War Years, Mistakes and Lessons Learnt
By Chukwemerie Anyene
First World War (World War I)
A Serb nationalist assassinated the heir to the Austro-Hungarian throne. As the powers were at war, Russia aided the Serb when the Austria-Hungaria attacked them while Germany aided Austria-Hungary, as they attacked France, Russias ally through Belgium and had plans to overwhelm them in two weeks, then facing Russia but it failed. Britain in support of Frace declared war against Germany,
Germany and the allies confronted each other for the next four years in trenches, the Western Front, stretching across France, the bloodiest. Other fronts were opened in the East where Russia faced Germany and Austro-Hungarian armies; in north-east Italy, when Italy joined the allies; in parts of the Turkish Empire when they joined Germany and Austro-Hungary. The British and French overran Germany’s colonies in Africa while Japan seized Germany’s colonies in the Far East. Germany attempted a naval confrontation with the British Navy but the British navy prevented Germany from putting to sea. Germany then used submarines to attack British ships. Although Britain suffered a great loss, she managed to contain the menace. When Germany recklessly applied submarine attack on the neutral ship, USA joined the allies. By 1917, both belligerents and neutral powers suffer shortages due to the disruption of international trade.
The plus for allies of America entry into them was offset by Russia: the Tsarist regime was overthrown in 1917, and later the Bolsheviks under Lenin seized power and soon made peace with Germany. Germany they hope to turn her full military might against the allies on the Western front but it failed. German Army asked for an armistice in November 1918 as the allies one by one capitulated as there was a mutiny in their navy and a republican was proclaimed. Germanys sub-marine warfare affected ships of all nations.
During the inter-war years, representatives of the victorious powers met at Versaille in France 1919 to establish a new world order. National self-determination was affirmed by recognizing new nation-states in Eastern Europe, though did not apply to Arabs and African colonies. Germany was stripped of territory in Europe and was compelled to pay a huge sum of reparation. Turkish Empire and Germanys African colonies were taken by Britain and France. Germany was compelled to admit full blame for the war. A limit was placed on the size of her armed forces. The peacemakers established the League of Nations.
The peace settlement was flawed. Italy and Japan were dissatisfied with their gains. Germany’s punishment was excessive. League of Nation failed because it has no armed force of its own; the USA did not join for reasons of isolationist pride; Russia was not allowed to join because of her new communist in Stalin government after the death of Lenin. The USA has become industrially and financially the world power. Many countries fell prey of fascism, which reject liberal institutions, opposed socialism, and made a cult of leader and state.
The optimism after the war proved illusory. In 1929 occurred the Great Crash on Wall Street i.e. the American financial district and a soon a major economic depression set in around the world, causing unemployment; many Western idealists overlooked the brutalities of Stalin’s regime as they though the state socialism of Soviet Russia, Union for the Socialist State of Russia provided an answer to their problem with its rapid industrialization.
The crises in Germany brought to power Adolf Hitler and his Nazi party with its policies, rabidly nationalist, anti-communist and anti-Semitic were an advanced form of fascism. They suppress all freedom, all political parties except their own; murdered real or suspected opponents or threw them in a concentration camp; and began a prosecution of Jews that ultimately took the form of the Holocaust, the attempt to exterminate the Jews as a race completely. They also intended, like Stalin to wipe out Christianity.
Hitler rearmed Germany and embarked on an aggressive foreign policy which sought to overturn the Versaille settlement. Together with his fellow dictator, Mussolini of Italy, he supported the Nationalist side in the Spanish Civil War and in it demonstrated the new, terrifying bombing of his force. He annexed Austria and part of Czechoslovakia, but his invasion of Poland was met at last by Britain and France with a declaration of war in September 1939. This marked the beginning of the Second World War.
Second World War (World War II)
The Second World War was more truly war than the first, but it was two conflicts that took place in quite different parts of the world. In Europe and North Africa, Germany and her much weaker ally confronted Britain, France, Russia, and the USA; in the Far East, Japan confronted the USA, China and Britain. Germany and Japan did not coordinate the war plan and thus were defeated, in contrast, the leaders of USA, Britain and Russia Roosevelt, Churchill, and Stalin respectively met several times to coordinate strategy. Yet Russia did not enter the war until 1941 when she was invaded by Germany and the USA not until the end of 1941 when the Japanese airforce suddenly attacked the American fleet at Pearl Habour in Hawaii. Britain thus stood alone in Europe between June 1940 and June 1941 but she received material aid from the USA, and support from self-governing dominion, especially Canada and Australia. Britains colonies did not take advantage of her weakness to try to throw off a colonial rule that came after the war was over.
