Talk:British war crimes

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Surely this should be United Kingdom war crimes? (talk) 16:36, 17 June 2010 (UTC)

Or, if this is about the British Empire war crimes it should be renamed to that. Currently it looks like British is being erroneously used to embody "UK" and "The British Empire" (talk) 16:40, 17 June 2010 (UTC)


No, I'm no fan on the actions of the British Empire, but this has obviously been edited by someone with a serious axe to grind. Some of the phraseology is way too colourful, and some keys facts are not cited, e.g. the smallpox blankets meme. Fences&Windows 21:44, 12 May 2010 (UTC)

Fences and windows, I agree. This entire article is in disrepute due to its colourful language and absence of citations. BlueRobe (talk) 07:47, 23 September 2010 (UTC)
The Churchill quotation is about the use of tear gas, which he is arguing is more humane than bombing. Hence the sentence "It is sheer affectation to lacerate a man with the poisonous fragment of a bursting shell and then to boggle at making his eyes water by means of lachrymatory gas." Does the author not know the meaning of "lachrymatory"??? In simple English the sentence means "It is silly to blow people up with bombs and then to be shocked at making them cry with tear gas". It has nothing to do with 'war crimes' as such. Paul B (talk) 12:30, 14 October 2010 (UTC)

I don't seem to be able to find WIkipedia articles on Iranian war crimes, North Korean war crimes, Chinese war crimes or Syrian war crimes. I wonder why that is? (talk) —Preceding undated comment added 20:09, 6 June 2011 (UTC).

I think we all agree that this article is a mess, apart from the last section it only allegations or one historians opinion years after the fact. Jim Sweeney (talk) 20:13, 6 June 2011 (UTC)
Please feel free to add section to all those pages that you named and then that problem will be solved.Jim Sweeney, I think we do not all agree actually.For starters the Boer war one is factual and the the one about Iraq.The one about Malay I believe to be good as well.You seem to be very defensive of the military so I am guessing you are either in it or have been.I will see what I can do about more sources, sure there are plenty.Owain the 1st (talk) 07:08, 7 June 2011 (UTC)

This article shows all that is wrong with the Wikipedia project - editors with left wing, anti-British, anti-American, anti-Israeli views dominate and push their own views to all. Any views the other way are removed. The Wikipedia project may have started out with good intentions but has got lost along the way thanks to you lot! — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 18:50, 7 June 2011 (UTC)

This is very funny.I suggest you actually read wikipedia because when you do you will find it is the opposite of what you say.Owain the 1st (talk) 19:43, 7 June 2011 (UTC)

And your view is typical of the right, describing anyone who points out the actions of your precious British Empire as being "left wing, anti-British, anti-American, anti-Israeli".Thannad (talk) 14:51, 15 June 2011 (UTC)

As for Korea, see Korean War#War crimes, An even-handed section discussing those from each side. DGG ( talk ) 21:07, 17 August 2011 (UTC)

Criteria for inclusion[edit]

It's pretty clear that different editors on this article have different ideas of what sort of actions should be included. Here are four options off the top of my head:

  1. War crimes as defined by convictions/judicial opinions;
  2. Require a citation from a historian (or maybe just any high-quality RS);
  3. Require a citation from any WP:RS using the words "war crime";
  4. Obey lead definition (let editors decide on a case-by-case basis);

I favour option 2, because option 3 includes a lot of POV / exaggerative sources (journalists, writers with agendas, etc). Likewise 1 is too restrictive, and recentist. What does everyone else think? - Jarry1250 [Weasel? Discuss.] 18:22, 27 July 2011 (UTC)

I think we either preserve this article, and build on it with rather loose criteria, or delete it entirely as nothing more than an "attack page". I favor the former, as it could become quite a useful article. JerryDavid89 (talk) 03:30, 28 July 2011 (UTC)
AGREE anything included needs a high quality reliable source or a book quote from a recognised historian. That proves it was a war crime not just speculation. Jim Sweeney (talk) 08:05, 28 July 2011 (UTC)
Since there seems to be so little comment here, I'm going to solicit help via an RFC tag and, failing that, contact MILHIST. - Jarry1250 [Weasel? Discuss.] 13:54, 14 August 2011 (UTC)
Responding. #1 is of course sufficient, if it can be verified from a RS. A common-sense definition of what counts as a war crime would do. Otherwise, #2, except I would require more than one high quality RS--even for academic sources. Given the amount of revisionist history, one is not enough. This definition will still allow quite a lot of disputed cases, and for each of them the extent of the disputed status needs to be made clear. DGG ( talk ) 21:00, 17 August 2011 (UTC)
  • I would say #3 should be enough. Of course the source should pass WP:V and WP:RS. An effort should be made to note both sides of an issue.-MangoWong (talk) 10:17, 21 August 2011 (UTC)
  • RFC response. #1 supported by RS - doesn't need to be a historian, if convictions have gone through judicial proceedings there should be evidence of this that can be cited without having a historian interpret it first. If it can't be referenced other than through a historian's research, it needs to be a source that avoids all possible WP:COI and WP:POV +cmtissues. Ma®©usBritish [talk] 09:22, 24 August 2011 (UTC)
  • Comment I suggest that #1 is enough for inclusion as a war crime. If included, #2 and #3 should be appropriately qualified with 'alleged' or 'many/some sources claim that'. Martin Hogbin (talk) 21:47, 24 August 2011 (UTC)
Err, Jarry1250: Obey lead definition (let editors decide on a case-by-case basis):: is ridiculous as the lede is absurdly broad and inappropriately writen, if not outright weaselry, not to mention its questionable NPOV. Quis separabit? 16:42, 6 December 2013 (UTC)

British Starvation Blockades[edit]

The British starvation blockades of Germany during WWI and WWII aren't war crimes?

Are you suggesting free trade should have been allowed to prolong the war? Following the conclusion of both wars the blocades were lifted, food commisions were established and shipments made.

The "London Cage", a MI19 prisoner of war facility in the UK during and immediately after the war, was subject to allegations of torture.[edit]

There has only ever been one credited accusation of torture directed against the London Cage, and it was from an SS officer war criminal facing the death penalty. Hardly the most credible of sources. National Archives documents show that two official inquiries established that he was talking out of his arse, to put it mildy. Ian Corbain is a joke of a journalist who has a history of frankly making stuff up to suit his agenda and he is not a credible source. --Allthestrongbowintheworld (talk) 20:13, 27 October 2012 (UTC)

Iain Cobain is a credible and award winning journalist, he details further evidence of secret torture utilized by the British government in his book 'Cruel Britannia'. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 23:52, 23 June 2014 (UTC)

removing POV tag with no active discussion per Template:POV[edit]

I've removed an old POV template with a dormant discussion, per the instructions on that template's page:

This template is not meant to be a permanent resident on any article. Remove this template whenever:
  1. There is consensus on the talkpage or the NPOV Noticeboard that the issue has been resolved
  2. It is not clear what the neutrality issue is, and no satisfactory explanation has been given
  3. In the absence of any discussion, or if the discussion has become dormant.

If editors are continuing to work toward resolution of any issue and I missed it, please feel free to restore. Cheers, -- Khazar2 (talk) 01:01, 5 December 2012 (UTC)


Did not British secretly killed some Indian National Army soldiers and made 1943 Bengal Famine killing 3 Million Indians? Where are they?Ovsek (talk) 06:02, 7 August 2013 (UTC)

Killing enemy soldiers during a war isn't a crime. The effects of the Bengal Famine was exacerbated by British colonial administrative incompetence and neglect, but again not a war crime.--Allthestrongbowintheworld (talk) 09:10, 7 August 2013 (UTC)

Several sources detail that the British government continued to export rice from Bengal to be utilized by British troops during the war effort, this played a significant role in causing the famine and death of three million Bengalis. Churchill saw this as necessary as part of the war effort, he is negligent and in many ways responsible for these deaths — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 23:55, 23 June 2014 (UTC)

This article[edit]

This article is ripe for and rife with unsourced claims and allegations, which is not and should not come as any surprise. I have removed some of the more egregious examples and accordingly will restore the neutrality/NPOV tag(s). Quis separabit? 23:18, 30 September 2013 (UTC)

Boston Massacre[edit]

Is the "Boston Massacre" really categorizable as a "war crime"? I am really unsure. Please comment. Thanks, Quis separabit? 17:48, 3 December 2013 (UTC)

Never mind I have determined that this incident should never have been included in this article to begin with.
Read for instance, the lede from the article about the "Massacre" itself:

The "Boston Massacre", known as the "Incident on King Street", by the British, [citation needed] was an incident on March 5, 1770, in which British Army soldiers killed five civilian men and injured six others. British troops had been stationed in Boston, capital of the Province of Massachusetts Bay, since 1768 in order to protect and support crown-appointed colonial officials attempting to enforce unpopular Parliamentary legislation. Amid ongoing tense relations between the population and the soldiers, a mob formed around a British sentry, who was subjected to verbal abuse and harassment. He was eventually supported by eight additional soldiers, who were subjected to verbal threats and thrown objects. They fired into the crowd, without orders, instantly killing three people and wounding others. Two more people died later of wounds sustained in the incident ... [E]ight soldiers, one officer, and four civilians were arrested and charged with murder. Defended by the lawyer and future American President, John Adams, six of the soldiers were acquitted, while the other two were convicted of manslaughter and given reduced sentences. The sentence that the men guilty of manslaughter received was a branding on their hand.

