On 30 July 1942, the India and Burma offices in London publish a range of information from various press agencies on the situation in India. They particularly focus on the reactions to the failure of the mission headed by Sir Stafford Cripps. In March 1942, the Japanese threat led Winston Churchill to send Sir Richard Stafford Cripps, Lord Privy Seal and leader of the House of Commons, to India to try to secure the support of Indian leaders for the British war effort in return for a promise to give India dominion status. The Cripps proposals were rejected.
On 18 August 1942, the Commander-in-Chief in India, Sir Archibald Wavell, sends a telegram to the War Office in London in which he reports on the riots in India, which broke out after the famous ‘Quit India’ appeal launched by Gandhi in July–August 1942. Gandhi encouraged the Indian people to pursue non-violent civil disobedience against the British authorities. However, not all the demonstrations were peaceful and the United Kingdom immediately responded by making mass arrests.
Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi, known as Mahatma (meaning ‘Great Soul’), was a great Indian nationalist leader and an important spiritual guide for the country. Gandhi played a major role in the struggle against British domination; he called the Indian people to engage in civil disobedience and was highly instrumental in India gaining independence in 1947.
On 8 August 1945, the Secretary of State for India, Lord Pethick-Lawrence, circulates a note dated 15 July 1945 from the Viceroy of India, Lord Archibald Wavell, on the Simla Conference. Lord Wavell provides an account of this conference, which he convened on 25 June 1945 to ease tensions between the Indian communities, and assesses the causes of its failure.
On 6 December 1945, in a statement to the British Government, Muhammad Ali Jinnah, leader of the Muslim League, calls for the creation of an independent Muslim state, Pakistan. He explains that Muslims will never be able to live in peace if they are in the minority alongside a Hindu majority, and emphasises that it is impossible for the two societies to coexist within a single nation.
On 9 February 1946, Muhammad Ali Jinnah, leader of the Muslim League, sends a letter to Sir Richard Stafford Cripps, special envoy of the British government to India, in which he asks the British to make a clear declaration of their policy in India. Muhammad Ali Jinnah does not see any reason for establishing a provisional government and rejects any idea of an independent unitary state, instead calling for the creation of a Muslim state, Pakistan.
On 15 March 1946, the British Prime Minister, Clement Attlee, gives an address to the House of Commons in which he emphasises the need for India to gain independence, while outlining the problems involved.
In a military report dated 24 August 1946, the headquarters of the Eastern Command outlines the situation concerning the riots in Calcutta. After the ‘Direct Action Day’ launched on 16 August 1946 by the Muslim League to call for the partition of India and the creation of the independent Muslim state of Pakistan, violent clashes erupted between Hindus and Muslims, resulting in thousands of deaths in Calcutta.
On 19 February 1947, the day before the announcement by British Prime Minister Clement Attlee that independence would be granted to India, the Foreign Office issues a secret telegram outlining the policy pursued by the United Kingdom in India. It particularly explains the process of ‘self-government’ that has long been applied by the British in India. The Foreign Office notes the problems associated with the creation of an interim government but emphasises the government’s firm intention to leave India by June 1948 at the latest.
On 20 February 1947, the Secretary of State for India, Lord Pethick-Lawrence, prepares the statement that Prime Minister Clement Attlee will make on British policy in India. This statement will communicate the decision by the British government to leave India by June 1948 at the latest, even if an agreement cannot be found between the new leaders. The government sees this as the culmination of the process of ‘self-government’ that has long been applied by the British in India.
On 28 February 1947, the British Foreign Office collates a series of press articles showing reactions in the United States to the announcement made by British Prime Minister Clement Attlee on 20 February to leave India by June 1948 at the latest.
On 21 May 1947, Winston Churchill, leader of the British Conservative Party, sends a handwritten letter to British Prime Minister Clement Attlee in which he expresses his party’s support for Indian independence and confirms his agreement to confer Dominion status on the new states resulting from the partition of India.
