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
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