Royal Air Force mutiny

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The Royal Air Force Mutiny of 1946 was a mutiny on dozens of Royal Air Force stations in India and South Asia in January 1946 over conditions of slow demobilization and conditions of service following the end of World War II. The mutiny began at Karachi and later spread to involve nearly 50,000 men over 60 RAF stations in India and Ceylon, including the then-largest RAF base at Kanpur and RAF bases as far as Singapore.[1]

The mutiny lasted between three and eleven days at different places and was peaceful. The main grievance of the men was slow demobilization of British troops to Britain, use of British shipping facilities for transporting G.I.s, and other grievances. For their part, the British Government argued that the provisions were inadequate.[clarification needed] However, later declassified reports have shown that British troops were retained in India to control possible unrests over the course of the independence movement, and the grievances of the RAF men may have also included significant political views and communist support.[1]

The events of the RAF mutiny were ultimately resolved, and some of the mutineers faced courts-martial. However, the precedent set by this event was important in instigating subsequent actions by the Royal Indian Air Force and later, the Royal Indian Navy in February 1946 in which 78 of a total of 88 ships mutinied. Lord Wavell, Viceroy of India, commented at the time: "I am afraid that [the] example of the Royal Air Force, who got away with what was really a mutiny, has some responsibility for the present situation."[2]


  1. ^ a b Childs 2000, p. 22
  2. ^ Field Marshal Viscount Wavell to Mr Attlee (via India Office), Telegram, L/PO/4/28: ff 66-7. Sent 24 February 1946, 4.50 pm at New Delhi, appears in The Transfer of Power in India, 1942-47, Volume 6, Page 1055 edited by Nicholas Mansergh, published by Foreign & Commonwealth Office (London, 1976).
  • Childs, David (2000), Britain Since 1945: A Political History, Routledge, ISBN 0-415-24804-3 .