The Commonwealth Armies: Manpower and Organisation in Two World Wars

TitleThe Commonwealth Armies: Manpower and Organisation in Two World Wars
Publication TypeBook
Year of Publication1988
AuthorsPerry, F. W.
Number of Pages250
PublisherManchester University Press

During both World Wars, the armies of Britain and the Commonwealth countries were mobilized and enlarged by volunteers and conscripts. This volume places in perspective the military capability of the various states of the Commonwealth. "Nation" status is recognition under international law of a legal condition and relationship among states. However, in military capability not all "nations" are equal, and the author succinctly discusses the manpower limitations of the states of the Commonwealth, which in turn affected strategy and military operations. The Commonwealth had a numerically limited manpower pool in the European heritage nations, and the author clearly illustrates this in his discussions about Canada and Australia. Conversely, India, with its large population and seemingly unlimited manpower, could field only minimal forces suitable for the modern battlefield because of vast cross-cultural communication problems amid her diverse peoples and, most importantly, limited education levels of its potential soldiers. The author concludes that in response to political and public demands, the Commonwealth armies--particularly the British--were expanded far more than was justified by manpower resources. Yielding to these pressures led political and military leaders to deceive themselves into thinking their country was stronger than it really was. Better planning before the war might have resulted in both more effective use of a scarce resource and more reasonable political objectives.

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