British use African, West Indian colonial troops in Europe in both WWI, WIII

Discussion in 'Alternate History Discussion: After 1900' started by Melvin Loh, May 16, 2009.

  1. Melvin Loh Member

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    OK, during both WWI & WWII, Britain raised & used black African & West Indian troops in action in the colonies, such as Gallipoli, East Africa & Mesopotamia during WWI, together with Abyssinia & Burma during WWII- but for the most part these black British troops- such as the King's African Rifles, the Royal West African Frontier Force, the West Indies Regt- were never, unlike Indian Army troops, sent to fight in Europe against the Germans. Now, WI they had been ?
     
  2. ARoadWarrior Member

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    They would have fought the germans?
     
  3. oudi14 oudi14

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    This will probably sound unkind, or racist, but colonial troops, except for those of European ancestry, could not be expected to fight effectively against the Germans in France. They probably could have matched blow for blow against the Italians in war 2, provided that they had good British officers with them. Colonials were certainly capable of fighting effectively when they were fighting to defend their homeland, look how well Von Lettow's force did in Tanganyika. For that matter, how well did the Portugese do on the wesern front? British tommies had to be ordered to stop referring to them as 'the bloody Portugese'. When you are forced to fight someone else's fight, you don't do as well.
     
  4. boynamedsue Banned

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    You're right, it does sound racist. Particularly given hundreds of Arabs and Africans died fighting for the Free French to liberate the South of France from the fascist scum. You dishonour their memory.
     
  5. SeanB World's Greatest Serial Killer

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    Chill. He is right for the most part. Africans would have been more reluctant to die in Europe than they would in Africa. This is rather common sense, wouldn't you agree?
     
  6. Stalin's Pipe Organs Banished from AH

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    Yes, but it is not very politically correct to say... :rolleyes:
     
  7. SeanB World's Greatest Serial Killer

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    I share your eye roll at the words politically correct. But you shouldn't distort historical facts for the sake of political correctness. That's a firm belief of mine.
     
  8. Calgacus Emperor of the North Pole

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    But North African troops did alright fighting for the French. In fact they were particularly feared by the Germans, much like the Spanish Moroccan troops in the SCW. I see no reason why they wouldn't have done well, assuming they were well trained/equipped. I'm not sure where "motivation" comes into it - the Foreign Legion have always done well, and like them, the West Indian/African troops would be volunteers. More than could be said for European troops.

    The Portuguese troops performed poorly due to their training and equipment, just like the Italians and Romanians in Barbarossa. It doesn't really come down to motivation, I don't think.
     
  9. Landshark The Falcon!

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    No I wouldn't.

    Considering British African troops fought in North Africa and Burma why would they be any more reluctant to fight in Europe.

    By your logic British soldiers wouldn't be prepared to fight outside Europe nor Canadian ones outside North America.
     
  10. Looseheadprop Tongasaurus

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    What about the Aussies, New Zealanders and other commonwealth forces? they established heroic reputations as fighters in both wars and the fought in places distant from their homes. the Maori divisions were particularly feared by the germans, and they certainly had no loyalty to britain.

    the fact is properly trained, well armed and skillfully led soldiers of any nationality would be able to take on the germans and win, no matter how far from home they were.
     
  11. Landshark The Falcon!

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    And what about the Ghurkas? Nepal wasn't even part of the Empire so why were they so keen to fight for it?
     
  12. MacCaulay Banned

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    In World War I, the British didn't have the ability to bring any colonial African troops in because they were fighting in Africa against Paul von Lettow-Vorbeck's Colonial German force.

    They managed to tie Allied troops down to the point where they actually sent in whole divisions from India, and the South African Army in 1916, led by Jan Smuts (of Boer War fame) who finally wore him down.

    Had the British, for whatever reason, shipped their colonial units out of Africa and to the western front at any time during the African campaign, they would've been in a much tougher position vis a vis Vorbeck's force in the inland jungle.

    The British simply ate men up by the bushel chasing him and his Askaris, and if they had less people, it would've just made the job tougher. There's no way that (barring a German victory) Vorbeck could've brought around a German hold on the colonies, but the British seemed to be very good at finding ways to run their colonial war worse. Vorbeck was very good at finding ways to exploit it.
     
