Causes of war and the war years

Indian soldiers serving with the British Army, at camp during World War One Indian soldiers serving with the British Army at camp during World War One
Indian soldiers serving with the British Army engage in a friendly boxing match, circa 1916 Indian soldiers serving with the British Army engage in a friendly boxing match, circa 1916

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The Moose Jaw Legion of Frontiersmen 1914: The Canadian Volunteers, also known as The Moose Jaw Legion of Frontiersmen, joined as part of the Princess Patricia's Light Infantry.
 Soldiers in the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps with their one year old pet kangaroo 'Joey' 24th August 1916: Soldiers in the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps with their one year old pet kangaroo 'Joey'
South African Soldiers October 1915: South African soldiers stationed at Bexhill with their baboon mascot
Commanding officers of the Rhodesian volunteers, B.S.A. (British South Africa) Police, with escorts of native troops in the centre Commanding officers of the Rhodesian volunteers, B.S.A. (British South Africa) Police, with escorts of native troops in the centre
September 1915: Rhodesian soldiers getting off a train in the desert in the war in South West Africa. (Photo by Hulton Archive/Getty Images) September 1915: Rhodesian soldiers getting off a train in the desert in the war in South West Africa.
Scottish Soldiers on the Western Front during WW1 From Britain: Scottish soldiers taking a break on the Western Front - the man at the centre is firing a rifle grenade
Canadian military recruitment poster Your King and Country Need You! Canadian poster appealing for people to join the armed forces. It shows the four allies of Belgium, France, Russia and Britain.

Even though most of the fighting happened in Europe, the war actually involved people from all over the world. Great Britain, Germany, Russia and Austria-Hungary all ruled empires. This meant that they had colonies all over the world. These colonies sent munitions, supplies, food and soldiers to help their ruling countries in the war effort.

Help from around the world

The British Empire's colonies sent over two and a half million men to fight for Britain during the war. Out of these colonies, India sent the most soldiers. At that time, India included both Pakistan and Bangladesh. However, it was not just India that sent men to fight. Colonies as far away as Canada, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa and Rhodesia (which is now Zimbabwe) also sent thousands of soldiers to help Britain. That meant that Britain had soldiers fighting for it from five different continents: Europe, North America, Australasia, Asia and Africa.

Independence

The colonies fought hard to help Britain in the war but they questioned if they deserved a chance to rule themselves. Within the colonies, many people wanted to have their own governments and not be ruled by Britain anymore. Britain saw how much these colonies helped during the war and decided that some could be given more freedom once the war ended. This was the first step towards some countries later ruling themselves completely.

Teachers' notes

Teachers' notes and classroom ideas looking at causes of the war and the war years.

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