1800-1859 | Civilians slaughtered | Nigeria

Royal Navy destroys Lagos – ‘an immense number of natives being killed’

26 December 1851 On 26 December 1851, British naval vessels began a two day bombardment of the coastal town of Lagos on the west coast of Africa. An account of the assault from Her Majesty’s frigate Sampson, cited in The Times and several other newspapers, boasted of the ‘almost total destruction of the town,’ resulting in…

1950-1959 | Crimes against women | Kenya | Prisoners murdered | Rape | Torture

Officer in Kenya’s colonial police complains of a culture of covering up abuses and torture

23 December 1954 Duncan McPherson, Assistant Commissioner of Kenya’s colonial police, was a rare exception to the norm of complete British indifference to the suffering of ordinary Kenyans. Britain was then engaged in a brutal campaign to crush the Mau Mau insurgency, which aimed to bring an end to colonial rule. Thousands were detained in…

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…

1940-1949 | Burning villages | Civilians slaughtered | Malaysia | Prisoners murdered

British troops murder 24 unarmed civilians in Malaya

12 December 1948 On 12 December 1948, British troops executed 24 unarmed labourers, after separating them from the women and children at a Malayan rubber plantation at Sungai Rimoh, near the small town of Batang Kali. The men were subjected to mock executions before being herded into a hut where they were shot down with automatic…

1940-1949 | Backing repressive regimes | Churchill's crimes | Civilians slaughtered | Greece

28 civilians shot dead in Athens by British armed Nazi collaborators

3 December 1944 Winston Churchill’s legendary qualities of courage and defiance are often celebrated. It is taken for granted that he was motivated primarily by a moral repugnance to Nazism. If so, it’s difficult to understand his decision in 1944 to release around 12,000 Nazi collaborators from the prisons in Athens and have them uniformed…

1940-1949 | Civilians slaughtered | India | Massacres

‘Calcutta is quieter’ after 32 protesters are shot dead

23 November 1945 Today in 1945, Richard Casey, the governor of Bengal, called on British troops to take to the streets of Calcutta to support the police, who had shot dead five student protesters earlier in the day. Another seven died the same day in hospital, and, as British newspapers informed their readers under such…

1920-1939 | Civilians slaughtered

14 shot dead in revenge for IRA attack – sympathetic MP attacked in parliament

21 November 1920 On the afternoon of Sunday 21 November 1920, armed police officers under British command surrounded Croke Park Football Ground in Dublin.  They rushed in from either end of the stadium and fired directly into the stampeding crowd, killing eleven civilians and seriously injuring at least sixty, of whom three died the following…

1940-1949 | Battlefield butchery | Indonesia | Massacres

British troops kill 10,000 Indonesians in battle to reassert Dutch colonial rule

10 November 1945 On 10 November 1945, 24,000 British troops began a large scale assault on the Indonesian city of Surabaya, where nationalist forces, equipped with weapons they had seized from Japanese troops, were determined to defend their newly acquired independence.  Several days earlier, a British brigadier, Aubortin Mallaby, had been killed in the city,…

1920-1939 | Civilians slaughtered | Collective punishments | Curfews | Massacres | Palestine | Punitive operations

Black watch troops beat twelve Arab villagers to death

6 November 1937 On Saturday 6 November 1937, an officer in the North Staffordshire Regiment recorded in his diary how soldiers of the Black Watch beat twelve Arab villagers to death with their rifle butts in the Palestinian village of Silwan.1  The incident occurred while troops were being deployed to crush an Arab rebellion against…

1920-1939 | Civilians slaughtered | Massacres | Palestine

Main square of Jaffa ‘strewn with the bodies’ of Arab protesters

27 October 1933 On 27 October 1933, a large crowd of Arab protesters assembled in Jaffa’s central square. They were outraged at injustices committed by a British run administration, which refused to listen to the wishes of the Arab Palestinians who still numbered over three quarters of the country’s population. In particular, they were angry…