Disturbances (Casualties)

Oral Answers to Questions — India – in the House of Commons on 8th October 1942.

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Photo of Mr Reginald Sorensen Mr Reginald Sorensen , Leyton West

asked the Secretary of State for India the dates on which Indian crowds were machine-gunned from the air and the number killed and wounded; when dates and particulars of the murder of air-crews will be available; and whether he could state to date the number of Indians and Englishmen killed and wounded in the disturbances?

Photo of Lieut-Colonel Leo Amery Lieut-Colonel Leo Amery , Birmingham Sparkbrook

Mobs were machine-gunned from the air on 15th, 16th, 21st and 22nd August and 6th September. Information regarding casualties is not available, but they are believed to be slight and on two out of the five occasions were probably nil. One Blenheim aircraft crashed in Bihar on 18th August. One member of the crew was killed in the crash; the remaining two were murdered. A second Blenheim with a crew of three on reconnaissance duty over Bihar on 30th August failed to return and so far there has been no trace of the aircraft or crew. Reports so far available show that the total number of persons killed during the disturbances was 846 and the number wounded 2,024. Of these 60 were Government servants (including military and police) killed and 648 wounded. So far as is known no European British subject (apart from the small number of military and Air Force casualties) was killed in the disturbances, though a considerable number mostly officials, received injuries. In Madras one domiciled European, an Assistant Salt Inspector, was murdered.

Photo of Mr Reginald Sorensen Mr Reginald Sorensen , Leyton West

Do I take it as correct that the reprehensible murder of the air crews was subsequent to the machine-gunning from the air?

Photo of Mr Emanuel Shinwell Mr Emanuel Shinwell , Seaham

Is it not possible to deal with mobs without resorting to machine-gunning? Is that not something which is not in conformity with our practice?

Photo of Lieut-Colonel Leo Amery Lieut-Colonel Leo Amery , Birmingham Sparkbrook

There are conditions of violence and danger to life when that may be the only method.

Photo of Mr Reginald Sorensen Mr Reginald Sorensen , Leyton West

Can we take it that this will not be a precedent for similar action in this country?