘Youth, National Discipline and Paramilitary Organisations’ (unpublished PhD dissertation, Warwick University, 2013). 14 Benjamin Zachariah, Nehru (London: Routledge, 2004), chap. 3; Jayaprakash Narayan, Why Socialism? (Benares: All India Congress Socialist Party, 1936). 15 Benoy Kumar Sarkar, The Hitler State: A Landmark in the Political, Economic and Social Remaking of the German People (Calcutta: Insurance and Finance Review, 1933), p. 13. 16 Soumyendranath Tagore, Hitlerism: The Aryan Rule in Germany (Calcutta: Ganashakti, 1933). 17 Soumyendranath Tagore to Dy Secy, Govt of Bengal, protesting against being interned, in 1944. IB Sl No.107/26, File No. 166/26, WBSA, Calcutta, ff. 262–261. 18 Milton Israel, Communications and Power (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1994), pp. 216–245, deals with the Bombay Chronicle and the evolution of its politics, unfortunately only until about 1935, and with Horniman’s first editorship and his arrest and deportation in 1919, pp. 218–225; see Maharashtra State Archives [MSA]: Home (Special), 830(1), 1939. 19 Khwaja Ahmad Abbas, ‘Anti-Comintern over India – I: Background of Nazi Fascist Propaganda’, Bombay Chronicle‚ 22 June 1939, and Khwaja Ahmad Abbas, ‘Anti-Comintern over India – II: How Communalism Is Exploited by Fascists and Nazis’, Bombay Chronicle, 24 June 1939, clippings in MSA: Home (Special), 830(1), 1939, ff. 43–46 and 3–6, respectively. 20 MSA: Home (Special), 830-A, 1939. 21 Abbas, ‘Anti-Comintern over India – II’, ff. 3–6. 22 Abbas, ‘Anti-Comintern over India – II’. 23 Abbas, ‘Anti-Comintern over India – I’. 24 Ibid., f. 44. 25 On Gurusaday Dutt, see Frank Korom, ‘Gurusaday Dutt, Vernacular Nationalism, and the Folk Culture Revival in Colonial Bengal’, in Firoze Mahmud and Sharani Zaman (eds),

174

26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 36 37 38 39 40 41 42 43 44 45 46 47 48 49 50 51

52 53 54 55 56 57 58

Benjamin Zachariah

Folklore in Context (Dhaka: The University Press, 2010), pp. 256–293; on the Bratachari Movement, see Sayantani Adhikary, ‘The Bratachari Movement and the Invention of a “Folk Tradition”’, South Asia: Journal of South Asian Studies, 38:4 (December 2015), pp. 656–670. Abbas, ‘Anti-Comintern over India – II’. ‘Nazi and Fascist Propagandists in India: More Revelations of Their Mischievous Activities’, Bombay Sentinel, 13 July1939, ‘From the Secretary, Anti-Nazi League of India’, clipping in MSA: Home (Special), 830(1), 1939, ff. 17–19. See Rashna Darius Nicholson, ‘Corporeality, Aryanism, Race: The Theatre and Social Reform of the Parsis of Western India’, South Asia: Journal of South Asian Studies, 38:4 (December 2015), pp. 613–638. ‘Nazi and Fascist Propagandists in India’. MSA: Home (Special), 830(1), 1939, f. 31, note dated 13 July 1939. Ibid., ff. 33–35, Salar-e-Hind (second issue), June 1939. MSA: Home (Special), 830-A, 1939. Ibid., f. 41, clipping from Princely India, 23 July 1939. MSA: Home (Special), 830(1), 1939, f. 41, dated 17 June 1939. Ibid., ff. 11–13, clipping from Mahratta, 20 June 1939. Ibid., ff. 69–71, translation from Kesari, 7th July 1939. Ibid., ff. 74–76, note dated 17 July 1939. MSA: Home (Special), 830(1), 1939, ff. 77–79. Ibid., ff. 87–90, clipping from Lokhandi Morcha, 27 July 1939. Ibid., f. 47, dated 5 July 1939. Ibid., f. 55, clipping from Times of India, 11 July 1939. Ibid., f. 63, clipping from Bombay Sentinel, 25 July 1939. Ibid. Ibid., f. 123, 18 October 1939. Ibid., f. 133. Ibid., f. 129, 18 December 1939. Ibid., f. 145. Ibid., f. 144. IOR: IPI file L/PJ/ 12/102, 1923, f. 2. Bundesarchiv, Berlin: R51/1–16 & 144. This is acknowledged in the official history of the institute, to be found on the web, in Indien-Institut e.V. München, available at www.indien-institut.de/en/chronicle (accessed 20 April 2013). Note the sudden jump for the Nazi period: nothing is said for the time between 1932 and 1946. The best scholarly account of this period in the Ghadar Movement is still Harish K Puri, Ghadar Movement: Ideology, Organisation and Strategy (Amritsar: Guru Nanak Dev University Press, 1983). IOR: IPI file L/PJ/12/166. ‘Secret and Personal: A Note on the Italian Connection’, WBSA, IB Sl No. 2371, File No. 857–33, quote on p. 2. Ibid., quote on p. 5. Ibid., quote on pp. 1, 3. See Anna Sailer, ‘Der Indologe Walther Wüst und das NS-Regime, 1933–1945’, unpublished Magisterarbeit, Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin, 2008. Bundesarchiv, Berlin, R51/16, R51/8. Thierfelder was responsible for the document written in 1945 that claimed the Deutsche Akademie to be a non-Nazi institution, and he cited Tarak Nath Das’s membership of the Indische Ausschuss as grounds to claim its non-Nazi nature, and all its Nazi activities he seeks to blame on Wüst: See Bundesarchiv, Berlin, R51/8, ff. 0203054–0203067, written in 1945. Thierfelder was back in charge of the institute from 1946, alongside Tarak Nath Das: www.indien-institut.de/en/chronicle (accessed 20 April 2013).

Intelligence gathering in India

175

59 IOR: IPI file L/PJ/12/505, ff. 80–81. From printed report: ‘Strictly Secret: An Examination of the Activities of the Auslands Organization of the National Socialistische Deutsche Arbeiter Partei [sic], Part II: In India’. Duplicate copy in WBSA, IB Sl No. 158, File No. 358/38, dated 13 March 1939. 60 Publicity materials for the India Institute, Munich, distributed on the occasion of their 75th anniversary in 2003, do not mention the names of Ashok Bose and Benoy Kumar Sarkar. An earlier version of the Indien-Institut’s website listed their names, available at www.indien-institut.de (accessed 20 May 2010), but this has been replaced by the version cited in note 59. Leonard Gordon, Brothers against the Raj: A Biography of Indian Nationalists Sarat and Subhas Chandra Bose (New York: Columbia University Press, 1990), pp. 256–257, mentions Ashok Bose’s presence in Munich from 1931 as a student of applied chemistry. Benoy Sarkar was also a regular contributor to Karl Haushofer’s journal, Geopolitik. 61 IOR: IPI file L/PJ/12/73. 62 IOR: IPI file L/PJ/12/74. 63 National Archives (UK), File KV-2/3904. Nambiar’s interview for the oral history project at the Nehru Memorial Museum and Library, Delhi, is a compilation of half-truths and deliberate fabrications, notable however for the presence and participation in the interview of his lover, Eva Geissler, now Frau Walther, with whom he resumed relations after the Second World War, after an interim period in which the Nazis offered him a companion and lover, one Frau Niedermeyer, during the war, to whom he even proposed marriage (though he was still technically married to the Communist Viren Chattopadhyay’s and Sarojini Naidu’s sister). See NMML: Oral History Transcripts, ACN Nambiar, and National Archives (UK), File KV-2/3904, f. 197. 64 Bundesarchiv, Berlin, R51/1, rules of the association, 1925, end of file, no page numbers. 65 Bundesarchiv, Berlin, R51/16. 66 NAI: Home Department, Government of India, File No. 21/65/39 Poll. (Int.). ‘Consideration of steps to be taken to combat Nazi activity in the Aligarh University’, pp. 1–7. Copy in JNU, ACH, PC Joshi Archive, File 11–1939. 67 Majid Hayat Siddiqui,‘Bluff, Doubt and Fear: The Kheiri Brothers and the Colonial State, 1904–45’, Indian Economic and Social History Review, Vol. 24, No. 3 (1987), pp. 233–263. 68 NAI: Home (Political), File 30/5/30, copy in JNU, ACH, PC Joshi Archive, File 74/1930: ‘Question of the grant of an assurance of immunity from prosecution to Abdul Jabbar Kheiri in the event of his return to India.’ 69 WBSA, IB Sl No. 45, File No. 108–39; WBSA, IB Sl No. 507, File No. 468–39(i); WBSA, IB Sl No. 344, File No. 234/39(I); WBSA, IB Sl No. 405, File No. 236–39 (IV); WBSA, IB Sl No. 120, File No. 54–39. 70 WBSA, IB Sl No. 45, File No. 108–39. 71 Ibid., f. 65. Intelligence Bureau, Home Department, Government of India, circular memorandum dated 16 May 1939. 72 Ibid., f. 52, and p. 1 of Notes. 73 WBSA, IB Sl No. 158, File No. 358/38, f. 24. Secret, Intelligence Bureau, Home Department, Government of India, note on the activities of the NSDAP in India dated 13 March 1939. 74 WBSA, IB Sl No. 158, File No. 358/38, Secret, Intelligence Bureau, Home Department, Government of India, note on the activities of the NSDAP in India dated 13 March 1939, pp. 1–2. 75 Ibid., pp. 3–6. 76 Ibid., p. 7. 77 Ibid., pp. 9–13. 78 Ibid., p. 14. 79 Ibid., f. 8 (p. 14). 80 WBSA, IB Sl No. 350, File No. 583–39. 81 WBSA, IB Sl No. 32, File No. 28-A/39, ff. 3–2: IB Home Dept, G/I, Simla, 11 August 1939. 82 Sanjoy Bhattacharya, Propaganda and Information in Eastern India, 1939–1945: A Necessary Weapon of War (London: Routledge, 2013).

10 “India is a fine country after all!” The cultivation of military morale in colonial India Andrew Muldoon

Lastly don’t lose your head, heart or sleep in India under any circumstance; do not get “homesick.” The time will pass soon and the handkerchiefs waving adieu at Southampton quay will seem only yesterday. India Is a Fine Country After All! 1

By 1945 the European military presence in South Asia numbered a half million. Nearly a quarter million British Army troops joined 700,000 Indians, while the Royal Air Force (RAF) contributed over 100,000 more in various bases around the region, including the major station at Karachi. These Britons, mainly conscripts who had never left Britain before, were “citizen-soldiers” or “civilians in uniform,” representative of the massive influx of ordinary men and women into the armed forces. Some of them understood themselves as such, and many of their superiors certainly regarded them in this way.2 Yet these particular citizen-soldiers, directed to fight in South and Southeast Asia, shared a certain distinction, one that set them apart from their peers fighting elsewhere. They had been dispatched to fight in the unique colonial context of British India. Although British forces served in multiple parts of the Empire during the war, from Egypt to Australia, in no other place did they interact with the complex reality of empire as they did in India.3 Possession of India underpinned Britain’s claim to global power, and India’s structure, institutions and dynamics all marked it out as separate from the other, disparate entities that made up the Empire. Despite some concessions in the 1920s and 1930s, Britain still ruled India directly, through the India Office in London, the Viceroy and the Indian Civil Service. The Indian Army, comprised almost entirely of native soldiers, remained British-led and functioned both as an expeditionary force and as a garrison element for maintaining internal order. About 50,000 Europeans resided there, mainly in the large cities and in the hill stations. In places like Bombay and New Delhi, a triumphalist colonial architecture dominated civic spaces, reinforcing an idea of British permanence.4 A recognizable code governed relations between colonizers and colonized, while larger notions of racial and cultural difference pervaded colonialist discourse and justified the necessity of continued British control.5

Military morale in colonial India

177

Yet this was also a time in which British authority in Asia had begun to decline, even precipitously. Nationalists had, despite British reaction, secured an expansion of Indian participation in both provincial and central administration, while at the same time wrong-footing colonial officials with their strategy of non-violent civil disobedience. The mass resignation of provincial Congress ministries over the Viceroy’s failure to consult Indian opinion before declaring war in 1939 was further demonstration of disaffection within the colony. The major blow to British prestige, of course, came with the swift Japanese victories over British, Indian and Commonwealth forces in Malaya, Singapore and Burma in early 1942.6 Asian and European refugees poured into eastern India, full of stories of an ignominious defeat and retreat. As the acerbic American General Joseph Stilwell put it, the world was “getting a look at the British Empah with its pants down and the aspect is not so pretty.”7 In such an environment, British forces would have to play multiple roles. Colonial and military administrators believed that these soldiers would not only need to defend India physically and ultimately regain British territory in Asia but would also need to act as an imperial army, providing security internally for the state in India and conducting themselves in ways that would rebuild colonial and racial superiority and solidarity in Indian eyes after the catastrophic defeat by the Japanese. They would need to do all of this, moreover, in a place historically detested by regular British service members, where both Indians and Europeans looked upon soldiers with some disquiet, and in the presence of their boisterous and well equipped American allies. Even before 1939, service in India was enormously unpopular with British troops. This dissatisfaction emerged in several incidents in the 1930s when some soldiers attempted to wound (and in some cases actually killed) Indians in an effort to have themselves shipped home, even if in chains.8 A 1935 review of conditions of service confirmed the words of one officer in the Royal Dragoons: “I do not consider that serving in this country can ever be made popular with the men.” The officer commanding the Highland Light Infantry recounted that “[o]ne of my officers recently inspected a workhouse in England, and in his opinion the inhabitants fed in considerably greater comfort than his company in Peshawar.”9 As troops embarked for India and Southeast Asia early in the war, their dislike of Indian service, combined with a feeling that the real war was back in Europe, created “a considerable amount of exasperation among volunteers who sacrificed their civilian jobs to defend England, Home and Family, only to find themselves . . . ‘rotting in India.’ ”10 Discontent with conditions, the length of service and the amenities provided to troops in India remained consistent throughout the war. As an army morale report concluded in early 1945: The troops’ dislike of the climate and general living conditions in this part of the world is in no way diminished . . . The feeling that the conditions in which they live are not fully appreciated by government leaders at home induces some writers rather forcibly to express the wish that the Prime

178

Andrew Muldoon

Minister or Sir James Grigg should be made to come and experience these conditions at first hand.11 Although soldiers’ complaining about conditions of service was hardly a new phenomenon, those stationed in India did have legitimate grievances. An RAF Medical Officer investigating these concerns was appalled: “I cannot imagine that British troops in this modern age should ever be called upon to live under such conditions, which are inferior to those provided for the natives.” Among his concerns were the provision of clean water and the high rate of dysentery and other “preventable diseases.”12 A dedicated effort to reduce malaria outbreaks succeeded by 1944, but 1942 and 1943 saw significant epidemics, with at least 20,000 soldiers ill in Eastern Army Area alone in the fall of 1942.13 Soldiers resented their rates of pay, and correspondingly lambasted the colonial government for failing to impose any price controls on Indian merchants.14 Conditions on troopships bound for India were never likely to be very good, but the discrepancies between conditions for officers and for the rest of the men were “needlessly great,” so much so that RAF personnel mutinied rather than reboard in Durban, South Africa in 1942.15 A memorandum composed for the War Cabinet concluded that ‘service in the Far East is bound to be unpopular for reasons which do not admit of a cure. The men are thousands of miles from home, the climate is bad, the white population is small, cities are few and crowded and the rural amusements available are not such as appeal to the troops.”16 It was not surprising, then, that when Lord Munster, Under Secretary of State for India, toured the region in 1944, his aide noted that a “virulent dislike of service in India was the keynote in nearly every unit.”17 The marker for mile 42 on the road from Dimapur to Imphal in Assam read: “Slough of Despond.”18 Given the number and consistency of these complaints, both civilian and military administrators were preoccupied with the morale of those serving in South Asia. In fact, the question of military morale had assumed great importance, not just in India, but throughout the army in the early 1940s when Britain suffered reverses not only in Asia but also in France and North Africa.19 Not everyone agreed that the sentiments of soldiers ought to dictate military planning and practice. James Grigg, the War Secretary, considered so many complaints the outcome of “pansydom” among the troops.20 The Adjutant General of the Army, Sir Ronald Adam, took the question of morale seriously, though, convinced that British defeats in Asia in 1942 were “all due to the low morale of our troops” and that “[t]his war is going to be won or lost on morale.”21 As Field Marshal Bernard Montgomery insisted, “The morale of the soldier is the single greatest factor in war.”22 An interservices committee put it best: “[Q]uestions of morale and welfare [in Asia] have a direct bearing on the success or failure of operations, and . . . measures to improve morale must be given a priority equal to, and sometimes above, those dictated by strategy or tactics. In short, morale is an operational factor and not just an administrative frill.”23

Military morale in colonial India

179

As military administrators discussed how to revive morale, sustain it and direct it towards the defeat of Japan, three possible ways to improve the lives of soldiers, psychologically and physically, dominated their thinking. Most important, for men and commanders alike, was the material improvement of soldiers’ lives, including food, medical care and leave provisions. “Generally speaking,” concluded a 1945 report, “material benefits of all kinds, or the lack of them, are the only things which appear to count in men’s lives.”24 However, there were other measures that might both improve soldiers’ outlooks and instill in Britons and Indians alike a sense that these troops were indeed an “imperial” force. Soldiers, in the official mind, needed real reasons to fight, ones that could be articulated clearly and did not rest on airy generalities or platitudes.25 British troops were also likely to benefit from greater contact and interaction with European civilians residing in India, allowing them more social opportunities and identifying them with the existing colonial order in India. An early assessment of wartime morale concluded that “service in India is universally unpopular . . . the present citizen army is more interested in fighting for home and family than for Empire possessions.”26 From 1942 on, therefore, there was a major effort to inculcate a better sense among soldiers of their purpose in India. This was no easy task when faced with querulous troops, especially those employed as internal security against Indians and not fighting the Japanese.27 The emergence of the Quit India Movement in 1942 almost immediately required newly arrived British soldiers to act as an internal force. An army assessment posited that the men welcomed these duties as a break from the monotony of training and that “even though they are not fighting the enemy, they are content to be checking the activities of a group which tries hard to play the enemy’s game.”28 By early October 1942, there were modifications to this judgment: “British troops particularly now understand the need for their presence in India for internal security duties, even though they would prefer a more active role.”29 And soon after, army observers reckoned that “[w]hile the army welcomed internal security duties as a relief from routine, after two months of such activities interest is beginning to pall, and there are signs of a slight feeling of frustration.”30 Many military observers noted a correlation between lower morale and service within India itself, especially after 1943 with the division of South Asia into South East Asia Command (SEAC) and India Command, the latter functioning as a base for the former. Lord Louis Mountbatten recognized that morale would be a continual problem for troops in India as opposed to “those that are in the fighting lines.”31 Adam agreed, reflecting after visiting India in 1943 that “[t]he troops on internal security were the main problem. These men felt that they were going to be stuck in India with no prospects of seeing active service and only the unpleasant prospect of aid to the civil power before them.”32 Even though the demands of the war meant that the use of army troops for internal security declined after 1939, it was a “gradual and selective” process as provincial police took over this role.33 Indian GHQ reported in early 1943 that the successful crackdown on the Quit

180

Andrew Muldoon

India Movement had now allowed “practically all troops” to move away from internal security duties.34 By early 1944, morale reports confirmed that troops moved to SEAC were delighted to be out of “India Command, which, as a ‘dead-end’ in unattractive conditions and remote from the chance of action, they describe as an unpleasant memory.”35 The large number of soldiers and air personnel who remained in India were still a source of concern, with some evidence to indicate that not all of them had been relieved of internal security postings even in mid-1944. “Troops employed in Internal Security or Holding Battalion roles,” a censorship report noted, “have more time to think of their troubles and less activity to justify them.”36 As Max Hastings has noted, some in the 2nd Berkshires had over three years of internal garrison duty in India before fighting in 1944.37 By 1945, though, concern over morale began to give ground to growing exasperation among some commanders about “welfare conscious” soldiers who professed “a self-assumed right to certain amenities and conditions of service which tends to take precedence, in the minds of many, over the prosecution of the war.” However, even this assessment conceded that this sentiment “appear[ed] to be confined to those who have been in India for some time.”38 Political education of the forces in this colonial locale called for some different emphases in what the troops heard compared to in other theatres. These included the need to emphasize British responsibility and achievement in India but also a respect for Indians, particularly given the potential for problems between Indian officers and British other ranks.39 The long-term implications of such a policy seemed self-evident to some in the army: “[i]t is high time that a record of British achievement in India is placed before British troops . . . [otherwise] his influence regarding Indian questions upon the electorate will be most unfortunate.”40 Nevertheless, efforts to create an appreciation for Empire foundered as these citizen-soldiers either rejected propagandistic approaches or discovered some unpleasant truths about life in colonial India. The author of a weekly intelligence brief in April 1943 forecast great difficulty with such propaganda: “[t]he average British troop in India does not lead a happy or comfortable life, and to tell him that he is a member of the dominant race which lives on the fat of the land cuts no ice; to tell him that he is earning the gratitude of a large section of the Empire for which Britain is responsible, would make him sick.”41 Supporters of empire urged that the message to soldiers “should be based not merely upon the necessity of defending Japan as an indispensable preliminary to peace, but also upon the theme that our destiny as a great Imperial power in the future as in the past, demands that we British should recover, stabilize and develop our Imperial possessions in the East.”42 The India Office disagreed, noting that soldiers were less likely to respond to the imperial message but were open to justifications of the war based on Japan’s threat to the west and to Australia and New Zealand.43 This assessment rested upon the experiences it had had already in efforts to inform departing soldiers about India. A retired Indian Civil Servant, pressed into this duty in 1941, had found these

Military morale in colonial India

181

infantrymen “very left wing,” with great interest in the Congress Party, and had concluded that these troops were the “least intelligent” audience he had ever addressed.44 At the India Office, one official noted acerbically that this incident showed “how carefully the lecturers should be briefed before they are let loose.”45 Throughout 1942 and 1943, the official desire to impart a sort of imperial sensibility upon the soldiers in India did not result in any sort of cohesive propaganda or education programme. As late as October 1944, a War Office morale committee lamented the lack of a “campaign of indoctrination” for soldiers heading east.46 A summary of censored soldiers’ letters declared that war against Japan had failed to “capture the imagination of the British soldier” and that the Japanese “menace to our possessions in the Far East is not a reality to him.”47 Localized efforts to discuss Indian affairs with soldiers did not go down well with troops already inclined to view claims of colonial supremacy with suspicion. In July 1943, five anonymous soldiers wrote to the Times of India that they had been forced to attend a “voluntary” lecture on Indian politics and subjected to the restricted view “of the British Army and British Imperialism,” all in aid of making them more compliant in carrying out the suppression of nationalist groups.48 The timing of such an effort could not in fact have been less propitious. To ordinary soldiers arriving in South Asia, the colonial order already seemed dangerously anachronistic.49 However, it was the famine in Bengal after 1942 that provoked even more pointed criticism from soldiers, undermining official arguments made about British benevolence in India.50 Servicemen’s complaints about the backwardness and inefficiency of the colonial state were consistent throughout the war. One British officer in 1942 lamented that “there is no war here on Sundays! They will not realize there is a war on . . . Last night I went to the big Club here. The last time I was in it was 1934, and there was not the slightest change – memsahibs in evening dress, sahibs, God help me! [i]n dinner jackets, same cackle about anything . . . but the [Japanese who are] right at the door.”51 Both American and British officers were “astonished by the lethargy of the Government of India and India Command.”52 New arrivals remarked on the lack of a wartime atmosphere and sense of urgency in India.53 Of special concern to British troops was the Government of India’s inability to deal with rising food prices and wartime inflation.54 The famine in eastern India exemplified some of the major flaws in colonial governmental capability and thus brought the morality and efficacy of the entire imperial project into question. Soldiers brought up in a society that praised imperial benevolence were now “shocked at the plight” of those caught in the famine.55 “Open criticism of the Government” by soldiers was reported throughout eastern India, as were efforts by troops to feed Indians out of their own rations.56 M.H. Hoddinott, an airman in India, remembered that the experience had convinced a “working-class Tommy” that empire was nothing like how it was depicted back home.57 Therefore it was hardly surprising that a British officer serving in India, in a letter forwarded to Leo Amery, the India Secretary, concluded that “British troops are, in general, uninterested

