1940-1949 | Malaysia | Opium

War office plans to ensure supply of opium to Malaya after its liberation

18 April 1945 Today in 1945, in a memorandum from the British War Office to Allied Land Forces South East Asia (ALFSEA), instructions were issued to ensure that opium be supplied in vast quantities to Malaya once it was liberated from the Japanese, who had also found the drug essential to keep the population pacified….

1940-1949 | Malaysia

Secret memo argues economic interests should trump constitutional reforms

2 April 1949 On 2 April 1949, a secret Foreign Office memorandum highlighted the British concern to prevent the people of Malaya being handed control over their own rich tin and rubber resources. 83% of Malaya’s rubber plantation acreage was European owned and most of that by British companies. In 1947 the colony’s rubber output…

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

The RAF obliterates the medieval town of Wurzburg

16 March 1945 On 16 March 1945, in the closing days of the Second World War, as Allied forces advanced ever deeper into Germany, 225 RAF Lancaster heavy bombers dropped a mixture of high explosives and 300,000 incendiary bombs on the medieval city of Wurzburg. Though the municipality lacked any heavy industry, it contained numerous half-timbered buildings in…

1940-1949 | Curfews | Martial law | Palestine

Martial law imposed on Palestine’s Jewish population

2 March 1947 On 2 March 1947, General Sir Alan Cunningham, the High Commissioner in Palestine, declared martial law in Tel Aviv, its surrounding suburbs and in several Jewish neighbourhoods of Jerusalem. Thousands of British troops and police officers were deployed across the two cities in iron fisted operations, code-named Hippo (for Tel Aviv) and…

1940-1949 | Ghana

‘A bloody good show’ – officer congratulated for killing 3 protesters

28 February 1948 Today in 1948, Superintendent Colin Ismay was congratulated on a ‘bloody good show’ by the Gold Coast’s Colonial Police Commissioner . He had just shot dead three unarmed ex-servicemen who had been protesting in Accra, the country’s major port and administrative capital, for the long delayed payment of their promised pensions.  The…

1940-1949 | Malaysia | Murdering labour activists

Colonial police in Malaya beat worker to death in ‘justifiable homicide’

28 February 1947 On 28 February 1947, colonial police in the Malayan town of Bedong clubbed an Indian rubber plantation to worker to death. He had merely stepped forward from a crowd of protesters shouting ‘We are not anti-government – We are only against the drinking of toddy.’ A coroner ruled that it was ‘justifiable homicide.’1 …

1940-1949 | Refusing refugees

785 refugees drown after Britain insists Turkey refuse them overland passage

24 February 1942 On 24 February 1942, the S.S. Struma, a small 240 ton vessel crammed with 786 Jewish refugees, including over one hundred children, was sunk by a torpedo in the Black Sea. All but one of the passengers drowned.1 The sinking occurred after the British government pressured Turkey not to allow the refugees to…

1940-1949 | Churchill's crimes | India

Churchill – Hindus are a ‘foul race’ – wishes he could bomb them

23 February 1945 On 23 February 1945, Winston Churchill, having only days earlier approved the saturation bombing of the German city of Dresden which killed tens of thousands of civilians, now expressed a wish that a similar fate could be inflicted on Indian cities. According to the diary records of his Downing Street secretary John Colville,…

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

RAF bombing kills one third of the population of Pforzheim in 22 minutes

23 February 1945 At 7.50 pm  of 23 February 1945, in the closing weeks of the Second World War,  367 RAF Lancaster heavy bombers began a massive air assault on the small German town of Pforzeheim. The town was renowned for its jewellery and watch making artisans, but of little or no strategic importance as…

1940-1949 | Civilians slaughtered | India

British troops and police in Bombay kill two hundred protesters

21 February 1946 During this day in 1946 and the next, colonial police and British troops shot dead at least two hundred demonstrators in Bombay, who were demanding independence and a withdrawal of the British Army. The protests started with a general strike, called on 21 February, in solidarity with a widespread mutiny among Indian…