1 JULY

CHURCHILL URGES THE RAF TO BOMB IRISH REPUBLICAN GATHERINGS

Winston Churchill c. 1920 ( J. Guthrie – Scottish National Portrait Gallery via Wikimedia) and Sir Hugh Trenchard (via Wikimedia.)

[ 1 July 1920 ]

On 1 July 1920, during the Irish rebellion against British rule, Winston Churchill, Secretary of State for War and Air, wrote to Sir Hugh Trenchard, Chief of the Air Staff, requesting that the RAF should target ‘gatherings’ of republicans if they were seen drilling, even if it was uncertain as to whether they were armed or participating in the conflict. He suggested that fighter pilots should use ‘machine gun fire or bombs’ so as to ‘scatter and stampede them.’1 One can only imagine the carnage if such attacks had been carried out on crowds in villages or towns with women and children in the immediate vicinity. Sir Hugh ignored the advice, not out of concern for civilian casualties, but for the safety of his pilots in case any were captured.

Although Churchill’s letter did not make any comparisons to the use of air power in other areas of the British Empire, Churchill was well aware that similar bombing raids were being carried out against suspect rebels as well as ‘uncooperative’ and ‘unfriendly’ villages in Iraq, Sudan and along India’s North West Frontier. These appeared to be succeeding in pacifying entire populations into a reluctant obeisance through sheer terror and Churchill hoped that using the same tactics would preserve the Empire in Ireland too.

MALAYAN DEMOCRACY ACTIVIST DETAINED WITHOUT TRIAL FOR SEVEN YEARS

[ 1 July 1948 ]

Today in 1948, Sir Edward Gent, the governor of Malaya, using special emergency powers to prevent the threat of a popular insurgency against British rule, ordered the detention of Ahmad Boestamam, a leading democracy activist. At the time of his arrest, Boestamam had not given up the hope for independence through peaceful political struggle. 

‘HEARTBREAK DAY FOR THE UNWANTED’ – UNDER NEW RACIST REGULATIONS

[ 1 July 1962 ]

Immediately the minute hand passed midnight, the Commonwealth Immigrants Act 1962 came into force.

FOOTNOTE

  1. Winston S. Churchill to Sir Hugh Trenchard, 1 July 1920, in Martin Gilbert, Winston S. Churchill, Volume IV, Part 2, Documents July 1919 – March 1921, Heinemann, London, 1977, pp. 1134-1135.

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