1940-1949 | Convicts | Japanese POWs

Indiscriminate reprisals against Japanese soldiers

5 September 1945 On 5 September 1945, following the surrender of Japanese forces in Singapore the previous day, British officers and soldiers were infuriated to discover the brutality with which their own countrymen had been subjected as prisoners of war and they began to inflict equally barbarous reprisal punishments on the Japanese soldiers stationed on…

1940-1949 | Civilians slaughtered | Media propaganda | Palestine

British armoured cars spray Tel Aviv’s streets with bullets killing five

31 July 1947 On 31 July 1947, ‘seven (British) armoured cars roared through the main street of the all-Jewish city of Tel-Aviv… with machine guns firing into shops and passing traffic,’ killing at least five and wounding fifteen others.1  This indiscriminate act of violence was in retaliation for the brutal lynching of two British soldiers…

1940-1949 | Bombing towns & cities | Germany | RAF crimes

RAF fire bombing destroys Hamburg, killing over 18,000

28 July 1943 At about 12.55 am on Wednesday 28 July 1943, RAF Pathfinder aircraft began to drop their target indicators, lighting up the German city of Hamburg.  791 aircraft had already bombed Hamburg three nights earlier [see 25 July 1943], and Bomber Command planners had been impressed with how well the city burned, killing…

1940-1949 | Antisemitism | Collective punishments | Palestine

British commander orders troops to ‘show contempt for Jews’

25 July 1946 On 25 July 1946, General Sir Evelyn Barker, commanding British forces in Palestine, issued an order to all ranks instructing them that ‘all Jewish places of entertainment, cafes, restaurants, shops and dwellings’ were out of bounds and calling on his men to punish Jews ‘by showing our contempt for them.’  The order…

1940-1949 | Bombing towns & cities | Churchill's crimes | Germany | RAF crimes

The first RAF fire bombing raid on Hamburg kills thousands

25 July 1943 At about 00.57 on 25 July 1943,  RAF bombers unleashed hundreds of bright red and yellow marker bombs, followed by thousands of incendiary bombs, on the densely populated German city of Hamburg. It was the first of four RAF fire bombing raids endured by the inhabitants over the following ten days, which…

1940-1949 | Assassinations | Myanmar

British linked to assassination of Burmese nationalist Aung San

19 July 1947 Today in 1947, Bogyoke Aung San, ‘the father of modern day Myanmar’ and a committed parliamentary socialist, was shot dead by paramilitaries under orders of Burma’s former prime minister, U Saw, who had recently received weapons supplied by British army officers. Aung San, who, at just 32 years old, was the acting prime…

1940-1949 | Chemical weapons | Churchill's crimes | Germany

Churchill urges poison gas attacks on German cities

6 July 1944 Writing a memo to General Sir Hastings Ismay on 6 July 1944, Winston Churchill urged the Chiefs of Staff to urgently consider the use of poison gas against German towns and cities. The memo came one month after British and American soldiers had landed in France and as Germany clearly faced imminent…

1940-1949 | Detention without trial | Malaysia

Malayan democracy activist detained without trial for seven years

1 July 1948 On 1 July 1948, Sir Edward Gent, the governor of Malaya, using special emergency powers to prevent the threat of a popular insurgency against British rule, ordered the detention of Ahmad Boestamam, a leading democracy activist. At the time of his arrest, Boestamam had not given up the hope for independence through…

1940-1949 | Media propaganda | Racism

Propaganda and religious hatred provoke anti-Italian riots

10 June 1940 On the evening of 10 June1940, just hours after the outbreak of hostilities between Britain and Italy, anti-Italian mobs attacked shops, restaurants and other businesses owned by families of Italian origin. The violent assaults were widespread across London, Bristol, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Liverpool, Belfast, Newcastle, Manchester and other cities. In the Soho and…

1940-1949 | Antisemitism | Churchill's crimes | Deportation

Churchill anxious to achieve faster deportation of Jewish refugees

3 June 1940 On 3 June 1940, Winston Churchill wrote a minute to the Cabinet Secretary asking anxiously: ‘Has anything been done about shipping 20,000 internees to Newfoundland or St. Helena ?’ Churchill added, ‘I should like to get them on the high seas as soon as possible.’1 Within weeks of the start of the…