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Safety first: the security of Britons in India 1946-1947

Safety first: the security of Britons in India 1946-1947
Safety first: the security of Britons in India 1946-1947
A month into his viceroyalty, Lord Mountbatten took time out from sounding Indian political opinion about independence to discuss the future security of British residents with his provincial governors. By this stage, the concerns stemmed from fears of a general breakdown in law and order and Hindu–Muslim conflict rather than nationalist assault. Detailed plans were developed for a sea-borne evacuation. In the event, the only Britons who were evacuated were those airlifted from Srinagar in November 1947 as they were in the path of an invasion of the disputed Kashmir territory by Pakhtun tribesmen from Pakistan. Despite numerous articles on the British departure from India and the aftermath of Partition, little has been written about either the airlift or the broader strategic planning for European evacuation. The paper will focus on this neglected corner of the history of the transfer of power. It argues that while anti-British sentiment declined from a peak around the time of the Indian National Army trials, of 1945–6, the memories of the wartime chaotic flight from Burma and Malaya and the irreparable damage this had done to British prestige in Asia coloured the safety first approach adopted in 1947.
0080-4401
203-221
Talbot, Ian
b240135a-0cab-4162-b8a6-922fbeec492f
Talbot, Ian
b240135a-0cab-4162-b8a6-922fbeec492f

Talbot, Ian (2013) Safety first: the security of Britons in India 1946-1947. Transactions of the Royal Historical Society (Sixth Series), 23, 203-221. (doi:10.1017/S0080440113000091).

Record type: Article

Abstract

A month into his viceroyalty, Lord Mountbatten took time out from sounding Indian political opinion about independence to discuss the future security of British residents with his provincial governors. By this stage, the concerns stemmed from fears of a general breakdown in law and order and Hindu–Muslim conflict rather than nationalist assault. Detailed plans were developed for a sea-borne evacuation. In the event, the only Britons who were evacuated were those airlifted from Srinagar in November 1947 as they were in the path of an invasion of the disputed Kashmir territory by Pakhtun tribesmen from Pakistan. Despite numerous articles on the British departure from India and the aftermath of Partition, little has been written about either the airlift or the broader strategic planning for European evacuation. The paper will focus on this neglected corner of the history of the transfer of power. It argues that while anti-British sentiment declined from a peak around the time of the Indian National Army trials, of 1945–6, the memories of the wartime chaotic flight from Burma and Malaya and the irreparable damage this had done to British prestige in Asia coloured the safety first approach adopted in 1947.

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More information

e-pub ahead of print date: 19 November 2013
Published date: December 2013
Organisations: History

Identifiers

Local EPrints ID: 393395
URI: https://eprints.soton.ac.uk/id/eprint/393395
ISSN: 0080-4401
PURE UUID: 6de6b8f4-17be-4185-9841-b3d375c59bff

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Date deposited: 10 May 2016 15:08
Last modified: 15 Jul 2019 20:33

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