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Colonial Troops Deploying to the Front

1914: the war has just begun and these men do not yet realize the horrors that await them at the front. Here a British soldier and two colonial Indian troops pose on a train headed to the front lines.

At the start of the war, Germany, Britain and France all had large overseas colonial possessions. But the German overseas colonies were not as well developed or integrated into the German empire as those of Britain and France. In addition, French and British control of the seas made it impossible for the Germans to defend their possessions in Africa and the Pacific so that these colonies never contributed to the German war effort in a meaningful way.

On the other hand, the French and British were able to draw on vast manpower reserves from their colonies and dominions. The British especially benefited from the contributions made by their Indian troops who were well disciplined and trained.