1100 HOUSES TORCHED – UNKNOWN NUMBER BURNED ALIVE IN CEYLONESE TOWN
[ 13 September 1803 ]
On 14 September 1803, Captain W. Pollock of the 51st Regiment of Foot, commanding a punitive military column targeting rebel held areas of Ceylon, reported to Major General Macdowal that the previous day, having found ‘the enemy had retreated into the interior of their territory, I ordered the Palace and the Village of Rowanwelle (sic) to be burned.’
BRITISH TROOPS ADVANCING ON KABUL EXECUTE ALL MALES OVER 14 YEARS OLD
[ 13 September 1842 ]
On 13 September 1842, having defeated Afghan forces ranged against them at Tezin Pass, the victorious British troops set upon the inhabitants of nearby Afghan villages. The mass slaughter and looting which followed was justified as a retaliation for the massacre nine months earlier of a British army of occupation, which had been forced to retreat from Kabul. However this time it is likely that most of the victims were non-combatants killed in or near their own homes. The Redcoats bayoneted or shot dead every man and boy over the age of 14 they found. Historian Saul David describes it simply as ‘an orgy of pillage and murder.’1
NO MERCY AS MARAUDING REDCOATS RANSACK DELHI
[ 13 September 1857 ]
On this day in 1857, during the military suppression of the Indian mutiny, British troops entered Delhi and commenced a week long sacking of the city. They killed almost everyone they saw and looted almost every home. Officers and soldiers alike justified their own atrocities as retribution for earlier rebel massacres, even though it was virtually impossible to distinguish the few who may have been guilty, from the many who were innocent of any such crimes.
Lieutenant Charles Griffiths recalled the gruesome carnage he witnessed, declaring that ‘there is no more terrible a spectacle than a city taken by storm. All the pent up passion of men are here let loose without restraint. Roused to a pitch of fury from long continued resistance and eager to take vengeance on the murderers of women and children, the men in their pitiless rage showed no mercy.’ Naturally, the officers and men also had to satisfy their lust for plunder and ‘each street was filled with a mass of debris consisting of household effects of every kind… Not a single house or building remaining intact.’2
MASS SLAUGHTER OF THE EGYPTIAN WOUNDED
[ 13 September 1882 ]
Today in 1882, a British army advancing on Cairo, under the command of General Sir Garnet Wolseley, butchered hundreds of Egyptians, who were either fleeing for their lives or lying wounded and helpless on the battlefield of Tel el-Kebir.
- Saul David, Victoria’s Wars: The Rise of Empire, Penguin Books, London, 2007, p. 71.
- Charles John Griffiths, A Narrative of the Siege of Delhi with an Account of the Mutiny with an Account of the Mutiny at Ferozopore in 1857, J Murray, London, 1910
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