1920-1939 | Burning villages | Iraq

29 NOVEMBER

BRITISH SLAVE SHIP THROWS ITS ‘CARGO’ OVERBOARD AND CLAIMS ON ITS INSURERS

[ 29 November 1781 ]

On 29 November 1781, Captain Luke Collingwood, commanding the British slave ship Zong, on route for Jamaica, ordered his crew to murder one third of his ‘cargo’ of African slaves by throwing them overboard.

THREE VILLAGES ON INDIA’S NW FRONTIER DESTROYED – 5,600 CATTLE SEIZED

[ 29 November 1902 ]

On 29 November 1902, a Reuters correspondent at Peshawar on India’s North West Frontier reported on ‘a punitive operation’ against the Kabul Khels, a Waziri ethnic group, for previous raids into British held territory. 

GERTRUDE BELL ON TEACHING THE ARABS A ‘LESSON’ BY ‘BURNING VILLAGES’

Sir Percy Cox (The London Illustrated News, 9 September 1922, p. 376.) and Gertrude Bell (Gertrude Bell Archive via Wikimedia.)

[ 29 November 1920 ]

Gertrude Bell is today remembered for her writing, diaries and insights into the politics of the Middle East in the early twentieth century. In November 1920, she was working as the Oriental Secretary for Sir Percy Cox, Britain’s High Commissioner in Baghdad. Her role was primarily to liaise with and provide information on the local Iraqi population at a time when British forces were engaged in a military pacification campaign, following the quelling of an Arab revolt. On the 29th, she wrote to her father, Sir Hugh Bell, reporting that

‘Sir Percy, I think rightly, decided that the tribes must be made to submit to force. In no other way was it possible to make them surrender their arms or teach them that you mustn’t lightly engage in revolution, even when your holy men tell you to do so… Without the lesson and without drawing their teeth by fines of arms (impossible to obtain except by force) we should have left an impossible task to the Arab government. Nevertheless, it’s difficult to be burning villages at one end of the country by means of a British Army, and assuring people at the other end that we really have handed over responsibility to native Ministers.’1

FOOTNOTE

  1. Lady Bell, ( editor ), The Letters of Gertrude Bell: Volume II, Ernest Benn Limited, London, 1927, p. 575.

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