182

Andrew Muldoon

in recovering distant parts of the Empire, which they have an uneasy feeling they never had any right to rule.”58 The reluctance of soldiers to embrace the imperial idea ultimately led officials to take a careful tack in the propaganda they did create by early 1945. Literature for soldiers stressed first that India was on a path to self-rule, due in large part to “the liberal-mindedness of the British Government, and to its sincere desire to see Indians themselves work out their own political future.”59 Britain had given India “a longer period of peace and ordered government than she had ever known before,” nurturing the sense of Indian unity that now informed nationalist politics.60 These statements echoed the words of Lord Munster who, upon arriving in India, had declared that “[a]s a member of the younger generation, I believe with all my heart in the policy of freedom for India to which we have set our hand, and never have I been more sure than I am today that that policy has behind it the unqualified good will and sincerity of the British people.”61 These attempts to link the defence of India with the fulfilment of Indian political aspirations were likely ineffective, for while some soldiers did indeed sympathize with Indian nationalism – and while many soldiers took to heart the plight of the Indian poor – there remained among many soldiers a profound dislike of India generally. These citizen-soldiers were not defenders of the Empire, nor were they enamoured of India and Indians. They were hardly devoted to sacrificing themselves for Indian political freedom. The Adjutant General’s office in India concluded that “troops consider India dirty and uncivilized.” British soldiers’ “opinion of prices and profiteering in India is beyond printable language,” noted a morale summary in July 1943. The author of another intelligence brief summarized the soldier’s mindset thus: “I have been sent here to wait indefinitely in unhealthy conditions, to fight somebody else’s war on behalf of a country which I despise while Allied troops take my place and my womenfolk in England.”62 A driver in the Royal Artillery “got the impression that the natives would like to start another massacre [as in 1857]” and left this impression of Varanasi (Banares): “the Wogs call it a sacred city – I call it a filthy hole.”63 George Muff, a Labour MP from Hull, claimed that “[o]ur citizen army in India dislikes both the climate and the country.”64 Lord Munster’s tour in 1944 confirmed that “[v]irulent dislike of service in India was the keynote in nearly every unit.”65 From a British formation came the analysis that the men “view Gandhi as a singularly successful humbug” and that it was “the view of the average B.O.R. that a man could not be better situated than in Calcutta to take a scientific view of all the cardinal vices.”66 Angela Bolton, an army nurse, offered her own sense of British attitudes in India: It came as a shock to me to notice the easy assumption of superiority over the Indians by the British residents in Calcutta. It wasn’t that they were overbearing or insulting towards the servants and clerks – more as though the Indians were part of the décor, not really human beings at all

Military morale in colonial India

183

. . . Service people out from the United Kingdom, after an initial interest in Indians as individuals, adopted the prevalent attitude of indifference.67 Bolton’s impressions found some confirmation in official assessments of troop behaviour, like this one from January 1944: “[f]amine has lost its news value and most soldiers show indifference to India and her politics. The futility of even considering ‘home rule’ until as a nation they have acquired a greater sense of honesty and fair dealing with the poorer classes is freely expressed.”68 Perhaps related to this belief in British indifference, a consistent concern at both the War and India offices was the friction that sometimes flared between British enlisted men and Indian officers or senior NCOs over questions of saluting or of disrespectful treatment of the latter by the former, especially when acting as provost marshals or in movement control. As one Indian Viceroy’s commissioned officer (senior non-commissioned rank) put it: “we did not join [the army] to be abused.”69 There were of course exceptions, with British soldiers at times effusive in their praise of Indian troops whom they had fought alongside after 1943. The British 2nd Division reported in the summer of 1944 that between Indian and British soldiers a feeling of “mutual respect, if not comradeship, has definitely been established.” One year later, a soldier in the same division proclaimed himself “all in favour of giving India her freedom” if Indian troops were “an example of her qualities.”70 Given the many complaints about Indians’ lack of driving expertise, it was notable that one Briton in the 14th Army in Burma wrote home that “any British troops who have previously come into contact with the Indian army only in the shape of the front mudguard of a learner driver’s vehicle should fight with these chaps. They’re grand.”71 Having concluded that the majority of these soldiers had “no desire to defend this country,” those in charge of boosting morale looked to find other ways to motivate the forces. Instead of fighting for India or even for the Empire, troops might defend the “west” or even their “kin.” Leo Amery laid out this approach in a memorandum to his cabinet colleagues in June 1943. The key, he believed, was to stress that: the principles at stake in the East are the same as those in the west . . . our own kinsmen in Australia and New Zealand and in Canada face in the Pacific area the same menace as we have faced in Europe and the Atlantic . . . [I]t is up to us to help our fellow-members of the Commonwealth, who are of the same blood and the same ideals as ourselves, to deal with the enemy threatening them as they came to our aid in 1939 and 1940. He continued: In this way the British forces in India . . . will be brought to feel that the services that they will be called upon to render are not of a different nature from those which will have resulted in the defeat of Germany . . . [I]t is

184

Andrew Muldoon

not at all a question of merely recovering territory, nor or re-establishing economic interests for the benefit of private individuals or concerns.72 Defining the war as a defence of kith and kin in the Commonwealth relied on ideas of racial and cultural solidarity but also perhaps appealed to soldiers for cultural reasons that Amery might not have anticipated. There was an undercurrent of thought among British soldiers that there existed in the Dominions a “truer democracy” than might be found in class-conscious and elite-dominated Britain.73 That pay was higher for Dominion forces than for the British may have confirmed an idealistic view of the Commonwealth in the minds of the British other ranks. This appeal to defend the Dominions featured prominently in one of the major pamphlets distributed to soldiers arriving in India in 1945: India is a half-way house between East and West. It is the centre of the British Commonwealth and Empire, and stands astride the main sea and air routes between Europe, Africa and the Far East. The safety of Australia and New Zealand, and our kinfolk in them, largely depends upon the integrity of India.74 These attempts to give British soldiers in India a sense of mission and purpose largely came to naught and were often undertaken more with an air of resignation than of optimism. The conditions in which they served, the climate, the nature of the fighting and of the enemy encountered all combined to produce soldiers whose minds were almost entirely set on their own individual survival or perhaps on the survival of those serving most closely with them. An intelligence summary of March 1945 reflected the failure to inculcate any larger ideological motivation among the troops, remarking that: the most fundamental stimulus to action appears to be the desire to finish the war as soon as possible in order to get home. Of any widespread appreciation of a higher purpose in the war there is at present little sign, and there would appear to be an urgent need for the Government at home, by word and deed, to present the troops with a cause worth fighting for . . . [T]here is practically no sign of any moral or spiritual purpose which can sustain the men when the incentive and compulsion of actual war are removed.75 David French’s judgment that the army’s efforts at ideological indoctrination for soldiers fighting in Europe was “half-hearted and often ineffectual” seems to apply to its approaches to troops in Asia too.76 The question of indoctrination was often raised, but there was no consensus on what the message to soldiers should be and how it ought best be delivered. Consistent appeals within the armed forces for such a coherent programme throughout the war indicated in fact the failure of the services to produce such an enterprise. Yet it was also the case that for many of these soldiers, the project of imperial rule

Military morale in colonial India

185

figured very little in their own world views, which gave military officials not much to work with and which indicated further the real lack of any imperial consciousness or mindset among ordinary Britons in the 1930s and 1940s. These citizen-soldiers had few political or cultural inclinations towards serving in or as a colonial army, and no amount of concentrated indoctrination was ever likely to change that. Even if British soldiers were never likely to act like an imperial army, they might still manage to look the part. Cognizant of just how deep-seated soldiers’ unhappiness with service in India was, British officials and administrators looked to ameliorate the conditions of service as best they could, again with an eye not only to boosting troop morale but also to reasserting racial and colonial prestige. An area of concern to colonial and some military officials was the complicated relationship between this “citizen-army” and the European colonial communities located both in the major cities and in the hill stations favoured by the military for decades in India. Bringing these two groups together would aid the troops’ morale generally because it would give them a further sense of what, or whom, they were fighting for in India. It would also reinforce the appearance of racial solidarity required in a colonial state and preserve the impression that these thousands of soldiers had a substantive role in the maintenance of empire. These concerns animated official efforts to encourage military–civilian interactions specifically as a way of preserving soldiers’ sense of their own “Britishness.” It was, crudely put, an effort to establish and identify the troops as “white,” locating them within the existing colonial racial dichotomy. The problem with such a project, of course, was that just as Britons in India saw the population in terms of races, creeds and castes, so too did these European civilians make distinctions within the white community, complicating the task of fully integrating these soldiers into it.77 British colonial society, even in the 1940s, remained a fairly closed circle, largely upper-middle class in outlook, behaviour and taste. Ordinary British soldiers and other non-elite whites existed outside this society traditionally.78 European colonials were not likely to recognize any difference between soldiers from the interwar army and this “present citizen army.”79 It would be no easy task to try to convince this society to open up to the hundreds of thousands of enlisted men who had descended upon India. Complicating the soldiers’ position in India even more was their relative poverty, especially compared to the Americans, which reinforced the notion of soldiers as “poor whites,” usually marginalized in colonial society.80 Concern over the existence of “poor whites” was not confined to the higher ranks of the colonial administration and the armed forces. In February 1945, for example, a British civilian in Bengal wrote to a female relative in England who was contemplating coming to India as a Red Cross nurse: “We are rather aghast at you thinking of coming out here on [2 pounds] a week even with free board, travel and uniform allowance . . . If the Red Cross want British girls to come out here, then let them give a reasonable salary, so they can live up to the British standard and not have them going about like ‘poor whites.’ ”81

186

Andrew Muldoon

In Bombay, the Governor and his wife spearheaded fundraising and providing hospitality for the troops, publicizing it in a pamphlet that seemed to protest too much, perhaps anticipating and pre-empting soldiers’ criticisms of colonial society.82 Margaret Hunt, a lecturer at Madras Christian College, wished that “people in India would do more for the soldiers” and was herself working at a soldiers’ canteen by the summer of 1942.83 Overall, however, personal contacts were hard to establish. As one British serviceman wrote to Manny Shinwell, his MP, “we are treated as outcasts – filth beneath the feet of the white civilians,” before claiming that troops could not find accommodations on leave and were barred from parts of towns with large European settlements.84 Shinwell circulated the letter, eventually drawing a response from the India Office and Leo Amery, who both played down the letter’s claims and also argued that “the solvent effect of the war which has had such a beneficial effect in breaking down class exclusiveness here, has not operated to the same extent in India.”85 General Sir Archibald Wavell, the forces’ commander in India, was more blunt: “Nothing,” he told the Viceroy, “would appease Shinwell’s correspondent, who was probably suffering from prickly heat, liver and an inferiority complex when he wrote.”86 A more direct acknowledgement of friction between civilians and soldiers in India came from the Director of Army Welfare, Major General Sir Colin Jardine who admitted to a newspaper that “[w]hat I am going to say now may be unpopular, but it is time it was said.” British civilians in India, especially women, “were not doing enough,” and British troops would say this “more picturesquely than I dare do.”87 To give but one example of this tension, there were the actions of the secretary of the Royal Calcutta Turf Club in 1942. Faced with a concerted effort to convert part of the racecourse into a hostel for British other ranks and non-commissioned officers, he managed to ensure that soldiers attending races “would be completely segregated and they would not have access to the Members’ enclosure.” Nevertheless, he felt compelled on Christmas morning to admonish the hostel’s chairwoman for allowing her staff’s families onto the course and to warn her that some of the “inmates” of the hostel had recently discarded two glass bottles on the grounds.88 The importance officials placed on the need to integrate at least some of the troops into colonial society could be seen especially in their continued tracking of soldiers’ relations with European civilians.89 Despite a real push to encourage more interaction, however, at the end of 1944, an army morale report still described as “typical” these soldiers’ assessments of civilians: “[w]hen the soldier approaches, the people lock up their spouse and their daughters.” And, “I would rather shake hands of an Indian as black as coal and who didn’t understand the English language than any of the white people who try to rule them.”90 In SEAC, the troops’ official newspaper, a sergeant in the Royal Artillery responded to concerns expressed by a former British resident of Burma: I sympathize wholehearted [sic] with Mr. P.D. Webb of Delhi (SEAC 10 Feb.), who fears for the safety of his home during bombing, and I hope

Military morale in colonial India

187

when we recapture Mandalay he will find his house intact, though he must not be downhearted if he finds otherwise. If he stopped to think, I am sure he would sooner lose his house than us lose our pals. Bombing out the Japs is better than using the bayonet. Have a thought for the infantrymen whom we all admire for the good job of work they have done.91 Soldiers’ complaints about Europeans drew some stinging comments from those same civilians. The Viceroy, Lord Wavell, complained to Amery that “it is not always possible for British women, many of whom have young children with them, to devote themselves entirely to war work . . . and sweeping criticisms by official visitors cause annoyance and do no good.”92 One woman in Madras wrote to friends that civilians in that city “simply cannot do any more war work than they are at the moment. It might be different if the army had not already taken every good servant in the presidency.”93 A Great War veteran in Assam was more emphatic: “I am getting just the teeniest little bit cheesedoff with this Forgotten Army stuff and think it is being overdone.”94 Another part of the effort to link soldiers to the white colonial power structure was the drive to regulate the sexual activities of the British other ranks. This colonial concern to control sexual relations along racial lines was hardly new in India, of course, but it did make for some rather blatant language on the part of the authorities. Social pressures bore in on officers in particular, with one remembering that “while it was permissible and welcome then to mix with Indians, Anglo-Indians were still outside the pale.”95 A public campaign in India and Britain against military sanctioning of brothels in Calcutta meant they were placed officially out of bounds by the end of 1943. To military authorities, the best way to meet troops’ romantic longings was not to encourage social interaction with Indians, of course, but to ramp up demands for larger numbers of female voluntary workers, requisitioning them as wartime amenities almost and eying them, none too subtly, as potential sex workers.96 The colonial government supported the compulsory registration of British women in India for voluntary employment.97 Lord Munster in late 1944 concluded that the “posting of British women would give new hope and encouragement to all ranks and would be widely appreciated.”98 His final recommendation: more British volunteers “must be provided to help meet [the] lack of white women.”99 The role that these women were intended to play was clear: “[w]hite women should be employed as hostesses at canteens, hostels, etc. Their mere presence would engender self respect in the men and go far to satisfy the desire for feminine society which is at present either repressed, with harmful results, or finds expression in a desire to consort with native women.”100 Amery, the India Secretary, linked the presence of these women with the strengthening of the men’s cultural identity, noting the: bad effect on the morale of the soldier . . . of not having enough white women to talk to and turn to for friendliness and sympathy in his domestic troubles. A V.A.D. may not be nearly as efficient as a trained nurse,

188

Andrew Muldoon

and no more efficient than an Indian hospital orderly. But a sick man who wants a letter written or to unbosom himself of his anxieties can hardly unbosom himself to the latter.101 The army, examining morale in early 1945, used the most direct terms: India needed more women volunteers, specifically to run holiday camps in “healthy, safe areas, and give men the chance of decent companionship they so much miss, especially the younger ones: this would decrease the V.D. rate and mixed marriages.”102 Military officials discovered, however, that soldiers’ sentiment ran against the import of more British women. An exasperated assessment of the question referred to “the illogical attitude of some British troops in India in that on the one hand they claimed there were insufficient women in India, and that the few that there were did nothing for the troops, while on the other they objected strongly to the schemes for sending women over seas from the U.K.”103 While efforts to raise the material standard of troops’ living in India did meet ultimately with some success, the question of overall morale continued to vex military planners through the end of the war. There was little question after all of competing with the Americans on questions of material comfort, pay or repatriation. Nor was there much that could be done about the weather, despite advances in the prevention of malaria under General William Slim. Moreover, this was never going to be an imperial-minded army in the east. Those who served in India came there with few social, cultural or ideological ties to Empire, and their impressions of India, whether of the colonial state or of the place and people itself, remained consistently negative. British forces would in the end fight effectively against the Japanese in Burma but out of comradeship, hatred of a particular enemy and a desire to end the war, not out of any real inclination to preserve the Raj.

Notes 1 Pamphlet: “Wild Woodbine: Some Useful Hints for Soldiers Arriving in India.” A.C. Dyke papers, Mss. Eur. A.223/10. 2 Jeremy Crang, The British Army and the People’s War 1939–1945 (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 2000); David French, Raising Churchill’s Army: The British Army and the War against Germany, 1919–1945 (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2000), pp. 121–147. 3 For North Africa, see Jonathan Fennell, Combat and Morale in the North African Campaign: The Eighth Army and the Path to El Alamein (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2011). British forces did encounter some of the same issues described here while stationed in Sri Lanka (Ceylon), albeit on a smaller scale, as Ashley Jackson has recently written. Ashley Jackson, “Military Migrants: British Service Personnel in Ceylon during the Second World War,” Britain and the World 6/1 (2013), 5–26. 4 Thomas Metcalf, Ideologies of the Raj (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1995), pp. 148–159. 5 E.M. Collingham, Imperial Bodies: The Physical Experience of the Raj, c. 1800–1947 (Cambridge: Polity, 2001).

Military morale in colonial India

189

6 Indivar Kamtekar, “The Shiver of 1942,” Studies in History 18/1 (2002), 81–102. 7 J. Stilwell to Mrs. Stilwell, 2 July 1944, in The Stilwell Papers, T.H. White, ed. (New York: W. Sloane Associates, 1948), p. 306. 8 After several incidents in 1932–1933, one official noted on the case file: “The Welch regiment seems to be making a habit of this.” Note dated 24 June 1933, British Library, India Office Records (IOR), L/P&J/7/419. See also 1939 case at IOR L/P&J/7/2788. 9 “Report on the Investigations Conducted upon the Conditions under which British Soldiers Serve in India” (October 1935), IOR L/MIL/17/1/2133, pp. 32 and 54. 10 Weekly Intelligence Summary [WIS]: Internal India, 23 August 1940, United Kingdom National Archives (UKNA), WO 208/763. 11 “Report on the Morale of British, Indian and Colonial Troops of Allied Land Forces, South East Asia [hereafter “ALFSEA Morale Report”], November1944–January 1945” (March 1945), IOR L/WS/2/71/40–66. 12 Report dated 10 October 1944 by L.M. Corbet, Principal Medical Officer, HQ Transport Command, in C. Portal (Chief of Air Staff ) to Secretary of State for Air, 23 November 1944, UKNA AIR 8/1123. 13 T.R. Moreman, The Jungle, the Japanese and the British Commonwealth Armies at War, 1941–45: Fighting Methods, Doctrine and Training for Jungle Warfare (London: Frank Cass, 2005), p. 63. 14 First Quarterly Report of the Adjutant-General in India’s Committee on Morale, January 1943, IOR L/WS/1/939/141–4. 15 Report on medical conditions on troopships, 25 August 1943, UKNA WO 203/693. 16 “Morale and Welfare in the Far East: Report to the Prime Minister by the Service Ministers and the Secretary of State for India,” 1 November 1944, UKNA, AIR 8/1123. 17 Notes on report of Munster tour, 11 August 1944, UKNA, WO203/1246. 18 David Atkins, The Reluctant Major (Pulborough: Toat Press, 1996), p. 82. 19 See French, Raising Churchill’s Army, pp. 121–130. Also: H. Strachan, “Training, Morale and Modern War,” Journal of Contemporary History 41/2 (2006), 211–227, esp. 223. 20 Grigg quoted in L. James, Warrior Race: A History of the British at War (New York: St. Martin’s Press, 2001), pp. 687–692. 21 General R. Adam, “Morale in the Army,” 25 February 1942, UKNA WO 32/15772. 22 Fennell, Combat and Morale in the North African Campaign, p. 87. 23 Second Interim Report of the Morale (Far Eastern) Inter-services Committee, 11 October 1944, UKNA AIR 8/1123. 24 ALFSEA Morale Report for November 1944 through January 1945, UKNA WO 203/4538. 25 Lieutenant Colonel W. Hingston (Public Relations, Ceylon) to General H. Willans, Director of Welfare and Education, War Office, 27 January 1943, IOR L/ WS/1/1357/130. 26 First quarterly report of Adjutant-General in India’s Committee on Morale, November 1942–January 1943, IOR L/WS/1/939/141–144. 27 India Office note: Meeting between Generals Lockhart and Adam, 22 May 1943, IOR L/WS/1357/75–6; War Office Committee on Morale, June–August 1944, UKNA WO 32/15772. 28 WIS, 11 September 1942, IOR L/WS/1/1433/86–87. 29 WIS, 2 October 1942, IOR L/WS/1/1433/92–94. 30 WIS, 9 October 1942, IOR L/WS/1/1433/95–96. 31 Philip Ziegler, ed., Personal Diary of Admiral the Lord Louis Mountbatten (London: Collins, 1988) [Mountbatten Diary], p. 47 (16 December 1943). 32 India Office memorandum on meeting between General Lockhart (IO) and General Adam, 22 May 1943, IOR L/WS/1/1357/75–6.

190

Andrew Muldoon

33 G. Kudaisya, “ ‘In Aid of the Civil Power’: The Colonial Army in Northern India, c. 1919–42,” Journal of Imperial and Commonwealth History, 32/1 (January 2004), 41–68, esp. 58. 34 GHQ India to India Office, 26 February 1943, IOR L/I/1/1053. 35 ALFSEA Morale Report for period ending February 1944, IOR L/WS/1/939/74–8. 36 ALFSEA Morale Report for period ending 31 July 1944, IOR L/WS/1/939/7–32. See also War Office Committee on Morale report for June–August, 1944, UKNA WO 32/15772. 37 Max Hastings, Retribution: The Battle for Japan, 1944–45 (New York: Knopf, 2008), p. 87. 38 Army in India Morale Report, February–April 1945, 24 May 1945, IOR L/WS/1/ 1635/206–17. 39 G. Dunbar to India Office, 20 April 1941, IOR L/I/1/1033/9. 40 Extract from note by Director General of Welfare and Amenities at GHQ India, 18 October 1943, IOR L/WS/1/1357/15–16. 41 WIS, 23 April 1943, IOR L/WS/1/1433/195–198. 42 Grigg to Amery, 25 May 1943, IOR L/WS/1/1357/68–70. 43 India Office memorandum, 27 May 1943, IOR L/WS/1/1357/63. 44 Sir G. Dunbar to India Office, 20 April 1941, IOR L/I/1/1033. 45 Note by Colonel Erskine on Dunbar’s letter, 24 July 1941, IOR L/I/1/1033. 46 Second Interim Report of the Morale (Far Eastern) Inter-Services Committee, 11 October 1944, UKNA AIR 8/1123. 47 ALFSEA Morale Report, August–October 1943, IOR L/WS/2/71/1–9. 48 See news clipping of 7/30/43 in file of Louise Ouwerkerke, British Library, European Manuscripts, Mss. Eur. F.232/50. The India Office felt that “propaganda” was “a word we all agreed should be avoided.” Lockhart to Croft, 5 May 1943, IOR L/ WS/1/1357/101–103. 49 See Bayly and Harper: “British society in India remained frozen in its bubble of class and race-consciousness.” Bayly and Harper, Forgotten Armies, p. 76. 50 ALFSEA Morale Report, August–October 1943, IOR L/WS/2/71/1–9. 51 WIS, 29 May 1942, IOR L/WS/1/1433/43–44. 52 Bayly and Harper, Forgotten Armies, p. 72. 53 WIS, 15 May 1942, IOR L/WS/1/1433/38–40. 54 WIS, 11 September 1942, IOR L/WS/1/1433/86–87; WIS, 14 May 1943, IOR L/ WS/1/1433/206–209; WIS, 13 August 1943, IOR L/WS/1/1433/252–255. 55 WIS, 13 and 20 August 1943, IOR L/WS/1/1433/252–260. 56 WIS, 17 September 1943, IOR L/WS/1/1433/278–281; Army in India Morale Report, August–October 1943, IOR L/WSW/2/71/1–9. 57 Memoir of M.H.O. Hodinott, British Library European Manuscripts, Mss. Eur. F.637 (no numbered pages). 58 Amery to Wavell, 9 August 1944, IOR L/PO/10/21369–379. 59 “Going East: A Serviceman’s Guide to India, Burma, Malaya and Sumatra” (Directorate of Army Education, India, 1945), p. 13; “This India” (Directorate of Army Education, India, 1945). 60 “This India,” p. 16. 61 Draft of Munster’s opening remarks, 27 September 1944, IOR L/I/1/1053. 62 ALFSEA Morale Report for August–October 1943, L/WS/2/71/1–9; Weekly Intelligence Summary, 17 September 1943, IOR L/WS/1/1433/278–281. 63 1st Quarterly Report of AG in India’s Committee on Morale, November 1942–January 1943, IOR L/WS/1/939/141–144; Army in India Morale Report ending 15 July 1943, IOR L/WS/1/939/110–113; “Diary of a Driver in the Royal Artillery” (no author given), 14–17 September 1944, Imperial War Museum (IWM) Misc. 278/Item 3745. 64 G. Muff, MP, to the Times, 26 July 1944.

