Paths to War pp 269-296 | Cite as

Why the British Dominions Declared War

  • Ritchie Ovendale


The decision of the ‘old’ Dominions in September 1939 to fight at Britain’s side may be seen as an instance of the power of sentiment in politics. Possibly, in the end, what counted most were ties of kith and kin and a patriotic allegiance to the mother country. Viewed from the standpoint of the Dominions, this sentiment found expression mainly through the actions of certain Dominion statesmen who accepted the need for Commonwealth solidarity.1 But an examination of British records confirms that British statesmen were constantly alive to the importance of a united front and skilfully shaped their policy in order to ensure the evolution of Dominion sentiment.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Notes and References

  1. 1.
    See R. Ovendale, The English-Speaking Alliance. Britain, the United States, the Dominions and the Cold War 1945–1951 (London, 1985), passim, for the later significance of this.Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    R. Ovendale, ‘Britain, the Dominions and the Coming of the Second World War, 1933–9’, in W.J. Mommsen and L. Kettenacker (eds), The Fascist Challenge and the Policy of Appeasement (London, 1983), pp. 323–38 at pp. 323–4; ‘Appeasement’ and the Englih Speaking World. Britain, the United States, the Dominions, and the Policy of ‘Appeasement’, 1937–1939 (Cardiff, 1975), pp. 20–35;Google Scholar
  3. R.F. Holland, Britain and the Commonwealth Alliance 1918–1939 (London, 1981) pp. 1–126.Google Scholar
  4. 11.
    Ovendale, ‘Britain, the Dominions and the Coming of the Second World War’, pp. 324–7; D. Carlton, ‘The Dominions and British Policy in the Abyssinian Crisis’, Journal of Imperial and Commonwealth History, I (1972–3), pp. 59–78;CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. R. Meyers, ‘Britain, Europe and the Dominions in the 1930s: Some aspects of British, European and Commonwealth Policies’, Australian Journal of Politics and History, XXII (1976), pp. 36–50;Google Scholar
  6. P.N.S. Mansergh, The Commonwealth Experience, vol. II 2nd ed., (London, 1982), pp. 74–5.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. 20.
    For internal developments within the dominions see P.N.S. Mansergh, Survey of British Commonwealth Affairs. Problems of External Policy 1931–1939 (Oxford, 1952).Google Scholar
  8. 21.
    Ovendale, ‘Appeasement and the English Speaking World, pp. 23–7. For the situation in South Africa see O. Pirow, James Barry Munnik Hertzog (Cape Town, 1958);Google Scholar
  9. C.M. van den Heever, General J.B.M. Hertzog (Johannesburg, 1944); General J. B. M. Hertzog (Johannesburg, 1946);Google Scholar
  10. W.K. Hancock, Smuts, The Fields of Force, 1919–1950 (Cambridge, 1968).Google Scholar
  11. 22.
    Ovendale, ‘Appeasement and the English Speaking World, pp. 27–31. For the situation in Canada see J. Eayrs, In Defence of Canada. Appeasement and Rearmament (Toronto, 1965);Google Scholar
  12. V. Massey, What’s Past is Prologue (London, 1963);Google Scholar
  13. L.B. Pearson, Mike. The Memoirs of the Rt. Hon Lester B. Pearson, vol. I, 1897–1948 (Toronto, 1972);Google Scholar
  14. J.L. Granatstein and R. Bothwell, ‘“A Self-Evident National Duty”’: Canadian Foreign Policy, 1935–1939’, Journal of Imperial and Commonwealth History, III (1974–5). pp. 212–33.Google Scholar
  15. 23.
    Ovendale, ‘Appeasement’ and the English Speaking World, pp. 31–3. For the situation in Australia see P. Hasluck, The Government and the People 1939–1941 (Canberra, 1952);Google Scholar
  16. E.M. Andrews, Isolationism and Appeasement in Australia. Reactions to the European Crises, 1035–1939 (Canberra, 1970);Google Scholar
  17. R. Menzies, Afternoon Light (London, 1967).Google Scholar
  18. 24.
    Ovendale, ‘Appeasement’ and the English Speaking World’, pp. 33–5. For the situation in New Zealand see F.L.W. Wood, The New Zealand People at War. Political and External Affairs. Official History of New Zealand in the Second World War 1939–45 (Wellington, 1958);Google Scholar
  19. A. Mclntosh et al., New Zealand in World Affairs, I (Wellington. 1977).Google Scholar
  20. 25.
    Ovendale, ‘Appeasement’ and the English Speaking World, pp. 38–63; see also R. Tamchina, ‘In Search of Common Causes: The Imperial Conference of 1937’, Journal of Imperial and Commonwealth History, I (1972), pp. 79–105.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. 26.
    D. Cameron Watt, Personalities and Policies (London, 1965), pp. 156, 165; see also R. Meyers, ‘British Imperial Interests and the Policy of Appeasement’, in Mommsen and Kettenacker (eds), The Fascist Challenge, pp. 339–51;Google Scholar
  22. M. Beloff, ‘The Imperial Factor in Appeasement’, in Mélanges en l’honneur de Charles Morazé. Culture science et développement. Contribution à une histoire de l’homme (Toulouse, 1979) pp 419–32Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Ritchie Ovendale 1989

Authors and Affiliations

  • Ritchie Ovendale

There are no affiliations available

Personalised recommendations