In each theatre of war, the fighting followed a pattern: a string of conquests by the aggressor’s power, Germany and Japan; after that, steady descent to defeat. In Europe, Germany overran Polan, Denmark, Norway, Hollan, Belgium, France, Yugoslavia, and Greece, and compelled Hungary, Rumania, Bulgaria, and Finland to become her allies, then invading Russia, she eventually met disaster at the Battle of Stalingrad in November 1942 January 1943; while at almost the same time, the Germany and Italy armies met their final check-in North Africa at the Battle of El-Alamein. Italy soon tried to change sides, only to have a large part of her territory overrun by Germany. As in the First World War, Germany carried on submarine warfare against her foes and again failed in the long run to cripple the war effort.
In the Far East, Japan had already occupied large parts of China before the war. At the end of 1941, she embarked on a series of rapid conquests Hong Kong, the Philippines, Malaya, Singapore, seizing the British naval base which had been the basis of British power in this region, Indonesia, Burma, several Pacific islands; but in 1942 and 1943, she was checked by the Americans, with the support from the British and the Australians, at the naval battles of Midway and the Coral Sea and the land battle of Guadalcanal.
With the Second World War, aerial warfare came into its own. The most momentous of the aerial battle was the Battle of Britain of August-September 1940 when having defeated France, Hitler tried, but failed to destroy the British airforce as a prelude to invading Britain. It was followed by the Blitz of the last quarter of 1940 when Geman airforce tried to bomb Britain to submission. Although Britain successfully resisted these attacks, she would not have been able later to re-enter France and defeat Germany on her own: for this operation which began with landing in Normandy in 1944, American participation was all-important.
The Second World War was the most frightful in history in terms of civilian suffering. In addition to the millions of Jews who were gassed to death in the Nazis concentration camp, thousands of civilians in various countries occupied by Germans suffered various atrocities and deprivations. Russia is estimated to have lost twenty million people during the war, including soldiers. The Germans also inflicted huge destruction and loss of life through the bombing of such cities as Warsaw, Rotterdam, Belgrade, London, Stalingrad, although the British and American later had their ample revenge with the bombing of German cities as Hamburg, Cologn, Berlin, Dresden. It has been argued that the bombing of civilians did not destroy morale on either side or change the cause of the war in the Far East to an earlier end than might have been the cause by dropping atomic bombs on the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in August 1945.
Although Britain later won the Second World War like the First, she had buried 300000 of her military men and lost a greater portion of her national wealth. First World War fought between 1914-1918 was another event that changed the cause of the history of Britain in the 20th century forever.
As the Irish were agitating for her independence and getting ready for a civil war, a great war broke that shook the very foundation of the world. This was the war between Britain and Germany. World War I was the most devastating war that was known up to that time. It kept the world in hostile conflict from 1914-1918. Britain at first welcomed the war, seeing it as a war to end all wars but before the war ended in 1918, many intellectual leaders were disillusioned with humanity.
The Boer War
Another rumour of war was the Boer war fought between 1899-1902. This was the war between the Boer Republics, a self-governing state in South-Africa and the British. The war was fought by Britain in their bid to establish and exercise political and economic control over the Boer Republics. It was often referred to as the War of Blame which some of the British intellectuals were ashamed that they won.
The Irish Protest
Also was the Irish nationalist protest. British used to be an empire comprising many states held under their control and leadership until Ireland began to demand their independence or freedom. This could have triggered a civil war which was only interrupted by the First World War following the end of the First World War, Ireland started so many civil unrests or war between the Republican and the Royalists. Britain still too exhausted to join in the war and subdue the Irish people by force, signed a treaty in 1921 granting Ireland their freedom and they were known as the Irish Free State and became a republican in 1922.
These were among the factors that saw to the breakage of Britain from an empire to a Sovereign State-bound together under the Commonwealth Nation. No one can fully understand William Butler Yeat or Joyce without some awareness of the Irish struggle for independence.
Irish Republican Brotherhood known as the Fenians began to use force to attain these objectives, but it was not certain that the act of terrorism they began to carry out against British authority in Ireland and Britain itself influenced the cause of events. Land Reform and either Home Rule re-establishment of a considerable degree of independence or the full independence of Ireland appeared to be solution required, but since they seemed unattainable, many Irish people emigrated, to the mainland of Britain or the United States.
The assumptions of the traditional economic ordering of society were also put in question by socialism, especially the scientific and so deterministic version of socialism developed by Karl Max, a German Jew who lived as a refugee in Britain during the latter part of his life, argued that history in the story of the struggle for supremacy of one social class after another; that just as the aristocratic class and its feudal structures had been displaced by the bourgeoisie, so the bourgeoisie and its capitalist ordering of the society; and that in this socialistic society of the future would be no private property.
