1860-1899 | Burning towns and cities | Looting and plunder | Nigeria

The ancient city of Benin looted and burned

[ 18 February 1897 ] The Benin Punitive Expedition On 18 February 1897, a punitive expedition of 1,200 Royal Marines, bluejackets and African troops, under the command of Rear Admiral Harry Rawson, seized the ancient city of Benin. Situated amid dense rain forest some 200 miles east of Lagos, it was the capital of the…

1860-1899 | Burning towns and cities | Ghana | Looting and plunder

The British sack the Ashanti Capital of Kumasi

6 February 1874 By the autumn of 1873, Britain was becoming increasingly exasperated by ongoing resistance to its colonisation of the Gold Coast (now Ghana) and, in December, Prime Minister William Gladstone authorised the dispatch of 2,500 redcoats, as well as thousands of West Indian troops, to the coastal town of Cape Coast. From there,…

1860-1899 | Massacres | Prisoners murdered | South Africa | Wounded killed

Battle of Kambula – ‘terrible execution’ as ‘no quarter was shown.’

29 March 1879 On 29 March 1879, British cavalry and troops massacred hundreds of fleeing and wounded Zulu warriors after the Battle of Kambula, after an officer reminded his troops – ‘No Quarter Boys !’ A soldier from Devon confessed in a letter – ‘I can tell you some murdering went on,’ while a Liverpool…

1860-1899 | Massacres | Media propaganda | South Africa | Wounded killed

After the Battle of Rorke’s Drift – the mass butchery of the wounded

23 JANUARY 1879 On 23 January 1879 hundreds of Zulu warriors, injured during the battle at Rorke’s Drift the previous day,  were murdered by British troops. RORKE’S DRIFT – THE BATTLE Almost everyone has heard of the heroic defence of the missionary outpost the previous day, made famous by the 1964 film Zulu starring Michael Caine which…

1860-1899 | Battlefield butchery | Massacres | Sudan | Wounded killed

After the Battle of Atbara – Kitchener’s army slaughter the wounded

8 APRIL 1898 THE BATTLE OF ATBARA – A HIGHLY ASYMETRICAL CONTEST Few people In Britain today have heard of the Battle of Atbara fought on 8 April 1898, amid the arid brushland surrounding the River Atbara, a tributary of the Nile in Sudan, some 200 miles north east of Khartoum. As the sun rose,…

1860-1899 | Burning towns and cities | Collective punishments | Punitive operations | Sudan

The burning of villages fails to crush Sudanese revolt

[ 27 March 1884 ] In February 1884, General Sir Gerald Graham led an army of over 3,000 troops into north eastern Sudan to crush an anti-British Islamist uprising led by Osman Digna. According to an Associated Press report, on 27 March, after defeating a rebel force several days earlier, the British burned ‘Osman Digna’s villages without…

1860-1899 | Burning towns and cities | Collective punishments | Gambia | Punitive operations

West India Regiment burns down Gambian town of Gunjur.

[ 9 March 1894 ] At 8 am, Rear Admiral Bedford ordered four British warships to commence the shelling of the coastal stockade and defences in the bush outside the Gambian coastal town of Gunjur, while it was attacked from the land by the First Battalion of the West India Regiment, commanded by Major Madden….

1860-1899 | Civilians slaughtered | Egypt | Massacres

British fleet bombards Alexandria, killing hundreds

[ 11 July 1882 ] On 11 July 1882,  shortly after sunrise, a British fleet of fourteen warships began a deafening bombardment of Alexandria’s coastal defences and harbour area. It followed Egypt’s refusal to accept Britain’s supposed right to oversee and manage the country’s budget, which included huge payments in interest to the Suez Canal…

1860-1899 | Battlefield butchery | Burning crops | Burning villages | Civilians slaughtered | Collective punishments | Livestock targeted

Colonial troops slaughter hundreds in Natal

14 December 1873 On 14 December 1873, John Colenso, the Bishop of Natal, wrote a letter to Frederick Chesson, the secretary of the London Aborigines Protection Society. He informed him that colonial troops had killed ‘hundreds of (Hlubi) men’ and that ‘hundreds of women and children’ had been taken prisoner, adding that a proclamation had…

1860-1899 | Burning villages | Collective punishments | Nigeria | Punitive operations

African villages shelled, machine gunned and burned to the ground

16 November 1882 Shortly after dawn on 16 November 1882,  the gunboat HMS Flint shelled, rocketed and opened up with its Gatling gun on the village of Abari on the Forcados river, a navigable channel of the Niger Delta. A report carried in at least two British newspapers noted that the bombardment was maintained ‘for…