Al Jazeera Correspondent
David Killingray: 'A shortage of manpower'
Why did Africans join the British troops to fight in the jungles of Burma?
Last Modified: 31 Aug 2011 13:40

David Killingray, a professor at London University and an expert on the so-called Burma Boys, talks about the role of African troops in Burma, why young Africans joined the British forces, and whether returning soldiers affected growing nationalism in the then British colonies during the post-war period.

"There was a shortage of manpower. This decision was taken in 1942, following the rather good performance of African troops, particularly in the Horn of Africa fighting the Italians. And also being used as labour in North Africa.

West African troops were trained in carrying stores and supplies, ammunition by head in forested areas. And therefore you had this carrier potential which would be very useful to deploy in the steep valley slopes that were wooded in Burma."


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