1900-1919 | Civilians slaughtered | India

General Dyer orders the killing of hundreds of unarmed Indian protesters

13 April 1919 At about 5.30 pm on 13 April 1919, Brigadier-General Reginald Dyer ordered his troops to open fire on a peaceful rally of several thousand men, women and children protesting against British rule in India. They had gathered at Jallianwala Bagh, a walled area of unused land in the city of Amritsar in…

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 | 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…

1800-1859 | Battlefield butchery | India | Prisoners murdered | Wounded killed

British officer – ‘I never saw such butchery and murder’

21 February 1849 On 21 February 1849, during the Second Anglo-Sikh War, British troops under the command of Lieutenant General Sir Hugh Gough gave no quarter to Sikh soldiers fleeing the battlefield of Gujrat. An officer of the Ninth Lancers recalled: ‘We overtook numbers of their infantry who were running for their lives – every…

1920-1939 | India

Chancellor ecstatic as ‘India’s hordes’ forced to sell gold

20 February 1932 On 20 February 1932, Neville Chamberlain, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, in a letter to his sister, happily acknowledged that ‘the astonishing gold mine we have discovered in India’s hordes has put us in clover.’ At the time many Indian farmers were being forced to liquidate their entire savings, often held in…

1940-1949 | India

Indian sailors ‘loose control of their senses’ in anti-British mutiny

18 February 1946 On 18 February 1946, a mutiny erupted across almost the entire Indian Navy, against their British naval commanders. Starting with a strike over the quality of the food on board a warship, the Talwar, anchored in Bombay Harbour, it quickly spread to 22 other ships in the port and by 22 February,…

1940-1949 | Divide and rule | India

Churchill – Hindu-Muslim feud ‘the bulwark of British rule in India’

2 February 1940 On 2 February 1940, during discussions in Cabinet, Winston Churchill, as First Lord of the Admiralty, strongly defended the status-quo in British India, blocking a proposal which would have allowed the subcontinent to draw up its own constitution once the war ended. He expressed shock when it was suggested that Hindus and…

1920-1939 | Churchill's crimes | India

Churchill – ‘Primitive millions of India’ must remain under British rule

2 February 1931 Speaking to a crowd in Liverpool on 2 February 1931, Winston Churchill expressed his fear and indignation that Britain might ‘loose’ India. ‘Would France,’ he asked rhetorically, ‘be cheated out of Syria or Indo-China ? Would the United States be hustled out of the Philippines ? All these countries asserted themselves and…

1900-1919 | India | Racism

General – ‘The Indian is simply not fit to lead his men’

31 January 1915 On 31 January 1915, despite the hideous casualty rate suffered by commissioned British officers in the trenches on the Western Front, General Sir James Wilcox commanding the India Corps, refused to appoint Indian officers to lead his soldiers. ‘The Indian,’ he explained, ‘is simply not fit to lead his men against Europeans….

1500-1799 | Famine | India

News breaks of a famine in Bengal and ‘calamities’ for British investors

28 January 1771 On 28 January 1771, news arrived in Britain of a famine in the East India Company’s newly acquired territory of Bengal.  ‘We learn,’ observed the Northampton Mercury, ‘that several of the Districts in the Kingdom of Bengal have suffered considerably… from a dreadful famine.’1  British newspapers initially treated the new of mass starvation…