Indigenous Peoples of the British Dominions and the First World War, by Timothy C. Winegard
New York: Cambridge University Press, 2011. Pp. xviii, 312. Illus., maps, tables, notes, biblio., index. $99.00. ISBN: 110701493X.
The role of Britain’s Indian and colonial troops during the Great War has been
well covered in the literature, but no so that of the “indigenous peoples” of the
self-governing dominions (Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Newfoundland, and
South Africa), making this a pioneering work.
Winegard (Colorado Mesa University) devotes nearly a third of the book to
background on the Dominion “natives,” their earlier military service, and
settler attitudes, subjects largely overlooked in most histories. He notes that although “native” auxiliaries
often served in colonial conflicts, by 1914, the Dominions had largely excluded
the original inhabitants, and people of “mixed race” or other non-European
origins, from regular military service, usually on the specious grounds that
most of them were not sufficiently “martial.”
Yet when war came in 1914, many of these people offered to serve. Initially they were usually rejected, but by
1915, as the war, and the casualty lists, grew longer, “military pragmatism”
prompted more attention to service by the first peoples. Winegard covers the decision to recruit the
indigenous peoples and their service in rather more than half the book, and
even includes a look at how this service affected the “Home Front.” He concludes with a short chapter on the
postwar experience of these men, which was usually negative, as their service
was virtually erased from the record until recently.
ground-breaking work on British and Dominion military policy in the First World
War and the evolution of Dominion citizenship.
Reviewer: A. A. Nofi, Review Editor
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