History GCSE: How the colonies made WW1 a global war

David Olusoga reflects on the global scope of World War One and the millions of non-European people who took part in the war.

He visits the starting point of the war where Alhaji Grunshi fired the first British shot fired against German troops in Togoland.

He discusses the impact of the war on Africa and we hear from historian Santanu Das who suggests that World War One is remembered as a white war despite the contribution of millions of people from the colonies of Africa, Asia and the Americas.

Teacher Notes

This could be used as a stimulus for an investigation into the role and impact of empire citizens in the First World War.

Students could begin by mind mapping what they know about the war, and what it may suggest about traditional perspectives on the conflict.

They could then devise open and closed questions about the involvement of empire troops, to be answered at the end of their project.

Curriculum Notes

These films are suitable for teaching History at Key Stage 4 in England, Wales and Norther Ireland and at 4th Level in Scotland.

The Belgian priest and the colonial troops in WW1
video
The Chinese Labour Corps in WW1
video
British Indian soldiers who deserted to get home
video
La Force Noire - West African troops in the French army
video
The African American war hero who had to fight for France
video
Overcoming racial stereotypes in France in WW1
video
Indian soldiers and friendship in WW1
video
Voices of Indian soldiers in WW1
video
The Indian flying ace of WW1
video