How did the British dominion system vs the French more centralized administrative system, over their respective colonies, influence their ability to fight WW2?

The impression I get from Indy’s talks about the British colonies is that the British didn’t have to worry as much about trying to manage and do the bureaucracy of governing some of the dominions with some (usually white) self governance, and these countries had some sense of freedom by being able to be technically independent countries, even if they had to debate internally whether to join or not (Australia’s conscription crisis, South Africa’s apathetic black population and divided Dutch/British population, and Canada’s Quebecois minority).

But in France, because they were so centralized, even if some (French colonial settler) people had the ability to elect delegates to the national parliament, they had to worry about the loyalty of the colonies to sudden breakaways and invest resources to garrison them, cutting away resources to fight the Germans and Italians.

And if this hypothesis is correct, wouldn’t places like India or Israel-Palestine or Kenya have been trouble for the British to administer in a way they wouldn’t have been so much trouble if they had strong self government like in Canada or New Zealand?

Am I right in this conclusion or is there more to it?


I would say the Dominion system reflected the fact that Britain was able to set up large colonies that became self-supporting.

British settlers managed to swamp the indigenous populations in Canada, Australia and New Zealand. South Africa and Rhodesia were special cases that reflected an underlying fear of rebellion.

The French never set up such a colony and the one that came closest was New France/Quebec, but that had only 60000 people when the British conquered it. The neighboring British colonies had a million settlers. New France was doomed.

French colonies were generally population failures which led to the need for central control.

India was more like Algeria in that it had limited self-government and wasn’t trusted with more, but it was so large its armed forces could play a significant role anyway.

Kenya, the Mandate of Palestine and India did have comparable low-level civil unrest, riots and rebellions.and were troublesome colonies. As soon as the war was over, the British stared to pack up and leave. Unlike the French they saw the writing on the wall earlier.