In a memorandum dated 22 May 1947, the British Prime Minister Clement Attlee describes the task conferred on Lord Mountbatten, Viceroy of India, to prepare for the independence of India. Although the British government prefers the solution of a united state, Lord Mountbatten believes that there is no prospect of this plan being accepted by the various political leaders. The partition of India seems inevitable.
On 3 June 1947, in New Delhi, Lord Mountbatten and the main leaders of India negotiate the partition of that country in accordance with the British plan. From left to right: Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru, Vice-President of the Interim Government; Lord Hastings Ismay, adviser to Lord Mountbatten; Lord Louis Mountbatten, Viceroy of India; and Muhammad Ali Jinnah, ‘Great Leader’ of the All-India Muslim League (AIML).
Am 14. Juni 1947 analysiert die Tageszeitung Süddeutsche Zeitung die Folgen der politischen Unabhängigkeit Indiens und befürchtet Auseinandersetzungen zwischen Hindus und Moslems infolge der effektiven Spaltung zwischen Indien und Pakistan.
The Indian Independence Act, enacted and adopted by the British Parliament, receives royal assent on 18 July 1947. The Indian Independence Act creates two new independent Dominions: India (Hindu) and Pakistan (Muslim), the latter being divided into two territories (West Pakistan and East Pakistan). The provinces which were formerly administered directly by the British are attached to one or other of these two states, depending on whether the majority of the population is Hindu or Muslim. The princely states are free to decide whether they belong to Pakistan or India. Pakistan is created on 14 August 1947. India obtains its independence on 15 August 1947.
On 10 September 1947, Sir Terence Allen Shone, High Commissioner of the United Kingdom to India, sends a telegram to Christopher Addison, Secretary of State for Commonwealth Relations, in which he reports on the development of the situation in India and Pakistan after the partition of the British Indian Empire. He particularly refers to some press articles and mentions the communal trouble between Hindus, Muslims and Sikhs as well as the problem of refugees and population movements.
On 15 September 1947, Sir Terence Allen Shone, High Commissioner of the United Kingdom to India, sends a telegram to the Commonwealth Relations Office in which he reports on the situation in India and Pakistan after the partition of the British Indian Empire. He particularly refers to the communal disturbances between Hindus, Muslims and Sikhs as well as the problem of refugees and population movements.
On 18 September 1947, the Commonwealth Relations Office informs Sir Terence Allen Shone, High Commissioner of the United Kingdom to India, about the Soviet reaction to the situation in India. He refers to an article published in the Soviet daily newspaper Pravda in which Yuri Zhukov reports on the communal disturbances affecting India and Pakistan. The Russian journalist believes that this violence is a direct result of the British plan for the partition of India, particularly the division of the Punjab.
On 20 September 1947, the Commonwealth Relations Office sends a letter from the British Prime Minister Clement Attlee to Muhammad Ali Jinnah, Governor-General of Pakistan. Jinnah had appealed to the United Kingdom to help contain the outbreaks of violence that have hit India and Pakistan since the partition of British India in August 1947. However, Clement Attlee believes that external intervention will not help reduce tensions and that the Indian and Pakistan Governments should resolve their problems internally.
On 22 September 1947, Sir Terence Allen Shone, High Commissioner of the United Kingdom to India, sends a telegram to the Commonwealth Relations Office in which he reports on the recent events in India and Pakistan after the partition of the British Indian Empire. He particularly mentions the communal disturbances, providing information about the number of victims and outlining the problems associated with refugees and population movements.
On 2 October 1947, in a conversation between Lord Ismay, Chief of Staff to the British Viceroy of India Lord Mountbatten, and Jawaharlal Nehru, Indian Prime Minister, Nehru particularly focuses on the consequences of the partition of the British Indian Empire, especially the disturbances in Punjab and Junagadh.
