1900-1919 | 1920-1939 | Burning villages | Collective punishments | Livestock targeted | Pakistan | Punitive operations | Racism | RAF crimes

25 NOVEMBER

ONLY APPRENTICES OF ‘PURE EUROPEAN DESCENT’ CAN JOIN THE RAF

A class of R.A.F. apprentices at work in the machine shop at Halton c. 1940 –
© IWM (CH 16396)

[ 25 November 1936 ]

On 25 November 1936, Sir Philip Sassoon, the Under Secretary of Air, answering a question in the House of Commons, confirmed that RAF apprentices of any rank, whether joining to be pilots, mechanics or any other role, ‘must be of pure European descent, must be British subjects and must be the sons of British subjects.’1  Such blinkered racism, which excluded a vast number of potential apprentices from across the Empire, was one of the forgotten reasons why Britain suffered such a shortage of pilots when it faced the might of Hitler’s Luftwaffe less than four years later during the Battle of Britain.

WIDER POWERS OF COLLECTIVE PUNISHMENT AUTHORIZED IN KENYA

[ 25 November 1952 ]

Today in 1952, Sir Evelyn Baring, the governor of Kenya, issued new emergency measures designed to widen the conditions for the imposition of collective punishment in areas considered sympathetic to the anti-British Mau Mau insurgency.

WAZIRI VILLAGES AND GRANARIES DESTROYED – LIVESTOCK DRIVEN AWAY

[ 25 November 1901 ]

On 25 November 1901, as winter began to exert its icy grip on the mountain valleys of Waziristan along the North West Frontier of British India, close to today’s border between Pakistan and Afghanistan, four columns of troops under General Dening were in the middle of a punitive mission against the recalcitrant Mahsud population who continued to defy British rule. Colonel McRae commanding a force of Indian troops drawn from the Punjab and Bombay, seized the village of Kot Shingi at dawn and, according to an official report, ‘completely destroyed it.’

The same day, a second column, under Colonel Bunbury, ‘destroyed a large number of towers and village granaries in the Khaisora Valley,’ continuing its work the next day and also ‘capturing over a 100 prisoners and a large number of animals,’ as well as ’40 cattle’ on the 27th. On 28th, another column of Indian troops under Colonel Tonoochy, seized Makin, ‘the most important village in the Mahsud country, of which it destroyed the main portion.’ The report gloated that during its march through the valleys the same column managed to destroy ‘many towers, villages and granaries.’2 Not one word of consideration was given to how the population might subsequently survive the coming winter. One of many British war crimes left unmentioned even in detailed military histories of the period.

FOOTNOTES

  1. Sir Philip Sassoon cited in Hansard, 25 November 1936, Volume 318, Column 431 accessed online at url https://hansard.parliament.uk/Commons/1936-11-25/debates/839bbea2-29ec-44af-a2af-41946b1c9345/RoyalAirForce(AircraftApprentices)
  2. ‘The Operations Against the Mahsuds: A Punitive Expedition,’ The Norfolk Chronicle, 7 December 1901, p. 3.

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