Military morale in colonial India

191

65 War Office notes on Munster report, 11 August 1944, UKNA WO 203/1246. 66 WIS, 16 June 1944, IOR L/WS/1/1433/499–504. 67 Angela Bolton, The Maturing Sun: An Army Nurse in India, 1942–45 (Barnsley: Pen & Sword, 1986), pp. 66–67. 68 ALFSEA Morale Report for period ending 15 January 1944, IOR L/WS/1/939/79–87. 69 WIS, 15 October 1943, IOR L/WS/1/1433/293–298; see also ALFSEA Morale Report for period ending February 1944, IOR L/WS/1/939/74–78. 70 ALFSEA Morale Report for period ending 31 July 1944, IOR L/WS/1/939/7–32; ALFSEA Morale Report, February–April 1945, IOR L/WS/1/1635/238–262. 71 WIS, 4 August 1944, IOR L/WS/1/1433/553–556. 72 War Cabinet memorandum: “Morale and the War against Japan,” 5 June 1943, UKNA CAB 66/37/32. 73 ALFSEA Morale Report for period ending 31 July 1944, IOR L/WS/1/939/7–32. 74 “Going East,” p. 4. 75 ALFSEA Morale Report, November 1944 – January 1945, IOR L/WS/2/71/40–66. 76 French, Raising Churchill’s Army, p. 154. 77 In Singapore in 1941, “Society women were instructed to ‘adopt’ and entertain troops. This was not a success.” Bayly and Harper, Forgotten Armies, p. 64. 78 M. Sinha, “Britishness, Clubbability, and the Colonial Public Sphere: The Genealogy of an Imperial Institution in Colonial India,” Journal of British Studies 40/4 (October 2001), 489–521. 79 Lieutenant General W. Baker to General R. Lockhart, 24 February 1943, IOR L/ WS/1/1355/42. 80 Extract from War Office observer’s report on tour of overseas commands, October– December 1942, IOR L/WS/1/1355/33; Extract from minutes of 13th meeting of War Office Morale Committee, 26 March 1943, IOR L/WS/1/1355/34. 81 Censorship Control Department weekly report, 3 March 1945, IORL/P&J/12/756/66. 82 “Summary of the Voluntary War Effort in Bombay Province” (1941), British Library European Manuscripts, Mss. Eur. F.253/22. 83 Margaret Hunt to her parents, 3 March 1942 and 4 July 1942, British Library European Manuscripts, Mss. Eur. F.241. 84 Shinwell to Amery, 14 January 1943, enclosing soldier’s letter of 9 September 1942, IOR L/WS/1/1355/52–53. 85 Amery to Shinwell, 20 January 1943, IOR L/WS/1/1355/48. 86 Wavell to Linlithgow, 9 March 1943, IOR L/WS/1/1355/39. 87 Extract of article from “The Star,” 9 December 1943, IOR L/I/1/1053. 88 See correspondence of Margaret Martyn, wife of ICS officer P.D. Martyn, in British Library, European Manuscripts, Mss. Eur. F.376/37. 89 Examples include Report on Morale by Adjutant-General in India, 5 April 1943, IOR L/I/1/1053; WIS, 7 January 1944, IOR L/WS/1/1433/358–362. 90 ‘ALFSEA Morale Report August–October 1944’ (December 1944), IOR L/WS/2/ 71/69–82. 91 SEAC, 21 February 1945. 92 Wavell to Amery, 25 January 1944, IOR L/PO/10/21/158–161. 93 Censorship Control department, Weekly report on India, 10 March 1945, IOR L/P&J/ 12/756/71. 94 Censorship Control department, Weekly report on India, 16 February 1945, IOR L/ PJ/12/756/2. 95 D. Atkins, The Reluctant Major (Pulborough: Toat Press, 1986), p. 20. 96 Yasmin Khan, “Sex in an Imperial War Zone: Transnational Encounters in Second World War India,” History Workshop Journal 73 (2012), 241–259. 97 War Department, Government of India to Secretary of State for India, 25 May 1944, IOR L/I/1/1021/27.

192

Andrew Muldoon

98 Munster to Churchill, 20 October 1944, IOR L/PO/4/24/254. 99 Munster to Churchill, 19 October 1944, IOR L/PO/4/24/258. 100 Second Interim Report of the Morale (Far Eastern) Inter-Services Committee, 11 October 1944, UKNA AIR 8/1123. 101 Amery to Wavell, 9 November 1944, IOR L/PO/10/21/484–488. 102 “Points of View of the Armies in India: Collected 1942 to December–1944” (c. May 1945), IOR L/PO/4/24/48–53. 103 WIS, 30 March 1945, IOR L/WS/1/1433/747–758; see also WIS, 26 January 1945, IOR L/WS/1/1433/712–716.

11 Waiting for their ship to come Changing perceptions of the Japanese in postwar Southeast Asia Euan McKay

Introduction This chapter focuses on Japanese troops within the bounds of the British Empire at the end of the Second World War who found themselves denied the protection of international law. Their experience had its roots in Allied planning for the end of the war in Europe and was influenced by the experience of British prisoners of war (POWs) under the Japanese during the war. The Allies initially planned to clear Asia of the Japanese, viewing them as an unfortunate reminder of the fallacy of the myth of white supremacy, but material considerations rendered this policy impossible to implement immediately. By the time they were capable of repatriating the Japanese, British attitudes had changed, and the Japanese had come to be seen as a cheap, compliant labour force. The postwar experience of Japanese troops in SEAC under British control is a little known coda to the end of the war in Asia that should be considered alongside the Japanese treatment of British POWs during the war. While the treatment afforded each group differs in character, they bear many similarities in terms of place and context and are both parts of the broader narrative of the POW experience, perhaps the most common experience of the war.1 As such, their story has something to add to our understanding of the character and motivations of the British Empire during and after the Second World War. The Pacific War disrupted the European empires in Asia, showing them for what they were: corrupt, rotten structures maintained in part by the illusion of racial superiority and force of tradition. As they collapsed in the face of the onslaught of an enemy they had belittled and underestimated, the loss of white prestige in colonial subjects’ eyes was immense, and the Japanese exploited this during the war as they cast themselves at the top of a new Asian racial pyramid. Similarly, the British sought to re-establish white prestige in the aftermath of the war, and for this, the way the war ended was crucial. A glorious return to their colonies would go some of the way towards demonstrating their very effective power in the present and expunging the memory of the Japanese interlude. But a glorious return was unlikely. Restoring the British Empire to its former power and prestige in Asia was far beyond the resources of the virtually

194

Euan McKay

bankrupt state and exhausted armed forces that desired nothing more than to go home. Accelerated demobilisation programmes denied the occupiers the manpower to take over the vast area of South East Asia Command (SEAC) under British control (see Figure 11.1), and a new need to consider political sensitivities in the colonies and organised local opposition meant that Britain could neither access traditional sources of labour nor impose solutions unilaterally. The Americans were keen to keep their hands clean of anything that smacked of imperialism, meaning that Britain had to go it alone, particularly if they were to keep British colonies safe from American trusteeship plans. Even more important was the increased organisation and effectiveness of local opposition to colonialism, nurtured by the Japanese during the years of occupation and empowered by the example of the Japanese victory over the European powers in the early stages of the war. It was also clear from long before the end of the war that British forces would need the support of a large labour force when they returned to Burma and the other colonies if they were to institute a period of military government. Britain had already been planning for these postwar labour needs, and it was thought that between 150,000 and 200,000 men would be needed for Burma alone.2 This manpower, either civilian or an organised military labour force, would need to be found locally or, more probably, imported along with the occupying forces.

Figure 11.1 Boundaries of South East Asia Command. (Mountbatten, 1969: Map 38, following page 282. Crown copyright.)

Waiting for their ship to come

195

In addition, as Supreme Allied Commander, South East Asia (SACSEA), Lord Louis Mountbatten’s orders were to accept the surrender of Japanese troops in SEAC, disarm and repatriate them along with Japanese civilians and to locate and repatriate the Allied POWs and civilians interned by the Japanese.3 There were some 3.7 million Japanese Army, Navy and attached civilians in the Pacific theatre requiring repatriation as of August 1945, in addition to about 3.2 million civilians, almost all in Manchuria, China, Korea and Formosa. The British area of responsibility contained 730,671 Japanese military and associated personnel and 53,171 civilians as of 19 September 1945.4 The British lacked the forces to take over the occupation of Southeast Asia from them, the means to intern them and the ships to repatriate them. However, what was initially perceived as a great risk turned out to be a huge asset, at least in the short term. The Japanese troops proved to be hard-working and reliable, and their value as a labour force became apparent. While interned, the Japanese troops were used for a variety of tasks. Military use included guarding arms and facilities for the British and in some cases even involvement in front-line combat against independence movements. The most common tasks, however, were more mundane, mostly clearing debris and accumulated waste, infrastructure construction including runways, bases and accommodation or working in logistics and transport, particularly to facilitate food distribution. In some areas, Japanese civilians were also formed into working parties. While the value of the Japanese as a labour force could not be ignored, their rights were. As Surrendered Enemy Personnel (SEP, by the British more commonly termed Japanese Surrendered Personnel, JSP), the Japanese troops were not accorded the rights due to POWs under international law. This policy had been designed for application to German troops at the end of the war in Europe but was imported to SEAC for application to the Japanese as well. Supporting this denial of rights was a general feeling throughout the British establishment that the Japanese made the mess so they should clean it up. In addition, given the experience of British POWs under the Japanese, the British felt little need to pamper those very same Japanese now that they were under British control. This mindset denied a portion of the JSP an early repatriation from SEAC at the least and affected their material comfort while waiting for repatriation. Rather than physical violence, the worst aspect of this disregard as experienced by the Japanese troops themselves was psychological: the constant sense of racial discrimination and the uncertainty over their repatriation date.

Imperial prestige Before the start of the war, the British and other imperial powers in Asia (America included) were dismissive of the Japanese ability to wage war against a white power, despite the Japanese victory over the Russian Empire in 1905. The reality was that the Japanese armed forces were well-trained, highly experienced after years of warfare in China and well organised and well equipped,

196

Euan McKay

but British and American racial stereotypes did not permit them to take the Japanese seriously as an enemy.5 Despite some efforts at Singapore, as a result, the British colonies in Asia were largely unprepared for war. This is not to say that there were no warnings regarding Japanese military preparedness. To give one example, the British military attaché in Tokyo visiting Singapore in April 1941 ‘told officers in the garrison there that he regarded the Japanese as a first-class fighting force, well trained, well officered, and possessing high esprit de corps’. Unfortunately his comments were dismissed by the head of Malaya Command, who said, ‘[Y]ou can take it from me that we have nothing to fear from them’.6 This blindness to the ability of the Japanese military forces extended to technical matters too, as Allied planners were unable to comprehend that the Japanese were capable of producing a fighter plane as capable as the Zero or accurately firing the guns on their warships. The Americans were equally unable to conceive of the Japanese as an effective enemy, even to the extent that they were still surprised at the strength of the Japanese defence of Okinawa at the close of the war.7 Given this mindset, the shock of their rout by the Japanese armed forces and the consequent loss of face for the European empires was immense, later exacerbated by the Japanese demeaning of white POWs in front of local peoples throughout Asia to demonstrate the racial superiority of the Japanese.8 Of course, many colonised peoples were happy to see the Europeans kicked out, although as time went on many came to appreciate that they had merely changed one oppressor for another. While many individuals in the lower ranks of the Imperial Japanese Army (IJA) clearly believed that they were fighting for the best interests of Southeast Asians, those who designed the Greater East Asia Co-prosperity Sphere being imposed by the Japanese were clearly working on a different agenda.9 As a result, the British saw it as vital that they should return to their former colonies in Southeast Asia with the maximum possible show of power to restore British and white prestige in the eyes of local peoples. Singapore, as the linchpin of the Empire in Southeast Asia, should in particular be the stage for a grand display of the British Empire’s undiminished might. It was also intended that such a re-entry would impress on the Japanese forces in the area the image of overwhelming British military power and ensure a surrender, particularly in Malaya, of large forces that had yet to face combat.10 However, lack of material and manpower resources conspired against the British in these aspirations.

Surrender denied, status denied Similar concerns over availability of resources for maintaining large numbers of surrendering forces had also been the subject of Allied discussions regarding the end of the war in Europe, the result of which was the creation of the SEP label (or Disarmed Enemy Forces, DEF, in American usage) for application to surrendering Axis troops. A disagreement over the classification of these surrendering troops, between the British and Americans on one side and the Soviets on the other, was holding up discussion in the European Advisory

Waiting for their ship to come

197

Commission (EAC) on the preparation of surrender documents for Germany. A compromise, originating in a specialist subcommittee and suggested to the Soviets by both the British and American members of the EAC, was agreed upon: surrendering troops could be classified as either POWs or SEP at the discretion of the theatre commander. In this way, the western Allies could classify the Axis troops as SEP, while the Soviets were free to classify them as POWs. Soviet intentions here were moot, but, not being a signatory to the Geneva Conventions, the USSR would not be bound by its regulations. The British and American understanding was that they intended to use German troops as labourers under whatever conditions and for as long as they saw fit. For the Western Allies, this also opened up the option of using surrendering Axis troops in roles that would otherwise have been prevented by the Geneva Conventions. The Americans intended to exploit this option in Europe, using German troops for mine clearance.11 Documents for surrender and for guiding policy and relations with the Japanese would also be needed for SEAC. Mountbatten was told at the Potsdam Conference in late July that Japan was likely to surrender in mid-August. Mountbatten notified his headquarters in Kandy, Ceylon immediately that they should begin preparations for an early Japanese surrender. At a meeting at HQ SACSEA in Kandy on 10 August 1945, the Deputy Director of Intelligence, Brigadier J. G. Nicholson, because of his experience in the European theatre, was entrusted with the task of drawing up a document to outline action that would be required when the Japanese surrendered.12 The following day, he presented a memorandum on ‘orders for the Japanese land and army air forces’ based explicitly on instructions for German forces surrendering in Europe.13 With slightly modified wording, his proposal was incorporated in the final paper covering treatment of Japanese troops. Surrendering Japanese troops would be classified as SEP and denied the protection of international law, reducing the burden of their upkeep and giving the British a free hand in their use as labour. The attitude in both London and Kandy was that the Japanese should clean up the mess that they had made; this decision ensured that they had the freedom to make them do so.14 The documents being prepared at Kandy were to form the basis of a surrender at Rangoon of Japanese forces in Burma, but these plans were stymied by an order from General Arthur MacArthur (Supreme Commander Allied Powers, SCAP) that no Allied forces were to engage with the Japanese forces and that no local surrenders were to be signed before the main surrender ceremony in Tokyo, an event that was eventually pushed back to 2 September 1945.15 The reason for SCAP’s order was a concern that united the Americans, British and Japanese: that elements of the IJA would continue fighting, as indeed a small number did. In particular, throughout the war the Japanese forces had demonstrated a clear disregard for the rights of POWs, a status that was regarded as degrading and dishonourable.16 It was feared that Japanese troops might not surrender if they were to be classified as POWs. As a result of SCAP’s order, the British had to manage an uneasy coexistence with the Japanese, based on what became ‘discussions’ instead of a surrender

198

Euan McKay

at Rangoon on 27 August 1945. The meeting was between the British and Japanese chiefs of staff, with the Commander of the Japanese Expeditionary Forces, Southern Regions (JEFSR, Nanpōgun), Count Terauchi Hisaichi, sending his Chief of Staff Lieutenant General Numata Takazō to negotiate with Mountbatten’s Chief of Staff, Lieutenant General Sir Frederick Browning. (See Figure 11.2.) In fact, Terauchi had requested through Numata that Japanese troops be categorised as something other than the despised POW status to ensure their surrender, but any discussion that might be seen as negotiation of terms was blocked. The reality was that the British had already decided on their course of action.17 The agreement signed at Rangoon lasted until the formal surrender in Singapore on 12 September, nearly a full month after the conclusion of hostilities. The surrendering Japanese troops were to be categorised as SEP, a category

Figure 11.2 Senior British commanders in Burma meet their Japanese counterparts at a conference in Rangoon to discuss British strategy and tactics employed during the Burma Campaign. (© IWM [SE 6749].)

Waiting for their ship to come

199

that did not exist in international law and consequently denied them any form of protection that they would have received as POWs. While former JSP report being pleased at first, over time they became aware that this categorisation was not in their favour.18

A risk and a liability Britain was a nation tired of war by the time the conflict in Europe, let alone Asia, was over. The government exchequer was empty, the Lend-Lease lifeline was suddenly cut and a huge command needed to be occupied. HQ SACSEA had at its disposal limited forces and shipping, both of which were being whittled down by demobilisation plans expedited by political, not military considerations. Except for Burma, large areas of which the British had retaken with American and Chinese help, and areas occupied by Australian forces that had been fighting under MacArthur’s South West Pacific Command (SWPC), most of this area was occupied by the Japanese. The Americans wanted to avoid getting involved in European colonial affairs and to disentangle themselves from Southeast Asia, while the Australian Government announced that it intended to withdraw its occupation force from Borneo, catering to domestic pressure to bring troops home.19 At the same time, there were huge demands on these limited and diminishing British resources. The British were due to take over large areas of Southeast Asia from the Japanese Army but were effectively unable to do so. Until the surrender, the British had no choice but to rely on the Japanese, who were ordered to maintain law and order, provide what relief they could for Allied POWs and civilian internees and to concentrate these Allied personnel and their own troops in readiness for evacuation. To varying degrees they did so, in many cases leaving a power vacuum, in which the situation worsened considerably, particularly in French Indochina (FIC) and the Netherlands East Indies (NEI). In FIC, the Viet Minh had established effective control of the major cities, and Indonesia had declared independence, while in some areas the Japanese troops handed over weapons to local pro-independence groups and interned themselves, ready for repatriation.20 Both the British and the Americans wanted to get the Japanese back to Japan as soon as possible, the former to remove a persistent reminder for colonised peoples that the British could be defeated and by an Asian race at that.21 Additionally, the British felt that maintaining large numbers of Japanese troops in SEAC and Hong Kong was a security risk.22 The initial directive to SCAP and SACSEA required both to make use of Japanese shipping in the theatre for repatriation of Japanese troops, but this was very limited. Given the number of JSP in SEAC, repatriation using just this shipping would have taken about five years. Adding in the extra Japanese shipping in Southeast Asia under SCAP’s control, which SCAP was willing to hand over to the British, repatriation would still take three years to complete. In addition, much of this was Allied or private shipping seized by the Japanese during the war and was being returned to its owners.23

200

Euan McKay

As a result, it was clear that the JSP would be spending a considerable amount of time in SEAC. The Japanese, Formosans and Koreans were inspected and screened for war criminals and concentrated into camps throughout SEAC ‘suitably situated for their maintenance and security’. Both the British and Japanese wanted to reduce contact between each others’ troops as much as possible. In Burma, Siam, South FIC, Borneo and north-west New Guinea, troops were concentrated in-country, and in other cases, particularly the outer islands of the NEI, troops and civilians were moved by sea to concentration areas. In Operation EXODUS, those in the Andamans and Nicobar Islands, Malaya, Sumatra and Java were also moved by sea. In the case of the latter, JSP and civilians were concentrated on Gallang Island, chosen from among several alternatives considered, while the remainder were concentrated on nearby Rempang Island. (See Figure 11.3.) These islands of the Riouw Archipelago

Figure 11.3 Japanese prisoners of war prepare for their journey from Singapore to Rempang Island. (© IWM [SE 5405].)

Waiting for their ship to come

201

and others in the Lingga Archipelago were chosen for their convenient location, the availability of arable land for self subsistence and because only a few local people would have to be moved to make way for the Japanese.24 Other major areas of concentration included Saigon, Thudaumot and Phnompenh in the FIC; Chiengmai, Lampang and Bampong in Siam; and Batavia, Buitenzorg, Bandung and Garut in the NEI.25 As the British were scrabbling for repatriation shipping to clear SEAC of Japanese, Lieutenant General C. H. Gairdner, SACSEA’s representative with SCAP in Tokyo, reported in January 1946 that the Americans were planning to use the mass-produced Liberty ships to repatriate all JSP from their areas by August 1946.26 The Chiefs of Staff considered this ‘unacceptable’ and ‘unjust’27 and requested that a personal approach be made to SCAP for shipping for SEAC as well.28 The personal approach did not work but may have opened up the road to a solution. SCAP stated that his responsibility outside his own theatre was limited to coordinating with other theatre commanders and suggested that the British place extra shipping at SACSEA’s disposal. However, all existing shipping in SEAC was tied up with demobilisation, RAPWI (Repatriation of Allied Prisoners of War and Internees) and trade, and as shipping was freed up, it was being reallocated to other tasks in other theatres. More shipping could not be provided without prejudicing British trade, and, given the importance to Britain of earning US dollars by exporting Malayan tin and rubber and a looming food crisis in Asia, this was considered impossible.29 The British also had to deal with other demands on their resources. The Dutch, French and Australians wanted shipping to evacuate large numbers of JSP in their areas. Consequently, in March 1946, the British decided to go cap in hand to the US Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) for assistance. It was requested that sixty-five Liberties be allocated to SACSEA and charged to the Japanese Government. The Joint Chiefs expressed their sympathy with the British situation, stating that the ships were available but that they could only offer them at a cost of 2,200 US dollars per day or by special sanction from Congress, which would take months. But now SCAP informed the US War Department that he could complete the entire operation with the resources he had at his disposal by the end of the year, provided he was given overall responsibility for the repatriation process in all zones. The US offered the ships at War Department rates of 200 US dollars per day plus fuel, to be paid initially by the British but then recovered from the Japanese Government.30 The British sought to avoid this payment, as the Chinese were not being charged for repatriation. However, it was decided that speed was more important, both to reduce maintenance costs and to accelerate JSP repatriation so that British troops could be demobilised. The Treasury agreed to cover the cost in the interim, estimated to be some 1.8 million US dollars, and the American offer was accepted on 15 April 1946. Three days later, SACSEA sent the Cabinet Offices a plan, Operation NIPOFF, to repatriate the JSP from SEAC in two lifts, removing the bulk by October 1946.31 But not all the JSP were to be repatriated at this time.

202

Euan McKay

From liability to asset SACSEA’s principal duties in SEAC were to disarm and repatriate the Japanese forces in Southeast Asia and to locate and repatriate Allied POWs and civilian internees,32 a task for which SEAC was vastly undermanned. In the delay between surrender and repatriation and in addition to the use of JSP under arms to maintain law and order, the JSP were also used as a labour force throughout the colonies, often in places where they would be seen by locals in order to re-establish British superiority. Another purpose was that ‘[t]hey should be made to realise that Japan has suffered a great military defeat. Their employment on heavy manual labour seems most likely to achieve this end’.33 Aida Yuji was interned as a JSP in Burma from the end of the war. He writes in his memoir of his experiences that ‘[a]t the beginning – perhaps to “teach us a lesson” – we had to carry out tasks which were in the nature of reprisals; but from about the spring of 1946 the British became more interested in our efficiency as a labour force, and our rations were increased’.34 This mirrors the change in British policy that unfolded over the first six months after the end of the war. But changing political sensitivities in the colonies meant that the British Military Administrations in SEAC were no longer able to access traditional sources of labour as they had before the war. In Burma and Malaya, political considerations made it difficult to import labour from India to the former and from China to the latter. The economic success of the Chinese and Indians in Malaya and Burma, as well as the excesses of communist Chinese groups in the immediate aftermath of the war, ensured that Burmese and Malay leaders opposed any plans to import more labour that, particularly in Malaya, might shift the demographic balance to the disadvantage of the indigenous population.35 In addition, the Japanese had nurtured the seeds of nationalism throughout the region, and this was now bearing fruit. The British were forced to rearm Japanese troops and use them in various roles throughout SEAC, including in the FIC and NEI in particular.36 This practice continued until well into 1946 – at the time that Mountbatten was relieved of his responsibilities as SACSEA so that he could become Viceroy of India; there were still 64,000 JSP under arms, although 25,000 of these were in areas under Indonesian control.37 As a result of this increased nationalism, reduced security and organised resistance to colonialism, intimidation of workers by ‘extremist elements’ was a problem.38 The use of Japanese troops as a replacement for local labour was considered from an early stage, but lack of accommodation precluded their employment at that point.39 However, by April 1946, Japanese troops in SEAC were reported to be fully employed.40 Initially, the British had perceived the Japanese as a malign influence to be removed as soon as possible. However, as they worked with them, they came to appreciate that the JSP were a hard-working, compliant, skilled labour force. This perception was not to work in the favour of the Japanese.

