About Me

My photo
Web person at the Imperial War Museum, just completed PhD about digital sustainability in museums (the original motivation for this blog was as my research diary). Posting occasionally, and usually museum tech stuff but prone to stray. I welcome comments if you want to take anything further. These are my opinions and should not be attributed to my employer or anyone else (unless they thought of them too). Twitter: @jottevanger

Thursday, February 06, 2014

Collection distractions #3: West African Troops in India During the Second World War

At least here in the UK, we tend to think about the British Empire in terms of the relationships between Britain and its dominions, and the British and the people of those countries. Of course that's very blinkered, but probably true nevertheless. Seeing the picture below suddenly reminded me that the people in those many and varied parts of the world had their own relationships too - they weren't only connected through the personage of whoever was on the throne in London at the time. Of course, when these West African and Indian soldiers met was an extraordinary situation - these people and their homelands having been drawn into a second gigantic war that started so far away but turned the world upside down. And I have no idea how they felt about Britain, the British, the Empire, or one another, but seeing these faces mixed together was like turning on a light for me.

WEST AFRICAN TROOPS IN INDIA DURING THE SECOND WORLD WAR
WEST AFRICAN TROOPS IN INDIA DURING THE SECOND WORLD WAR © IWM (IND 2864)

Within five years of this picture being taken India gained independence, which reached Ghana, the last of the West African territories, in 1965. Shortly after that the British Empire was pretty much history, but like the two world wars themselves its legacy is easily detected.

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

No, Jez, Ghana (ex-Gold Coast) was the first, not the last, British colony/protectorate in Africa to gain independence, which it did in 1957. If only you had collected stamps for longer!

Jeremy said...

Damn, I will never trust Wikipedia again! :-)