Indian sailors ‘loose control of their senses’ in anti-British mutiny

Statue in Mumbai commemorating the Indian naval mutiny.
Joe Sachs – CC BY 2.0 – via Flickr and Wikimedia.

18 February 1946

On 18 February 1946, a mutiny erupted across almost the entire Indian Navy, against their British naval commanders. Starting with a strike over the quality of the food on board a warship, the Talwar, anchored in Bombay Harbour, it quickly spread to 22 other ships in the port and by 22 February, similar strikes had erupted at naval bases right across the subcontinent from Karachi to Calcutta, involving a total of 78 ships and twenty thousand Indian sailors.

According to Flag Officer Vice-Admiral Godfrey, the ratings had ‘completely lost control of their senses’1 and drew up a list of demands, including equal pay with British sailors of the same rank and the withdrawal of Indian soldiers from Indonesia, where they were being used as cannon fodder in military operations to restore Dutch colonial rule.

FOOTNOTE

  1. Vice-Admiral Godfrey quoted in “Indian Naval Mutiny,” The Scotsman, 22 February 1946, p. 5.

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