Did any of the belligerents follow Lionel Dunsterville’s model for recruiting locals to fight in the war?

In Lionel Dunsterville’s book, “The Adventures of Dunsterforce” he talked about rearming Russian soldiers and recruiting local Persian and Armenian forces to fight against the Ottomans and Bolsheviks in WW1. Throughout his time in Persia, Dunsterville had stated on multiple occasions that the British bettered cities and towns they entered, which led to their popularity among the local population where the British were initially met with hostility. One such occasion was where the British conducted famine relief operations. Did any WW2 Generals follow this strategy of recruiting locals to fight for them against the opposite side? I know each side did recruit soldiers from newly occupied or liberated territories, but did they arm and train them in a similar fashion?

1 Like

I haven’t read Dunsterville’s book, but I’ve read several articles that emphasized or refuted particular points he made in the book. From other readings (disclaimer: I’m very much an amateur historian), I gather that the opportunities for recruiting local support for an external hegemon changed rapidly over the course of the first half of the 20th century. Before WW1, it was demonstrably possible for an invading force to garner support from the rising intellectual and economic groups that we might term as the “middle class”, although that term carries connotations that we need to examine carefully because they differ in many ways from modern “middle classes”. Merely by recognizing the training and talents of locals and providing them with opportunities to use their skills might be more than enough to solidfy the (temporary) control of the invading power.

For example, a much more brutal British Raj could easily – even trivially, by 20th century standards – have liquidated the vast majority of India’s rising middle class to forestall or even foreclose the Indian independance movement for a generation or more. They did not … and morally could not do so by their own moral standards, but an Italian or German or Soviet occupying force wouldn’t have lost any sleep about doing so.

British control over India was undermined far more by British qualms about their rights and obligations than by any efforts by the (statistically tiny) Indian intellectual and economic middle classes.