Pocket Guide to Malaya

During the second half of World War Two the British Army started issuing pocket sized guidebooks for overseas countries where troops might be deployed. These simple printed books had information about the country, the ethnic makeup of its people, their temperament and a brief history. They also included a handy list of phrases printed in the back. The countries covered included France, Italy and in tonight’s examples; Malaya:imageAs can be seen, the cover is printed in brown, black and white. The printing codes on the rear date this guide to May 1945:imageThe opening page sets out something of the country and why Britain was fighting to liberate it from the Japanese:imageThe simple black and white illustrations are dotted throughout the book, some example pages being:image

imageimageThe centre of the book has a map of the Malay peninsular:imageAnd the back contains some useful Malay phrases:

 imageWhilst some of the text appears a little simplistic or even patronising to modern eyes, one must remember that most British soldiers of the Second World War had very little contact with other cultures and in a pre-globalised world these cultures would themselves have been more insular and strange to foreign eyes. These books were an attempt to smooth any potential cultural clashes that might have arisen from ignorance and are themselves a sign of the birth of our modern, more globalised, world.

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