1800-1859 | Looting and plunder | Russia

British troops ransack the Crimean port of Balaklava

26 September 1854 On 26 September 1854, the British army ransacked the small Crimean port of Balaclava.  Professor Saul David comments that when they arrived they found ‘the port was largely deserted.: most of its 1500 inhabitants had already fled… leaving their homes to be ruthlessly pillaged.’1 At the time, the British weekly, the Examiner, explained it…

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

The ancient city of Benin looted and burned

[ 18 February 1897 ] 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 kingdom of Benin, rich…

1900-1919 | China | Civilians slaughtered | Looting and plunder | Massacres

British and allied troops sack Tientsin slaughtering civilians

[ 14 July 1900 ] British and Allied troops sent to crush an alliance of Boxer rebels and Chinese imperial forces, seized the northern port city of Tientsin (Tianjin) in the early hours of 14 July 1900. The Dundee Courier noted that ‘after the city was entered, there was at first indiscriminate slaughter, and it is alleged…

1800-1859 | Afghanistan | Burning towns and cities | Civilians slaughtered | Demolishing urban areas | Looting and plunder | Massacres | Punitive operations

Kabul sacked in an orgy of fire, looting and ‘wholesale butchery’

[ 10 October 1842 ] On 10 October 1842, British troops used explosives and fire to destroy much of the Afghan capital of Kabul, including the Great Bazar and an adjacent mosque. They also burned down an unknown number of domestic dwellings, slaughtering their owners. Only two neighbourhoods, deemed ‘friendly’, were left untouched and the…

1500-1799 | Looting and plunder | United States

BRITISH TROOPS RANSACK WESTFIELD, NEW JERSEY

26 June 1777 During the American Revolution, British troops ransacked and pillaged hundreds of American communities, but there was rarely any attempt to accurately account for what was taken. One exception is the ransacking of Westfield, when 13,000 Redcoats camped outside the small New Jersey town on the night of 26 June 1777. They marched…

1920-1939 | Bombing villages | Civilians slaughtered | Collective punishments | Iraq | Looting and plunder | Punitive operations | RAF crimes

R.A.F. DROP 8,600 INCENDIARY BOMBS ON TWO IRAQI VILLAGES FOR ‘DISOBEDIENCE’

30 November 1923 On 30 November 1923, forty aircraft from five R.A.F. squadrons began round the clock bombing sorties against two villages near the town of Samawah in southern Iraq. The air strikes continued for two days, resulting in the almost total destruction of the villages and a death toll officially estimated at 144 men,…

1500-1799 | Burning crops | Burning towns and cities | Guinea-Bissau | Looting and plunder | Slavery

HAWKINS’ SAILORS SACK CACHEU, TORTURING, KILLING AND SEIZING SLAVES

30 November 1567 Cacheu was a Portuguese trading and administrative town at the mouth of what was then called the Santo-Domingo River on the West African coast. It was situated a short distance south of Cape Roxo in what is today Guinea-Bissau. On the evening of 29 November 1567, three heavily armed British ships sailed…

1500-1799 | Looting and plunder | Slavery | Torture

SALE OF AFRICANS INITIATES BRITAIN’S INFAMOUS TRIANGULAR SLAVE TRADE

12 March 1563 The 12 March 1563 is not a date which receives attention in most history books, which routinely laud Queen Elizabeth’s celebrated sea dogs, not least Sir John Hawkins, who’s name graces public buildings, streets and at least one town square in memory of his daring courage which helped defeat the Spanish Armada…

1500-1799 | Battlefield butchery | Civilians slaughtered | Looting and plunder

Cromwell’s troops massacre all but ‘a very few’ of the inhabitants of Wexford

11 October 1649 Today in 1649, the inhabitants of Wexford were massacred by British troops. One month earlier [ 11 September 1649 ] Oliver Cromwell, commanding British parliamentary forces in Ireland, had ordered his soldiers to offer no quarter to the royalist garrison at Drogheda, and had slaughtered almost all those who had surrendered, along…

1860-1899 | Looting and plunder

British troops commence the looting and destruction of Beijing’s Summer Palace

7 October 1860 On 7 October 1860, British officers joined French troops in looting Beijing’s legendary Summer Palace.  The complex might have been more accurately described as palaces, as there were over two hundred summer houses and pavilions within eighty square miles of landscaped gardens. As one correspondent noted, ‘its construction and the accumulation of…