Since the end of
World War Two in 1945, British military forces have been almost
constantly engaged in combat or near-combat operations around the
world. From post-war occcupations, to colonial conflicts, the Cold
War against the communists, to today's wars against Islamic
Jihadists, the military of the United Kingdom has engaged
Britain's foes. Below is a listing of Britain's wars from 1945 to
(1944-1947)--British forces became involved in the early
stages of the Greek Civil War when they liberated Greece from
German occupation toward the end of 1944. As the Germans withdrew,
competing Greek factions fought for control. The British sided
with the re-established Greek government against the Communist
rebels. Due to financial pressures and their own need to recover
from World War Two, Britain announced a withdrawal of forces in
1947. The Greek Civil War continued until 1949, with the United
States taking over the role of protector for the government.
British combat involvement primarily took place in 1944 and
(1945-1948)-Following World War Two, Jewish forces in
Palestine battled both the British troops occupying Palestine, and
the local Palestinian Arab militias for control of the
War in Vietnam
(1945-1946)- Codenamed Operation Masterdom by the British, and
also known as the Southern Resistance War by the Vietnamese. this
short, but violent conflict pitted British, Indian, French, and
Japanese troops agaisnt the local communist guerrillas who had
resisted the Japanese, called the Viet Minh. The Viet Minh
resisted the return of their French rulers and the British and
Indian troops who protected them. The Japanese troops, who were
still in Vietnam waiting to be sent home, were drafted by the
Western Allies to help fight the communists. British combate
lasted about six months, from when they arrived in Saigon in
September, 1945, until they turned things over to French forces
and withdrew in March, 1946.
(1945-1946)- Similar to the situation in Vietnam, British
troops were tasked with re-occupying Japanese-held Indonesia until
the Dutch colonial administration could resume rule. The
natioanalist Indonesian forces resisted a return to colonial rule,
and launched attacks against British, Dutch and Japanese troops
(who, like in Vietnam, had been drafted into service by the
Allies). British forces withdrew when the Dutch were able to
return in force. British involement in this Indonesian war was
from late September, 1945, until November, 1946.
Emergency-(1948-1960)-British forces battled local
communist guerrillas in Malaya.
War-(1950-1953)-The UK joined in the American-led
UN effort to defend South Korea from North Korea and
Anglo-Egyptian War of
1951-1952 (1951-1952)--Egyptian guerrillas, aided by the
governement carried out a campaign against British forces
stationed at the Suez Canal and agains other symbols of Britain
and the West. On January 25, 1952, British troops retaliated
against Egypt by attacking an Egyptian police station, killing 50
and wounding 100. The conflict ended with a change in the Egyptian
government and the eventual withdrawal of British troops. This
conflict led to Britain's involvment in the 1956
Anglo-French-Israeli invasion of Egypt in 1956. (see
Insurgency-(1952-1956)-Kenyan guerrilla war against
Emergency--(1955-1959)- Guerrilla war by the Greek
Cypriot militant group, the National Organisation of Cypriot
Fighters (EOKA), to force the withdrawal of British from Cyprus.
The primary goal of the rebels was to unite Greek-majority Cyprus
with Greece. Britain, which had controlled or ruled Cyprus since
1878, granted independence to Cyprus in 1960.
Muscat and Oman
Intervention (1957-1959)--British troops aid the goverment of
Muscat and Oman (now known simply as Oman), against rebels.
British troops withdrew after a successful campaign. This war is
also know as the Jebel Akhdar War.
(1958)--Britain airlifted troops to Jordan in response to a
request for aid from the Jordanian king. King Hussein felt
threatened by the recent union of Syria and Egypt, as well as the
violent revolution in Iraq in which the Iraq king, a member of
Hussein's family, was brutally murdered. After the situation
calmed down, British troops left Jordan.
Revolt-(December, 1962)-Britain had been in
negotiations with t Malaya, Singapore, Sabah, and Sarawak to form
a new Malaysian Federation as British rule in these areas was
ending. Indonesia opposed Brunei (and Sabah and Sarawak--all of
whom were in the northern part of Borneo/Kalimantan
Island-Indonesia controlled the bulk of the island) from joining
this federation, and pro-Indonesian rebels launched a rebellion in
Brune in in 1962. British forces defeated the rebels.
Confrontation (1963-1966)-Indonesia launched a guerrilla war
against Malaysia (the new nation comprised of Malaya, Sabah, and
Sarawak) to take control of the northern portion of Borneo.
British forces supported the Malaysians. Australia and New Zealand
also participated in the war against Indonesia.
Ugandan Army Mutiny
(1964)--The army of Uganda, which had recently become
independent of Britain, mutinied against the government of
President Milton Obote in January of 1964. Unable to control the
situation, Obote called for help from British forces who put down
(1962-1976)-Marxist rebels, aided by the new South Yemen
government, battled the Omani government forces in the western
region of Dhofar. British air and ground forces aided the Omani
government defeat the rebels.
Conflict-(1964-1967) -Rebels in the British-ruled part of
Yemen known as Aden waged a guerrilla war against the British and
associated Yemeni forces. Following the British withdrawal, the
new nation of South Yemen was formed.
Conflict in Northern Ireland
Falkland Islands War (1982)
Islands War Images and Pictures
(1991)-British, U.S., French, and other Allied nations joined
together to end the Iraqi occupation of Kuwait. Also known in the
West as the First Iraq War.
(1991-2003)-Following the Gulf War of 1991, British and American
warplanes enforced a "No-Fly Zone" in both northern and southern
Iraq to prevent Iraqi government air strikes against Kurdish and
Shiite forces. This resulted in nearly constant air strikes by the
Allies against Iraqi military targets. As the launching of the
2003 invasion of Iraq approached, the British and U.S. forces
increasingly used the No-Fly Zone status as a means of degrading
Iraqi defenses leading up to the invasion.
(1992-1996)- British forces, as part of NATO, engaged in
combat operations and peacekeeping operations in Bosnia during the
protracted Yugoslav civil wars.
(1999)-British forces, as part of NATO, engaged in combat
operations and peacekeeping operations in Kosovo during the
protracted Yugoslav civil wars.
intervention in the Sierra Leone Civil War (2000-2002)-British
forces intervened in the Sierra Leone Civil War and helped
government forces end the war. British troops remained in Sierra
Leone for several more years to ensure the peacea and train
(2001-2014)-British troops were withdrawn from Afghanistan in
2014, though the war there continues.
(2003-2009)-British troops were withdrawn from combat in Iraq
in 2009, though U.S. troops remained until 2011.
air and naval forces joined in a coalition to aid Libyan rebels
against the government of Muammar Khadaffy. British special forces
played a role on the ground.
(2014-Present)-Upon a request for military assistance, the UK,
along with several other Western nations (U.S., France, Canada,
etc.) began military operations against the Islamic State
(ISIS/ISIL) forces in Iraq. This military intervention later
included airstrikes and special forces operations against
ISIS in Syria and Libya, as well as in Iraq.
Sources for British Wars
George C. Dictionary
York: Facts On File Publications, 1999.
Peter and William L. Langer., ed. An
Encyclopedia of World History.
Massachusetts: Houghton Mifflin, 2002.