Here is an authentic account of a brief, momentous event that preceded India’s independence. Nehru vividly described the period as “a political earthquake of devastating intensity”.
Dissatisfied with their treatment and conditions of service, Indian ratings of the Royal Indian Navy seized control of ships and shore establishments in February 1946. This unparalleled event was sparked off by the British Commanding Officer’s remark: “You are the sons of coolies...!”
This is a personal account by the author, a junior naval officer at the time, caught by chance at the centre of the disturbances in Bombay, and it indicates their far reaching implications: the historic trials in New Delhi, when Nehru was one of the defence lawyers of the Indian National Army; the references to it in the House of Commons, London; Gandhi’s philosophy of nonviolence; and the significance of India becoming the first Republic in the Commonwealth.
In his Foreword, Lord Sorensen refers to “such agitation fused, as in the French and Russian revolutions, in the resultant flames”.
Percy S Gourgey (1923–2008) was a writer, broadcaster and active in public affairs. He claimed the unique privilege of having witnessed the course of three freedom movements in the twentieth century: the Second World War, the struggle for India’s independence, followed by the struggle for Israel statehood in 1948. Born to Iraqi Jews in what was then Bombay in 1923, Gourgey served as a Lieutenant in the Indian Navy during the War. In later years, he moved to London where he was active in Jewish affairs.
Foreword by Lord Sorensen v
Preface and Acknowledgements viii
1. A Feeling of Unrest 1
2. Day One of the Revolt 5
3. Day Two 10
4. Day Three 14
5. Non-Violence and Nationalism 21
6. Day Four 29
7. Day Five 36
8. In Parliament and Assembly 43
9. Inquiry Commission Report 52
10. Postscript 62