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Periodical article Periodical article Leiden University catalogue Leiden University catalogue WorldCat catalogue WorldCat
Title:The Air Factor in West Africa's Colonial Defence, 1920-1945: A Neglected Theme
Author:Akinyeye, Yomi
Year:2001
Periodical:Itinerario: European Journal of Overseas History
Volume:25
Issue:1
Pages:9-24
Language:English
Geographic terms:West Africa
Great Britain
France
Subjects:colonialism
colonial forces
History and Exploration
Military, Defense and Arms
Abstract:The colonial military history of British and French West Africa has received copious attention from historians and soldiers. However, in the discussion of West Africa's colonial military history and the role of the colonies in the two world wars, hardly any reference is made to the air factor. This article examines the air factor in West Africa's colonial defence in the period 1920-1945. It shows that though the strategic importance of West Africa remained constant in the interwar years, the attitudes of Britain and France to the air defence of the subregion differed. While the British were indifferent to the air defence of West Africa, the French were very active. The outbreak of the Second World War, however, revealed the inadequacy of British neglect of air defence in West Africa. The changed situation after 1940 following the collapse of France made West Africa assume greater strategic importance than had been envisaged by British defence planners. The formidable air strength of the French in the region, which had earlier given the British a false sense of security, now caused them much anxiety. This ultimately led to the establishment of the West African Air Corps. With the change in the tide of the war at the end of 1942 and the reduced scale of external threat, followed by the restoration of friendly relations with France, British apathy to the defence of West Africa returned. France, however, continued to improve its air defence in the subregion. Notes, ref.
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