[ 24 August 1814 ]

Today in 1814, British troops burned down much of Washington D.C., including the White House, the Capitol, the bridge over the Potomac, the United States Treasury and other government  and private properties.



[ 24 August 1920 ]

On 24 August 1920, Churchill penned a secret memorandum for the Cabinet, in which he described the new plans for Egypt’s supposed independence, with an insight based on his deep understanding of the workings of imperial policy as Minister for War. His observations would have impressed George Orwell.

‘Not one Egyptian from the Khedive downwards,’ he predicted ‘will be able to act otherwise than in accordance with British advice. Although Egypt will be free in theory… in practice she will do all she is told… Having formally divested ourselves of every shadow of legal right, we shall nevertheless exercise final and absolute power. It is true that there will be  no Army of Occupation, but the same troops living in the same barracks will be called “The British Army for maintaining the communications with the East”. When a state of disorder arises in Cairo, British soldiers who are called upon to fire on the crowd will not be shooting in order to suppress tumult in Egypt. They will be “safeguarding out communications with the East,” &c.’1


  1. Winston S. Churchill. ‘The Egyptian Proposals,’ cabinet memorandum 24 August 1920 cited in Martin Gilbert, Winston Churchill, Volume IV, Companion Part 2 Documents July 1919 – March 1921, Heinemann, London, p. 1180.

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