Needless to say, given that the incident was not-premeditated, given that all were tried; six acquitted and the others convicted of lesser charges, and at a time when the colonists were still British by nationality, this incident most certainly was not a "war crime" and does not belong in this article, which is always going to be a magnet for POV-minded individuals. Quis separabit? 21:30, 3 December 2013 (UTC)
The more I think about it the more outrageous it is that the Boston incident was ever included in this article and that it lasted so long here. There is no question, as certain civilians and even one of the victims (Carr, in his deathbed confession) admitted, and which the jury acknowledged in acquitting the six soldiers, that the defendants had a genuine and well-founded fear for their safety. Yeah, right, a war crime. Quis separabit? 22:17, 3 December 2013 (UTC)


This article has a lot of problems, starting with the lede, but the main one seems to be that very little here is actually sourced as a "war crime". Instead it has become a list of actions that anonymous wikipedia editors find objectionable. I'd suggest paring back (again) to only those events that are specifically described as a war crime in a reliable source (preferably multiple sources). Rettens2 (talk) 15:09, 6 December 2013 (UTC)

Absolutely agree. Quis separabit? 16:33, 6 December 2013 (UTC)
Perhaps a rename to something like Allegations of British war crimes would be a good idea? After all, relatively few of these events have actually been found to be war crimes by a court. On the other hand, a name like that might just encourage people to add further questionable examples. Robofish (talk) 18:52, 6 December 2013 (UTC)
The lede is a joke and should be changed; the page is a magnet for POV-minded users, obviously. Quis separabit? 18:49, 9 December 2013 (UTC)

Dresden Bombing photo[edit]

I just glanced through this article and was horrified at the photo in use for this section. I also noted the following back and forth between editors ([1] and [2]). I believe the IP has a valid point and I have mentioned that in my edit summary. Per DagosNavy's comment to the IP: "Reposting pic, not enough reasons given to have it removed". I believe the following is justification for the photo's removal from this article:

  • It does not really highlight the event that took place (the planes, impact of bombs, destruction to the city, etc). Part of the controversy is not just over civilian losses (much lower, according to modern research, than originally believed) but over the targeted of the city and the force used.
  • It does not support or compliment the text of the article in anyway.
  • The fact that the article is about war crimes and in this case a controversial event that has been alleged by some historians to be a war crime, the image does not present a neutral position. It is a horrifying photograph of dead civilians, which when placed next to the text of this article, appears in such a way as to sway opinion towards a conclusion.
  • On the Bombing of Dresden in World War II article, the photo has been used in a much more careful and neutral manner (the article has photographs covering every aspect of the subject) and it is placed within the section dealing with the devastation on of the attack, rather than amongst the back and forth on weather the attack was right or wrong.
  • The overall argument is: who is going to believe that some justify the attack or do not consider it a war crime, when a photo of burned civilians is placed next to said argument. It completely destroys the neutrality of the section.EnigmaMcmxc (talk) 02:55, 14 December 2013 (UTC)

1920 Iraqi War[edit]

The following was recently added to the article, but has been moved here, about the fighting in Iraq in 1920:

The British Manual of Military Law stated that the rules of war applied only to conflict "between civilized nations." Already in the Manual of 1914, it was clearly stated that "they do not apply in wars with uncivilized States and tribes".(HMSO, 1914, p. 235)

This inclusion has numerous problems:

  • The work is from 1914. Do we have evidence that this was still policy in 1920?
  • The work, available here, makes no mention of if this is how the British military in Iraq viewed the rebels.
  • Thusly, it appears to be a breech of WP:SYN and irrelevant to the section.
  • The above quote takes the actual wording of the document out of context, and ignores the various examples (from numerous countries) used on the page's footnote.
  • The inline citation is completely incorrect, HMSO is just a publisher for government works and thus the reference is useless.EnigmaMcmxc (talk) 03:19, 14 December 2013 (UTC)

Amritsar massacre[edit]

Should this even be in the article? While clearly the massacre was a crime, it was not committed during a conflict and thus not a war crime. Should it be removed, or kept as an example of a crime committed by British forces (albeit during peace time policing what amounted to a domestic event, and committed by non-British troops of the Indian Army under British command)?EnigmaMcmxc (talk) 07:07, 10 January 2014 (UTC)

Per the scholarly definition of what a war crime is (also shared by the UN if one searches), this is not a war crime as it did not take place during a domestic or international armed conflict. I have moved the below from the article to here to stimulate discussion if necessary:EnigmaMcmxc (talk) 15:50, 5 February 2014 (UTC)

The massacre of Amritsar occurred on 13 April 1919, when British Indian Army soldiers - under British command - fired on a crowd of unarmed Indian protesters, killing between 379 and 1,000.[1][2] The incident left a permanent scar on Indo-British relations and was the prelude to Mahatma Gandhi’s noncooperation movement of 1920–22.[3]

War rape[edit]

Per the following diff, lets discuss. Firstly, the edit was not made "based off personal perception", but rather reading what the article material actually states and looking at what the focus of this page is (the crimes committed or alleged to have been committed by British forces, not everyone else).

  • "Austin J. App's book, Ravishing the Women of Conquered Europe, claims that some 2,000,000 German women were raped in 1945, not only by members of the Red Army but also by American and British troops.[4]"

This section is problematic in this article for several reasons:
1) The wording of the article states that the author claims it happened (while it is not disputed rapes happened, the article should be based on solid evidence so this either needs to be reworded per the source material or a better source used).
2) More importantly, the Rape during the occupation of Germany article highlights that the Soviets were the culprits of up to 2 million rapes. The article notes that the Americans and French were the perpetrators of under 15,000 with an unknown number applied to the British forces. The fact that two million German women were raped, is clearly not an issue for this article as that number was not committed by British troops. The number committed by British forces - not everyone else - should be presented.

  • "such as the assault on three German women in the town of Neustadt am Rübemberge, and the attempted gang-rape of two local girls at gunpoint in the village of Oyle, near Nienburg, which ended in the death of one of the women when a soldier (it is not clear if unintentionally or otherwise) discharged his gun, striking her in the neck."

The first part of this was only removed, due to a number of factors:
1) the first example seems random, why highlight the case of three women when no overall figure has been presented? What was so important about this incident out of all the attacks that happened?
2) the second example provides a much stronger case of British misbehavior than the former.