After Nigeria became a Republican Nation on 1st October 1963, the first military coup in Nigeria was led by Maj. Patrick Chukwuma Kaduna Nzeogwu on Jan. 15th, 1966. On May, 29th, 1966, many Easterners resident in the North were killed. There was a mass return of Easterners from the North to their states of origin on May 30th, 1966. On July 29th, 1966, Gen. (Dr.) Gowon toppled the government of Gen. Aguiyi Ironsi. The killing of Easterners resident in the North started again on September 29th, 1966. Chief Obafemi Jeremiah Awolowo and Military officers from the West who took part in 1966 coup were released while the Eastern counterparts were killed on August 2nd, 1966. Eastern Region seceded from Nigeria on August 31st, 1966. There was a dismissal of all Civil Servants from Eastern Nigeria on their failure to return to Lagos by October 15, 1966, on October 5th, 1966. The Rehabilitation Day in the East was on November 26th, 1966. The meeting of all military leaders of Nigeria was held in Aburi, Ghana on Jan. 4th-5th, 1967. Ironsis death was officially announced on Jan. 14th, 1967. Remains of Late Gen. J.T.U. Aguiyi Ironsi was flown to Umuahia for burial in his town, Ibeku, Umuahia in Abia State on Jan. 20th,1967. Gen. Gowon broke the Aburi Accord on March 17th, 1967. He created 12 states on May 27th, 1967.
Dim Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu was born on Nov. 4, 1933. The Republic of Biafra was proclaimed on May 30th, 1967. The Armed Forces Council and the Executive Council were set up in Biafra on June 6th, 1967. The University of Nigeria Nsukka was changed to University of Biafra through a decree on July 5th, 1967. Civil War broke out in Nigeria on July 6th, 1967. Nigeria troops entered Ogoja on 20th July 1967. Biafran made rocket was launched on Aug. 14th, 1967. Ore was capture in Mid Wester by Biafran forces on August 20th, 1967. Brig. Banjo, Col. Ifeajuna and Philip Alale were tried by a Special Tribunal on Sept. 22nd, 1967, later convicted and shot. More than one thousand Igbos were killed by Federal Troops on 1st-3rd Oct. 1967. Onitsha was invaded by the Federal Troops on 6th Oct. 1967. Two representatives were sent by Pope John Paul II for a peace mission in Nigeria on Dec. 25th, 1967. The Biafran currency was introduced on Jan. 27th, 1968. About twenty thousand (20,000) Nigerian force were attacked at Abagan with heavy casualties on March 25th, 1968. Nigeria boats carrying Federal Troops sank at Asaba Afikpo on March 31st, 1968. Afikpo was captured by the Federal Troops on April 5th, 1968. Lt. Cornel Gowon and Col. Ojukwu were invited on 16th July 1968 at OAU Committees meeting in Niamey. Addis Ababa peace talks began on Aug. 5th, 1968. Nigeria Troops gained control of Aba temporarily on Sept. 4th, 1968. Owerri Sector fell to Nigerian Troops on 5th Sept. 1968. Ojukwu accepted a promotion from Col. To General by the Consultative Assembly on March 1969. Bende and Uzuakoli fell to Nigerian Troops on April 1st, 1969. Nigerian Forces entered Umuahia on April 22nd, 1969. Gen. Ojukwu and others went to Ivory Coast for a peace talk on Jan. 10th, 1970. Biafra surrender was announced by Gen. Philip Effiong on Jan. 12th, 1970. Civil War in Nigeria ended on Jan. 15th, Gen. Yakubu Jack Gowon accepted Biafran Surrender with no victor no vanquish slogan. National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) was introduced by decree 24 on May 22nd, 1973.
In Gowon’s era, the Bakassi issue became noticeable during the Shehu Shagari era, when it was advised to look into the status of the Maruooa Declaration of June 1st 1995, which General Gowon signed with President Ahmadu Ahidjo of Cameroon. Chief Richard Akinjide who at then was the Attorney-General of the Federation sort the assistance of one Dr Geoffrey Marston, a lecturer of law at the Cambridge University in England, to do research and write an opinion for the government on Bakassi issue. Unfortunately, the Marston report of May 1982 omitted a vital point of the Maroua declaration that it was the agreement between Gen. Gowon and President Ahidjo, by which Gen. Gowon was alleged to have given substantial territories concerns to Cameroon. Gen. Gowon was alleged to have a gesture of gratitude for the support Cameroon gave Nigeria during the Nigeria/Biafra Civil War. Cameroon did not allow war materials to filtrate through Cameroon to Biafrans in Eastern Nigeria.
In Yarduas era, on Thursday, August 14, 2008, the Federal Government of Nigeria finally surrendered Bakassi Peninsular to Cameroon on final implementation of the Green Tree Agreement (GTA) rule in favour of Cameroon. This was the beginning and the end of the Bakassi Peninsula handover.