5 Facts About the British and Commonwealth Armies and the Second World War

1. Letters by those in the British and Commonwealth Armies were censored

This was done by the military establishment, who turned the letters into regular intelligence reports. 925 of these censorship summaries, based on 17 million letters sent between the battle and home fronts during the war, still survive today.

2. Soldiers voted in key elections during the conflict

The soldiers who fought to defend democracy were also periodically required to partake in it. Elections were held in Australia in 1940 and 1943, in South Africa and New Zealand in 1943 and in Canada and the United Kingdom in 1945. A referendum on state powers was held in Australia in 1944.

3. The victory campaigns of 1944/45 were built on a remarkable transformation in tactics

The British and Commonwealth Armies demonstrated a remarkable ability to reform and adapt in the extraordinarily challenging situation that unfolded after the catastrophic defeats in France, the Middle and Far East between 1940 and 1942. In the immediate aftermath of defeat, they developed a risk averse firepower heavy solution to tackling the Axis on the battlefield.

4. There was a major change in the way the army was trained…

It soon became apparent to wartime leaders and military commanders that training lay at the heart of problems facing the British and Commonwealth Armies in the first half of the war. In Britain, Australia and India, vast training institutions were established where many thousands of soldiers could practice the art of fighting.

5. …and in the way military morale was managed

The British and Commonwealth Armies came to understand that when the stress of combat pushed soldiers to, and beyond, their limits, they needed strong ideological motivations and an effective welfare management system as a bulwark to crisis. For these reasons, the armies of the British Empire developed comprehensive army education and welfare processes.

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