Waiting for their ship to come

203

‘Labour for food production’ At a February 1946 meeting of the Cabinet discussing world food supplies, attended by the Prime Minister and Lord Killearn, who had just been appointed Special Commissioner for South East Asia charged with improving food production and transport, it was suggested that SEAC troops and Japanese prisoners in Siam, the only country with significant stocks of rice, might be used to improve internal transport and help get rice to market.41 This idea was conveyed to SACSEA.42 At a preliminary food conference to establish regional cooperation and avert an Asia-wide famine, organised by Killearn in Singapore from 26 to 28 March 1946, recommendations concerning measures to improve transportation included the use of 5,000 JSP in dock work in Burma,43 and the preparatory documents indicated that on 14 January a Food Production Board had been set up in Malaya to improve food production. Projects included the use of JSP working parties to improve draining and irrigation and sea defences for agricultural land over a period of four months.44 Discussions at the preliminary conference reiterated the need for 5,000 JSP in Burma for dock work and added another 5,000 JSP for maintaining railways in Siam.45 At the main Singapore food conference from 15 to 17 April 1946, the Cabinet food committee suggestion resurfaced. Committee 1 considered means of increasing production of rice and other foodstuffs and maximising collection. Its terms of reference already included ‘the use of Japanese labour’ under ‘Labour for food production’. During the discussion, however, it was ‘generally agreed that Japanese labour was already fully employed but was liable to be repatriated in the near future’. The discussion on Malaya and Singapore in Committee 5, on assistance to be provided by the armed forces to civil governments, showed that JSP were already in use for cleaning and dock work. Allied Land Forces, South East Asia (ALFSEA) were intending to retain a brigade of JSP on Singapore Island, and the area naval command wanted to retain technicians until the last possible minute.46 Thus throughout the conference, there was an awareness that JSP were being used and could be used in relation to food production, but the main problem was that they were to be repatriated in the near future. There was a clear desire to exploit JSP labour for as long as possible. The obvious solution was to not repatriate the JSP, and this was what Killearn suggested at the end of the conference: to retain 100,000 JSP in SEAC for food production, to be repatriated at the end of 1946 or in early 1947 via British shipping.47 It seems clear that the final decision to retain JSP working parties was born of a multitude of precedents and contributing factors that came to a head at the Singapore food conference. Despite claims that JSP labour was to be used for food production, it was also important for the reconstruction of British power in Southeast Asia. It has already been noted that the Japanese were already being used militarily to support the British reoccupation. Now again, as can be seen in Figure 11.4, twothirds of JSP labour was intended for service use. While some of this work was

204

Euan McKay

40,000 Service use Civil projects 30,000

20,000

10,000

0 Burma

Singapore Colony

Malayan Union

NEI

Siam

Figure 11.4 Proposed service and civil use of JSP working parties.49

indirectly related to food production and distribution, it tended to be construction, often of base accommodation to permit British troops to evacuate from civilian properties occupied at the end of the war. In a later justification of JSP retention into 1947, plans ‘to develop Singapore as the administrative base for all three services in SEAC’ were emphasised. In Burma, there were political objections preventing the extensive use of Indian labour, a traditional source of labour within the British Empire, and local Burmese labour was limited, the ‘output per man being very low’. The Malayan Government and the Colonial Office were concerned also that any delay in developing accommodation and facilities for the services would delay the economic recovery of Singapore, perhaps reducing its future importance as a hub for Southeast Asia trade, and the use of JSP labour on the reconstruction of Changi Airport was vital because a delay might see long-distance air travel choose a different regional air hub. Through Killearn, the Foreign Office was discussing selling the Burma-Siam railway to the Thai Government, so 7,000 JSP maintaining the Burma-Siam railway and others operating the port at Bangkok were essential. The Dutch also requested JSP, as they could not get local labour to cooperate in the face of opposition from anti-colonial groups.48 There was more than enough demand; it was just a case of ensuring supply. However, with SCAP now in charge of repatriation shipping for the whole of Asia, the British felt that they needed at least tacit American agreement to the retention of working parties. SCAP’s agreement was initially obtained at a meeting between acting SACSEA (Lieutenant General Sir Montagu Stopford) and MacArthur in Tokyo on 27 June 1946.50 The Americans were also using the Japanese troops to the fullest. The American commander of Allied Forces Western Pacific (AFWESPAC) had stated that he wanted to ‘see these prisoners work like p___ ants’, and as noted, MacArthur was implementing the same policy as the British with regard to status and employment. At peak, American forces were using 80,000 Japanese

Waiting for their ship to come

205

prisoners in the Philippines. Their utility to American forces saw repatriation suspended for the first quarter of 1946 and delayed where possible. Requests were also made for their retention into 1947, but SCAP announced in August 1946 that all JSP would be repatriated by the end of the year.51 The US War Department was approached about providing a shipping lift for the repatriation of JSP at the same rates ‘when required’. It replied that this would be impossible, as shipping controlled by SCAP for the purposes of repatriation was being ‘progressively released’ as tasks were completed. The retention of JSP would also inconvenience SCAP, prolonging his repatriation task.52 At the same time, the British also faced complications in the Far Eastern Commission (FEC). The Americans were trying to pressure the Soviets to return the Japanese troops in their hands, and British actions were an obstacle. Additionally, the Soviets were pressing for acceptance of a policy document stating ‘that all Japanese armed forces located in Burma, British Malaya, N.E.I. and Siam shall be returned to Japan proper as promptly as transportation facilities will permit’. The British were resisting this and, as the New Zealand and Canadian Governments had no idea of British plans to retain JSP, were supporting the Soviet position.53 The repatriation lifts provided by SCAP completed the bulk of the JSP repatriation by the end of October.54 SCAP made last-minute offers of extra shipping to complete repatriation by the end of 1946, but these were refused.55 The British pushed ahead with their plans to retain 104,500 JSP into 1947, including 13,500 for the Dutch. SCAP was informed of the British decision, and when he heard that British shipping would be used, appeared to wash his hands of the matter. He denied that the matter would cause any further problems in dealing with the Soviets but felt that it would reflect badly on the British in the future.56 There were other last-minute attempts to extend the stay of the JSP in SEAC. Instead of repatriating the JSP from early 1947, questions were being raised over delaying completion. The Colonial Office and War Office wanted JSP labour until the end of 1947 and contemplated their use in 1948. However, the Foreign Office, which was concerned with the promises it had made to the US, refused to contemplate a further extension beyond 31 December 1947. The Ministry of Transport could repatriate only 15,000 per month at most. It seems that SCAP was also still concerned. He made a final offer of shipping to repatriate all JSP by 1 June 1947, which was refused on grounds of cost.57 In the end, the Foreign Office won. The JSP were sent home by the end of the year, replaced in part by a militarised labour force from Ceylon, and apart from the Japanese prisoners retained as war criminals, all Japanese troops were withdrawn from SEAC.

Conclusions Initial plans to repatriate Japanese troops from across Asia were rendered unrealistic from the start by the lack of shipping in the theatre. The US overcame

206

Euan McKay

this bottleneck in the early months of 1946 by making available the massproduced Liberty ships and landing ships, tank (LSTs) that enabled the rapid removal of Japanese troops and civilians from the Korean peninsula and Chinese mainland. However, division of theatre command between the British and Americans meant that the British had to beg and then to pay for access to those vessels, which were being provided free of charge to the Chinese. While waiting for repatriation to start, the British made full use of the JSP in SEAC. Initially they were used to maintain law and order, which segued into their use under arms in the early stages of the postwar period. Another common task was cleaning up war debris and accumulated trash from years of civil neglect under the Japanese occupation. This latter task placed the JSP in public view while engaged in demeaning work, which served the double purpose of enabling the British to drive home to the Japanese troops the magnitude of their defeat while reasserting the image of white racial superiority in the eyes of local peoples. Once repatriation started, it appears to have gone rapidly and smoothly, but by the time the British came to repatriate the JSP from SEAC, they had discovered that they were a pliant and effective workforce. Facing difficulties in recruiting local labour due to opposition from local independence and communist movements and unable to access prewar external sources of labour, the JSP suddenly became a valuable source of manpower. The US also found that JSP labour was highly useful in the Philippines, and local commanders requested their long-term retention, which was denied. The British, however, overcame US objections and made use of Japanese troops until the end of 1947. Similarly, significant numbers of Japanese troops, particularly specialists, remained in China for some years after the end of the war. There a general feeling throughout the British Government and military that the Japanese made the mess resulting from the war, so they should clean it up. In addition, given the experience of British POWs under the Japanese, the British felt little need to pamper those very same Japanese now that they were under British control. In contrast to the treatment of Allied POWs under the Japanese, however, the worst aspect of their treatment as experienced by the JSP was psychological: the constant sense of racial discrimination and the uncertainty over their repatriation date. This latter led to a drop in morale and increasing acts of sabotage in the workplace, reducing the value of the JSP as a workforce and contributing to their eventual repatriation. Japanese treatment of Allied POWs during the war provided a sense of moral outrage that covered up the questionable legality of British actions towards the JSP, but their categorisation and retention were purely British decisions, implemented with little regard for the rights of the Japanese troops. As such, the JSP had no one but the British to blame for their situation while waiting for their ship to come.

Waiting for their ship to come

207

Acknowledgements The author thanks Professor Kibata Yoichi and Associate Professor Koizumi Tatsuya for their helpful comments on an earlier draft of this chapter. Responsibility for all errors and omissions remains with the author.

Notes 1 Moore, Bob, and Fedorowich, Kent. “Prisoners of War in the Second World War: An Overview.” In Prisoners of War and Their Captors in World War II, edited by Bob Moore and Kent Fedorowich, 1–17 (Oxford: Berg, 1996). 2 Donnison, Frank S.V. British Military Administration in the Far East 1943–46 (London: H.M. Stationary Office, 1956), 316–317. 3 Dennis, Peter. Troubled Days of Peace: Mountbatten and South East Asia Command, 1945–46 (New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1987), 21. 4 Watt, Lori. When Empire Comes Home: Repatriation and Reintegration in Postwar Japan (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2009), 2; Mountbatten, Louis. Post Surrender Tasks: Section E of the Report to the Combined Chiefs of Staff (London: H.M. Stationary Office, 1969), 282; Hamai, Kazufumi (ed). Kōseishō Hikiage Engokyoku Shiryōshitsu, Nanpōgun Fukuinshi: Fukuin Kankei Shiryō Shūsei Dai 6-Kan [Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare Repatriation Support Bureau Historical Office, History of the Demobilisation of the Japanese Southern Army. Vol. 6: Documents Concerning Repatriation] (Tokyo: Yumani Shobo, 2010), 249–256; Koseisho shakai engokyoku. Engo 50-nen shi [A fifty-year History of Aid] (Tokyo: Gyōsei, 1997), 144–146. 5 For racial attitudes towards Japanese, see Dower, John W. War without Mercy: Race and Power in the Pacific War (New York: Pantheon, 1986), 77ff. 6 Dower, War without Mercy, 100. 7 Ibid., 104–106. 8 Kinvig, Clifford. “Allied POWs and the Burma-Thailand Railway.” In Japanese Prisoners of War, edited by Philip Towle, Margaret Kosuge and Yoichi Kibata, 37–57 (London: Hambledon and London, 2000). 9 Dower, War without Mercy, 285–286. 10 Dennis, Troubled Days of Peace, 10–12. 11 For the development of this discussion and the reasons for this classification, see Villa, Brian Loring. “The Diplomatic and Political Context of the POW Camps Tragedy.” In Eisenhower and the German PO Ws: Facts against Falsehood, edited by Günter Bischof and Stephen E. Ambrose, 52–77, particularly 57–63 (Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1992). In relation to the JSP, also see Connor, Stephen. “Side-Stepping Geneva: Japanese Troops under British Control, 1945–7.” Journal of Contemporary History 45, no. 2 (2010): 389–405, although see also note 17. 12 WO 203/4422. Minutes of a meeting held by the DCOS in the COS room at 1045 hours on Friday, 10 August 1945, at HQ SACSEA, Kandy, 12 August 1945. 13 WO 203/4422. Aide Memoire on Japanese Capitulation, Annex A: Orders for the Japanese Land and Army Air Forces. 14 Dennis, Troubled Days of Peace, 10–11; WO 203/4422. Minutes of a meeting held by the DCOS in the COS room at 1045 hours on Friday, 10 August 1945, at HQ SACSEA, Kandy, 12 August 1945. 15 Dennis, Troubled Days of Peace, 12–13. 16 Towle, Philip, Kosuge, Margaret, and Kibata, Yoichi (eds). Japanese Prisoners of War (London: Hambledon and London, 2000), xv. 17 WO 203/2628. Second Plenary Meeting with Japanese Delegation, Minutes, 27 August 1945. It was generally thought that the JSP category was ‘self-inflicted’ and proposed to the British by the Japanese (see, e.g., Connor, “Side-Stepping Geneva”, 390, 396).

208

Euan McKay

18 Interviews with Oba Sadao, 11 August 2004; Magota Ryohei, Tawara Nobukazu and Morohoshi Tatsuya, 23 April 2004; Orihashi Haruyasu, 22 June 2006. 19 Kirby, S. Woodburn. The War against Japan: Volume V, The Surrender of Japan (London: H.M. Stationary Office, 1969), 231; Dennis, Troubled Days of Peace, 14–21. 20 Dennis, Troubled Days of Peace, 12–13, 24–25, 81. 21 This is in contrast with Soviet plans for long-term retention of Japanese troops, which is suggested by their recruitment of an editor and procurement of printing presses to produce a camp newspaper for indoctrination of interned Japanese at the end of August 1945, even before the surrender ceremony in Tokyo. Nihon Shimbun Furoku [ Japan News Supplement] (Tokyo: Asahi Shinbunsha, 1991), 3: interview with editor Ivan Ivanovich Kovalenko. 22 CO 958/156/3. EIPS541, Goodfellow (FO EIPS) to Gent (CO), 22 November 1945. 23 CAB 105/162. SEACOS 596 SACSEA to Cabinet Offices 28 December 1945. SCAP’s motives were not entirely pure: he prioritised shipping from the Philippines to SEAC so that US forces could enjoy the use of their JSP for longer. Lewis, George G., and Mewha, John. Department of the Army Pamphlet No. 20–213: History of Prisoner of War Utilization by the United States Army 1776–1945 (Washington, DC: Department of the Army, 1955), 259–260. 24 CAB 44/241. Administrative Narrative, 1945–1946. Earlier, the Japanese themselves had requested that they be permitted to relocate as many of their troops as possible to the Riouw Archipelago (but to different islands) at a meeting on the HMS Sussex in Singapore, and this may have been the source of the idea that became Operation EXODUS. WO 203/4422. Verbatim report of meeting on the HMS Sussex, 4 September 1945. 25 FO 371/54404. Progress as of 1945/12/16. 26 CO 537/1257. GAIR 13, British Staff Section Tokyo (Gairdner) to Cabinet Offices, 5 January 1946. 27 CO 537/1257. RIAG 12, Cabinet Offices to British Staff Section Tokyo (Gairdner), 14 January 1946. 28 CO 537/1257. JP(46)1, 10 January 1946. 29 MT 40/128. 15 March 1946 Director of Sea Transport to BMSM, BAD Washington. 30 MT 40/128. JSM Washington to Cabinet Offices 21 March 1946. 31 MT 40/128. F 4608/195/23 26 March 1946 Bevin (Secretary of State) to Ismay (Chief of Staff ); MT 40/128. Dunnett (T) to Jenkins (WO) 30 March 1946; MT 40/128. COS(W)282 Cabinet Offices to JSM Washington 15 April 1946. 32 Dennis, Troubled Days of Peace, 21. 33 CO 537/1257. JP(46)1, 10 January 1946. 34 Aida, Yuji. Prisoner of the British: A Japanese Soldier’s Experiences in Burma, trans. Ishiguro, Hide, and Allen, Louis (London: Cresset Press, 1966), 27. 35 Regarding Malaya, CO 537/2493. Minute, H.T. Bourdillon, 30 January 1947; Goto, Ken’ichi. Tensions of Empire: Japan & Southeast Asia in the Colonial & Postcolonial World, edited by Paul H Kratoska, 223 (Athens: Ohio University Press, 2003). For Burma, Donnison, British Military Administration, 315–317. 36 Hughes, Geraint. “A ‘Post-War’ War: The British Occupation of French-Indochina, September 1945–March 1946.” Small Wars and Insurgencies 17, no. 3 (2006): 263–286. McMillan, Richard. The British Occupation of Indonesia 1945–1946: Britain, the Netherlands and the Indonesian Revolution (London: Routledge, 2006). Roadnight, Andrew. “Sleeping with the Enemy: Britain, Japanese Troops and the Netherlands East Indies, 1945–1946.” History 87, no. 286 (2002): 246–268. 37 Dennis, Troubled Days of Peace, 227. 38 WO 203/2708. L2/608, Weekly labour report, 16 November 1945. 39 WO 203/2708. L2/680, Weekly labour report, 24 November 1945. 40 FO 371/53865. April Conference on Food Minutes, 16 April 1946. 41 FO 371/53841. Extract from WFS(46) Third Meeting: Food Supplies, 19 February 1946. 42 FO 371/53843. SEAF(46) Cabinet Official Committee on South East Asia, Third meeting, 25 February 1946.

Waiting for their ship to come 43 44 45 46 47 48 49 50 51 52 53 54 55 56 57

209

FO 371/53851. No 75, Killearn to Foreign Office, 1 April 1946. FO 371/53855. British Military Administration (Malaya), 23 March 1946. FO 371/53857. Minutes of subcommittee 1, 27 March 1946. FO 371/53865. April Conference on Food Minutes, 16 April 1946. CAB 105/163. SEACOS 684 SACSEA to Cabinet Offices, 18 April 1946. CAB 119/206. JAP(46)52 Chiefs of Staff Committee, Joint Administrative Planning Staff, 27 August 1946; CO 537/1257. Minutes, 11 September 1946. WO 203/ 6241. Special Commissioner South East Asia to Foreign Office, 11 September 1946. FO 371/54243. SEACOS 721 SACSEA to Cabinet Offices, 29 June 1946. Lewis and Mewha, History of Prisoner of War Utilization, 253–260. CAB 119/206. COS(W)293, Cabinet Offices for JSM Washington, 13 May 1946; JSM313, JSM Washington for Cabinet Offices, 28 August 1946. CAB 119/206. JAP(46)52 Chiefs of Staff Committee, Joint Administrative Planning Staff, 27 August 1946; CO 537/1258. No. 6401, Lord Inverchapel (JSM Washington) to FO, 2 November 1946. WO 203/6054. Japanese Korean Formosan Repat statistics for 1 November 46, 7 November 1946. CAB 122/1183. JSM 332, JSM Washington to Cabinet Offices, 12 October 1946. CO 537/1258. No.1320, Gascoigne (UKLM Tokyo) to FO, 8 November 1946. CO 537/2493. SEACOS 809, SEALF to Ministry of Defence, 31 January 1947.

References Aida, Yuji. Prisoner of the British: A Japanese Soldier’s Experiences in Burma, trans. Ishiguro, Hide and Allen, Louis, London: Cresset Press, 1966. Connor, Stephen. “Side-Stepping Geneva: Japanese Troops under British Control, 1945–7.” Journal of Contemporary History 45, no. 2 (2010): 389–405. Dennis, Peter. Troubled Days of Peace: Mountbatten and South East Asia Command, 1945–46, New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1987. Donnison, Frank S.V. Civil Affairs and Military Government: Central Organization and Planning, London: HMSO, 1966. Dower, John W. War without Mercy: Race and Power in the Pacific War, New York: Pantheon, 1986. Hamai, Kazufumi (ed). Kōseishō Hikiage Engokyoku Shiryōshitsu, Nanpōgun Fukuinshi: Fukuin Kankei Shiryō Shūsei Dai 6-Kan [Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare Repatriation Support Bureau Historical Office, History of the Demobilisation of the Japanese Southern Army. Vol. 6: Documents Concerning Repatriation], Tokyo: Yumani Shobo, 2010. Hughes, Geraint. “A ‘Post-War’ War: The British Occupation of French-Indochina, September 1945–March 1946.” Small Wars and Insurgencies 17, no. 3 (2006): 263–286. Kinvig, Clifford. “Allied POWs and the Burma-Thailand Railway.” In Japanese Prisoners of War, edited by Philip Towle, Margaret Kosuge and Yoichi Kibata, 37–57, London: Hambledon and London, 2000. Kirby, S. Woodburn. The War against Japan: Volume V, The Surrender of Japan, London: H.M. Stationery Office, 1969. Kōseishō shakai engokyoku. Engo 50-nen shi [A Fifty-Year History of Aid ], Tokyo: Gyōsei, 1997. Lewis, George G., and Mewha, John. Department of the Army Pamphlet No. 20–213: History of Prisoner of War Utilization by the United States Army 1776–1945, Washington, DC: Department of the Army, 1955. McMillan, Richard. The British Occupation of Indonesia 1945–1946: Britain, the Netherlands and the Indonesian Revolution, London: Routledge, 2006.

210

Euan McKay

Moore, Bob, and Fedorowich, Kent. “Prisoners of War in the Second World War: An Overview.” In Prisoners of War and Their Captors in World War II, edited by Bob Moore and Kent Fedorowich, 1–17, Oxford: Berg, 1996. Mountbatten, Louis. Post Surrender Tasks: Section E of the Report to the Combined Chiefs of Staff, London: HMSO, 1969. Nihon Shimbun Furoku [ Japan News Supplement ], Tokyo: Asahi Shinbunsha, 1991. Roadnight, Andrew. “Sleeping with the Enemy: Britain, Japanese Troops and the Netherlands East Indies, 1945–1946.” History 87, no. 286 (2002): 246–268. Towle, Philip, Kosuge, Margaret, and Kibata, Yoichi (eds). Japanese Prisoners of War, London: Hambledon and London, 2000. Villa, Brian Loring. “The Diplomatic and Political Context of the POW Camps Tragedy.” In Eisenhower and the German POWs: Facts against Falsehood, edited by Günter Bischof and Stephen E. Ambrose, 52–77, Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1992. Watt, Lori. When Empire Comes Home: Repatriation and Reintegration in Postwar Japan, Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2009.

12 Remembrance Day, the colonial press and ‘deserving ex-servicemen’ in late-colonial Nigeria Oliver Coates

In order to understand official commemoration in postwar Nigeria, we need to examine the way it obscured the plight of the ex-servicemen who had fought for Britain during the Second World War. We should abandon the surprisingly common assumption that commemoration was apolitical and benevolent and instead situate it within the profoundly unequal relationship between the late-colonial state and its subjects. This chapter will show how both government and press efforts to popularise commemoration relied upon the emergent romance of the ‘deserving ex-serviceman’ and, in doing so, effaced the very real material challenges that ex-servicemen faced. By identifying the deserving ex-serviceman as a trope within official and journalistic discourse and charting its use, this chapter will argue that this narrow and depoliticised understanding of ex-servicemen became hegemonic in official propaganda and colonial press reporting focused on Remembrance Day. While seemingly benevolent, it both naturalised government inaction regarding ex-servicemen and suggested that such men were either dead or otherwise locked in a spiral of suffering over which they had little control. The ex-serviceman was often ‘named’ in official notices and newspaper articles about commemoration, but he appeared in a way that obscured the predicament of most veterans. Work on war graves has highlighted the silencing of African soldiers who were never listed on official war memorials; these men were not deemed to be legitimate objects of commemoration in the British Empire (see Barrett’s works of 2009, 2011 and 2014). This politics of selective commemoration and mourning has broad implications for our understanding of colonial commemoration. Commemoration, as much as mourning, involves making decisions about, ‘Who counts as human? Whose lives count as lives? And, finally, what makes for a grievable life?’ (see Butler’s works of 2002 and 2006). Although commemoration is often understood as a public process, whereas mourning is constructed as private, both suffer from the fact that ‘many people think that grief is privatizing, that it returns us to a solitary situation and is, in that sense, depoliticizing’ (Butler 2006, 22). Making grief private in this way and fixing commemoration as apolitical mean that we foreclose on the reality that ‘one mourns when one accepts that by loss one undergoes one will be changed, possibly forever’ (Butler 2006, 21).

212

Oliver Coates

Although these observations are made in the present tense, they could very well describe the selective and strategic discourse of commemoration in colonial Africa: these states most certainly did not want to ‘be changed, possible forever’ by the ‘sacrifices’ of veterans. This chapter will begin with a survey of war commemoration and transnational memory in relation to colonial Africa. Following this, it will provide a very brief context to commemoration and the position of ex-servicemen in Nigeria. It will then show how the colonial government tried hard to explain Remembrance Day to Africans and, in doing so, returned repeatedly to focus on a stereotype of the passive and needy veteran. Following the lead of one West African Pilot editorial, I will refer to this stereotyped veteran as the deserving ex-serviceman. Next I will turn to two colonial-era newspapers and demonstrate how the figure of the deserving ex-serviceman dominated press coverage of Remembrance Day, often in a politically neutralising way. We will see how the deserving ex-serviceman became a hegemonic construct in such journalism. Finally, we will contrast the popularity of the deserving ex-serviceman in coverage of Remembrance Day, with a brief exploration of veterans’ own statements in the press made on occasions unconnected with Remembrance Day.

