During the Second World War, over 9,000 men from several colonies, protectorates and mandate territories fought for the British Empire. These forces represented a significant shift in naval policy towards the recruitment of colonial manpower at a time of distinct pressures on British imperialism. This book examines the impact of colonial naval forces, by analyzing the 'official' and 'subaltern' sources in the United Kingdom, the Caribbean, East Africa, Southeast Asia and Hong Kong. The Trinidad Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve (TRNVR) was formed to defend the island's oil supply to British oil-fired ships. The book also looks at the experience of the Cayman Islanders who volunteered to serve in the TRNVR. An East African case study focuses on Kenya and Zanzibar before and after the Second World War. The Kenya Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve (KRNVR) was the first colonial naval force in the British Empire; local naval forces were also formed in Zanzibar and Tanganyika. In the analysis of Southeast Asia and the Malacca Straits, the book discusses, inter alia, origins of Malaya's naval forces, and analyses the issues of force expansion and 'Malaysianisation' during the Malayan Emergency and decolonisation. There was an initial reluctance on the Navy to recruit the Chinese, but with their overwhelming majority in Hong Kong, their enlistment in the Hong Kong Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve (HKRNVR) was unavoidable. The post-war evolution of Hong Kong's naval force as it adjusted to the roles of Communist China's emergence and Britain's declining world are also examined.
reinforcing imperial hierarchies; and debates
regarding the post-war imperial mission of the local Navy, centring on
issues of Caribbean politics, prestige and prejudice.
When the TRNVR extended recruitment across the Caribbean,
it raised issues around the status of different West Indian groups, with
the British exhibiting particular preference for CaymanIslanders. 52 Chapter Three therefore provides
possibilities such association offered,
considering that ‘as a potential source of seamen for the
Auxiliary Patrol Service, these ready-made sailors seem to justify
every encouragement’. 81 Subsequent visits reaffirmed the opinion that
‘the CaymanIslanders … would make fine material on
which to draw in time of war, in the same way as the Newfoundland
fishermen were in the last war’. 82