Finally, the entire section was copyedited to attempt to improve its grammar and structure. On what grounds was every single change to this section simply reverted?EnigmaMcmxc (talk) 22:56, 14 January 2014 (UTC)

First of all, I was not aware of the current discussion, my apologies for partially revert your edit before going to the talk page. There is not problem from my part with the second paragraph, agreed that a random example makes no difference.
As for the Biggs quote of App, I think it helps to put British war rapes in a context; while rape by Allied military forces was a common feature during the 1945 invasion of Germany, and the British were part of these forces, the bulk of those crimes was not committed by British troops. This is endorsed by Longden when he asserts that the rapes were "far from the scale of those committed by Soviet forces".
On the other hand, I am of the opinion that Biggs (and App along him) should stand in the article because we have there a second author (cited by a third) that agree with Longden in the fact that British troops effectively raped German women, so nobody can claim that the section relies upon a single source.--Darius (talk) 00:35, 15 January 2014 (UTC)
I am glad that we both agree on the second point.
I completely agree that as many sources should be used to support the point, so that the issue is beyond question.
In regards to context, I believe the best way to establish it would be to identify the number of rapes committed by British forces (then, perhaps, contrast that against the overall number committed by all Allied forces). I have conducted a brief search of google books, but was unable to find anything on it: although additional searches and different wording used could perhaps find more information. I feel that the first part of the disputed section clearly belong in the Allied war crimes article, and for the moment not here.EnigmaMcmxc (talk) 01:00, 15 January 2014 (UTC)

Petros Patrides[edit]

The info provided clearly states he was abused by Special Branch: part of the police, not the military. Is it not pushing to now label this a war crime rather than a breech of someone's human rights by the civilian police?EnigmaMcmxc (talk) 16:14, 30 January 2014 (UTC)

Per the scholarly definition provided, this is either not a war crime (as special branch are police and not part of the military) or it is borderline stuff and it needs better sourcing than used. Therefore, I have removed the below from the article to prompt discussion if needed:EnigmaMcmxc (talk) 15:52, 5 February 2014 (UTC)

Petros Patrides, a businessman, was a 15-year-old schoolboy during the conflict when he was detained by the British hunting the EOKA leader Georgios Grivas. Patrides says he was waterboarded by his interrogators who were British Special Branch officers. "They tied me on a bed, spread-eagled and naked, and rubbed pepper into my lips and eyelids, and my private parts. They would put a piece of cloth over your nose and mouth and dip water on to it and you would feel like you were drowning. Just before you passed out they would stop and take the cloth off. And then they would start again.

Business as usual[edit]

The abuse of sources continues on this page. For example, in the Iraq section we are told that soldiers turned up and shot a young girl for no reason. But the source given is worded very differently. It clearly states that soldiers say they were attacked, and that she was hit by a ricochet. There is not even an attempt here at presenting a NPOV. Other examples can be found in the Northern Ireland section, including the ridiculous (unsourced) claim that a "shoot to kill" policy in a war consitutes a war crime. No doubt there are many more. And no, I'm not fixing it myself, as I don't have the time or energy to waste on this. The only good thing is that nobody else appears to be actually reading this page, which is now just a kind of sandbox for Anglophobes. Rettens2 (talk) 15:00, 31 January 2014 (UTC)

I completely agree. A lot of material has been added to this article and other related articles recently, and issues have been raised here and elsewhere on how that material has been used: it would seem most (if not all) of it needs to be checked to ensure it is no misusing the source. However, that is an awful lot of work: if you have the time, it would be greatly appreciated to whip this article into shape.EnigmaMcmxc (talk) 15:44, 5 February 2014 (UTC)
I have just come across the same case. I have read about 20 sources about the incident, some reliable and some not, and agree with Rettens that it does not belong in this article. It's a shame it was left here for another year. I will remove it. I cannot promise to extend my scrutiny to the other items in that section. All the best: Rich Farmbrough21:27, 28 March 2015 (UTC).

Afghan civilian abuse[edit]

"Two British soldiers, who cannot be named for legal reasons, admitted abusing Afghan civilians when they appeared at a court martial hearing in Sennelager, Germany in 2013. Their patrol commander, referred to as Soldier Z, was cleared of failing in his duty to deal with the offences. One soldier, while he was on tour in Afghanistan in December 2011, admitted pulling an Afghan boy's hand towards his crotch while saying: "Touch my special place." Soldier X, who has been granted anonymity because of fears that naming him would endanger his life and that of his family, pleaded guilty to conduct to the prejudice of good order and service discipline at the start of a court martial for three British servicemen. He also admitted insulting another Afghan child between 16 October 2011 and 6 January 2012. A second soldier, referred to as Soldier Y, admitted that he was involved in having an Afghan man photographed with a sign which read "Silly Paki" between 16 October 2011 and 6 January 2012. The serviceman pleaded guilty to a racially aggravated offence likely to cause harassment, alarm or distress under the Crime and Disorder Act of 1998.[5]"

The above has been removed as it does not provide evidence of a war crime occurring. The article highlights that the soldiers were prosecuted against the Crime and Disorder Act, which refers to a variety of things none of which is military law or international law regarding how wars are fought. In other words, it is evidence of British soldiers violating domestic code, but not acts that violate the laws and customs of war. It is therefore not a war crime, unless a reliable source can be provided to support such an allegation. Not to mention, it is a copy and paste job form the Guardian website thus a breech of wiki guidelines.EnigmaMcmxc (talk) 16:05, 5 February 2014 (UTC)


Copied from User_talk:DagosNavy#War_crime for purpose of giving 3O and preserving discussion. — TransporterMan (TALK) 16:35, 11 February 2014 (UTC)

" Restoring text, not enough reason given for removal - Occupation is an act of war, an any crime committed by even a lonely soldier is a war crime"

That is OR at its best. The war ended in 1945, please provide a definition that describes the Second World War lasting until 1952 (when the occupation of Japan ended) 1949 (when the occupation of Western Germany formally ended). Furthermore, that is not the definition of war crime: you cannot make up your own definitions. Please provide a source that states "any crime committed by even a lonely soldier is a war crime".EnigmaMcmxc (talk) 03:03, 8 February 2014 (UTC)

