Would Britain have been able to hold out against the Germans without their empire?

Jan 2015
3,320
Front Lines of the Pig War
#11
RAF was boosted by significant numbers of Australian, Canadian, and NZ pilots.
We were being ground down in BoB and the commonwealths pilots gave us much needed .
Indeed, but none of these countries were colonies at the time, and were not obliged to go to war when Britain did

The Colonies themselves did not provide many pilots
 
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Jan 2015
3,320
Front Lines of the Pig War
#12
RAF was boosted by significant numbers of Australian, Canadian, and NZ pilots.
We were being ground down in BoB and the commonwealths pilots gave us much needed men.

Though no empire means a very tiny army. Maybe 6-8 Divisions maximum possibly as low as 4. So no war in Asia means not much. We wouldn't have had the troops any way. Our navy wouldn't be very big. We'd be militarily somewhere between the Netherlands and Spain.

With no empire we would have been a small military nation with little power projection. We'd have been not been able to withstand a German onslaught.
They'd have numerical and financial superiority.

Though I suppose it would depend on if we HAD an empire but it broke up
1) before WW1 in which case WW1 is a German victory and there's no WW2.
2) we win WW1 and the empire collapses peacefully but bitter and Aus/Can/NZ/India/S.Africa become republics and our ties are severed. In which case we'd be shedding soldiers and boats all through the 20s but might be left with a residual army that is still bigger than we need..
3) the empire never existed. After the AWI Canada joins USA, we get booted out of India in the 1780s too and retreat from all outposts. In which case it's likely we'd be fringe nation and a bit of an oddity. Trade with Europe but neither powerful or involved in her affairs. We'd be like a Sweden or Portugal. Only important in regional affairs. So WW1 might not even involve us but imagine Germany loses anyway and WW2 kicks off. Highly likely we stay neutral, even friendly with Germany and sell stuff to both sides. But if we were dragged into it. We'd have no financial muscle, a 10th of our manpower, no ships and no supply of tea .....
To answer this question properly, we really need to know what "no Colonial empire" means.

And let me add another option, 4.) On Aug 31, 1939 the British government declares all the colonies independent, and gives them all Dominion status
 
Jun 2015
5,723
UK
#13
I don't think the UK proper relied on its empire for materiel, or troops. I won't include Canada or Anzacs, not out of disrespect to Canada, Australia or New Zealand, but they were independent by then. Same with South Africa too.

Most British personnel were British, with some Indians, Caribbeans and Africans making up a minority. Most Indian British personnel were in the Indian/Burmese front, and the UK had secured oil dumps prior to the war from Iran and its colonies in Africa and the Caribbean.

There were imports of course, but much of the coal, ore, and wood to make ships, guns, helmets or arms were from British sources.
 
Jun 2015
5,723
UK
#14
RAF was boosted by significant numbers of Australian, Canadian, and NZ pilots.
We were being ground down in BoB and the commonwealths pilots gave us much needed men.

Though no empire means a very tiny army. Maybe 6-8 Divisions maximum possibly as low as 4. So no war in Asia means not much. We wouldn't have had the troops any way. Our navy wouldn't be very big. We'd be militarily somewhere between the Netherlands and Spain.

With no empire we would have been a small military nation with little power projection. We'd have been not been able to withstand a German onslaught.
They'd have numerical and financial superiority.

Though I suppose it would depend on if we HAD an empire but it broke up
1) before WW1 in which case WW1 is a German victory and there's no WW2.
2) we win WW1 and the empire collapses peacefully but bitter and Aus/Can/NZ/India/S.Africa become republics and our ties are severed. In which case we'd be shedding soldiers and boats all through the 20s but might be left with a residual army that is still bigger than we need..
3) the empire never existed. After the AWI Canada joins USA, we get booted out of India in the 1780s too and retreat from all outposts. In which case it's likely we'd be fringe nation and a bit of an oddity. Trade with Europe but neither powerful or involved in her affairs. We'd be like a Sweden or Portugal. Only important in regional affairs. So WW1 might not even involve us but imagine Germany loses anyway and WW2 kicks off. Highly likely we stay neutral, even friendly with Germany and sell stuff to both sides. But if we were dragged into it. We'd have no financial muscle, a 10th of our manpower, no ships and no supply of tea .....
I don't agree.

In most major British engagements, well Allied engagements, the good majority of troops were from the UK proper.

The BEF was. The invasion of Iceland, Dunkerque evacuation, Fall of Singapore, Burma offensive, North Africa Campaign, Sicily/Italy invasion, Operation Overlord, Market Garden, Crossing the Rhine, taking of Hamburg, etc.

In Overlord, the British had the majority of troops on Juno Beach, though under a Canadian general. On Sword and Gold beaches, most if not all troops were British.

It is true there were many Commonwealth, Free French, Czech, Soviet, Hungarian, Polish and other nationalities in the RAF in the Battle of Britain. But then France was never a British colony, neither was the USSR or Poland, and these were primarily defectors. The Nazis used USSR defectors and French defectors too, any side in any war would if it were to its advantage.
 

Bish

Ad Honorem
Dec 2011
8,206
Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk.
#16
In the early years of the war Britain was making about 2000 planes per year; the Germans 1000.
Per year?

British aircraft production was never double that of Germany.

Britain

1939 - 7,940
1940 - 15,049
1941 - 20,094
1942 - 23,672
1943 - 26,263
1944 - 26,461
1945 - 12,070
Total - 131,549

1939 - 8,295
1940 - 10,826
1941 - 12,401
1942 - 15,409
1943 - 24,807
1944 - 40,593
1945 - 7,540
Total - 119,871

These figures do vary and I have seen some which gives German production in 1942 at over 25,000. From Wiki.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/World_War_II_aircraft_production

Big difference in the German figures, but understandable.
 
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Jan 2015
3,320
Front Lines of the Pig War
#17
I don't agree.

In most major British engagements, well Allied engagements, the good majority of troops were from the UK proper.
Partly/Mostly wrong I'm afraid...

The BEF was. The invasion of Iceland, Dunkerque evacuation,
The BRITISH expeditionary force was almost all British of course, ;) but they were only a small part of the Battle of France.

Fall of Singapore
Nope, at the start of the Malaya campaign there were 31 Allied battalions, of which 6 were British.
By the Fall of Singapore 9 more British battalions had arrived, along with about 8 Indian/Australian.
North Africa Campaign
,

Which battle?
In the Siege of Tobruk the majority were Australian, as was the invasion of the Levant.
 
Jan 2015
3,320
Front Lines of the Pig War
#18
In Overlord, the British had the majority of troops on Juno Beach, though under a Canadian general. On Sword and Gold beaches, most if not all troops were British.

I.
Where in the world did you get those stats?
21,000 troops landed at Juno on 6 June, of which more than 2/3 were Canadian, of the 3rd CAN division and the Canadian 2nd Armoured brigade.
 
Feb 2016
4,357
Japan
#19
And the reason we had so many British troops? Policing the empire. No empire pre WW2 means smaller army and navy.

So we'd not be able to contest the Germans in North Africa AND Europe. Our small navy would mean Germany could blockade us easier. We'd almost certainly not get involved I'd think. If we did it would be the same rough start to 39-40 followed by peace after a afrench collapse or successful German invasion.
 
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martin76

Ad Honorem
Dec 2014
6,488
Spain
#20
Yes, With or without Empire... it continues being an Island... and Germany with or without British Empire... continued without Fleet... so yes. Britain could have held out against Germany...
Different it would have been if Britian lost the Navy and German would have had a fleet as in 1914...