The History Guy

British Wars from 1945 to the Present



British troops in Northern Ireland

British troops in Northern Ireland



  See also Anglo-American Wars and Anglo-French Wars

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 the present.


Greek Civil War (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.

Palestine- (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 country.

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.

Indonesian Revolution (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.

Malayan Emergency-(1948-1960)-British forces battled local communist guerrillas in Malaya.

Korean War-(1950-1953)-The UK joined in the American-led UN effort to defend South Korea from North Korea and China.

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 below)

Mau Mau Insurgency-(1952-1956)-Kenyan guerrilla war against British rule.

Cyprus 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.

Suez/Sinai War (1956)-

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.

Jordan Intervention (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.

Brunei 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.

Malaysia-Indonesia 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 the revolt.

Dhofar Rebellion (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.

Aden 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.

The Conflict in Northern Ireland (1969-1998)

The Falkland Islands War (1982)

Falkland Islands War Images and Pictures

Gulf War (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.

No-Fly Zone 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.

Bosnian War (1992-1996)- British forces, as part of NATO, engaged in combat operations and peacekeeping operations in Bosnia during the protracted Yugoslav civil wars.

Kosovo War (1999)-British forces, as part of NATO, engaged in combat operations and peacekeeping operations in Kosovo during the protracted Yugoslav civil wars.

British military 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 government forces.

Afghanistan War (2001-2014)-British troops were withdrawn from Afghanistan in 2014, though the war there continues.

Iraq War (2003-2009)-British troops were withdrawn from combat in Iraq in 2009, though U.S. troops remained until 2011.

Libyan War (2011)-British 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.

ISIS War (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 1945-Present:

1. Kohn, George C. Dictionary of Wars. New York: Facts On File Publications, 1999.

2. Steems, Peter and William L. Langer., ed. An Encyclopedia of World History. Boston, Massachusetts: Houghton Mifflin, 2002.

3. Britain's Small Wars website


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