  13. SeanB World's Greatest Serial Killer

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    You're all missing the point. These people were fighting to help their allies. The US had war declared on it by Germany in WWII, and considered itself to have been attacked by Germany in WWI. The Africans on the other hand would be dragged from their homes and forced to fight for people who were exploiting them and their homelands. It's a completely different situation!
     
  14. Metro Well-Known Member

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  15. Calgacus Emperor of the North Pole

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    Indeed, Senegalese sharpshooters were some of the most effective troops of WW1. I'm not sure why the effectiveness of Colonial Troops was ever doubted.
     
  16. boynamedsue Banned

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    Ahhhh yes, common sense. Common sense is the God posters appeal to when the historical evidence fails them.

    British Colonial troops were used more in Africa because they were more resistant to heat and deseases, but they did fight the Germans, as did Indian troops. They performed as well as anybody. French Africans fought even more widely, and were excellent troops.

    Stalin's Organs: Politically Correct is a term invented by right wingers who are upset they can't call the shoe shine BOY a darkie. I'm upset because certain posters here are trying to pass off racist historical fallacies as truth, that has nothing to do with "political correctness".
     
  17. Looseheadprop Tongasaurus

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    the germans played the defenders of lille out to their regimental tune (one of the higher honours one can pay to a surrendering force) only to discover most of them were black

    the last troops to hold out in northern france were the vietnamese machine gunners on the maginot line
     
  18. I Blame Communism Banned

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    Oh dear of dear. I shall have to address all this nonsense individually.

    Yes. They already, in fact, did.

    How unkind, not to mention racist! After all, Indian colonial troops did well in France, so the only logical backing for your argument is that whites are better than browns are better than blacks.

    Ironically, however, you also spout the PC nonsense that that there was any sense of Tanganyikan patriotism in the the WW1 period. A soldier from the south of German East would not have considered the people from the north his countrymen even if they shared a common language, which was not always. After all, there were many ancient tribal rivalries. Von Lettow-Vorbeck's force did well because they were well-trained, well-equipped, and above all well-led. The British KAR were not defending their homes (come to that, nor when the Indians or the British), but they were acknowledged as splendid troops, equal to the Askari. They were just not used so effectively.

    I live not so much closer to the Front than the average Portuguese chap, but the British forces did fine in France. The Portuguese did poorly because of how ill-equipped and ill-officered they were.

    No. There was no sense of African identity or consciousness, so while a Senegalese in France may have been a long way from home, so was a Kenyan in southern Tangyika.

    I broadly agree, but the Maori aren't really a valid comparison. By this time I'd imagine they'd have a strong sense of loyalty to NZ at least and NZ in turn had a sense of loyalty to Britain. That goes doubly for white ANZAC troops. A much better example is the Ghurkas and the Indian troops.

    Wow, you have a funny idea of "all-volunteer".

    Because the KAR and Askari and Senegalese and so on were all, in face, volunteers. However, I'm going to humour you and pretend that Britain was in fact dragging people from their homes.

    So, why did the Indians perform so well? We were exploiting them, too.

    All true facts and solid opinions, but in my opinion Political Correctness Gone Made exists and is not purely a far right invention.

    Landshark, Calgacus, Macauley, couldn't agree with you chaps more.
     
    Last edited: May 17, 2009
  19. bm79 Citoyen Louisianais

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    As others have stated in this thread, Moroccan, Senegalese and Indochinese forces served with distinction in the French army during both wars. In fact, the African forces in WWI were considered the élite of the French army, given their experience in fighting in colonial conflicts and the quality of their officer corps and the volunteer troops. They were usually in the first wave of any French offensive and suffered horrendous casualties, yet recruitment never lagged.

    I think that the main, if not the sole, reason the Brits didn't employ black troops on the Western Front was that they didn't have to. The populations of British possessions in the Caribbean and Africa paled in comparison to India and the White dominions.
     
  20. stevep Member

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    bm79

    Might have been also that Britain was more dominated by a more paternalistic view of the empire. Or possibly racist in the Kipling rather than the BNP manner. I.e. thinking of the Africans as too primitive/childlike to be up to modern high intensity warfare. As other posters have said the behaviour of the French African troops showed that African troops could perform in Europe doesn’t mean that others accepted this.

    Steve