The demobilized African soldier and the blow to white prestige
in Guardians of empire
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During the Second World War, a striking sense of fear permeated imperial discussions of the likely consequences of the demobilization of colonial troops. Officials feared that colonial troops would at once see the weakness of imperial control and the decline of white prestige. The fears articulated towards the returning colonial soldier were an expression of an acute imperial sensitivity towards the problem of control. The experience of the Second World War, especially the setbacks in Asia, intensified imperial insecurities. From contemporary imperial accounts it seems that the returning African soldier had come to personify the imminent danger to the colonial order. During the Second World War, the African colonies provided an important pool of recruitment for the European imperial powers. Accounts of demobilized soldiers in official and specialist publications continually linked their experience abroad to the decline of white prestige.

Guardians of empire

The armed forces of the colonial powers c. 1700–1964

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