Hi. I was not making "my own definitions"; while WWII certainly lasted until 1945, there was an Allied military occupation in Germany from 1945 to 1949. The definition of the Nuremberg Charter defines war crime as "Violations of the laws or customs of war. Such violations shall include, but not be limited to, murder, ill-treatment or deportation to slave labour or for any other purpose of civilian population of or in occupied territory, murder or ill-treatment of prisoners of war or persons on the seas, killing of hostages, plunder of public of private property, wanton destruction of cities, towns or villages, or devastation not justified by military necessity." Well, occupation of enemy territory lasts sometimes decades after a war is over (Western Bank in Palestine, Vukovar in Croatia), as well as the detention of prisoners of war (in the Soviet Union there were WWII POWs well into the 1950s). Therefore, the occupation of Germany (and Japan) was an act of war per this definition, which by the way is in the article's lede. Most crimes of Nazi Germany took place in occupied territories, where the war was not going on and in some cases after an armistice with local authorities was in place (Vichy France, Denmark). Until now, nobody claims that these were not war crimes just because there was not technically "a war" raging in those regions.
An individual soldier could commit war crimes (this is also in the lede); if this soldier is Soviet, well, it would be a Soviet war crime; if British, then we have a British war crime.--Darius (talk) 17:05, 8 February 2014 (UTC)
Per the scholarly definition you completely overlooked: a war crime occurs during an armed conflict. The occupation of Germany took place after the armed conflict had ended. You need a source that specifically states that crimes that took place during the occupation of Germany were war crimes. The source uses does not state that the crime was a war crime. It is clear overreaching.
As for an individual soldier, I did not deny that a single soldier cannot commit a war crime. You claimed, and failed to back up or support your assertion, that "any crime committed by even a lonely soldier is a war crime".
As for the article: I did not request extended quotations to support the text. I looked up the book and failed to verify any of the information attributed to the source. Hence the tags and hence the explanation inserted into them: that the source needed to be verified. The extended quotes are not helpful, not to mention one of them did not even support the text you claimed it did.EnigmaMcmxc (talk) 23:36, 8 February 2014 (UTC)
Well, man, it was just an edit summary, I want it to mean that "a war crime, even if committed by a lonely soldier, is still a war crime"; I can't write a book for every edit I make. I can live with the article in its current status, but I think that those quotes required by yourself should stand for the benefit of readers, not just to support your own position or mine.--Darius (talk) 23:44, 8 February 2014 (UTC)
P/S: I suppose you mean "irrelevant" and not "irreverent" in this summary. Oh, I almost forget what Geneva says about military occupation (see). See also this article from Wikisource. Regards--Darius (talk) 00:11, 9 February 2014 (UTC)
Fair enough.
I have a feeling, based off you bringing up the occupation info (which, don't get me wrong, is a good addition to the definition provided on the article), that deleted information is going to be restored in regards to the occupations of Germany and Japan. I would caution against their adding on the grounds that 1) the sources used (thus far) do not label them as war crimes, and 2) everything I have thus far seen notes that the Fourth Geneva Convention cannot be employed retroactively.EnigmaMcmxc (talk) 04:49, 9 February 2014 (UTC)
Thank you. The retroactive use of the Convention is relevant only from a judicial point of view; we're just writing an online encyclopedic article from our 21 century perspective with the bare facts, we aren't lawyers or judges debating whether or not a party is guilty or not. You should also noted that there were criticism at the Nuremberg Trials (see criticism section) regarding violations of human rights (Nazis were nontheless indicted for those crimes). Had we to consider the issue of retroactivity, we should remove the classification of "Nazi War Crimes" from a good number of WP pages. As for the other issue, my opinion is that any breach of the Convention constitutes per se a war crime.--Darius (talk) 14:23, 9 February 2014 (UTC)
"The retroactive use of the Convention is relevant only from a judicial point of view; we're just writing an online encyclopedic article from our 21 century perspective with the bare facts, we aren't lawyers or judges debating whether or not a party is guilty or not."
Therefore, you cannot label a crime a war crime. We are not lawyers or judges stating what is or what is not a war crime. The sources, for the most part except when it is clear cut, state what is and what is not a war crime. The 4th Geneva Convention is not - as far as I am aware - retroactive (the fact that parts of the Nazi hierarchy were charged with breeches of international law only, then, recently crafted and that the trials faced criticism is completely irrelevant to the topic at hand and something I will not venture off into discussion.), the source used does not state when the event took place nor does it state if the act was a war crime or not. In effect, by including it you are acting as the judge and debating who is guilty or not. Its inclusion, and your argument in your final sentence, is a clear case of breeching WP: OR and WP: SYN.
If one was so inclined, since - if I am not mistaken - the two sources do not state that any of the rapes committed breeched international law or constituted war crimes, one could argue for the entire section to be pulled especially in light of the UN's position on the subject. The UN only defined rape, during war, as a war crime in 1993. The UN notes "armies considered rape one of the legitimate spoils of war. During World War II, all sides of the conflict were accused of mass rapes, yet neither of the two courts set up by the victorious allied countries to prosecute suspected war crimes — in Tokyo and Nuremberg — recognized the crime of sexual violence." The UN website goes on to note "It was not until 1992, in the face of widespread rapes of women in the former Yugoslavia, that the issue came to the attention of the UN Security Council. On 18 December 1992, the Council declared the "massive, organized and systematic detention and rape of women, in particular Muslim women, in Bosnia and Herzegovina" an international crime that must be addressed." and "Subsequently, the Statute of the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY, 1993) included rape as a crime against humanity, alongside other crimes such as torture and extermination, when committed in armed conflict and directed against a civilian population."(UN article on the issue)
Thus, the discussion returns to what the sources say (not what we interpret them to mean, or what crimes we believe should be treated as war crimes or serious breeches of international treaties). I should note that I believe rape to be a serious and horrendous crime, and I am not attempting to downplay what happened. But, if the sources do not state post-war attacks were war crimes, then they should not really be included here (and rather in the specific article on the subject). Although I concede that attacks that took place during the war, despite the various definitions to the contrary, should be noted.
Based on these arguments, I am going to remove the material re-added. I suggest (considering you advocate its inclusion, and I argue against) that a third party be consulted to look at the issue from an outside perspective.EnigmaMcmxc (talk) 03:35, 10 February 2014 (UTC)
First of all, I agree with having a third part involved. As for the judicial vs. encyclopedic inclusion, my point of view is quite simple; we must deal with this issues from a 2014 perspective, so retroactivity is immaterial here. If rape (which, by the way, is an act of violence against protected civilians) is a war crime today, then it shall be included in this or any other article dealing with war crimes.--Darius (talk) 11:53, 10 February 2014 (UTC)
I disagree. I have trained in the field of history: we cannot judge the people of the past for their moral failings, by the rules, laws and standards of today. Otherwise we would be going around calling the Romans war criminals for the (historical meaning or literal modern meaning) The Rape of the Sabine Women, the enslavement of their vanquished foes, or the what could be argued to be the genocide of the Carthaginians.
The article, for the most part, should stick to what the sources call war crimes, what have been alleged to be war crimes, what are clear violations of the rules of war at the time, and with some leniency to other topics.EnigmaMcmxc (talk) 19:06, 10 February 2014 (UTC)
My point is that we are not editing Wikipedia in order to judge people, but to present the bare facts; while is true that there was nothing like "war crime" at the time of the Romans (the ius gentium may be an exception, and the destruction of Carthage is considered a genocide by several modern authors), by the time of the Allied occupation of Germany, attacks on civilians by occupation troops had been certainly perceived as war crimes, not matter if verbal abuse, beating, rape or murder, since the "Rape of Belgium" in 1914.--Darius (talk) 23:21, 10 February 2014 (UTC)
P/S: I found this interesting chapter of the Hague convention of 1907 regarding military occupation (see here).--Darius (talk) 23:47, 10 February 2014 (UTC)
Searchtool-80%.png Response to Third Opinion Request:
Disclaimers: I am responding to a third opinion request made at WP:3O. I have made no previous edits on British war crimes and cannot recall any prior interaction with the editors involved in this discussion which might bias my response. The third opinion process (FAQ) is informal and I have no special powers or authority apart from being a fresh pair of eyes. Third opinions are not tiebreakers and should not be "counted" in determining whether or not consensus has been reached. My personal standards for issuing third opinions can be viewed here.
Opinion: One particularly wise Third Opinion Wikipedian, RegentsPark, once succinctly put the purpose of Third Opinions like this, "It's sort of like if you're having an argument on the street in front of City Hall and turn to a passer-by to ask 'hey, is it true that the Brooklyn Bridge is for sale?'." I'm going to answer this in the abstract rather than in reference to the particular edit in question: Wikipedia standards are that all assertions must be verifiable. If reasoning must be applied to facts in order to prove a point, that is prohibited original research (NOR). To report things which happened, no matter how verifiable or well documented and, from some definition of war crime, expressly conclude or infer by inclusion in this article with this title that they were war crimes then that is prohibited original research and, very likely, using this article as a COATRACK. The synthesis section of the NOR policy says:

Do not combine material from multiple sources to reach or imply a conclusion not explicitly stated by any of the sources. If one reliable source says A, and another reliable source says B, do not join A and B together to imply a conclusion C that is not mentioned by either of the sources. This would be a synthesis of published material to advance a new position, which is original research.

Combining a reliable source which says fact A happened with a reliable source that says that a war crime is defined as B to conclude that A is a war crime is exactly that kind of synthesis. What should be in this article are either adjudicated cases of war crimes reported in reliable secondary sources or, at the very least, cases in which specific acts have been specifically alleged in reliable secondary sources to be war crimes. An allegation need not be an official allegation, so long as it is made in a reliable source; a historian or even a contentious anti-British pundit or organization, for example, may allege that certain acts which were never officially adjudicated or alleged were war crimes and that may be included if it can be cited to a reliable source and can be properly and fairly described. Crimes or misconduct should not be included, however, unless someone other than a Wikipedia editor has alleged or proved them to be war crimes.

What's next: Once you've considered this opinion click here to see what happens next.—TransporterMan (TALK) 16:35, 11 February 2014 (UTC)


This article appears to be blatantly anti-British to any reader. It is written with emotive and partisan terms and fails WP:NPOV. I have cleaned it up a little but it requires more work in my opinion. SonofSetanta (talk) 18:26, 24 March 2014 (UTC) You should look at the Malay emergency page among others related to Britihs cold war conflicts. They have the same problems as this page. (talk) 13:10, 17 April 2014 (UTC)

There is considerable evidence that has emerged to support the claims that the British were responsible for the Malay massacre, this can be reference, Ward 'deception at Batang Kali' — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 00:00, 24 June 2014 (UTC)

More about the Iraq War[edit]

It is important to make clear that starting the Iraq War is by many considered a serious war crime, which is apparent for example in the article about Tony Blair. Remember the Nuremberg judgment. Aggression is "the supreme international crime differing only from other war crimes in that it contains within itself the accumulated evil of the whole."

In May 2014, the International Criminal Court announced that it will examine alleged cases of unlawful killing and claims of mistreatment involving British troops.