On 3 October 1947, during a conversation between Lord Ismay, Chief of Staff to the British Viceroy of India Lord Mountbatten, and Muhammad Ali Jinnah, Governor-General of Pakistan, Jinnah particularly discusses the consequences of the partition of the British Indian Empire, which include population movements. Jinnah believes that the violent clashes between communities brought about by these movements are the fault of the Indian Government, Gandhi, the Sikhs and the British.
In a personal note dated 5 October 1947, Lord Ismay, Chief of Staff to the British Viceroy of India Lord Mountbatten, analyses the consequences of the partition of the British Indian Empire. He particularly mentions the violent clashes between Hindus, Sikhs and Muslims that have been caused by population movements.
On 14 October 1947, Terence Allen Shone, High Commissioner of the United Kingdom to India, sends a telegram to Philip John Noel-Baker, Secretary of State for Commonwealth Relations, in which he reports on the situation in India and Pakistan after the partition of the British Indian Empire. Referring to various press articles, he particularly focuses on the communal disturbances in Punjab and Bengal, the refugee problem and the future relations between the Commonwealth and the two new states.
In a memorandum dated 20 October 1947, the British Government reports on future relations between the United Kingdom, India and Pakistan. It particularly analyses the approach that should be adopted when dealing with requests for aid received from Pakistan.
On 31 October 1947, Terence Allen Shone, High Commissioner of the United Kingdom to India, sends a memorandum to Philip John Noel-Baker, Secretary of State for Commonwealth Relations, on the economic consequences of the disturbances in Eastern Punjab after the partition of the British Indian Empire. The note claims that the partition, which sparked major population movements and massacres among the various communities, has also caused severe problems for agriculture, industry and the economy in general.
On 15 December 1948, Philip John Noel-Baker, Secretary of State for Commonwealth Relations, informs the British Prime Minister, Clement Attlee, of the outcome of his discussions with the Indian Prime Minister, Jawaharlal Nehru, on India’s future relationship with the Commonwealth. The main issue concerns India’s allegiance to the British Crown.
On 24 December 1948, the Commonwealth Relations Office sends a telegram to Terence Allen Shone, United Kingdom High Commissioner in India, in which it reports on the recent discussions with the Indian High Commissioner to the United Kingdom, Vengalil Krishnan Krishna Menon, on future relations between India and the Commonwealth. The main issue at stake concerns India’s allegiance to the British Crown.
In May 1945, the Secretary of State for India and Burma, Leo Amery, outlines the United Kingdom’s policy in Burma. Given the worrying situation in the country, the British Government has decided that it will not yet grant self-government to Burma but will introduce initiatives to restore political, economic and military order.
On 24 July 1947, British Prime Minister Clement Attlee speaks about the talks held with the President of the Burma Constituent Assembly, Thakin Nu, on Burma’s independence, particularly focusing on the arrangements for the transfer of power.
On 17 October 1947, the British Prime Minister Clement Attlee and the President of the Burma Constituent Assembly Thakin Nu conclude an agreement which provides for the creation of the Republic of the Union of Burma as a fully independent sovereign state outside the Commonwealth as from 4 January 1948.
After the proclamation of independence of Ceylon on 4 February 1948, the new parliament is inaugurated on 10 February 1948. The photo shows the Duke of Gloucester presiding over the ceremony (in the centre) and Don Stephen Senanayake, Prime Minister of an independent Ceylon (on the left).
In a note dated 10 January 1956, the Colonial Office provides details about the ongoing talks with the Federation of Malaya on the use of British forces in Malaya after the country’s independence. The United Kingdom is keen to maintain military bases in the region.
In a telegram dated 23 August 1957, the Commonwealth Relations Office examines the question of responsibility for internal security in Malaya after the country’s independence. The Federation of Malaya will be wholly responsible for the country’s internal security; Commonwealth forces will only intervene in exceptional circumstances or to protect nationals of a Commonwealth country.