Commemoration, transnational memory and hegemony: rethinking Remembrance in colonial Africa In the colonial world, commemoration was shaped by profoundly unequal structures of power. The stratified nature of colonial societies, coupled with the lack of any serious connection between the state (and hence commemoration) and African societies and political cultures, combine to make the study of Second World War commemoration in Africa very different from its European and North American counterparts. The implications of this have rarely been explicitly considered. The context of colonial societies seriously challenges some of the core insights of studies of European war commemoration. In the recent past, these have stressed the ways in which war memorials formed ‘sites of memory’ that were both defined by the nation state and open to local contestation (see Nora 1992; Laqueur; Ashplant; Goebel; Ziemann). They place considerable emphasis on the nation state as a shaping force, determining the meaning of monuments, cenotaphs or cemeteries in relation to national memory (see Winter 1995). From this perspective, ‘rituals of integration and unity’ played a key role in the inauguration of Armistice Day, while cemeteries ‘materialized . . . public recognition’ (Gregory). Ultimately, ‘the reorganization of space’ in such monuments became ‘an instrument for the shaping of collective memory’ (Murray). Work that challenges the importance of the nation state in European commemoration instead emphasises the close links between commemoration and regional or local priorities. Winter (2006, 150–151) argues that ‘the national framework . . . was but a thin cover over a history of associative forms arduously constructed over years by thousands of people’.

‘Deserving ex-servicemen’ in late-colonial Nigeria

213

More relevant to colonial societies is the more recent literature on historical memory. This has examined the way in which a vast array of actors have presented their own memories within the framework of liberal multicultural Western democracies. This has led to an ‘explosion,’ or ‘effervescence,’ of competing memories that each attempt to secure official recognition within the contemporary nation state (Nora 2011a, 497; Nora 2011b, 413). In turn, this generates a ‘competitive memory’ that is diverse but that risks becoming exclusive and intolerant, as certain memories are emphasized at the expense of others (Rothberg 3; Lim). What is of particular relevance here is not the politics of how to reconcile these competing memories in the case of democratic societies but rather the account of how memory can become instrumentalised to function in the interest of particular groups of actors within civil society. The instrumental use of memory is, as we will see in this chapter, germane to any understanding of how colonial states orchestrated war commemoration. In studies of transnational memory, we find the hegemonic aspirations of competing memories to be even more apparent. In these cases, metropolitan memory risks being imposed onto the ‘periphery’ and regional commemoration (for instance of the Atlantic slave trade) becomes obscured. The recent past has been instrumentalised to suit ethnopolitical interests, as in relation to the Rwandan genocide or the continuing debates about the Nigerian Civil War (see Mbembe; Werbner; Glover). It is critically important that we acknowledge the hegemonic aspirations of official commemoration. Veterans’ suspicion of commemoration has already been discussed by Gregory Mann (132–133), who argues that we should be particularly wary of the apolitical appearance of commemoration. He found that Malian veterans used ‘tactics such as the boycotting of ceremonies,’ with those in Ouagadougou refusing to lay wreaths at Armistice Day (also known as Poppy Day in British West Africa and Remembrance Sunday after 1946) in order to protest about the non-payment of their pensions (see Gregory 196). Despite its importance, this point is all too often underappreciated. To observe that colonial war commemoration displayed hegemonic aspirations is not to claim that it did in fact succeed in dominating or controlling all commemoration. There are few studies of how government officials constituted war commemoration as a culture in its own right. This would recentre our understanding of commemoration as being more concerned with performing and legitimating colonial power than with marking and remembering events in the war itself. This is of particular urgency because we need to appreciate that the veneer of a bureaucratic, orderly state we observe in press notices and official speeches not only obscured a reality often characterised by disorder and chaos but also attempted to actively distract the reader or spectator from this. A second characteristic of colonial war commemoration makes it very different from its Western counterparts: the struggle over scarce and asymmetrical resources. Commemoration in colonial West Africa was often far more concerned with establishing access to resources than with representing the war

214

Oliver Coates

(through recalling events or personalities connected with it). This struggle for resources was central to social and political life in West Africa both before and during the colonial period (see Bayart 2007, 230; Bayart 2009; Mann 1991, 94). This became only more important in colonial Nigeria as capital transformed ‘significant social relationships into commodity relationships’ (Williams 110). As we shall see in the case of the deserving ex-serviceman and as can be traced far more widely in government resettlement schemes, commemoration took ex-servicemen, rather than the war itself, to be its object. At one level, this was true of Great Britain as well, and veterans paraded during Remembrance Day celebrations and received money from public collections. The major difference is that whereas in Britain Remembrance Day focused on veterans as products of the war or at least recalled the war as well as focusing on veterans, in Nigeria veterans had to be invoked in the absence of any public awareness of, or interest in, the war. There was no audience for commemoration in the sense we find in European history, there was no awareness of what was to be commemorated. War graves and monuments were either neglected or preserved solely for use in state ceremonies (see TNA CO 1032 1, ‘Marking of War Graves, Nigeria’). Instead, the veteran took on the sole burden of representation as the object of colonial war commemoration. Both the government and ex-servicemen agreed that commemoration was about access to resources for veterans. What they disagreed about was who should take responsibility for this reallocation of resources: the public (through philanthropy) or the colonial government (through legislation and grants). These characteristics of colonial war commemoration inform two main assumptions in this chapter. Firstly, that war commemoration was performative and it provided a forum for the colonial state to make claims about itself and its power, no matter how baseless. Secondly, that commemoration cannot be separated from the history of ex-servicemen. Veterans, often deemed a subject of military or labour history, are included in accounts of commemoration only when they themselves are commemorating the war. In colonial West Africa, few sources show veterans recalling events in the war, but there is more evidence that veterans were concerned with accessing resources in the present. To ignore this latter quest would be to eschew the decidedly presentist focus of war commemoration as delineated by the colonial government and defended in the African press. Commemoration, when defined so broadly, might risk ‘overextending’ memory and abusing memory (see Berliner; Todorov). Indeed, commemoration as described in this chapter will be more focused on the late-colonial present (of the late 1940s and 1950s) than on the war itself. Commemoration is arguably more defined by its object than memory, and even if a broad use of memory is deemed permissible, such an overextension of commemoration is much rarer. From this perspective, as Davis has argued in the case of nostalgia, ‘the material of nostalgic experience is in the past’ (8). In colonial Africa, commemoration did not function to describe its object and was resolutely ‘presentist’ and strategic. This is not to argue that collective memory was alien

‘Deserving ex-servicemen’ in late-colonial Nigeria

215

to Africa but rather that the practice of European-imposed commemoration was sufficiently alien, but also sufficiently available, for appropriation in the present by Africans. The commemorative activity described in this chapter shared a common object: the memory of the Second World War. But this gradually became more diffuse and more vague as the war receded into memory. It became more open to strategic manipulation by officials, journalists and ex-servicemen alike. As Bhabha has argued, appropriation usually changes or reframes its object in a surreptitious way: it encourages ‘slippage’ (122). Frequently mixing together British and African discourses and claims, such slippage and play are not politically disinterested; Prabhu reminds us that this hybridization ‘does not occur without reliance upon the implicit notion of confrontation’ (148) and that we should not regard it ‘as the watered-down or even apolitical course of action when faced with an encounter’ (147). We will see that, just as much as the colonial government and the press (whether pro-nationalist or progovernment) attempted to deploy the war hegemonically, so Africans otherwise absent from the archive attempted to appropriate the war in order to access resources. We must be absolutely clear that their mobilisation of the war often does not fit Western assumptions regarding commemoration (they often did not elaborate any past object that was being commemorated), but we shall see that ex-servicemen adopted what we might term the ‘letter’ of the war. They took very general references to the war, sometimes little more than the word ‘war’ or ‘soldier’ and potentially shorn of any more general descriptive signification, and skilfully manipulated them for practical and pragmatic purposes in the present. In doing so, they created a mobile and hybrid vocabulary of commemoration that challenged the colonial government’s attempts to limit commemoration to the memory of a single and hegemonic conception of the war veteran.

Commemoration in context Before we consider the journalism describing commemoration, we must briefly consider the context of commemoration and resettlement in Nigeria more generally. This is necessary both because we will then turn to a specific aspect of commemoration and because throughout the chapter we will link together commemoration and ex-servicemen’s affairs in a way that is not conventional to studies of either subject in colonial Africa. Commemoration took many forms in late-colonial Nigeria, including the building of cenotaphs and memorials, the demarcation of war graves and the development of a regimental museum in Kaduna (see “Regimental Museum”). Many of these activities received no detailed attention, but one amongst them received by far the most publicity: Remembrance Day. Unlike other commemorative activities, Remembrance Day was tied to public fundraising and therefore provided a valuable opportunity for governmental and government-affiliated organisations to boost their meagre funding. Remembrance Day also involved more levels of the colonial

216

Oliver Coates

government than any other aspect of commemoration: District Officers oversaw the sale of poppies and, in doing so, brought commemoration to the most far-flung corners of the colony. The Remembrance Day service itself provided an occasion for local luminaries to display their loyalty to the government. In Lagos, the principal city of the colony, the Governor of Nigeria and a host of prominent Lagos personalities, both African and European (British and ex-patriot European), participated in the event. The wreath laying ceremony that followed the service necessitated the rerouting of traffic and brought the streets around the Idunmota Cenotaph to a standstill. Nigeria had more ex-servicemen by far than any other West African colony. Most of these men had fought in the Second World War, particularly in Burma, but also in East Africa and the Middle East. Nigeria’s 110,300 ex-servicemen had been subject to resettlement legislation since 1945 (NAI COMCOL 2807, s8, c2, “NEWA Central Committee”). In theory, this guaranteed a structured and government-supported return to work for these men. The Resettlement Act and the Employment of Ex-servicemen Ordinance had stated the government’s commitment to helping all ex-servicemen find work through an extensive programme of loans, quotas and training (“The Employment of Ex-servicemen’s Ordinance”). It also introduced financial and medical provision for disabled ex-servicemen, such as help with buying medicines. Although intended to cover all ex-servicemen, this ambitious legislation was based on the British Disabled Persons Employment Act of 1944. The Act, however, soon proved unworkably expensive, and many of its powers were transferred to a government-affiliated organisation called the Nigerian Ex-servicemen’s Welfare Association (NEWA). NEWA was originally government funded, but after 1947 became almost exclusively reliant upon public donations. In that year, nearly all services for ex-servicemen, apart from the payment of pensions, were stripped of government funding. By 1948, NEWA had a budget of only £20,000 to cover all government grants, loans and training for ex-servicemen (NAI COMCOL 2807, s8, c2, “NEWA Minutes”). Remembrance Day donations were essential for the survival of ex-servicemen’s services in Nigeria. This represented a decisive narrowing of prospects for thousands of veterans. It was against this dwindling of public resources that the colonial government spearheaded a campaign to make more Nigerians aware of Remembrance Sunday in the hope that public benevolence would become widespread. But like commemoration itself, philanthropy for ex-servicemen was not a priority for most Africans, despite the fact that the government and the press had promoted it during the war (Mordi 2010). Poppy Day giving had been successful in Britain, with the first collection in 1921 raising £106,000 and attracting extensive publicity (Iles 201–206; Harding 280). But comparable attempts in 1940s Nigeria lacked the shared cultural and social visions of their British counterpart, essential ingredients in many forms of twentieth century philanthropy (Zunz 294; Hammack). Intractable obstacles to widespread philanthropy went far beyond the collective antipathy towards the war that officials had correctly identified and included the poverty of colonial society and

‘Deserving ex-servicemen’ in late-colonial Nigeria

217

the racial discourses that had framed previous philanthropic efforts (Lambert and Lester; Cairnie 13).

The colonial government attempts to explain Remembrance Day: the birth of the deserving ex-serviceman Government notices in the press repeatedly stressed that commemoration was imperative to ex-servicemen’s welfare and, in particular, that public donations were critical in facilitating this. As the Governor’s ‘Notice’ in the 1951 Daily Times explained: On Saturday 10th November we can give expression to our gratitude and to our duty in a tangible way. Every Remembrance Day Poppy bought by anyone of us, every extra penny or sixpence given for it will help those others, who served and fought and who are now in need of help from us. According to this conception, commemoration was embodied most concretely in those ‘who served and fought’ and survived to require assistance. But the Governor of Nigeria did not intend that all ex-servicemen be considered within the remit of those ‘who served and fought’. He explained: We take great pride in the part Nigerian soldiers played in the two Great Wars, and it is at this time particularly that we are to remember the many disabled pensions amongst us from the 1914–18 War, the more than 2,000 Nigerian soldiers disabled in Burma and elsewhere in the last war and the dependents of those who died. (“1951 Poppy Day”) Commemoration was directly linked to the predicament of this specific subgroup of ex-servicemen. These men had been identified as acceptable subjects for commemorative philanthropy, and readers were exhorted to ‘remember them: and let our remembrance take this practical form’. They were reassured that ‘the Nigerian Ex-servicemen’s Welfare Association does good work with what we give’. ‘Let us play our part and give generously’ the Governor urged the public, ‘there can be no finer cause’ (“1951 Poppy Day”).

The deserving ex-serviceman as appropriated by the colonial press This construct of a sympathetic ex-serviceman reliant upon public benevolence, which I have termed the deserving ex-serviceman, became central to newspaper coverage of Remembrance Day. The way newspapers reused the image of the deserving ex-serviceman was complex. Some articles faithfully reproduced official depictions of veterans, while others reimagined the deserving ex-serviceman in a context that tacitly acknowledged both government

218

Oliver Coates

neglect of these men and the possibility that they might challenge officials. Despite these variations, there were few occasions when Remembrance Day journalism made substantial criticisms of the colonial government for failing to support ex-servicemen, even while it dwelt on the difficulties faced by veterans. Both the Nigerian Daily Times (an establishment-leaning paper known as the Daily Times from 1949) and the West African Pilot (a pro-nationalist paper, owned by Nnamdi Azikiwe) ran articles about Remembrance Day that connected the day with the ‘deserving ex-serviceman’. The Daily Times was owned by Britain’s Daily Mirror and enjoyed the highest circulation figures in Nigeria with about 25,000 copies daily in 1950 (Ezera 52). The West African Pilot, which had a circulation of 12,000 in 1940, frequently covered labour affairs, including the problems of ex-servicemen (Anamaleze 24; Omu 254). Although the Pilot was often highly critical of the colonial government, when it came to Remembrance Sunday it adopted many aspects of officials’ claims. This was also true of the moderate Daily Times, a paper frequently sympathetic to the government. In many cases, no details survive about the authorship of specific newspaper articles, but, as Newell argues in the case of Ghana, newspaper journalists tended to represent the ‘literate professional elite’ (1). Commemoration journalism superficially focused on the problems of ex-servicemen, but it rarely addressed veterans directly and instead focused on how their problems were relevant to the interests of the African literate elite. Perhaps as a result of disinterest in the war (both elite and popular), journalists made surprisingly little reference to the events of the war itself, even on Remembrance Day. ‘ “Poppy Day” is the public’s day’ the Daily Times reminded its readers. ‘This year [1951] 90 per cent of the amount collected will be retained in this country for the benefit of our own deserving ex-servicemen and their dependents’ (“Poppy Day Is a National Day”). ‘Although most of the [Nigerian] soldiers receive official pensions of varying degrees’, the writer pointed out that ‘nothing . . . the Government can do can possibly take the place of the additional comfort and help that can be provided for these men as a result of voluntary donations.’ This article quite deliberately constructed ex-servicemen as passive and abject. They were continuously in danger of vanishing from public awareness, and ‘the mere fact that these men know that they are not being forgotten by the public . . . [will] have a stimulating psychological effect on their morale’. This was all the more important because ’in a country as vast as Nigeria the seriously disabled are seldom seen or heard. The danger is that they may be forgotten’. ‘Many people do not realise’, it continued, ‘the part played by troops from Nigeria in the various theatres of War’: Many of these men are seriously disabled. Some have lost both legs some have even lost both their hands, quite a few contracted tuberculosis and are confined to their beds for the remainder of their lives. There are many other serious disabilities which are too numerous to enumerate.

‘Deserving ex-servicemen’ in late-colonial Nigeria

219

It may be a surprise to many people to know that as a result of the 1939/45 War alone there are over 2,000 ex-soldiers in Nigeria who have been disabled to a degree of 20 per cent and over. This takes no account of the disabled pensions of the 1914–18 War many of whom are now growing old and are sick. What is striking about this account of the disabled ex-servicemen is that the government’s decision not to adequately support these men remains unexamined. Poverty is instead asserted to be the inevitable state of affairs, whereby the government could not be expected to help the disabled: Although most of the soldiers receive official pensions of varying degrees, nothing that the Government can do can possibly take the place of the additional comfort and help that can be provided for these men as a result of voluntary donations, which are a personal gift as opposed to official aid from Government. Ex-servicemen are imagined here as reliant upon the generosity of public donations, which are essential for ‘additional comfort’. The colonial government and NEWA, by contrast, could do ‘nothing’ to rival such donations. To realise the full power of this argument, we must examine the way in which this article constructed an implicit reader. This reader was integral to the development of the idea of the deserving ex-serviceman because, in addressing the reader, the journalist further distanced veterans from a reader defined by his or her potential solvency and generosity. Instead of directly engaging the deserving ex-serviceman and his predicament, these articles directly appeal to a benevolent reader. By donating money, readers would prove that they had not ‘remained indifferent’ and were committed to helping the vulnerable. They would be able to ‘help the many who are disabled in other countries, [and] . . . they can also give vital assistance to their fellow countrymen who are disabled by contributing generously’ (“Remembrance Day”). The reader interpellated here not only is benevolent but also belongs among ‘fellow countrymen,’ in a naked avoidance of the status of the Daily Times’ readers as colonial subjects. Awareness of and participation in Remembrance Day are implied to be a marker of education because ‘to the average intelligent person in this country there should be no need to explain the significance of Remembrance Day’. The generosity of the donor was the subject for lengthy meditation. This sometimes veered towards framing benevolence as a vehicle of personal enrichment, an idea that had considerable valence in south-western Nigeria in the form of olaju,or personal enlightenment (see Lindsay 14; Peel): It has been said that the real way to get happiness is by giving our happiness to other people. Here then is the opportunity for all who are fit and well, it is certain that those who give generously on Saturday November 10

220

Oliver Coates

will feel a measure of satisfaction that they have contributed to a welfare organisation that aims to bring additional happiness to whose men, women and children who have suffered as a direct result of War. Once again, in addressing ‘all who are fit and well’, this understanding of commemoration served to distance the ex-serviceman from the ‘fit’ and solvent reader. Instead of being admitted into a wider web of social networks, ex-servicemen (and the families of the deceased) were fixed as the passive victims of a suffering whose sole cause is ‘War’. Some articles, particularly in the West African Pilot, did acknowledge government neglect of veterans. But even in these cases generosity was still seen as a desirable substitute for government support. One West African Pilot editorial (“Let us Remember Them!”) makes this point particularly clearly: ‘But for [the soldiers],’ it noted, ‘we might have been dancing to a different tune today. The writer argued that the past continued to have an impact in the present: It behoves us as individuals to contribute at least our widow’s mite into the funds for helping these gallant ones, by buying the poppies which are being sold during the week. Only then can they have the consolation that they have not died in vain. There was a more critical tone here in dealing with the predicament of ex-servicemen. Their challenges in attracting both public and official understanding of their financial, health and employment difficulties were acknowledged. This reality was juxtaposed against the democratic ideals for which the soldiers supposedly fought: Our Governments, we know, are doing their best for the ex-servicemen, but there are still many suffering ones among them that we cannot but urge that more vigorous attempts should be made to show them that it was not a mistake to have taken up arms against enemies of democracy. The bold invocation of democracy remains unrealised and is instead neutralised by the observation that the government was ‘doing [its] best for the ex-servicemen’. Although this reference could be understood as a veiled threat and a warning against official lethargy, the article still robbed the ex-serviceman of all agency. Although he was admitted to have had a martial career in the past when he had ‘taken up arms’, the ex-serviceman in the present is ‘suffering’ and, at one point, even implied to have ‘died’! This was not accidental; the dead serviceman was frequently invoked to accompany the disabled ex-serviceman in Remembrance Day journalism. This utilisation of the dead does not hark back to an object of commemoration in the past. Instead, it operates in the name of the present and, specifically, the goal of increasing resources through fundraising. In a strange twist in this tale of the dead, journalists focused on the surviving dependents of the dead.

‘Deserving ex-servicemen’ in late-colonial Nigeria

221

This interest in ‘dependents’ blurred the boundaries between the dead and the disabled, with both categories of ex-servicemen being deemed especially deserving because of their surviving families. Although impoverished families such as these undoubtedly did exist, we must be very cautious about accepting these constructs at face value. As several historians of colonial West Africa have observed, the idea of ‘dependent’ women and children was largely a colonial construct that ignored the extensive integration of women and children into the flourishing informal economy (see Bayart 2009, 261; Lindsay 13). Although the deserving ex-serviceman was most often chronically disabled and, arguably, in some sense already deathly. The fallen ex-serviceman survived by his dependents came a close second in the politics of which ex-servicemen were deemed to merit financial aid. So pervasive was this assumption, that it was almost as though being dead was a right of passage to becoming a ‘deserving ex-serviceman’. In two final examples from the career of the deserving ex-serviceman in the colonial press, we will consider attempts to define commemoration’s object not in the present but rather in the past. These articles confront the war itself and, in doing so, come far closer to the examples of commemorative discourse we find in European history. The first combines an interest in servicemen’s ‘dependents’, with a desire to address the political potency of the war. ‘The fallen, the humble unknown warrior’ is the focus of the piece and is a figure of potential political instability, clearly related to the present as much as the past. He had ‘laid down the most precious thing he possessed in order to preserve the democratic doctrine’. In doing so, he became ‘Africa’s unknown soldier’: It is true that whilst he lived, he found democracy either elusive or exclusively reserved for people other than his own, yet nevertheless Africa’s unknown soldier fought in a war for democracy. (“We Remember the Fallen”) This editorial implied that we have fallen out of favour with the dead. In order to rectify this, the living must commemorate the fallen. These were potentially subversive thoughts and not dissimilar to the appropriation of the war in nationalist politics (see Olusanya 159; Davidson 95). No sooner has the article proposed these ideas than it retreats from their full implications. Commemoration is suddenly very much of the present, and its object defined as financial generosity towards the ‘deserving’ ex-serviceman or his dependents. ‘One way of assuring the dead that we have not broken faith,’ argued the West African Pilot: is for us the living to contribute to the happiness and welfare of those he left behind, his widow, his children, his mother. In so doing, we shall not only be helping a deserving cause, but fighting ourselves in another war, the endless struggle against poverty . . . Let no man regard Poppy Day as an alien occasion, an event prompted by the vicissitudes of imperial rule, a

222

Oliver Coates

day to forget and not remember because of the political convictions about the war behind it. Let every man give unto the dead Caesar the honour due unto the dead Caesar. (“We Remember the Fallen”) The dependents of the deceased are the ‘deserving cause’ of commemoration; they instead form its sole legitimate object. The past is neutralized, and any political implications it might hold are fixed irretrievably there. We are reminded that the ex-serviceman is very much a figure from the past, inextricably tied to the past. His pastness precludes any necessity of accepting the challenges posed by his military service. Most pressing among these was the debt of government support due to ex-servicemen in exchange for their military service. The present is welcomed as aggressively replacing this past. Now we are in ‘another war’ that appears to replace that of the always anonymous and ‘unknown soldier’. The second article is more tenaciously linked to the past and, in a highly unusual move for Remembrance Day journalism, does not obviously neutralize the challenge it identifies there. A 1956 editorial in the Pilot (“Remember Them Today”) appeared to honour the deserving ex-serviceman and urged that ‘it is our duty individually and collectively’ to mark Remembrance Sunday, while reminding its readers ‘to provide comfort for the dependents of the fallen soldiers and make the disabled ones feel that they have not fought the enemy in vain’. But then it admitted that commemoration was important because: it recalls to our minds the heroic deeds of Nigerian soldiers in two world wars. Thousands of them laid down their lives in the deserts of North Africa, in the jungles of Burma and in the hills of Abyssinia so that those of us still living may enjoy the fruits of democracy for which they fought. This is not a lengthy narrative of the war by the standards of European commemoration, but it is by the standards of the Nigerian coverage of commemoration. Deliberately appropriating First World War commemoration to support his claims, the writer situates the plight of ex-servicemen at the heart of his understanding of commemoration: Thousands of men have been permanently disabled and they look up to their Governments and their fellow men for daily bread. Shall we refuse this simple request? The souls of Nigerian soldiers who lie in unknown graves all over the world keep on repeating the words: ‘If ye break faith with us who die, we shall not sleep though poppies grow in Flanders’. The fallen soldier refuses to lie quietly and simply be commemorated. Instead he issues the nightmarish warning that ‘we shall not sleep’ if the living fail to remember. Perhaps this unavoidably political critique is voiced so succinctly because it

‘Deserving ex-servicemen’ in late-colonial Nigeria

223

is fixed irremediably in the past, because the challenge of the ex-serviceman has been so categorically neutralised in death. But the ‘souls’ of the dead still pose a concerted challenge to the living. In their post-mortem utterances, they refuse to be forgotten and consigned to oblivion. This isolated and radical vision of the restless dead provides a poignant example of what might have become of Remembrance Day journalism had it been more adventurous.