Mark Urban's book Task Force Black about British special forces in Iraq contains information that can be relevant for this article. For example, on page 233, he writes that "Over time, Task Force Knight's rules of engagement had in fact been brought closer to those of the Americans. By 2007 they were, under certain circumstances, allowed to attack a house or car if they believed those inside to be terrorists about to perpetrate an act of violence." The book also describes a secret jail called the Temporary Screening Facility, which was not visited by the Red Cross or other humanitarian organisations. British special forces transferred some prisoners there. Abuses of prisoners taken by British troops are reported to have happened in many places, including beating a prisoner to death on a RAF helicopter. See also the Guardian's article about Camp Nama. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 20:57, 15 July 2014 (UTC)

Not done This IP seems to be WP:POINTing, making war crime claims on the West.Forbidden User (talk) 13:32, 19 August 2014 (UTC)

  1. ^ David Cameron marks British 1919 Amritsar massacre BBC; retrieved 4 December 2013
  2. ^ Dua, Rohan (21 February 2013). "Jallianwala Bagh massacre deeply shameful, says Cameron". The Times of India. Retrieved 4 December 2013. 
  3. ^ "Massacre of Amritsar". Encyclopædia Britannica; retrieved 4 December 2013.
  4. ^ Biggs, Barton (2010). Wealth, War and Wisdom. John Wiley & Sons, p. 311; ISBN 1118039440
  5. ^ "British soldiers admit abusing Afghan civilians". Guardian. 4 June 2013. 

Unattributed copy/pastes[edit]

Kingstowngalway has been copy/pasting a lot of material into this article from our more detailed articles on the various subjects. They have done so without attributing, which is contrary to our licensing (see WP:CWW). In many cases, the edits have also introduced a lot of trivia and point-y stuff that really has no place in a summary style article.

Untangling the mess is going to be difficult. It might be easier just to rewind to the state immediately prior to their first contribution. I am certainly not in a position to pick through the changes, which have been many and various. Thoughts? - Sitush (talk) 06:13, 18 February 2015 (UTC)

This looks like the last best recent version, before which they had not edited this thing since 2013. We could manually work through those earlier edits, including the ones from 2011. - Sitush (talk) 06:19, 18 February 2015 (UTC)

This is not a judicial case, just a Wikipedia article[edit]

I think we should just: 1) rely on reliable sources and 2) left the reader to decide. If troops kill or torture civilians as per cited sources in the course of any military operation (Afghanistan, Iraq, Northern Ireland), it is enough to include the incident in this article. No need of a "declaration of war" (by the way declarations of war are illegal since 1945) or cited sources labeling the specific affair a "war crime". It is like claiming that cold cases should not be classified as crimes because no culprits were ever caught and there is the possibility of a weird accident or a suicide. Unless a specific author asserts that a crime committed by military forces in a combat role was an accident, we should presume a war crime, as long as the info is reported by a reliable source (i.e. CAIN website or Amnesty International).--Darius (talk) 15:12, 29 March 2015 (UTC)

P/S: In my latest summary, I used the term "probable" when reliable sources present the cases as such, without any judicial considerations, not in the sense of editor's speculation to advance a position.--Darius (talk) 15:17, 29 March 2015 (UTC)

"War crime" has pejorative overtones. If sources do not describe something as such, we should not pass our own judgement that they are such. To do so is not "letting the reader decide" but rather engaging in original research and POV. As with BLPs, it is best to take the most cautious approach when dealing with articles such as this. - Sitush (talk) 15:20, 29 March 2015 (UTC)
We can outmaneouvre BLP simply by omitting names. Wikipedia is not censored, so "pejorative overtones" are irrelevant.
A solution to get out of all this mess is renaming the article "Crimes comitted by British Armed Forces", without mentioning the issue of "war crimes".--Darius (talk) 15:30, 29 March 2015 (UTC)
P/S: See the category "Category:World War I crimes by the British Empire and Commonwealth"; no specific allusion to "war crimes", which makes inclusion of controversial material viable.--Darius (talk) 15:37, 29 March 2015 (UTC)
I didn;t say that there were BLP violations; I said that there is an analogous situation. "Pejorative overtones" are relevant in that context, and I am somewhat surprised that you do not recognise this. It is nothing to do with censorship.
If you want to rename the article, and assuming that the things you talk about have even been described as "crimes", then read WP:RM. - Sitush (talk) 15:34, 29 March 2015 (UTC)
OK, I will make a request as soon as possible. Regards.--Darius (talk) 15:38, 29 March 2015 (UTC)
Assumptions and presumptions should not be made. That is OR. RS are needed that state clearly that war crimes were committed or actions breached international law otherwise we end up with what we have: a list of actions that opinion has decided was a war crime.
As for renaming the article, the same problem would still stand. Okay so, for example, Bloody Sunday could be readded due to the legal decisions made following the most recent inquest, but other actions would be on dubious ground and be based on opinion rather than RS calling them crimes.
As you state Darius, this is the wiki not a judicial case. We should not be making rulings.2600:1015:B10D:CC35:57F9:FF05:3E80:4C9 (talk) 15:51, 29 March 2015 (UTC)
I have already stated that I was referring to "assumptions and presumptions" made by reliable sources, no matter what international law says.
If an RS describe troops (or somebody else) firing upon unarmed civilians, then it's a crime, no need of further clarification.
What I mean by "this is not a judicial case" is precisely the contrary, that Wikipedia doesn't need a judge or a court ruling that "this is a crime, that's not", but just a reliable, tertiary source depicting an unlawful behavior.--Darius (talk) 16:23, 29 March 2015 (UTC)
Why is Bloody Sunday even in this article? There was no war, so can it be a "war crime".Stephenjh (talk) 16:16, 29 March 2015 (UTC)
Another reason to rename this article...--Darius (talk) 16:24, 29 March 2015 (UTC)
BTW, remove also the Easter Uprising, that was a rebellion, not a "war"...--Darius (talk) 16:29, 29 March 2015 (UTC)
Darius, you've broken up the IP's comment above by interspersing your own, which is rarely a good idea. You also added something to an earlier comment of yours after I had replied to it. This is all making things very confusing. Are you familiar with WP:TPG?

As for your comment that all we would need in a revised article is just a reliable, tertiary source depicting an unlawful behavior, well, you are wrong again. Unless the source actually says it is unlawful behaviour, and unlawful in a criminal sense, it ain't going in. We should not presume. - Sitush (talk) 16:39, 29 March 2015 (UTC)

I've just noticed that you had similar disagreement further up this talk page, in February 2014. This is not looking good: you do not seem to be learning the limitations that our policies impose, even though I've also just noticed you have been around for a while and have a lot of edits to your name. - Sitush (talk) 17:05, 29 March 2015 (UTC)

Crimes or conspiracy theories etc?[edit]

I realise that this is a difficult issue, especially when the British government refuses to publish reports etc. Nonetheless, if something has been alleged (especially by an opponent) but has not been proven by due process then it is not a war crime, just a very serious allegation. As this article stands, it is wide open to abuse by conspiracy theorists, propagandists and the like. Is official silence treated as admission? Would that be the basis for claims that the article is neutral?

I only happened upon this thing by chance while chasing a serial copyright violator. Most of it seems to be allegation and I'm not sure what the solution may be, nor how we treat the subject generally. Where should the line be drawn?

I've removed some stuff, pretty much at random, but if we took all of the allegations out, there wouldn't be much left. - Sitush (talk) 17:27, 29 March 2015 (UTC)

I insist that the solution (IMHO) is to rename the article, by taking out the word "war", or even the term "crimes", or by adding the controversial adjective "alleged", always focusing on the British Armed Forces. I know it sounds hard, but we must show imagination to avoid the plain deletion of this page that, as another user said above, contains "quite useful" information.--Darius (talk) 18:35, 29 March 2015 (UTC)
The article is British War Crimes, which is what it should include. If you wish to start another article perhaps you should. Stephenjh (talk) 18:37, 29 March 2015 (UTC)
Another solution could be to trim the article down to WWI and WWII, both sections seems to be pretty well sourced, unlike those dealing with colonial "wars" and uprisings.--Darius (talk) 19:21, 29 March 2015 (UTC)
You can insist as much as you want but I won't be paying much attention unless you are going to address the points that people are raising. It seems very obvious to me that you have quite a POV here and it is blinding you to our policies. Changing a title does not resolve the problem. - Sitush (talk) 18:40, 29 March 2015 (UTC)
You're right, I can insist as much as I want...And please, assume good faith on other users...Thank you.--Darius (talk) 18:43, 29 March 2015 (UTC)
You miss my point, again. Insistence will get you nowhere; working towards a solution and collaborating might do. - Sitush (talk) 18:47, 29 March 2015 (UTC)
Well, I guess you have read that my proposal is renaming this article to make it more inclusive.--Darius (talk) 18:55, 29 March 2015 (UTC)
You have been too vague. First you say drop "war", then you mention dropping "crimes", and you also query whether "alleged" might be useful. It sounds like someone scratching around for a way to keep something just for the hell of keeping it. What exactly is your proposed title? As it stands, it seems to be "Alleged British". - Sitush (talk) 19:53, 29 March 2015 (UTC)
Well mate, I'am not for keeping anything, I've already acknowledged that this article in its current status is a total mess, go ahead and delete it if you want, I will not oppose to it. If you want to keep the page, "Alleged British" could be a fine solution.--Darius (talk) 20:11, 29 March 2015 (UTC)

Sources modified on British war crimes[edit]

Hello fellow Wikipedians,

I have just attempted to maintain the sources on British war crimes. I managed to add archive links to 1 source, out of the total 1 I modified, whiling tagging 0 as dead.

