Unfit for heroes

Reconstruction and Soldier Settlement in the Empire Between the Wars

Research on soldier settlement has to be set within the wider history of emigration and immigration. This book examines two parallel but complementary themes: the settlement of British soldiers in the overseas or 'white' dominions, Australia, Canada, New Zealand and South Africa, between 1915 and 1930. One must place soldier settlement within the larger context of imperial migration prior to 1914 in order to elicit the changes in attitude and policy which occurred after the armistice. The book discusses the changes to Anglo-dominion relations that were consequent upon the incorporation of British ex-service personnel into several overseas soldier settlement programmes, and unravels the responses of the dominion governments to such programmes. For instance, Canadians and Australians complained about the number of ex-imperials who arrived physically unfit and unable to undertake employment of any kind. The First World War made the British government to commit itself to a free passage scheme for its ex-service personnel between 1914 and 1922. The efforts of men such as L. S. Amery who attempted to establish a landed imperial yeomanry overseas is described. Anglicisation was revived in South Africa after the second Anglo-Boer War, and politicisation of the country's soldier settlement was an integral part of the larger debate on British immigration to South Africa. The Australian experience of resettling ex-servicemen on the land after World War I came at a great social and financial cost, and New Zealand's disappointing results demonstrated the nation's vulnerability to outside economic factors.


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