Ex-servicemen speak back But if we turn away from coverage of Remembrance Day to look at the arguments of ex-servicemen themselves, we find a very different picture. Although it is not possible here to explore ex-servicemen’s interviews and writings in the press in the detail they deserve, they must nonetheless be considered in relation to commemoration. Ex-servicemen were identified as the object of official commemoration in Nigeria, and their own statements, petitions and organizations must be considered in relation to this former project. This broadening of the scope of what we consider to be commemoration, or germane to commemoration, is essential to capture the way in which the colonial state performed commemoration in a massively unequal society. As we have seen, most colonial subjects were not interested in recalling the war, its events and personalities; they were focused on securing resources in the present. When ex-servicemen attracted sympathetic press coverage, especially in the West African Pilot’s coverage of tax disputes in Aba, Umahia and Kaduna in 1950 and 1951, as well as the later marches of disabled ex-servicemen in Lagos, their representatives also got the chance to make statements of their own (“The Origin and Growth of the Riot at Umuahia”). In order to understand the partial and constructed nature of the ‘deserving ex-serviceman’, we need to engage with the claims of these ex-servicemen, even though they did not address commemoration. Mr. O.N. Egesi, an adviser to ex-servicemen in Aba, argued that: Fines, imprisonment, show of arms, bombs and bullets, cannot weaken them in their demands . . . [W]hen they were fighting for Great Britain they suffered worse things, but fought steadily until victory. How can they look back now that they are fighting for their own share of the democracy they fought for in their own father’s land? (“Ex Soldiers’ Adviser”) For Egesi the war clearly was not receding into the past, nor were ex-servicemen simply subsisting on charity. Speaking for unemployed ex-servicemen who had no way of paying their taxes, he mobilized the memory of the Second World War to contest the government’s failure to deal with resettlement. The unemployed ex-servicemen who have no means of living’, he pointed out ‘must be forced to pay tax after paying the supreme tax with their blood.’

224

Oliver Coates

Egesi was adept at using national forums to further the cause of ex-servicemen. At a meeting of the Supreme Council of Ex-servicemen and before the assembled press, he advised observers to: go outside Lagos and see how unemployed ex-servicemen in the Eastern Provinces live in disease and squalor, poverty-stricken. I am not here to make resolutions and motions; but unless the government of this country is prepared to do something tangible for the unemployed ex-servicemen there is going to be a revolution. (“Eastern Servicemen”) Needless to say, the deserving ex-serviceman was not permitted to lead to discussion of the condition of ‘unemployed ex-servicemen’, let alone incipient ‘revolution’. The reality of ‘disease and squalor’ is here situated as a problem that should concern the ‘government of this country’. The imperative for officials ‘to do something tangible’ is exactly the type of expectation that the discourse of the deserving ex-serviceman was designed to avoid. Rather than exist as an object of public sympathy and cultivated generosity, the ex-servicemen are already confident that they merit government assistance. Their expectation of official help was one of the few assumptions that spanned most (although not all) of the disparate and heterogeneous population of ex-servicemen in Nigeria. It surfaced again and again, although there was no trace of this in the deserving ex-serviceman construct. In its coverage of a revolt of 1,200 ex-servicemen in Kaduna in 1950, the West African Pilot presented a view of veterans that could not have been further removed from its Poppy Day coverage. It blurred the boundaries between enemies past and present: In facing the issue of the ex-soldier, therefore, Government has to realise that the being he is dealing with is not ordinary. If he wants peace in Nigeria the British Raj must not paint his designs in red, for bulls and that colour are obvious enemies. And the ex-serviceman is at present, whether we realise it or not, the bull in Nigeria’s China shop. . . . Guns and bullets are not the answer in dealing with men who are the living examples of what we may call that ‘broken faith’: men who are not themselves afraid to kill if killing is necessary in order to be heard. (“War Veterans in Revolt”) Far from being simply ‘deserving’ and pitiable, ex-servicemen were envisaged as ‘bulls’ full of pent-up anger and frustration who might at any moment destroy the fragile ‘China shop’ of government rule. This politically charged metaphor urged the government to make decisive amends with ex-servicemen. The latter were ‘living examples’ of neglect and betrayal. Rather than passively receiving charity and sympathy, ex-servicemen were imagined as a deadly and alienated class within Nigerian society. They were not autonomous like the

‘Deserving ex-servicemen’ in late-colonial Nigeria

225

‘deserving’ and ‘forgotten’ ex-servicemen invoked in relation to commemoration but instead enjoyed a ‘comradeship’ that ‘becomes greater even than the three musketeers’. Disabled ex-servicemen also challenged the government’s neglect. The reality of their challenge exposes the fact that disabled veterans were well able to voice their own grievances outside the paradigm of benevolence that constrained the ‘deserving ex-serviceman’. This was hardly surprising as out of the 2,000-plus severely disabled ex-servicemen, NEWA reported that 90 had received some form of disability allowance in 1949 (“NEWA’s Branches”). In 1950, the Association of Nigerian Amputated Ex-servicemen forced the colonial government to explain why its provision was not equivalent to that of the British Limbless Ex-servicemen’s Association. Samuel Aro, president of the former Association, alleged that the Chief Secretary of the Nigerian Government subsequently informed him that Nigeria did spend the same as Britain on limbless ex-servicemen (“Limbless Ex-soldiers’ Demands”). In a protest of severely disabled veterans, including many with no limbs, the colonial government and NEWA met sustained protest. The men, who were dressed ‘in tatters and in rags’, paraded through Lagos and assembled outside the heavily guarded NEWA headquarters (“Limbless Ex-servicemen”). The amputee ex-servicemen removed their prosthetic limbs and threw them at Major F. K. Wardrobe, the Secretary of NEWA. Angry at not receiving their pensions, a representative of the veterans asked NEWA: do you want us to shed blood or commit mass suicide in front of your office before increased pensions will be paid to us? These words graphically reclaimed the agency that the government’s idea of the deserving ex-serviceman attempted to erase. The mismatch between the two reminds us of just how far the government’s calls for generosity and sympathy failed to approximate the gravity of the situation faced by these men. They reveal that not all ex-servicemen wanted to be ‘deserving’ and to be fixed as objects of commemorative benevolence. They were perfectly able to articulate their own concerns in the present, and they did not need commemoration to intercede on their behalf.

Conclusion Commemoration in late-colonial Nigeria was first and foremost a practical affair: its object was ex-serviceman and their lack of resources. We have seen how the colonial government was keen to disavow all responsibility towards these men, and how the elite African press was often acquiescent in this goal. Military service had established an expectation of reciprocal, patrimonial support between ex-servicemen and the colonial government. Commemoration was an obvious point in the year for this relationship to surface. But the colonial government had neither the resources nor the inclination to honour this

226

Oliver Coates

bond, even though many ex-servicemen expected it to do so. What Butler has termed the ‘thrall in which our relations with others hold us’ was not present in commemorations in colonial Nigeria; most attempts to engage with the past were eschewed, as officials attempted to encourage the public to foot the bill for supporting the colony’s 100,000 ex-servicemen (Butler 2006, 23). The deserving ex-serviceman was a product of this unequal and unstable situation. As we have seen, this construct became influential in journalism about Remembrance Day, it attempted to affect a hegemonic understanding of ex-servicemen as pitiable and reliant upon public charity. While seemingly publicising the problems of veterans, the deserving ex-serviceman in fact obscured and privatised them as matters of personal tragedy unrelated to government ineptitude. Examining commemoration discursively, through newspaper articles and government correspondence, enables us to engage with the explicitly constructed and performative nature of government commemoration, a fact that has often been obscured in colonial West Africa. More generally, the deserving ex-serviceman reminds us that commemoration was far from a disinterested process in colonial societies. We have seen just how far ex-servicemen’s statements differed from those made on their behalf in Remembrance Day journalism. This demonstrates that the object of commemoration became divorced from the past and instead became utterly focused on the present. This was not purely a consequence of official designs but also an outcome of the fact that there was very little public interest in events of the Second World War. In other words, commemoration had become almost totally detached from any attempt to represent events in the past and instead became an instrumental discourse that deployed references to the war (often without elaboration) to determine access to resources in the present.

References Anamaleze, J. The Nigerian Press: The People’s Conscience? New York: Vantage Press, 1979. Print. Ashplant, T. “War Commemoration in Western Europe: Changing Meanings, Divisive Loyalties, Unheard Voices.” Commemorating War: The Politics of Memory. Ed. T. Ashplant, G. Dawson, and M. Roper. Rutgers: Rutgers University Press, 2000. 263–272. Print. Barrett, M. “Subalterns at War: First World War Colonial Forces and the Politics of the Imperial War Graves Commission.” Can the Subaltern Speak? Reflections on the History of an Idea. Ed. G. Spivak, and R. Morris. New York: Columbia University Press, 2009. 158–178. Print. Barrett, M. “Death and the Afterlife: Britain’s Colonies and Dominions.” Race, Empire and First World War Writing. Ed. S. Das. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2011. 301–320. Print. Barrett, M. “White Graves and Natives: The Imperial War Graves Commission in East and West Africa, 1918–1939.” Bodies in Conflict: Corporeality, Materiality, and Transformation. Ed. P. Cornish, and N. Saunders. London: Routledge, 2014. 80–90. Print. Bayart, J. Global Subjects: A Political Critique of Globalization. Cambridge: Polity, 2007. Print. Bayart, J. The Politics of the Belly. Cambridge: Polity, 2009. Print. Berliner, D. “Social Thought and Commentary: The Abuses of Memory: Reflections on the Memory Boom in Anthropology.” Anthropological Quarterly. 78.1 (2005): 197–211. Print.

‘Deserving ex-servicemen’ in late-colonial Nigeria

227

Bhabha, H. The Location of Culture. London: Routledge, 1994. Print. Butler, J. Antigone’s Claim: Kinship between Life and Death. New York: Columbia University Press, 2002. Print. Butler, J. Precarious Life: The Power of Mourning and Violence. London: Verso, 2006. Print. Cairnie, J. “Imperialists in Broken Boots”: Poor Whites and Philanthropy in Southern African Writing. Newcastle: Cambridge Scholars, 2010. Print. Davidson, B. Modern Africa: A Social and Political History. London: Longman, 1989. Print. Davis, F. Yearning for Yesterday: A Study of Nostalgia. New York: Free Press, 1979. Print. Ezera, K. Constitutional Developments in Nigeria. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1964. Print. Glover, J. “Genocide, Human Rights, and the Politics of Memorialization: ‘Hotel Rwanda’ and Africa’s World War.” South Atlantic Review. 75.2 (2010): 95–111. Print. Goebel, S. “Cultural Memory and the Great War: Medievalism and Classicism in British and German War Memorials.” Cultures of Commemoration: War Memorials, Ancient and Modern. Ed. P. Low, G. Oliver and P. Rhodes. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2012. 135–158. Print. Gregory, A. The Silence of Memory: Armistice Day 1919–1946. Oxford: Berg, 1994. Print. Hammack, D. “Failure and Resilience: Pushing the Limits in Depression.” Charity, Philanthropy, and Civility in American History. Ed. L. Freidman and M. McGarvie. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2003. 263–280. Print. Harding, B. Keeping the Faith: The History of the Royal British Legion. Barnsley: Leo Cooper, 2001. Print. Iles, J. “In Remembrance: The Flanders Poppy.” Mortality. 13.3 (2008): 201–221. Print. Jackson, A. “VE (Victory in Europe) Day 1995: African Commemorations and Perspectives from Botswana.” Botswana Notes and Records. 30 (1998): 87–100. Print. Lambert, D., and Lester, A. “Geographies of Colonial Philanthropy.” Progress in Human Geography. 28.3 (2004): 320–41. Print. Laqueur, T. “Memory and Naming in the Great War.” Commemoration: The Politics of National Identity. Ed. J. Gillis. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1994. 150–167. Print. Lim, J.-H. “Victimhood Nationalism in Contested Memories: National Mourning and Global Accountability.” Memory in a Global Age: Discourses, Practices and Trajectories. Ed. A. Assmann and S. Conrad. Basingstoke: Palgrave, 2010. 138–162. Print. Lindsay, L. Working with Gender: Wage Labor and Social Change in Southwestern Nigeria. Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann, 2003. Print. Mann, G. Native Sons: West African Veterans and France in the Twentieth Century. Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2006. Print. Mann, K. “The Rise of Taiwo Olowo: Law, Accumulation, and Mobility in Early Colonial Lagos.” Law in Colonial Africa. Ed. K. Mann and R. Roberts. London: Currey, 1991. 85–107. Print. Mbembe, A. “The Subject of the World.” Facing Up to the Past: Perspectives on the Commemoration of Slavery from Africa, the Americas and Europe. Ed. G. Oostinde. Kingston: Ian Randle, 2001. 21–29. Mbembe, A. “Necropolitics.” Foucault in an Age of Terror: Essays on Biopolitics and the Defence of Society. Ed. S. Morton and S. Bygrave. Basingstoke: Palgrave, 2008. 152–182. Print. Mordi, E. N. “Wartime Propaganda, Devious Officialdom, and the Challenge of Nationalism during the Second World War in Nigeria.” Nordic Journal of African Studies. 18.3 (2009): 235–257. Print. Mordi, E. N. “The Nigeria Win the War Fund: An Unsung Episode in Government Press Collaboration in Nigeria during the Second World War.” Journal of Social Science. 24.2 (2010): 87–100. Print.

228

Oliver Coates

Morton, S. “Sovereignty and Necropolitics at the Line of Control.” Journal of Postcolonial Writing. 50.1 (2014): 19–30. Print. Morton, S. States of Emergency: Colonialism, Literature and Law. Liverpool: Liverpool University Press, 2013. Print. Morton, S., and Bygrave, S., ed. Foucault in an Age of Terror: Essays on Biopolitics and the Defence of Society. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2008. Print. Murray, M. Commemorating and Forgetting: Challenges for the New South Africa. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2013. Newell, S. “Newspapers, New Spaces, New Writers: The First World War and Print Culture in Colonial Ghana.” Research in African Literatures. 40.2 (2009): 1–15. Print. Nora, P. “General Introduction.” Rethinking France: Les Lieux de Mémoire: Volume 1, The State. Ed. P. Nora. Chicago: Chicago University Press, 1992. vii–xxii. Print. Nora, P. Historien Public. Paris: Gallimard, 2011a. Print. Nora, P. Présent, Nation, Mémoire. Paris: Gallimard, 2011b. Print. Olusanya, G. The Second World War and Politics in Nigeria 1939–1953. Lagos: Evans Brothers, 1973. Print. Omu, F. Press and Politics in Nigeria, 1880–1937. London: Longman, 1978. Print. Peel, J. “Olaju: A Yoruba Concept of Development.” Journal of Development Studies. 14 (1978): 135–165. Print. Prabhu, A. Hybridity: Limits, Transformations, Prospects. Albany: State University of New York Press, 2007. Print. Rothberg, M. Multidirectional Memory: Remembering the Holocaust in the Age of Decolonization. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 2009. Print. Todorov, T. Les Abus de la Mémoire. Paris: Arléa, 1995. Print. Walls, S. “Lest We Forget: The Spatial Dynamics of the Church and Churchyard as Commemorative Spaces for War Dead in the Twentieth Century.” Mortality. 16.2 (2011): 131–144. Print. Werbner, R. “Beyond Oblivious: Confronting Memory Crisis.” Memory and the Postcolony. Ed. R. Werbner. London: Zed Books, 1998. 1–21. Print. Williams, G. State and Society in Nigeria. Idanre: Afrografika Publishers, 1980. Print. Winter, J. Sites of Memory, Sites of Mourning: Great War in European Cultural History. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1995. Winter, J. Remembering War: The Great War between Memory and History in the Twentieth Century. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 2006. Print. Ziemann, B. Contested Commemorations: Republican War Veterans and Weimar Political Culture. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2013. Print. Zunz, O. Philanthropy in America: A History. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2012. Print.

Sources Newspaper articles “1951 Poppy Day: Governor Issues Appeal.” Daily Times 6 November 1951. Print. “Eastern Servicemen Flare Up at Convention.” Nigerian Daily Times 29 November 1950. Print. “The Employment of Ex-servicemen’s Ordinance, No. 48 of 1945.” Department of Labour Quarterly Review June 1945. Print.

‘Deserving ex-servicemen’ in late-colonial Nigeria

229

“Ex-servicemen’s Complaints: Unrest in the East: The Facts.” Nigerian Daily Times 25 November 1950. Print. “Ex-soldiers’ Adviser Says Govt. Must Give Way.” West African Pilot 14 November 1950. Print. “Ex-soldiers in the East Organise Demonstration.” Nigerian Daily Times 11 November 1950. Print. “Let Us Remember Them!” West African Pilot 7 November 1955. Print. “Limbless Ex-servicemen March to NEWA Office.” West African Pilot 2 June 1956. Print. “Limbless Ex-soldiers’ Demands.” Daily Times 25 November 1950. Print. “NEWA’s Branches Estimate at 100.” West African Pilot 11 November 1950. Print. “The Origin and Growth of the Riot at Umuahia.” West African Pilot 13 November 1950. Print. “Poppy Day’ Is a National Day.” Daily Times 9 November 1951. Print. “Regimental Museum.” Nigerian Military Forces Magazine 1–2 July 1957, p. 48. Print. “Remember Them Today.” West African Pilot 10 November 1956. Print. “Remembrance Day.” Daily Times 9 November 1946. Print. “War Veterans in Revolt.” West African Pilot 7 November 1950. Print. “We Remember the Fallen.” West African Pilot 11 November 1950. Print.

British National Archives, London (TNA) TNA CO 1032 1, ‘Marking of War Graves, Nigeria’.

Nigerian National Archives, Ibadan (NAI) NAI COMCOL 2807, s8, c2, “NEWA Central Committee, Approximate Number of Ex-servicemen in Nigeria.” NAI COMCOL 2807, s8, c2, “NEWA Minutes of Meeting of Provincial Central Council, 19th August 1946.”

Afterword Many worlds at war: beyond the belligerents Ashley Jackson

The imperial dimensions of the Second World War remain marginalized in general histories of the conflict. But the problem lies deeper, for the historiography, with its overbearing focus on the main belligerents, neglects not only the imperial dimensions of the conflict but also the war experience of semicolonial regions and neutral states beyond Europe. Concluding a volume on the variegated wartime experience of the British Empire, therefore, this chapter looks forward to a historiography of the conflict that properly acknowledges the centrality of the colonial, semi-colonial, and neutral world in its prosecution. In doing so, it argues that unless four themes relating to the war in these regions are acknowledged, general histories will remain incomplete not only in terms of their failure to adequately include non-Europeans but in their assessments of how the war was won and lost. The themes are: 1 2 3 4

The wartime role of colonies and neutral states and why they were essential to the main protagonists. The importance of colonial troops and military labour and the significance of ‘sideshow’ campaigns and the other wars within the world war. The strategic significance of bases, supply lines, and infrastructure in colonies and neutral states. The war’s impact on the home front in colonial and semi-colonial regions and the reliance placed by the main belligerents on its civilian labour and other resources.

While some will cavil at the suggestion, it might well be argued that we continue to adhere to a surprisingly colonial view of the Second World War. It is a dated one in which non-Europeans are far less represented than their involvement – and the importance of their involvement – demands. It is a parochial view, in which the significance of overseas bases and infrastructure, food, resources, and labour is marginalized. Traditional accounts of the Second World War are seldom equipped to embrace these aspects of the war because they pursue the war stories of the major belligerents and seek to isolate the war’s major tipping points in terms of battles, strategic decisions, or industrial production. They might see more than the tip of the iceberg, but they

Afterword

231

fail to grasp the true extent of what lies beneath. The established narratives of the war’s major belligerents have come to overlay the many other histories of the war in the general accounts of the conflict most commonly encountered by the public. They often tell the same stories, channelled along predetermined highways, such as (in the British case) the Phoney War, the Battle of the Atlantic, the Desert War, the Pacific War, strategic bombing, the Eastern Front, D-Day and the fall of Hitler’s Reich. Though academics have long trumpeted the role played by people all over the world in the Second World War, the story has not migrated from specialist literature into our general histories of the conflict and instead remains locked away in individual national histories and academic journals.  The Second World War was ‘an enormous, overshadowing, moving monster, far bigger than I had imagined it would be’, wrote the Gurkha officer John Masters, ref lecting on his experience soldiering in Africa, Asia, and the Middle East. So enormous was the conf lict and so profound its reverberations that even the remotest and most unlikely corners of the globe were drawn into the maelstrom. John Harris dubbed Sierra Leone ‘a funny place to hold a war’. Yet because of the inescapable need to move troops and military supplies around the globe by sea and to maintain general trade, Freetown became one of the world’s most important strategic locations. This brought frenetic military activity to the colony and had a deep impact upon the lives of African people. The story of the Second World War needs to be forcefully recounted from the perspective of the millions of people whose war it was not but whose war it became by virtue of the capacity of Western war machines and imperial reach to embroil them.1 This demands that the war be viewed from Algeria, Brazil, Indonesia, Iran, and Thailand, as well as from the usual European, American, or Japanese vantage points. The war affected people in these and many other lands in a wide variety of ways, whether they liked it or not and even if they had little understanding of what had brought it to their doorstep. Why? Because many parts of the world had been colonized and were therefore dragged into the conflict at the behest of foreign masters or by the desire of would-be imperial powers to sate their appetite for conquest. War came because of proximity to combat zones and important supply routes, and war came because of the urgent need of the Allied and Axis powers for the resources of distant lands, for the toil of their people, for their raw materials, and for their war-related infrastructure. These human and material resources were vital for sustaining global war machines and prosecuting military operations on a vast scale. Sometimes, war came because the leaders of weaker nations sought to survive the war and possibly benefit from it by joining in, supporting either of the major alliances and hoping that they had picked a winner. Despite these indubitable facts, it is difficult to dispute the assertion that the general history of the war is loaded towards big players, big battles, and

232

Ashley Jackson

grand strategies. To rectify this imbalance, what is required is the perspective of these little known participants and places, of battles unfamiliar and supply lines seldom charted. Such a history would explain how smaller and less well known facets of the war – campaigns in Borneo, airstrips in Iceland, and latex production in Liberia – were linked to the more familiar story of the Second World War and the strategies and actions of the main players. It would embrace the war experience of non-Westerners on their terms, rather than treating them as peripheral or indeed largely invisible participants in a conflict dominated by Westerners. The war strategies of Bangkok and Rio de Janeiro would be assessed on a par with those of Berlin and Washington, the war experience of people in Fiji and Libya given as much careful attention as that of people in Britain and Japan. Future research, therefore, should adopt a distinctly non-Western approach, putting the war experience of colonies, semi-colonial zones, and neutral states beyond Europe at the centre of analysis. Such an approach would reveal how the participation of the people of scores of lands beyond the borders of the major belligerents was crucial to the prosecution of the war, just as resources drawn from those lands and their strategic assets – airstrips, harbours, railways, roads, and requisitioned buildings – were crucial in supporting the war efforts of the main Allied and Axis powers. No part of the world was left untouched by the conflict; war brought environmental transformation to remote Pacific islands, army recruitment drives in the Okavango, missions to the Antarctic in search of U-boats, and the deployment of South American troops to Europe. Neutral nations such as Afghanistan, Iran, and Thailand, meanwhile, were caught between the Scylla and Charybdis of the competing war aims of the main protagonists and the imperatives of their own foreign and domestic policies.