Please take a moment to review my changes to verify that the change is accurate and correct. If it isn't, please modify it accordingly and if necessary tag that source with {{cbignore}} to keep Cyberbot from modifying it any further. Alternatively, you can also add {{nobots|deny=InternetArchiveBot}} to keep me off the page's sources altogether. Let other users know that you have reviewed my edit by leaving a comment on this post.

Below, I have included a list of modifications I've made:

Cheers.—cyberbot IITalk to my owner:Online 16:36, 5 July 2015 (UTC)

Cleaned the article up[edit]

Many of the entries are not war crimes, per the convention definition, also they have their own articles. The actual 'war crimes' are the breaking of the London Naval Treaty and the Torbay incident, so I have removed the non war crimes and cleaned the article up somewhat, perhaps this will resolve the neutrality flag, regards. Twobellst@lk 18:36, 19 August 2015 (UTC) Edit, seemingly my edits have been reverted, with a message to 'talk', I am more than happy to debate the issue, however, by the definition of the Hague Convention many of the so-called 'war crimes listed here are nothing of the sort, that is why so many have the cn tag, in that there are no convention citations associated with many of these entries. If editors want to rename the article go ahead but as I said, according to the convention these are not war crimes, regards. Twobellst@lk 20:01, 19 August 2015 (UTC)

Right off the bat, this article is a mess and in need of work. With that said, the mass removal of material is unwarranted based off your above arguments. Nor is duplication of material grounds for material.
To start with, the article opens with a definition: breaches of international law are defined as war crimes by the British military. These treaties forbid looting, we have sourced material that British troops looted during the Second World War in breach of these treaties. Your allegation that looting is not a war crime is not supported.
Likewise, you removed mention of the Baralong incident: a violation of international law.
Dresden: While it is a controversial subject, with those on both sides of the issue the point remains that historians have called the raids a war crime. Wiki policy is against censorship.
There has been discussion on the Allied War crime page that reprisals do not constitute war crimes, that would still leave open the looting and prisoner abuse in regards to the fighting in Ireland.
Malaya: while it needs better sourcing, the massacre of civilians is not a war crime according to you? Not to mention there was sourced material that stated British acts breached international law.
I could go on. You have removed sourced material, and many entries that are that have been described as war crimes under the guise of POV, and that they repeat their main articles. Discussion is needed before such mass deletion, especially when the material strongly contradicts the point you are making.EnigmaMcmxc (talk) 20:19, 19 August 2015 (UTC)
With respect, we need to immediately remove any such entry per WP:V especially when something so very grave is claimed as verifiable fact but is not. Rape while dreadful is not a 'war crime' please see this (please refer to section: Accountability: Inadequate Protection or Enforcement?), looting (corrected) is a war crime, here is a list of what war crimes are, What were British war crimes: Unrestricted submarine warfare against merchant shipping which was against the London Naval Treaty and the HMS Torbay incident, even the Torbay incident is an alleged war crime and the problem here is that 'alleged' is not a 'war crime', it is one opinion not based on the verifiable fact that a war crime was committed, best wishes. Twobellst@lk 20:40, 19 August 2015 (UTC)
The British Army completely disagrees with you! The Manual of the Law of Armed Conflict published by the UK Ministry of Defence ... defines a war crime [including] plunder of public or private property ..."
Not to mention international treaties:
  • Hague Regulations (1899): Article 28 "The pillage of a town or place, even when taken by assault is prohibited."; Article 47 "Pillage is formally prohibited."
  • Hague Regulations (1907): Articles 28 and 47
  • IMT Charter (Nuremberg) (the basis for the modern British manual)
  • Geneva Convention IV: Article 33 "pillage is prohibited"
Looting is a war crime.
Your comments in regards to rape are completely unbelievable! Not only does the link you have note that it is considered a war crime, previous treaties likewise are the basis for the claim: and (talk) 20:46, 19 August 2015 (UTC)
Hello again, please calm down, with respect you are mis-reading the sources, they say they are prohibited, not that they are a 'war crime'. Re: rape, as I previously mentioned please see this (section: 'accountability'), there have been moves recently to make rape a war crime but currently and for the purpose of this article it is not. Twobellst@lk 20:52, 19 August 2015 (UTC)
You are ignoring what war crimes are. They are breaches of international law. If an act is prohibtted by international law, and a force ignores said prohibition ... it is a war crime!
Not to mention you are ignoring the info available on the link you provided, which in your own words state what war crimes are. They included: "(ii) Pillage. With respect to the war crime of pillage ... Pillage is an offence under the legislation of many States." and "With respect to sexual violence, the Statute of the International Criminal Court specifies in particular rape, sexual slavery, enforced prostitution, enforced sterilization and enforced pregnancy.[118] The Statutes of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda and of the Special Court for Sierra Leone define this war crime as “outrages upon personal dignity, in particular humiliating and degrading treatment, rape, enforced prostitution and any form of indecent assault”" Just to further reinforce the point, rape has been covered for much longer per the link above.EnigmaMcmxc (talk) 21:02, 19 August 2015 (UTC)
Apologies, I'm tired, you are entirely correct, pillage is a war crime, what I was trying to say was that the source didn't support that particular entry. In closing, we need to be careful about what is an offence and what is a 'war crime', I suggest anything with rape goes as well as anything specifically not a war crime but the crimes of pillage remains. In 2008, UN resolution 1820 was passed as well as Resolution 2122, however, they are not part of the Convention so I'm not sure how that works, anyway, as all the incidents were prior to the resolutions they were not 'war crimes', regards. Twobellst@lk 21:06, 19 August 2015 (UTC)

──────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────── I've protected the page for three days - let's focus discussion here instead of via edit summary. If you reach an agreement before the protection lapses, I'll be happy to unlock the page. Parsecboy (talk) 20:59, 19 August 2015 (UTC)

As a general principle, I think that the only thing listed in these kind of articles are incidents which reliable sources have started were a "war crime" or words clearly to that effect. It's important to note that "war crimes" are defined by the International Criminal Court as "grave breaches" of the laws of warfare which "are committed as part of a plan or policy or on a large scale" [3], and the Red Cross notes that this is the most common definition internationally [4], so picking out incidents of British personnel breaking the law during wartime (for instance, individual cases of looting, murder, rape, etc, as horrible as they were) doesn't necessarily mean that they committed a "war crime" - to do so with is WP:OR. Where other reliable sources argue that the event wasn't a war crime (the bombing of Dresden being the obvious example), this debate should be noted per WP:NPOV. Nick-D (talk) 11:33, 20 August 2015 (UTC)
While I loath this article - as a constant source of arguing and the target of Anglophobes and nationalists (no finger pointing) - I completely agree that it needs a clean up and what should be included needs to be well sourced (unlike most of the article).
A casual glance around Google Books did find at least one source that notes the Allied actions during the Boxer Rebellion was a breach of international law. Although another hinted towards the Boxer Rebellion being the partial inspiration for the latter Hague treaty. It seems that a more constructed narrative could be created there on the subject.
In regards to the debate on Dresden, there is enough material out there that has called it a crime and enough contradicting material to conduct a much better balanced section than the one in this article.
The following selection - none being David Irving - state a war crime/breach of international law took place (commentary on the subject varying):,,, (weak source), link, link, link, link
Taking the middle ground: link, link, link, link, link, link, link
Stating it was not (outright, or round-about): link, link, link, link, there is - of course - the official reports that highlight the city was defended, was of military importance, and therefore legitimate targets.EnigmaMcmxc (talk) 23:10, 21 August 2015 (UTC)
While this user does not believe that Britain is superior in any way to other nations, I am proud of the fact that the country, compared to most has a very good record when it comes to promoting civil rights and abiding by international law. I do not disguise the fact that one of the reasons I became more active on Wikipedia was to try to balance some of the more ludicrous, pov articles which attempted for whatever reason to portray the UK in a poor light or disguise the country's contributions to mankind irrespective of the sources that say otherwise or have people think we all walk around wearing black hats. Also, this is not an attempt at camouflaging true war crimes, however, historical breaches of international law were not 'war crimes', per se unless specifically stated by the source. The UK has never been prosecuted for war crimes, having said that, the British themselves have been rigorous in their pursuit of anyone acting on behalf of Britain who may have committed same. In closing, I believe the article to be extremely lazy and biased, seemingly with the intention of wagging fingers. With that in mind, I think we need to remove much of what is written there as there are no actual 'war crimes' which can be attributed to the country irrespective of editors opinions unless they have access to sources that specifically state that Britain has been prosecuted for actions against the various conventions, best wishes. Twobellst@lk 09:57, 22 August 2015 (UTC)
Not having been prosecuted does not mean such events have never taken place. The above example highlights this.
Likewise, please explain how breaches of international law does not amount to a crime? If you are breaching the Geneva conventions what exactly are you doing? Furhermore, a quick glance finds spurces that contradict such a position.EnigmaMcmxc (talk) 15:34, 22 August 2015 (UTC)

