BRITISH TROOPS RANSACK THE CRIMEAN PORT OF BALAKLAVA
[ 26 September 1854 ]
On 26 September 1854, the British army ransacked the small Crimean port of Balaclava. Professor Saul David comments that when they arrived they found ‘the port was largely deserted.: most of its 1500 inhabitants had already fled… leaving their homes to be ruthlessly pillaged.’1
MUSTARD GAS SHELLS FIRED AT GERMAN LINES IN ‘HANDSOME QUANTITIES’
[ 26 September 1918 ]
Today in 1918, the British army began an offensive to break through the German ‘Hindenburg line’ in France, by firing 10,000 mustard gas shells at the enemy trenches. Another 22,000 gas shells exploded among the German lines over the next three days.2
ARTILLERY AND MACHINE GUNS USED TO CRUSH OPPOSITION TO SAIGON COUP
[ 26 September 1945 ]
On 26 September 1945, General Douglas Gracey, commanding British forces which had recently arrived in Vietnam following the surrender of the Japanese, ordered the 80th Indian Infantry Brigade to crush Viet Minh nationalists in the south of Saigon. The Viet Minh had committed the heinous crime of refusing to acknowledge the validity of a coup three days earlier by released French prisoners armed by the British. Although the Viet Minh had lost many lives fighting the Japanese, there was to be no question of independence. The British wanted a speedy restoration of colonial rule and were prepared to use overwhelming force to crush any opposition. Gracey ordered his Indian soldiers to use mortars, artillery and heavy machine guns in the densely crowded streets, leaving sixty Vietnamese dead by the end of the day. Many more died in subsequent weeks as his men continued to hunt down anyone who dared to oppose them.3
- Saul David, Victoria’s Wars: The Rise of Empire, Penguin Books, London, 2007, p. 214.
- George Rosie, The British in Vietnam, Harper Collins, London, 1970, p. 70.
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