The tentacles of global war It is easy to overlook the fact that much of the fighting in the Second World War, beyond Europe, occurred in colonial territories. Think Burma, Egypt, Ethiopia, India, Indonesia, Iraq, Kenya, Libya, Malaya, New Guinea, the Philippines, the Solomon Islands, and Tunisia. Bombing, rationing, and military service were not the exclusive preserve of the main belligerents; many parts of the colonial world experienced famine and brutal occupation, and neutral countries were inexorably drawn into the conflict too. Of course, the war was not all-embracing. It did not hold everyone, everywhere, in its thrall all of the time. Not everything that happened during the war years was related to the conflict, and even in the most war-wracked places, people loved, laughed, listened to music, and dreamed dreams of the future. But while this is an important cautionary note, lest we get carried away with ‘the war’, it is true only up to a point. The reason for this is that although in some parts of the world one might have been forgiven for asking ‘War? What war?’, the conflict had a habit of insinuating itself into the lives of people in numerous indirect,

Afterword

233

as well as direct ways. One did not have to be at the eye of the storm to hear the distant thunder of a global conflict. A person might be sitting on a palmfringed Indian Ocean atoll or in a South American city far from the din, but chances were that the food in his or her larder would change because of wartime shortages, that the price of food and essential commodities would rise, and that luxury goods would disappear from the shops. In even more tangible ways, even in these places remote from the battlefields, new job opportunities or even compulsory labour demands might arise because of war-related activity, and political and ideological debates and propaganda sallies from Allied or Axis agencies would frequent the airwaves and newspaper columns and inform local politics. The remarkable point, surely, is that we can talk of significant war experiences and contributions from the perspective of Cuba, Liberia, or the Seychelles, not that the war’s impact was unevenly felt. The point regarding the war’s reach into unlikely places is illustrated by Lieutenant Colonel Charles Arden Clarke, the Resident Commissioner of the Bechuanaland Protectorate. Touring the Ngamiland district in March 1940, he noted ruefully that some people ‘do not understand. They don’t know what Government is and why anybody is fighting at all’. But while this testified to the relative lightness of Britain’s sixty-year rule in this particular part of Africa and the early stage of the war at which it was written, the fact is that, in spite of this, the war came to intimately affect the lives of the region’s people. From the following year, soldiers were recruited into the British Army from Ngamiland and dispatched to Europe, the Middle East and North Africa. Their departure demanded that loved ones left behind develop new angles of vision on the world, and airmail letters, new vernacular newspapers, and radio broadcasts were employed to keep families in touch. The war also brought food shortages, inflation, profiteering, and demands for communal labour in order to sustain tribal food supplies. And if Britain had lost the war, the region’s future would have been at the tender mercy of the Germans and their anti-British South African sympathizers, the Afrikaners. One further example of war’s impact in remote regions: on 3 March 1942, Captain Alfred North-Coombes heard what sounded like humming emanating from Oyster Bay on the island of Rodrigues. It was caused by people praying aloud, ‘even those that had never prayed before, that they would be saved from the Japanese’. Men and women cut rosaries into pieces and shared them with neighbours wrote North-Coombes from this speck in the Indian Ocean, miles away from any battlefield but not immune to the effects of war. Even here, people had heard tales of the notorious brutality of Japanese forces, which had percolated out of China for some years. The cause of the people’s panic was gunfire from a Japanese ship attempting to put the island’s cable and wireless station out of action in order to disrupt British communications with Australia, a task it succeeded in accomplishing. Before the arrival of the raider and its shells, Rodrigues and the other islands of the Mascarenes had been reconnoitred by Japanese seaplanes launched from submarines surfacing off the coral reef. Captain North-Coombes, a white

234

Ashley Jackson

Mauritian, was in command of C Company of the Mauritius Territorial Force, comprised of creoles and Indians. Together with half a company of British and Mauritian artillerymen and 215 men of the Rodrigues Volunteer Force, the unit was responsible for protecting the island from enemy attack. To aid them in their task, a six-inch gun battery was erected at Crève Coeur and a 55-millimetre anti-submarine weapon installed on Point Venus to protect the cable and wireless station. Like other remote outposts, Rodrigues warranted defence because it was a link in a global communications chain dependent upon underwater telegraph cables and because, if it was not held by the British, it might well be held by the Germans or the Japanese and used to rest, repair, and resupply their warships and submarines as they hunted for Allied and neutral vessels in the world’s third largest ocean. War came to Rodrigues in other ways, too. From a total population of about 12,000, over 300 Rodriguans joined the British Army and served in the Middle East, and hundreds of men donned the uniform of the volunteer defence force. With hundreds of Mauritian soldiers and a smattering of Britons garrisoning the island, the military footprint – and association with distant theatres of conflict through the service of friends and relatives – became significant. This in turn had an impact on the economy as military spending and remittances from serving soldiers greatly increased the cash flow. The benefits of this, however, were mitigated by the food situation pertaining in the Indian Ocean; the loss of Burmese rice and shipping shortages meant that basic consumer items simply disappeared, leading to rationing and a rising cost of living. So, many people’s worlds were touched by the tentacles of global conflict in an imperial and industrial age – many in a much more violent and direct way than was the case in these examples. The Second World War was the war that touched the lives and locations that other conflicts could not reach. As Franklin Roosevelt told the American people during a radio broadcast in February 1942, it was ‘a new kind of war. It is warfare in terms of every continent, every island, every sea, every air lane, in the world’. Although the war may have looked different to people in Botswana, Fiji, or the Virgin Islands than it did to those in Britain, Canada, or Japan, its impacts were nevertheless visible and often of great moment for the lives of ordinary people. Why does any of this matter, beyond simply showcasing the war experience of smaller nations and colonial peoples? It matters because without understanding the extent and significance of their role in the war, our picture is incomplete and unbalanced. This is because of the clear connections between the experiences and resources of colonial and neutral lands and the war’s major events and outcomes. Military operations in location X, for example, could not take place without control of region Y; African troops were used to ‘dilute’ British anti-aircraft regiments in the Middle East in order to release British troops for the D-Day landings in Europe; the graft of millions of Indian men and women was required to affect the infrastructural developments that allowed the Allies to fight in Burma and supply China by air over the Himalayas; food drawn from East Africa was required to satisfy the ration demands

Afterword

235

of the large British military establishment based in Egypt and its environs; and only by requisitioning the Iranian road and rail network could the Allies funnel mountains of supplies to Russia via the Caspian Sea. To paraphrase the song Dem Bones, the thigh bone was connected to the backbone and the backbone was connected to the shoulder bone: all the way from head to toe, prosecuting national strategies through military operations and running war economies meant relying on people, places, and resources at a great distance from home, as well as the sea lanes and overland supply routes, and the shipyards and airbases, that connected them. The capacity to mobilize these people and the resources of their lands determined winners and losers as much as aircraft carriers and munitions factories back in America or Japan. And one of the reasons why the Allies beat the Axis was because they utilized these resources much more effectively.

Neutrals, lesser allies, and other nations’ colonies Colonies, neutral states, and lesser allies were important because of the vast distances involved in the war; the need to traverse thousands of miles by air, land, and sea in order to strike at one’s foe meant that they were essential, as were their resources. The Second World War was visited upon distant people and places because most of the earth’s land surface was ruled by a handful of colonial powers and because major belligerents fought either to extend empires or to defend them or, as in the case of the United States of America, assumed an imperial mantle as war transformed the international system. The Axis powers fought to gain the spoils of empire – prestige, living space, land, markets, resources, and control of sea lines of communication. Germany sought to conquer and dominate the European continent. Italy had ambitions in Southern Europe and Africa and sought to supplant Britain and France in the Mediterranean. Japan had long targeted the Chinese mainland as an outlet for its expansionist proclivities and from 1941 took aim at the colonies of America and Europe stretched enticingly across the Central Pacific, the East Indies, and Southeast Asia. Other belligerent powers, meanwhile, fought to protect the fruits of empire that they already enjoyed in a war of colonial ‘haves’ versus ‘have nots’, though they might simultaneously, as in the case of Britain and Russia, seek to extend their own imperium or shore up its foundations in key regions. Despite all of this, the literature often overlooks or downplays the war’s striking colonial dimensions. It wasn’t just colonies and neutrals that were put upon by the great powers and dragged into the conflict. Some independent nation states not directly involved in the conflict chose for a variety of reasons to join in (Brazil, Cuba), while other independent nations, heavily influenced by external powers or closely affected by virtue of geographical location, also became involved (Afghanistan, Iran, Nepal, Thailand). The Afghan Government sought to court German friendship in order to resist the demands of its overbearing British and Russian neighbours and attempted to use the war as an opportunity

236

Ashley Jackson

to rearm and augment its capacity to defend its independence. Thailand sought to cooperate with Japan in order to prevent a full-scale invasion and to profit from France’s tribulation by gaining French colonial territory. There were then independent states that were independent in name only and therefore obliged to participate (Egypt, Iraq). Finally, the colonies of defeated or neutral powers were also affected by the war (the Azores, the Congo, Greenland, Iceland). The Brazilian economy boomed because of wartime demand, and its transport infrastructure underwent significant modernization. New port, rail, and road infrastructure, steel and agricultural exports, and the deployment of a Brazilian Expeditionary Force to fight with the Allies in the Mediterranean resulted in a surge in confidence and set the nation on course for its emergence on the global stage. It was from Brazilian airbases that thousands of aircraft began the flight across the Atlantic to Africa along the South Atlantic Air Ferry Route. Elsewhere in Latin America, over 4,000 Argentinians served in the British military, and the country was affected by the war because of its large German immigrant community, German sympathies, Anglophobia, and continuing trade ties with Britain. This brought pressure from the Allies to sever diplomatic relations with the Axis – including American plans to support a Brazilian attack on Buenos Aires. The war also led to economic development in Argentina as import substitution industries flourished, a process that trailed rural–urban migration in its wake. Cuba, meanwhile, helped the American war effort and benefited from Lend-Lease aid as a consequence. It declared war on Japan on 8 December 1941 and on Germany three days later. The Cuban Government granted America base facilities for aircraft operating against German submarines in the Caribbean and the use of Havana’s important port facilities. In return, America provided modern equipment to the Cuban military, and Cuban forces participated in the defence of the Caribbean, including the escort of Allied merchant shipping.

Other wars, other troops, other campaigns There were different wars taking place during the Second World War, other than the one being fought between the Allied and Axis powers. Mongolians battled with Japanese invaders, Ethiopians fought to eject the Italians, and Thai troops clashed with Frenchmen as Bangkok sought territorial aggrandisement at the expense of a prostrate Vichy empire. Ethnic Burmese communities fought each other, as well as the British and the Japanese. As Axis forces invaded other people’s lands, new resistance movements emerged, leading to civil war as well as subterfuge against the occupiers, often mounted with support from American or British covert forces. Iranians resisted Britain and Russia’s takeover of their country, and Indonesian and Vietnamese nationalists resisted the reimposition of colonial rule at the war’s end. Struggles relating to land, anti-colonial resistance, and ethnic tension found new avenues for pursuit during the war in places such as Algeria, India, and Iraq. Often these prepared the ground for postwar battles, such as Britain’s fight against Chinese

Afterword

237

communities in Malaya, France and America’s fight against ‘communist’ Vietnamese, Indonesian resistance to Dutch rule, the emergence of Mau Mau in Kenya, and Jewish resistance to British policy in Palestine. In Korea, the war brought old struggles against colonizers to a head, while opening a new chapter in its history of foreign intervention that would soon lead to the outbreak of the (still inconclusive) Korean War. The war featured numerous battles, campaigns, and military deployments that have earned the rather demeaning appellation ‘sideshows’. Though often overlooked in the historical record, these actions were considered of sufficient operational or strategic significance at the time. Sideshows or not, such campaigns and actions were deadly serious for the men who risked their lives in order to undertake them, and Fallujah or the Java Sea were not worse or better places to die than Alamein or Midway. British, Dutch, and Indian troops fought side by side in Borneo and Sarawak against the Japanese, scores of thousands of British imperial troops deployed to form a new Persia and Iraq Command lest the Germans defeat Russia and strike through the Caucasus, American servicemen were sent to the Gobi desert to establish weather stations, Australians fought in Syria, and forces were deployed to Greenland and Iceland. All such actions and deployments were directly linked to more well known campaigns and strategic plans. As well as other wars and campaigns, the Second World War featured other troops and military workers, though we still talk of ‘the British’ or ‘the Japanese’ and give insufficient attention to the extraordinary multi-ethnic composition of the forces hidden behind these general labels. As Martin Thomas writes regarding the ‘French’ war effort, ‘Villages in Morocco, Mali, and Algeria, not Brittany, the Ardèche, or the Pas-de-Calais, mourned the largest numbers of soldiers killed in French uniform after June 1940’. The significance of these forces went far beyond their combat utility, though this, of course, was vital. Britain wielded colonial military formations numbering over three million men and women, mostly drawn from Africa and South Asia. While British fighting power in East and North Africa depended on front-line divisions from the old ‘white’ dominions and colonies such as Kenya and Nigeria, its position east of Suez rested largely upon the Indian Army. Many colonial formations were employed during the war, though few are remembered today: the Arab Legion, the Fiji Volunteer Force, the Hong Kong and Singapore Garrison Artillery, the Iraq Levies, the Northern Rhodesia Regiment, and the Transjordan Frontier Force, to name but a few. The French had their valued colonial soldiers, particularly from North and West Africa, and the Allies also employed units drawn from places such as the Congo and Ethiopia and recruited thousands into labour corps in the Pacific. Beyond this, crucial non-front-line military tasks were the preserve of colonial troops and civilians recruited into military labour formations. Without them, Britain could not have fought the war that it did. As an example, by 1945 the Royal Pioneer Corps – a skilled British Army labour force – had been served by 166,782 British and 277,809 non-European soldiers and a staggering 1,074,932

238

Ashley Jackson

civilian labourers drawn from colonies and countries in which the British were fighting. All of the belligerents had an insatiable demand for labourers and soldiers. Japan employed thousands of Koreans and Taiwanese as soldiers and military labourers. Both Germany and Japan employed large numbers of troops drawn from the lands that they conquered and depended upon civilian as well as prisoners of war labour for strategic developments such as the BurmaThailand railway. Tens of thousands of people joined Free Thai forces intent upon ejecting the Japanese, sometimes supported by covert Allied operations. Brazilians fought in Italy, thousands of Nepalese fought under Allied command in Burma, Puerto Ricans served in France and Morocco, and the hunters recruited to form Greenland’s Northeast Sledge Patrol tracked German agents and meteorologists across the ice-bound landscapes of Eskimonæs and Scoresby Sund. To illustrate the centrality of colonial peoples to major wartime episodes and the formations that took part in them, the ‘British’ Eighth Army serves as a good example. While it is often celebrated as a force composed of troops drawn from across the British Empire – Australians, Britons, Canadians, Indians, New Zealanders, and South Africans – what is seldom remembered is that its combat performance was predicated upon a large ‘rear echelon’ army of soldiers and civilian labourers manning the logistics chains and performing a diverse range of tasks essential to the army’s fighting power, such as collecting the remains of shot-down aircraft from the desert, guarding supply dumps, and generating coastal smoke screens to cover Allied landings in Italy. The demand for these colonial troops could be very specific: black South African miners were recruited for their tunnelling skills as military railways were extended in the region, and Basotho muleteers were drafted so that their skills could be employed in delivering munitions to front-line troops in the Apennine Mountains and evacuating casualties on their descent. On the eve of the Battle of Alamein, Middle East Command and its ‘teeth’ formations were supported by a ‘tail’ that included 36,000 men from Botswana, Lesotho, and Swaziland, 18,400 from West Africa, 30,000 from East Africa, 5,600 from Cyprus, 4,500 from Palestine and over 5,000 from Mauritius, Rodrigues, and the Seychelles. Seventy-five companies of Italian prisoners of war were also put to work, and the British created an Arab Labour Corps that came to number 30,000 men. Recruited from among the populations of Egypt and Libya, the scale of military activity – and the outriders of conflict such as inflation and shortages – had a profound effect upon the peoples of the Maghreb, though few accounts of the Second World War tarry to consider them.

Bases and supply routes Ports, roads, railways, and airstrips throughout the non-European world were crucial to the Allied war effort. In African, Asian, and Pacific ports and cities, dry docks, supply dumps, headquarters establishments, intelligence-gathering

Afterword

239

facilities, wireless stations, camps and recreational and training facilities supported the war effort. Bases, military facilities, and supply routes located in colonial zones and neutral countries were an essential feature of the global conflict, and all attracted non-European labourers and fostered urbanization. They were instrumental in the wartime operations and strategies of the main belligerents and often warranted military actions in their own right in order to acquire or secure them. In order to effectively shuttle military resources from North America to Europe, Africa, and Asia, extensive base facilities were required in places such as Ascension Island, the Azores, Brazil, and Iceland, as well as in African countries such as Eritrea, Ghana, Kenya, and Sudan. Sudan’s road and rail network conveyed 80,000 imperial troops and 5,000 military vehicles during the course of the war, and its airfields refuelled nearly 15,000 aircraft transiting across Africa. The closure of the Mediterranean to Allied shipping as a result of Axis submarine activity meant that supplies vital to the activities of the Eighth Army in the Western Desert had to be delivered via the Cape route, rounding Africa’s southernmost tip and then proceeding along the East African coast to the Red Sea. This route, therefore, needed to be defended and cleared of the enemy. This was why the British wrested control of Madagascar and the Comoros Islands from the Vichy authorities, why Cape Town and Durban gained new prominence, and why British and Italian spy rings wrestled with each other in places such as Lourenço Marques, capital of Mozambique. Further north along this vital supply line, the Americans helped renovate the Eritrean and Somali ports of Kismayu, Massawa, and Mogadishu once the Italians had been ejected. Ports such as Colombo, Massawa, and Port Sudan became remarkably important strategic and operational hubs. The loss of Singapore meant that the naval bases of Ceylon and Mombasa assumed great strategic significance for the protection of Indian Ocean sea routes, and a secret base was established in the Maldives, leading to the arrival of thousands of troops. To protect shipping from enemy submarines and surface raiders and to guard against Japanese raids, garrisons, naval guns, and aircraft appeared in the islands of the Chagos Archipelago and the Seychelles – as well as the island of Rodrigues. New airbases were established in places such as the Cocos-Keeling Islands, where elephants were imported to manoeuvre aircraft around newly laid steel runways, in order to attack Japanese-occupied territories on the Indian Ocean rim. In this manner, ‘outposts’ gained strategic significance, and the war was physically brought home to more and more people around the world. The 1940 Anglo-American Destroyers for Bases Agreement gave America access to land in Newfoundland and numerous British islands in the Caribbean in exchange for fifty destroyers for use as convoy escorts in the Atlantic. This deal signalled a huge expansion of America’s military footprint and extended the defensive facilities of what was termed the ‘Caribbean Sea Frontier’. This expansion was deemed necessary because of the U-boat campaign in the region. In 1944, America purchased Water Island in the Virgin Islands from Denmark to protect the submarine base on nearby Saint Thomas, and the US Army’s Chemical Warfare Department used it for test purposes.

240

Ashley Jackson

Facilities in Canada, South Africa, and Southern Rhodesia enabled the RAF to prepare over 100,000 pilots and aircrew as part of the British Commonwealth Air Training Scheme, essential training that was impossible to conduct in Britain’s war-torn skies. From a base near Kandy in central Ceylon, Admiral Lord Louis Mountbatten led over a million Allied servicemen and women as Supreme Allied Commander South East Asia Command, and north-west Africa became a major Allied nerve centre and home to another major Allied command structure. Radio stations, weather stations, ports, supply bases, artillery positions, and search-and-rescue facilities were developed in Greenland as it became a stop-off for sea traffic between Europe and the Americas. Thousands of American service personnel were stationed there, and they interacted with the local population, bringing entertainment, news, commodities, and aid, developing the territory’s infrastructure in the process. It was the same the world over, the demand for base facilities or possession of strategically located places bringing servicemen and -women flooding into lands that had little choice in the matter. The arrival of foreign troops in many parts of the world represented a profound transformation for indigenous societies, their most exotic experience to date. Never mind the archetypal American servicemen in Britain, ‘oversexed, overpaid, and over here’; around the world, non-European societies were just as deeply affected by the sudden appearance in their midst of these aliens, at once powerful, frightening, fascinating, and glamourous. Buildings were requisitioned, and new barracks, camps, and office complexes, along with pillboxes and aerodromes erected. The Japanese took over the Hong Kong and Shanghai Bank’s main building in Statue Square Hong Kong for their headquarters, the British requisitioned the Gordon Memorial College on the banks of the Blue Nile in Sudan, and in Ceylon, the National Museum and all its collections were evicted by the army, and large swatches of jungle and coastline declared ‘no go’ areas so that the army could undertake jungle training and the navy could conduct live fire exercises. Communal spaces and even verdant private tennis courts and golf courses were sacrificed to the cultivation of crops, and African chiefs called out their people to create ‘war lands’ for the common good as food became scarce. Anti-locust sweeps and DDT campaigns were conducted by Allied servicemen in places as diverse as Iraq, Mauritius, and the islands of Melanesia and Polynesia, and everywhere the military transformed the landscape, flattening trees to build runways and creating mosquito breeding grounds in the bomb craters and tyre ruts that their activity left behind. Food gardens existed alongside the air raid shelters and cemeteries that attended war on the home front even far away from the front line.

Home fronts: occupation, migration, civilian labour, and resources The concept of the ‘home front’, a reified cultural presence in countries like Britain, can be extended across the world. It helps us understand the often

Afterword

241

profound impact that the war had upon people in neutral countries and the scores of colonies that characterized the international landscape at the time. More benign than the occupation of the Axis powers, the arrival of large numbers of Allied troops nevertheless constituted an occupation in many parts of the world, one that could have a transformative impact upon local societies and economies. In Vanuatu, the presence of American servicemen led to the spread of nationalism and the growth of cargo cults. In Colombo, houses were demolished in order to make firebreaks in case of enemy bombing, inventive vernacular versions of ‘careless talk costs lives’ and ‘dig for victory’ posters appeared in public places across the island, and local people joined Air Raid Precaution teams and made wooden beds (charpoys) and wooden defensive spikes ( panjiies) for the thousands of Australian and Indian soldiers pouring into the island. African troops sent to bolster its defences frightened the locals, and many fled villages near their camps for fear that they would eat their children. When the Japanese did attack Ceylon in April 1942, thousands of Sri Lankans fled inland, and at least one Buddhist monk, mistaken for a downed Japanese pilot, was murdered. Across the Bay of Bengal, bombers caused extensive damage and thousands of deaths in Rangoon and other Burmese towns, a violent prelude to three years of harrowing occupation. The Japanese occupation of the nearby Andaman and Nicobar Islands, meanwhile, led to hundreds of deaths through execution, starvation, and torture. Terror, migration, shortages, inflation, blackouts, air raids, massacres, famine, forced labour, urbanization, environmental damage, occupation, resistance, collaboration, and the devastation of combat: these were key themes in the war experience beyond the main belligerents. Alien soldiers and the paraphernalia of war disrupted lives and landscapes in many parts of the world. Thousands of Americans ended up in the strangest of places, such as Eritrea, the Gambia, Ghana, Greenland, India, Iran, Liberia, and the islands of the Caribbean and Pacific. British imperial troops choked the streets of Cairo and appeared in more and more remote towns and villages across the globe. The war witnessed the transformative rise of American power in other parts of the world where, although it did not gain new colonies, its burgeoning political, military, and economic presence carved out new patron–client relationships, spheres of influence, and regional hegemonies. The war brought American military forces, Lend-Lease aid, and – as a result – American political influence to regions where before the war America had been either unrepresented or of less significance than other external powers, usually the old colonial nations. The 1940 Destroyers for Bases Agreement with Britain gave America the right to build military bases and station troops in Newfoundland numerous British West Indian islands including Antigua, the Bahamas, Jamaica, and Trinidad. American troops, including African Americans, found their way to Australia and Fiji. In partnership with Britain, American troops took over important supply lines and air routes in the Gold Coast and Iran, and American military power in the China-Burma-India theatre went hand in hand with a growing American voice in Indian politics, not

242

Ashley Jackson

welcomed by the British but indicative of how the coming superpower sought to influence the colonial policies of the European empires as it fashioned a new, American-shaped world order and broke down the closed colonial economies of the prewar era. The world was full of military migrants and other migrants too. There were desperate retreats and death marches involving soldiers and civilians, refugees attempting to f lee Burma, Java, Malaya, Singapore, and Sumatra before the Japanese arrived, and the forced migration of civilians from strategic areas, including the removal of virtually the entire population of Gibraltar, decanted to Britain, the Caribbean, North Africa, and Madeira. Tens of thousands of Poles moved into Iran after being released from Russian labour camps, and West Indian service personnel and civilian labourers crossed the Atlantic to work in Britain and Europe. Berths were found in colonial territories such as South Africa for scores of thousands of prisoners of war. Internees included Americans and Canadians of Japanese descent, European Jews interned in a Mauritian gaol having been refused entry into Palestine, and thousands of ‘Axis’ civilians from South America interned in the Texan desert by the American Government. Chinese, Filipinos, Koreans, and Taiwanese people were shunted around by their Japanese masters, taken to the home islands as labourers and to the war zones as soldiers and workers. Perhaps as many as 200,000 women from these lands were forcibly deployed as sex slaves. The home front in colonies and neutral countries was also deeply affected by the global demand for resources; indeed, in many cases it was their resources that the major powers were fighting to acquire or protect. America latched on to Congolese uranium, and this, in turn, fed the Manhattan Project; Britain clung with a vice-like grip to its treasure trove of strategic raw materials, though the colonial plums of Southeast Asia were wrested from its grasp, Japan setting its expansionist compass according to the raw materials it coveted in American, Australian, British, Dutch, and French territories. Irreplaceable oil drawn from Iran and Iraq caused Britain to invade both countries, and in many instances demand for raw materials was met with supplies from colonies and neutral states. The loss of traditional sources of supply due to enemy action brought new suppliers into play: Japanese conquests in Southeast Asia and the East Indies meant, for example, that Ceylon and Liberia’s rubber assumed a new importance for the Allies, as did Tanzania’s sisal and pyrethrum and Nigeria’s tin. Often, these resources were extracted by compulsory labour. The labour of the people who lived in these colonies and neutral lands was crucial for the war effort of countries such as America and Britain, as were the resources of their lands, including the physical infrastructure. This was because the war was a clash of empires, of powers expanding their regional and global reach in order to pursue their strategies, a war of industrial nations utilizing the people and resources of distant lands in order to gain advantage.