There is a danger in this sort of article that some Wikipedia editors quote a definition and then others using the duck test commit a WP:SYN. Unfortunately articles like this one are full of these types of assertions. This was the reason why the article List of massacres was move to List of events named massacres. That article still has its problems, but asking for at least two independent reliable sources to verify the claim is useful (to reduce WP:UNDUE). It is also useful to use inline attribution both for and against claims of war crimes as inline attribution tends to help with NPOV presentation. In line attribution also tends to allow readers to understand that in many cases whether or not something was a war crime depends on ones POV. In many case, as much information about an incident is contained, in who are the accusers and the deniers, as it the claims themselves (basically Mandy Rice-Davies Applies to many statements in all wars and in their aftermaths).

As to the war crimes and rape, one of the things I find interesting about the English Civil War is the fact that in the An Act of Free and General Pardon, Indemnity, and Oblivion (1660) the crimes of murder (without a licence granted by King or Parliament), piracy, buggery, rape and witchcraft were excluded. Which means that in England as early as 1660 rape was considered to be a crime even in war time.

A second point. The Duke of Wellington kept his men on a very short leash during the Napoleonic Wars, this was militarily expedient, as can be seen by the huge tail of men that were needed by the French to keep the Spanish civilian population subjugated. When Wellington's army crossed into France in 1813/14 he did not want to live off the land in enemy occupied territory, because he understood that keeping a hostile French civilian population under military control was hugely wasteful of limited resources, and that purchasing everything that the army needed from the population was cheaper in men, materiel and gold. He continued this policy during the invasion of France the next year while fighting the Waterloo Campaign. (see Anglo-allied army order of the day (20 June) and Malplaquet proclamation (22 June 1815).

This was in contrast to the contemporary Prussian attitude, and is similar in the policies that would be followed by the Western Allies and the Soviets in the closing stages of World War II (see also Martens Clause).

Therefore it would seem that most of the laws of war such as treatment of prisoners of war grew out of military expediency (see for example Declaration of Lex Talionis) rather than primarily motivated by humanitarian concerns. "For the international law of war is not formulated simply on the basis of humanitarian feelings. It has as its basis both considerations of military necessity and effectiveness and humanitarian considerations, and is formulated on a balance of these two factors." (Ryuichi Shimoda et al. v. The State (1963) -- see Military necessity#Weapons) -- what I am trying to emphasise here is just because it is nasty it is not necessarily a war crime.

This article is full or OR for example the Easter Rebellion of 1916 was not considered to be an armed conflict (just as the troubles at the end of the century were not), and certainly not an international armed conflict. Whether the Anglo-Irish War was a civil war is debatable, and at a purely legal issue if the crimes carried out by both sides were war crimes is something for sources written by legal scholars to indicate (ie whether the killings on Bloody Sunday (1920) and Bloody Sunday (1972) are war crimes it is not something that Wikipedia editors can determine without firm guidance by reliable sources)

Just because a nasty thing happens in war it is not necessarily a war crime. Ie the death of so many civilians in concentration camps during the Boer War was a horrible, but it is generally assumed to be incompetence rather than a war crime (the death rate among British soldiers due to incompetent administration were also very high but few if any consider incompetence to be a crime). If that section is to remain then a balance is needed. First and foremost who is it that states it was a war crime and then if it can be shown to be a widely held opinion, a counter opinion by others (if such counter opinions exist). If not then the section ought to be removed as OR.

In the case of Dresden, the general view is that it was not a war crime (nor were the other aerial bombardments by all sides in the war), but there are a number of historians who have asserted that it was (the details of this can be found in the main article: Bombing of Dresden in World War II). The danger of including Dresden here is giving non-legal views UNDUE weight (See for example Telford Taylor council for the prosecution at the Nuremberg Trials on Leo Kuper's qualifications to comment on this area of international law When people kill people "The author [Leo Kuper] is a specialist in African studies, ..." "... and that declaration raises legal problems, in the handling of which Professor Kuper is insecure.") -- PBS (talk) 16:07, 29 August 2015 (UTC)

On the whole, I completely agree with you. I would note that this article has always suffered from the problems you have indicated, and it was because of them that it was pruned back a while ago and a definition inserted (since pretty much anything and everything was being added to this article), although as you have highlighted even the use of a definition has not aided.
In regards to the Boer War section, I was looking back through old versions of this article and I can see that it use to state the following (which has been removed for whatever reason): "A significant portion of the adults also died.[7] Some Afrikaners consider this to be a war crime,[8][9] which ended with the death of at least 34,000 people.[9] A later Prime minister, Henry Campbell-Bannerman, declared in the British Parliament on June 14, 1901: "When is a war not a war? When it is waged in South Africa by methods of barbarism."[10]"
[8] Ashplant, Timothy, Dawson, Graham and Roper, Michael (2004). Commemorating War: The Politics of Memory. Transaction Publishers, p. 122. ISBN 0765808153; [9] Crawford, Keith and Foster, Stuart (2008). War, nation, memory: international perspectives on World War II in school history textbooks. IAP. p. 43. ISBN 159311852X; [10]Pakenham, Thomas (1992). The Boer War. HarperCollins, p. 539. ISBN 0380720019
I appreciate that it includes weasel words, although I can see why the section was introduced.
In regards to Dresden (while I completely agree that the consensus supports that it - nor other aerial bombardments - constituted a war crime, although I conceded I found it harder than I imaged to find material that said so) there are plenty of sources (as indicated above, which include varying levels of discussion on the subject) that have stated it was one (legal considerations aside, various historians have labeled it as such). I believe enough material is out there to warrant a section, just one that discusses it a lot better than the current one; but removal seems counter to wiki guidelines.EnigmaMcmxc (talk) 20:58, 29 August 2015 (UTC)
With reference to older entries in the section about the Boer war quoting Boers and an opposition MP seems to me to fall under MRDA. British government sources then and governments of the same party that was in power then and later will tend to say no crime for the same reason. One only has to look at the quarrel over the delayed publication of the contemporary Chilcot inquiry, to see such politics in action, and the publication of the Saville Inquiry 38 years after Bloody Sunday and 12 years after the Good Friday Agreement of 1998 (it was basically part of that process) is notable for being unusual. If the treatment of prisoners of the Boers in the British concentration camps is generally seen as a war crime then it ought to be possible to find disinterested legal sources.
I think that it would be well worth while adding to the definition section the paragraph quoting Bloxham in the Bombing of Dresden although altering the wording to make it suitable for such a section the current wording is:

Historian Donald Bloxham states, "The bombing of Dresden on 13–14 February 1945 was a war crime".[1] He further argues there was a strong prima facie case for trying Winston Churchill among others and a theoretical case Churchill could have been found guilty. "This should be a sobering thought. If, however it is also a startling one, this is probably less the result of widespread understanding of the nuance of international law and more because in the popular mind 'war criminal', like 'paedophile' or 'terrorist', has developed into a moral rather than a legal categorisation".[2]


  1. ^ Addison & Crang 2006, p. 180.
  2. ^ Addison, Paul; Crang, Jeremy A., eds. (2006). Firestorm: The Bombing of Dresden. Pimlico. p. 180. ISBN 1-84413-928-X. 

