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Ghana Table of Contents


World War II

Although many of the more radical Pan-Africanists and MarxistLeninists hoped to enlist northern black troops and ex-servicemen in their anticolonial struggle, there was little unrest during the interwar period. During World War II, approximately 65,000 Ghanaians served in the RWAFF. The Gold Coast Regiment participated in campaigns in East Africa and Burma and in maneuvers in the Gambia.

Military service, particularly overseas, enhanced the political and economic understanding of many individual soldiers, a development that facilitated the growth of postwar nationalism. Military service, however, also underscored cultural and ethnic differences among Ghanaians. Many Asante and most southerners looked down upon northerners, who made up the majority of the Gold Coast Regiment. These divisions carried over into postwar politics in Ghana and, according to some observers, have continued to prevent the development of a strong sense of national identity to the present day.

Ghana also played a significant role in the Allied war effort. On June 27, 1942, the United States Army activated the Air Transport Command in Cairo under Brigadier General Shepler W. Fitzgerald. Ten days later, Fitzgerald moved his headquarters to Accra and organized the Africa-Middle East Wing. In late 1942, the United States Army expanded its presence in Accra by activating the 12th Ferrying Group Headquarters, the 41st Ferrying Squadron, and the 42nd Ferrying Squadron. The 12th Ferrying Group, which was part of a transportation network reaching from the United States, via Africa, to the China-Burma-India theater of operations, ensured the movement of men and matériel through Senegal, Ghana, and Chad.

In contrast with the post-World War I era, Ghanaian veterans engaged in widespread political activities after World War II. In 1946 some former soldiers established the Gold Coast ExServicemen 's Union, which sought to improve economic conditions and to increase employment for veterans. During a February 1948 unionsponsored march, police killed two demonstrators and wounded several others. Unrest quickly spread throughout the country. Eventually, the union joined the United Gold Coast Convention and then became part of the Convention People's Party (CPP), which worked for independence under Nkrumah's leadership. After independence, the government passed the Ghana Legion Act, which outlawed ex-servicemen's organizations and which created instead a national Ghana Legion. Although it supposedly represented all Ghanaians, the establishment of the Ghana Legion marked the end of independent political action by ex-servicemen.

Data as of November 1994