Afterword

243

Conclusion The war’s presence lingers throughout the non-European world, just as it does in Britain and Germany: an elegant memorial to tens of thousands of Singaporeans killed by the Japanese raises its pinnacle opposite Raffles Hotel, the tragedy of the Bengal famine shadows India’s modern history, and the wrecks of sunken ships and downed aircraft still lie off Africa’s coastline. The literature needs robust publications that forge the links required to unite the war’s disparate pieces in order to better explain how the war ‘worked’. The war stories of the ‘big wheels’ are told and told again, but the war of the ‘small wheels’ and the cogs that enabled them to rotate are seldom understood in relation to the machine as a whole. By 1945, America had replaced Britain as the most important external power in the Mediterranean and had supplanted Britain as the guarantor of Australian and New Zealand security. By the end of the war and for long after, American forces were based all over the world, occupying and to a large extent administering the vanquished nations of Austria, Germany, Italy, and Japan and bankrolling exhausted allies such as Britain, becoming the guarantor of their security too. The war brought the Americans and Russians face to face in Iran, setting the scene for Cold War stand-off. The war established the conditions for postwar insurgency in Kenya and Malaya and for the nationalist struggles of the Algerian, Indonesian, and Vietnamese people. It transformed the situation in Palestine. As in so many European countries, the devastation of war dominated the postwar period throughout the colonial and semi-colonial world. The ruination of Burma’s colonial economy hampered its postwar progress. British scorched earth had seen the oil refineries torched, 95 per cent of the 500-strong steamer fleet of the Irrawaddy Company scuttled, 1,200 of 1,250 rail cars and 200 of 250 locomotives wrecked, and bridges destroyed. During the course of the war, two-thirds of the colony’s cattle had been commandeered, decimating agricultural output, and 80 per cent of Rangoon had to be rebuilt. The breathtaking extent of wartime activity in the non-European world, as well as the importance of the war effort of its people, needs to take the centre stage role that history, so far, has denied it.

Note 1 In this context, ‘Western’ includes Japan.

This page intentionally left blank

Index

Note: Page numbers in italics indicate figures. Abbas, Khwaja Ahmad 162–4 Abdulqadir Saqawa Din 34–5, 36 Acheson, Dean 90 Adam, Ronald 178 Air Raids Precautions (ARP) 67, 68, 71; areas of implementation 75–80; in India 75–6; political nature of 77–8 Ali, Rashid 88 Allfrey, Charles 119 Allied cause 2, 5; rhetoric applied to 6–7 Allied Forces Western Pacific (AFWESPAC) 204–5 Allied Land Forces, South East Asia (ALFSEA) 203 American Orientalism 84 Amery, Leo 78, 94, 181, 183–4, 186 Amrita Bazar Patrika 167 Anderson, John 68 Anglo-American Destroyers for Bases Agreement 239 Anglo-American Petroleum Agreement 94–5 Anglo-Canadian interoperability during Second World War see army formations, mixable and matchable Anglo-Iranian Oil Company (AIOC) 88 anti-gas protection (the gas mask) 68–9 anti-gas war preparations 71–5; India and, vulnerable areas in 74; Italy and 71–2; status of 79; Steer and 72–3; Times reports and 71–2 Anti-Nazi League of India 166 Argus, The 55 Armistice Day 212, 213 army formations, mixable and matchable 118–30; Anglo-Canadian example of 119–20; British Expeditionary force and 123–4; Canadian Army and

118–19; Canadian autonomy and 125–6; Dominions and 126–7; imperial army project and 119; Imperial General Staff and 121–2; Imperial officers on loan for 122–3, 127; language spoken and 129; manpower and 125; obstacles facing 122, 125; personality clashes within 128–9; Pope and 118–19; in Second Anglo-Boer War 120; staff connectivity and 129–30; successful examples of 119–20; War Office planners and 120–1; War Office publications for 122 Army Review, The 122 Aro, Samuel 225 ARP see Air Raids Precautions (ARP) Aryan Typewriting Institute 165 Association of Nigerian Amputated Ex-servicemen 225 Atlantic Charter 6, 89–90 AT&T 92 Attwell, K. J. 113 Australia 2 Axis soldiers 2, 5 Azad, Saif 164 Barclay’s Bank 88 Battle of Britain 1 Beaverbrook, Seal 94 Beirut brothers 168–9 Bell, Hesketh 71–2 Bengal famine 4–5 Berle, Adolf 90 Berlin Muslim Association 170 Bevin, Ernest 94 Billion Dollar Gift (BDG) 138–43 Bolton, Angela 182–3 Bombay Chronicle 162, 169 Bombay Sentinel 162, 164, 165, 166, 169

246

Index

Bose, Ashok 168 Bose, Subhas Chandra 165, 167, 168, 170–1 Braddell, Roland 111 Bratachari Movement 164 British Empire 1; civil defence measures of (see civil defence measures); financial changes to 6; guided development concept of 84–96; Italian Somalia and, 1941–1945 30–41; racial hierarchies and 4; Second World War and 1–3 British Limbless Ex-servicemen’s Association 225 British Military Administration (BMA): collective punishment used by 35–6; disarmament efforts by 32–3; as emancipators, rescuers and saviours 31; in Somalia 30–2 British Overseas Airways Corporation 88 British war finance 135–50; Canadian dollars 136–43; overview of 135–6; South African gold 143–9 Brooke, Alan 22, 128 Browning, Frederick 198 Bryson, C. L. 76 Bullard, Reader 90 Burns, E. L. M. 128 Byrnes, James 96 Cable and Wireless 88, 92 Cadogan, Alexander 89 Calcutta 2 Campbell, R. H. 17 Canadian dollars, as British war financial aid 136–43; Billion Dollar Gift and 138–43; British holdings in Canada as payment for 137; criticism of 140–1; gold as payment for 137; international reaction to 141–2; sterling as payment for 137–8 Canadian Expeditionary Force (CEF) 123 Canadian Permanent Force and Militia 123 CANLOAN programme 127 Caribbean Sea Frontier 239 Cavalry Training (War Office) 122 Chatham House version 87 Chemical Defence Research Department (CDRD) 67, 68 Chemical Defence Research Establishment (CDRE) 66, 67, 69 Cheung Chau Reservation Ordinance 113 Children’s Overseas Reception Board (CORB) 47 Chisholm, Dan 106 Churchill, Winston 70, 160

civil defence measures 66–80; Air Raids Precautions 67, 68, 71; antigas protection (the gas mask) 68–9; anti-gas war preparations 71–5; ARP implementation in most vulnerable areas 75–80; Chemical Defence Research Establishment 67, 68, 69; general civilian respirators on Indian women 66; in India 69–70; mustard gas studies 69–70; native prejudices and 66; origins of 67–71; political nature of 77–8; racial categorization and 69–70 Clark, Russell S. 113, 114 Clark, William 140 Clarke, Charles Arden 233 Clarke, F. A. S. 18 Cohen, Michael 84 cohesion, Middle East 87 Cold War 5 Colonial Development and Welfare Act 5–6, 86 colonya, years of 37 commemoration: characteristics of 212–14; in colonial Africa 212–15; competitive memory and 213; context of 215–17; defining 214; forms of 215; hegemonic aspirations of 213; resource struggles and 213–14 Committee of Imperial Defence subcommittee 87 competitive memory, commemoration and 213 Corner, E. J. H. 105 corporatism 86 Cotton, H. F. 118 Courier Mail 51–2, 62 Crerar, Harry 128 Crocker, John 128 Culbertson, William S. 94 Currie, Arthur 124 Daily Telegraph (Sydney newspaper) 49, 50 Damley, Madhav Kashinath 165 Darwin, John 86, 119 Das, Tarak Nath 166–7, 168 Defence of Freetown against Attack from the Sea 20–1 demobilisation programmes 194 Dempsey, Miles 119 Department of Labour and Industry in New South Wales 54 deserving ex-serviceman 211; arguments of 223–5; in colonial press 217–23;

Index dependents of, journalists focus on 220–2; see also Nigeria ex-servicemen Dimitrov Line of the Comintern 161 Disarmed Enemy Forces (DEF) 196 discrimination, Hong Kong evacuation to Australia and 56–62; army wives and 60–1; Chinese population assessment and 59; White Australia Policy and 56, 58–9 Dobson, Alan 92 Douglas, R. M. 70 Dreyfus, Louis 91 Durant, Tom 20 Eden, Anthony 84 Egesi, O. N. 223–4 Ethiopian Women’s Work Association 73 European Advisory Commission (EAC) 196–7; surrendering troop classifications by 197 Evatt, Herbert 141 EXODUS, Operation 200–1 Experimental Mechanized Force 126 ex-servicemen see Nigeria ex-servicemen Feis, Herbert 92 Field Service Regulations (War Office) 122 Field Service Regulations Part II (War Office) 118 First to Be Freed, The (Ministry of Information) 31 Five Senators, Truman Committee’s 94 Freetown, Sierra Leone 2; as ‘category A defended port’ 12–13; Fortress Defence Scheme for 17, 20–2 French, David 184 Gairdner, C. H. 201 Gallagher, Jack 86 gas mask see anti-gas protection (the gas mask) Geissler, Eva 168 Geneva Gas Protocol, 1925 68 gentlemanly capitalism 86 Giffard, George 11, 15–16, 18, 20, 21 Gimson, Franklin 110–11 Girl Guides 53 Girls’ Caledonian Pipe Band 53 Godfried, Nathan 86 Golden Square 88 Gracie, J. K. 106 Grantham, Alexander 114 Greater East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere 196

247

Green, Michael 15 Grigg, James 159–60, 178 Guest, Freddie 104 guided development concept, Middle East 84–96; American capitalist aggressiveness and 89–90; Anglo-American Petroleum Agreement and 94–5; Atlantic Charter signing and 89; cohesion and 87; corporatism and 86; Landis and 93; Lend-Lease dependency and 88–9, 91–2; Middle East Supply Centre and 87–8, 90–2; vs. New Deal internationalism 85–6; Saudi Arabia oil and 93–4; Treasury-induced orthodoxy and 86–7; United States in Middle East and 84–5 Haig, Douglas 121 Haldane, Richard 120 Hallett, Maurice 75 Hansa (India) Trading Company 164 Harriman, W. Averell 89 Harris, John 231 Harrop, Phyllis 104 Hastings, Max 180 Haushofer, Karl 166 Henderson, Loy 96 Heydemann, Steven 92 Hindusthan Association of Italy 167 HMS Cornwall 16 HMS Prince of Wales 89 Hobart, J. W. L. S. 19 Hoddinott, M. H. 181 Hofmeyr, Jan 146 home front concept 240–2 Hong Kong evacuation to Australia 46–62; accommodation for, suitable and affordable 53–4; announcement of 46; Brisbane reception of evacuees 51–2; comparison of, with other evacuations 47; complaints about accommodation 54–6; cooperation among governments for 46–7; discrimination and 56–62; funding for 47; information and, lack of 49–50; Manila reception of evacuees 52–3; Melbourne reception of evacuees 53, 54, 55; plan outline for 47–8, 50; Premier of Queensland and 52–3; problems entailed during 48–9; reception of evacuees, departments responsibilities for 48; rivalry among states regarding 50–2; ships used in 50; Sydney reception of evacuees 52, 53, 54 Hong Kong News 105, 106, 107–9, 112

248

Index

Hong Kong Yat Po 105 Hopper, George D. 113–14 Horniman, Benjamin Guy 162 Horrocks, Brian 129–30 Housing Commission in Victoria 54 Hull, Cordell 90 Hunt, Margaret 186 Hurley, Patrick 94 Ibbotson, A. W. 76 Ickes, Harold 90, 92 Illiff, William 91 Ilsley, James 138 Immigration Act of the Commonwealth 47 imperial army project 119 Imperial Chemical Industries 88 Imperial Japanese Army (IJA) 196 imperial prestige in Asia 195–6 India: ARP in 75–6; categories of towns in 75; civil defence measures in 66, 69–70; Dimitrov Line of the Comintern interpretation by 161; facism in 162–6; German clubs in 164; military morale in (see military morale in colonial India); pro-Nazi papers in 164; racialisation of troops 69–70 India, Nazis in 159–72; fascist propaganda and 162–6; information on 161–2; intelligence reports concerning 166–9; introduction to 159–61; National Socialism and 159; war preparations with 169–71 India and the World (Nag) 167 Indian Political Intelligence (IPI) 160 Infantry Training (War Office) 122 Infantry Training II (War Office) 118 IRONCLAD, Operation 23 Italian Somalia under British rule 2, 6, 30–41; British Military Administration and 30–2; introduction to 30–2; pacifying Somalia and 32–6; wartime labour policies and 36–40 Italo-German-Japanese Friendship Society 165 Italy chemical weapon use 71–2 Jackson, Robert 87 Japanese Department of Information 105 Japanese in postwar Southeast Asia 193–206; in French Indochina 199; imperial prestige in Asia and 195–6; introduction to 193–5; as labour force 202; labour for food production and 203–5; Rangoon agreement and 197–9,

198; repatriation shipping and 199–201, 200 ; SEP label and 196–7; South East Asia Command and 194–5; surrendering forces and 196–9 Japanese racial propaganda in British Asia 103–14; Allied nationals spreading 106; assistance from others for 105–6; British postwar policies and 111–14; British propaganda machinery and 110–11; community members to draft propaganda copy and 105; control over printed media forms and 105; to cooperate and support new racial ideals 103–4; drawing attention to racial inequalities of British colonial rule 106–7; to expose pre-war racial aggravations 107–8; to harness the support of local communities 107, 109; influence of, on thinking of captive/ non-captive British colonials 109–11; Malaya and 111, 112; overview of 103; to reinforce message of liberation from Western control 104; showing military victories 104–5 Japanese Surrendered Personnel (JSP) 195; American forces use of 204–5; as labour force 202; labour for food production and 203–5; service and civil use of 204 Jardine, Colin 186 Jardine, Douglas 13 Jeffery, Keith 86 Jenner, Dorothy 106 Journal of the Royal United Service Institution 11 Ka-cheung Tsui, Paul 113 Kahn, Richard 87 Kedourie, Elie 87 Keynes, John Maynard 87, 145 Kheiri, Abdul Jabbar 168–9 Kheiri, Abdur Sattar 168–9 Kirk, Alexander 89, 92, 94 Kolko, Gabriel 85 labour for food production 203–5 Lambie, T. A. 71 Lampson, Miles 89 Landis, James 90, 93, 94 League of Nations 68 Lebensraum theory 166 Lee, Vicky 57–8 Leese, Oliver 119, 127–9 Lelah, Albert 105–6 Lend-Lease dependency: Middle East 88–9, 91–2; UK’s financial war effort and 135–6

Index Liberty (Indian journal) 167 Linlithgow, Lord 78 Lo, Henry M. H. 113 Lohia, Ram Manohar 170 Lokhandi Morcha 165 Lo Man-Kam 57 Louis, W. R. 85 Lyttleton, Oliver 87 MacArthur, Arthur 197; South West Pacific Command (SWPC) 199 Maintenance of Order Proclamation 33 Malaviya, Madan Mohan 167 Manchester Guardian Weekly 35 Mann, Gregory 213 Mansion House speech 84 Marsh, Steve 85 Marshall, George C. 89 Masters, John 231 McNaughton, Andrew 128 Meerut Conspiracy Case 161 Mein Kampf 163 Mellor, Bernard 113 Menon, T. K. 166 Middle East Command (MEC) 87 Middle East Economic Council 94 Middle East Supply Centre (MESC) 87–8, 90–2 military morale in colonial India 176–88; assessment of 179–80; backwardness/ inefficiency of colonial state and 181–2; before 1939 177; British control and 176–7; conditions of service and 177–8; improvement to 179; military-civilian interactions and 185–7; motivation attempts for 183–4; overview of 176; political education and 180–1; sexual relations and 187–8; soldier’s mindset of India/Indians and 182–3 Militia Staff Course (MSC) 123 Millspaugh, Arthur 91 Mohammed, Shah Reza 90, 93 Monarch of Bermuda (troopship) 16 Monash, John 124 Montgomery, Bernard Law 128, 178 Mountbatten, Louis 179, 195, 197, 240 Muff, George 182 mustard gas studies 69–70 Nag, Kalidas 167 Nambiar, A. C. N. 168 Nazi propaganda machine 164 Nazis, British Indian state intelligence and 161–9

249

Nehru, Jawaharlal 161 neo-colonialist schemes 87 NEWA see Nigerian Ex-servicemen’s Welfare Association (NEWA) New Deal internationalism: Atlantic Charter and 89–90; corporatism and 86; vs. guided development concept 85–6 Nicholson, J. G. 197 Nicholson, William 122 Nigeria ex-servicemen 211–26; arguments of 223–5; commemoration in colonial Africa and 212–15; as deserving ex-serviceman in press 217–23; NEWA and 216; overview of 211–12; press coverage of 217–23; Remembrance Day and 216–17; resettlement in Nigeria and commemoration context 215–17; stereotypes of 218–20; West African Pilot editorials on 220–4 Nigerian Daily Times 218, 219 Nigerian Ex-servicemen’s Welfare Association (NEWA) 216, 217; severely disabled veterans protest at 225 Night of the Long Knives 160 Norman, Montagu 159–60 North-Coombes, Alfred 233–4 NSDAP Auslands-Organisation (NSDAP-AO) 167, 170 Numata Takaz 198 Operations: EXODUS 200–1; IRONCLAD 23; VERITABLE 129–30 Oriental Translator to the Government 165 Overy, Richard 86 Painter, David 85 Pan-American Airways 92 Paxton, Robert 161 Peak Reservation Ordinances 113 Pearl Harbor 2 Pennefather-Evans, John 110 Petersen, Tore Tingvold 86 Pillai, P. Gopal 164 Pohle, Horst 171 Pope, Maurice 118–19 Poppy Day 216, 218 Preston, Richard 123 Princely India 164–5 ‘Question of Colour: British Snobbery That Destroyed an Empire, The’ (Wong) 108 Quit India Movement 179–80 quota system 37

250

Index

Rahman, M. Habibur 165 Rangoon agreement, SEP and 197–9, 198 Red Cross 3 Reilly, Bernard 88 Remembrance Day 211, 215–17; donations 216–17; government notices for 217; Nigeria ex-servicemen; see also deserving ex-serviceman Rensuke Isogai 107 Repatriation of Allied Prisoners of War and Internees (RAPWI) 201 repatriation shipping 199–201, 200 Resettlement Act and the Employment of Ex-servicemen Ordinance 216 Reti, Erich 164 Rio Tinto Zinc 88 Roy, Bidhan Chandra 167 Royal Automobile Club of Victoria 53 Royal Military College (RMC) 123 Royal West African Frontier Force (RWAFF) 11, 18, 23 Rugman, Francis 93 Salar-e-Hind 164 Salt, W. A. 68–9 Sapru, Tej Bahadur 75–6 Sarkar, Amiya Nath 167 Sarkar, Benoy Kumar 161, 167, 168 Schacht, Hjalmar 154, 165, 171 Second World War: Anglo-Canadian interoperability during (see army formations, mixable and matchable); bases and supply routes during 238–40; British Empire and 1–2; British innovations after 111–14; Canadian Army and (see army formations, mixable and matchable); civil defence measures in (see civil defence measures); colonies, neutral states, lesser allies and 235–6; evacuees from Hong Kong in Australia during (see Hong Kong evacuation to Australia); fighting in, beyond Europe 232–5; financing for (see British war finance); fiscal priorities of 6; historiography of 230–2; home front concept and 240–2; Japanese racial propaganda in British Asia during 103–14; moral imperatives of 5; Nigeria and (see Nigeria ex-servicemen); other wars/campaigns during 236–8; as pivot for international history 5; Sierra Leone and (see Sierra Leone); Somalia and (see Somalia); South Africa and (see South Africa)

Selassie, Haile 72 SEP see Surrendered Enemy Personnel (SEP) Sheppard, Mervyn (Mubin) 112 Shinwell, Manny 186 Sierra Leone 2, 10–25; British troops role in 17–18; Defence of Freetown against Attack from the Sea 20–1; during First World War 11; Fortress Defence Scheme 17, 20–2; Freetown, as ‘category A defended port’ 12–13; German attack on Low Countries/France and 14–15; Giffard and 15–16, 18, 20, 21; military strength of 21; political structure changes and 22–3; RWAFF Battalion 11, 13–14; Second World War experience of 10; strategic position and harbour of 10–11, 13; transfer of forces from 24–5; Woolner and 18–19 Sierra Leone Heavy Battery Royal Artillery 12 Singapore 2 Sir Alexander Gibb and Partners 88 Slim, William 188 Sloss, Duncan 111–12 Società Agricola Italo-Somala (SAIS) 39–40 soft power 86 Somalia: agricultural enterprises and 36–7; British Military Administration in 30–2; under British rule, 1941–1945 30–41; collective punishments in 33–4, 35–6; disillusionment towards Allied powers by 34–5; looting and cattle raiding in 33–4; pacifying 32–6; Società Agricola Italo-Somala and 39–40; wartime labour policies 36–40 South Africa 2; gold as British war financial aid 143–9; homefront issues of 146; overseas trade of 144; payment of overseas forces and 147–9; Sterling Area relationship of 143; UK issues with, gold trade 144–5; white/non-white populations and 146–7 South China Morning Post 57, 58 South East Asia Command (SEAC) 179, 194–5; boundaries of 194 ; documents for surrender and 197; Japanese troops as security risk to 199–200; repatriation shipping and 199–201, 200 ; Surrendered Enemy Personnel and 195 South West Pacific Command (SWPC) 199 Spears, Edward 92 Spirit of the Times (Nazi paper) 163 Stanley Internment Camp 106, 109–10

Index Steer, George 72–3 Sterling Area 136, 137–8 Stettinius, Edward 91, 92, 94 Stilwell, Joseph 177 Stoff, Michael 86 Sunday Telegraph (Sydney newspaper) 53 Supreme Allied Commander, South East Asia (SACSEA) 195 Surrendered Enemy Personnel (SEP) 195, 196; Rangoon agreement and 197–9, 198 surrendering forces, classifications of 197 Swadeshi Movement 167 swastika 163 Swinton, Lord 22–3 Syonan Shimbun 105, 110

251

United Nations 5 United Nations Relief and Rehabilitation Agency 3 United States of America 5 van Engert, Cornelius 92 VERITABLE, Operation 129–30 Victorian Graduates’ Association 53 Vitalis, Bob 85, 86, 87 Voice of Nippon 110

Tagore, Soumyendranath 161–2 Tait, Campbell 22 Terauchi Hisaichi 198 Thierfelder, Franz 167 Thomas, Martin 237 Tignor, Robert 86 Tilak, Bal Gangadhar 165 Times 71, 111 Times of India 165, 181 Training and Manoeuvre Regulations (War Office) 122 Trikal 165 Truman Committee 94 Tsehai, Princess 72 Tucci, Giuseppe 167

Wardrobe, F. K. 225 War Office in London 11, 15–16 wartime labour policies, Somalia 36–40 Wasserstein, Bernard 106 Wavell, Archibald 186, 187 Welles, Sumner 89 West African Pilot 218, 220, 221–2, 223, 224 West African Regiment (WAR) 11 Westinghouse 92 White Australia Policy 56, 58–9 Wilson, Harold 86 Wilson, Henry 125 Winant, Fred C. 91, 92 Winter, J. 212 Women’s Auxiliary National Service 53 Women’s Council of the League of Nations Union 72 Wong, Peter M. 108 Woolner, Christopher 18–19 Wüst, Walther 167

undeclared empire 86 United Kingdom Commercial Corporation (UKCC) 88

Young, Mark 113 Young Women’s Christian Association 53 Yuji, Aida 202