This is because a simple definition does not encapsulate the moral crime aspect. -- PBS (talk) 11:47, 30 August 2015 (UTC)

Proposal For Deletion[edit]

Reading the talk history, it is clear the majority of editors consider this article to be biased, silly, and a duplication of other articles. 'British war Crimes' is nothing more than an exercise in revisionist history, with no claim to reliable, source material stating any such 'war crimes' ever actually occurred. The edits suggest what this actually reflects is Anglophobia, which again, has it's own article. More importantly, the page puts the reputation of Wikipedia into disrepute considering only two of these so-called historical 'war crimes' are actual war crimes, which already have their own articles. Rather, this page seems to want to duplicate other articles for some reason known only to certain editors. Also, some of the entries are ridiculous, sailors pinching bottoms in China and Australian soldiers legally executed for the willful murder of multiple prisoners of war are listed here as 'war crimes', need I go on? In closing, the [citation needed] tags have been in place for years and still to this today have not been added, I wonder why that is? How about the shocking idea that they are not war crimes? Rather, a bunch of bar bores got together and proceeded to mouth all the lies, half-truths and anti-British discrimination they could come up with. Such bigotry against any other nation would never be allowed on Wikipedia and I do not see why one so biased should exist here either. Subsequently, I recommend the page for deletion as editors have had years to source citations of these so-called 'war crimes'. Twobells (talk) 10:48, 25 January 2016 (UTC)

@Twobells: Hi. I noticed you restored the proposed deletion tag that I had removed ("deprodded"). The edit summary you used ("Undid revision 701301498 by Rhododendrites (talk)yes, it is up for discussion at afd, thanks") makes me think there's some confusion. There are multiple deletion processes on Wikipedia. Proposed deletion is pretty informal -- the tag is added to the page with deletion rationale, and if nobody objects then after 7 days an admin makes sure there's a viable reason for deletion and executes the deletion. Because it's so informal and operates on a solely local basis, PROD tags can be removed by anyone for any reason (with rare exceptions). AfD is a separate process, "Articles for deletion". It's a more formal discussion on a page set up for just that. They typically last 7 days at which point an uninvolved party determines whether there is consensus within the discussion to delete or take some other course. Information about that is here: WP:AFD. If you're not sure how, I can create that deletion discussion on your behalf. Just let me know. But please don't restore the PROD tag. — Rhododendrites talk \\ 14:09, 25 January 2016 (UTC)
This article is unnecessarily long and in need of serious pruning. There is no need to repeat histories covered in articles elsewhere, and it also needs to cover 'war crimes' as defined by the Hague convention and in the article lede itself. Hard to do when partisan editors revert. Stephenjh (talk) 14:28, 14 March 2016 (UTC)
Yes, agree. This article appears to be a case of WP:COATRACK. There are plenty of real war crimes to go around, without the need to focus on one or two incidents of "looting" alleged by the victims. K.e.coffman (talk) 01:23, 15 March 2016 (UTC)

Blockades of Germany[edit]

The Royal Navy's starvation blockades of Germany during both world wars were illegal under international law. ( (talk) 18:38, 3 September 2016 (UTC))

Any sources for that?--Darius (talk) 21:19, 3 September 2016 (UTC)
The German government maintained throughout both world wars that the blockades were illegal as they violated the Hague Convention of 1907, and that deliberately targeting a civilian population was a war crime and a crime against humanity. The blockades were only possible because the United States violated its neutrality by siding with the British Empire from the very beginning of both wars. ( (talk) 13:20, 4 September 2016 (UTC))


Surely using passenger liners to carry war munitions was illegal? ( (talk) 16:36, 21 September 2016 (UTC))

Bloody Sunday and Ballymurphy massacres[edit]

Is there any reason why these two mass shootings by British troops during the Troubles have been omitted from the list? (talk) 10:24, 25 September 2016 (UTC))

I do not remember the outcome of the Bloody Sunday inquest, so please forgive if I use the wrong term in answering your question: essentially, crimes committed by troops are not automatically war crimes. Furthermore, the article should only reflect what reliable sources say. So, do any sources label those shootings as war crimes?EnigmaMcmxc (talk) 12:23, 25 September 2016 (UTC)

Aerial bombing of civilians[edit]

Britain began civilian bombing in World War II: Why is only the destruction of Dresden mentioned in the article? Deliberately bombing civilians is a war crime. ( (talk) 16:21, 27 September 2016 (UTC))

Wiki only reports what WP:RS state. That link, to a review, does not state a war crime occurred. Your are forming your own conclusion based off current law and the article stating Britain started it (I.e. breach of WP:SYN and WP:OR).
If you have a reliable source that states indiscriminate/area bombing of civilian areas (with or without military targets I.e. the dehousing policy etc) at the time was considered a war crime then present them, otherwise Dresden will be the only one mentioned because some authors consider it to be so.EnigmaMcmxc (talk) 21:18, 27 September 2016 (UTC)
The firebombing of Hamburg is regularly described as a war crime. ( (talk) 11:12, 26 October 2016 (UTC))

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Article focus[edit]

This article seems to be an essay on crimes committed or alleged to have been committed by British armed forces. To be worthwhile and encyclopedic it should have a clear and narrow scope- I would propose "occasions where British personal were found to have breached the Geneva conventions". This would be a much shorter and objective article. I would note that the Boer War section on treatment of civilians predates the relevant convention.Martinlc (talk) 11:41, 6 March 2017 (UTC)

Bias and original research[edit]

The article opens by stating it is a list of "proven war crimes" yet not a single one in the list has been proven as a war crime by any court etc. It is clearly written by some anti british individuals with a bias in sources (where there are any) and material. The construction of the list itself is a piece of original research as is the listing of events here, particular where some aren't covered by the cited conventions, since the boer wars, counter irish terrorism etc weren;t covered by the relevant treaties as they weren't uniformed combatants. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talkcontribs)

Note: I replied to the IP on my talk page. Flyer22 Reborn (talk) 11:32, 11 March 2017 (UTC)

Hague Convention[edit]

The article cites the Hague Conventions so I thought it would be useful to look into them, Hague Convention of 1907, which took much of the Lieber Code and wrote it into the international treaty law, included practices that would be considered illegal or extremely questionable by today's standards. In the event of the violation of the laws of war by an enemy, the Code permitted reprisal (by musketry) against the enemy's recently captured POWs; it permitted the summary execution (by musketry) of spies, saboteurs, francs-tireurs, and guerrilla forces, if caught in the act of carrying out their missions. (These allowable practices were later abolished by the Third and Fourth Geneva Conventions of 1949, following World War II, which saw these practices in the hands of totalitarian states used as the rule rather than the exception to such.)

Such terms reflected Lieber's deep interest in the ideas of Prussian military strategist Carl von Clausewitz. They also arose out of one of the Code's central aims, which was not merely to limit the war, but to legitimate its expansion in the move to Emancipation and a more aggressive war effort.[7]

However, the code envisioned a reciprocal relationship between the population and the Army. As long as the population did not resist military authority, it was to be treated well. Should the inhabitants violate this compact by taking up arms and supporting guerrilla movements, then they were open to sterner measures. Among these were the imposition of fines, the confiscation and/or destruction of property, the imprisonment and/or expulsion of civilians who aided guerrillas, the relocation of populations, the taking of hostages, and the possible execution of guerrillas who failed to abide by the laws of war.[8] It authorized the shooting on sight of all persons not in uniform acting as soldiers and those committing, or seeking to commit, sabotage

the Hague conventions apply between sovereign nations, and do not cover guerrillas, terrorists etc. As such the Boer wars, Irish uprisings shouldn't be included. I haven't looked at the Geneva convention yet but if they don't cover guerrillas etc then Kenya, Malaya etc should be removed. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talkcontribs)

I disagree. Alfie Gandon (talk) 15:54, 10 March 2017 (UTC)
Alfie Gandon Do you care to explain why you disagree? Boomer VialHolla! We gonna ball! 11:17, 11 March 2017 (UTC)
Deliberate attacks on civilians during war have been considered crimes under British law since the 17th century; see War_crime#Early_examples. Alfie Gandon (talk) 12:04, 11 March 2017 (UTC)

Boxer rebellion[edit]

At present the text relies on a single unofficial source with no indication that any convictions occurred. Unless more sources are available the section should be removed. Martinlc (talk) 16:30, 10 March 2017 (UTC)

External links modified[edit]

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