1800-1859 | Burning towns and cities | Collective punishments | Punitive operations | Sri Lanka

1,100 houses torched – unknown number burned alive at Ruwanwella

[ 13 September 1803 ] On 14 September 1803, Captain W. Pollock of the 51st Regiment of Foot, commanding a punitive military column targeting rebel held areas of Ceylon, reported to Major General Macdowal that the previous day, having found “the enemy had retreated into the interior of their territory, I ordered the Palace and…

1900-1919 | Burning towns and cities | Burning villages | Collective punishments | Nigeria | Punitive operations

Reuters – ’15 towns and villages destroyed’ in Nigeria

[ 30 December 1903 ] On 30 December 1903, a Liverpool Reuters correspondent telegraphed the news, arrived by ship from Nigeria, that ‘about fifteen towns and villages’ had been ‘destroyed’ during a two month long British punitive expedition in the south eastern Niger Delta region. The pretext had been the alleged ‘interference with peaceful trade by certain…

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…

1920-1939 | Bombing towns & cities | Looting and plunder

British auxiliary forces sack the Irish town of Balbriggan

20 September 1920 On 20 September 1920, Head Constable Peter Burke, a Royal Irish Constabulary officer, was brutally gunned down outside a public house in the small Irish town of Balbriggan. He was the commander of a British ‘Black and Tan’ auxiliary police force unit which was stationed nearby.  There was no evidence as to…