Encyclopedia of Trotskyism On-Line: Revolutionary History, Vol. 8 No. 2
Mutiny in India in 1919
IN the opening months of the First World War, the regular troops of the Army of India were shipped overseas to serve in Europe, East Africa, Mesopotamia and other theatres of operations. They were replaced by a couple of divisions of Territorials; patriotic, part-time ‘Saturday Night Soldiers’ who volunteered to serve as the wartime garrison of India.  However, by March 1919, they were disillusioned, and their increasingly bitter complaints featured in a series of anonymous letters that were published by the Bombay Chronicle. As well as complaining generally about the corruption and snobbery they had experienced during their service in India, the correspondents drew attention to the slow pace at which they were being shipped back to Britain by the Army, which they contrasted with the precedence enjoyed by civilian as opposed to military sailings.  Some letters also called for a ‘First Out – First Home’ priority of demobilisation to be applied to India, echoing the principal demand that had elsewhere featured in a rash of mutinies by troops whose demobilisation had also been delayed. One correspondent called for action, declaring: ‘If we do strike what action can the Military authorities take? … Are we to be completely crushed beneath the heel of Militarism or are we to assert our rights as Englishmen?’  Others were contemptuous about the increased pay and bonuses offered to placate troops who were to be detained in India for a further summer. 
Any official resolution of these issues was postponed because of the simultaneous declaration by the government of martial law, following nation-wide civil unrest by Indians protesting against the Rowlatt Acts.  These disturbances put an end to any immediate prospect of the wartime garrison being speedily demobilised, and after the Jallianwala Bagh (Amritsar) massacre on 13 April, the military administration was hard-pressed to find enough British soldiers to carry out counter-insurgency operations.  The Commander-in-Chief of the Army of India, Sir Charles Monro, therefore announced:
The Commander-in-Chief regrets that he is compelled by a serious situation which has arisen in India to ask you to volunteer to remain temporarily in India for a period not exceeding one month, or less if the situation admits of it. 
The ambiguous use of the term ‘volunteer’ had been deliberate, for it also warned his officers to be cautious about the manner in which they relayed the request to their troops. However, Monro promised that ‘volunteers’ would not be kept in India longer than the situation demanded, and rank-and-file reactions to his announcement were reported to be generally positive. 
On 15 April, Monro was informed by General Sir Charles Anderson, commanding Southern Command (Poona), that 4500 troops, including details from Mesopotamia in addition to 600 demobilisation staff stationed at Deolali, had ‘volunteered unconditionally.’  However, Anderson added that about a third of the demobilisation staff at Poona, ‘to prevent trouble with employers’, asked ‘to be backed by an order’, and added that a few did not volunteer for urgent but unspecified personal reasons. 
Monro replied by promising that the War Office would explain to the men’s civilian employers why the men’s departure had been delayed, and he authorised Anderson to issue on request a written order justifying the retention of any volunteer. 
The General Officer Commanding, Karachi Brigade reported that all but 20 of the 4525 men under his command who were awaiting demobilisation had ‘volunteered’ to stay until the emergency was over.  However, it was also apparent that the men who had agreed to be detained wanted relatives in Britain be informed of the delay in their demobilisation. 
Army Headquarters blithely assured the volunteers at Karachi and Poona of their Commander in Chief’s gratitude for their loyalty and patriotism; they were granted a bonus, and arrangements were made to redirect their mail.  Monro then ordered the Embarkation Officer at Bombay to transfer drafts of demobilisees from the port to Deolali, Bangalore and Secunderabad. It was intended that these men and those at Karachi would be drafted into composite Special Service infantry battalions.  These movements were barely completed when the men declared that they objected to being classed as ‘volunteers’, and swiftly became a military liability rather than an asset to the Army of India.
Even before the formation of the Special Service battalions, the General Commanding Poona Brigade had reported: ‘A large number of officers and men referred to are New Army and Territorials. These men have business and family interests at home … these men are not volunteers … but they are not discontented at having to remain behind.’ 
However, concern over ‘volunteer’ status extended well beyond the confines of Poona, for soldiers in at least nine other locations were also reported to have voiced similar objections. Major General Wyndham Knight, the Officer Commanding Bombay Brigade, anxiously telegraphed Army Headquarters on 24 April. Referring to the Special Service battalions, he explained:
In many cases the employers would be only too glad of an excuse to cancel existing agreements … The announcement in the papers of ‘unconditional volunteering’ has made the men very uneasy, as this is not what they understood … The smaller number of both officers and men are very discontented and will at best be unwilling workers … it is in detached duties and dealing with mobs that a sense of discipline is so necessary, and it is owing to its absence and the fact that officers and men are, in many cases, strangers, that we cannot place a very high value on these improvised formations. 
From Karachi, an anonymous note was circulated:
We, a committee of 34 WOs, NCOs and men, representing various units now in Karachi, believe you ought to be informed that a full statement relating to the fraudulent manner in which (Meso) troops have been detained here has been forwarded to the following: Associated Press Ltd, London, John Bull Ltd, London, Army Council Whitehall. This statement, which has been forwarded under private covers and bearer, gives full details of the conditions prevailing here generally and the following facts have been prominently set forth in order that the British Public may be informed on the matter:
1. That troops were informed that no shipping was available, whereas two large shipping companies advertise to end May no less than 15 large ships leaving for England. These [are] presumably for civilians …
2. That a large number of men here have positions awaiting them in England, and that their families have been since 1914-15 drawing regular allowances from their firms. That these firms now demand their services …
3. That a statement has appeared in Indian newspapers to the effect that Mesopotamian troops in Deolali have volunteered to remain in India. That this statement is a lie and being copied in English papers will seriously jeopardise positions and allowances of men mentioned in paragraph 2.
4. Troops … are, against their will, being formed into battalions for various parts of India, and are being informed that they volunteered, and that the troops from Mesopotamia, their job completed, are being treated dishonourably and unjustly by the inept Indian Government … In view of probable disturbances, we have decided that the British public should be honestly informed as to the true state of affairs, and the reason for discontent. We are … loyal subjects of His Majesty, but we mistrust the civil and military administration of India, and will not be loyal to such a corrupted system. Moreover we don’t respect or esteem the civilian population of India, and considering their pitiful war record we do not see why we should protect them. Mesopotamian Soldiers Committee, Karachi. 
Commanders elsewhere expressed their unease about their British personnel, and a telegraph message from Deolali Camp reported: ‘Amongst both officers and men there are socialistic ideas and a lack of discipline … Some of the officers and men question the acceptance of Indian promises, not confirmed by orders from the War Office.’ 
A general was swiftly despatched to deal with the troublemakers, and a communiqué was circulated to all Army commands. It stated: ‘The Commander-in-Chief has already asked the War Office by telegram to explain to employers the conditions under which the men volunteered to remain.’  Monro added that he hoped the men’s chances of employment would not be endangered by their patriotic action. He also stated that 12 ships had been diverted to Indian ports, and that the return of troops to Britain would resume on 8 May. 
By the end of April, the military administration had generally succeeded in suppressing civil unrest in urban areas, and in rural India peasants were kept in check by the collaboration of prosperous Indian merchants and landowners. However, the civil situation remained volatile, so on 2 May Army Headquarters telegraphed a caution to British troops, ‘which was not to be heard by or communicated to any Indians’:
During the recent disturbances agitators have spread rumours of dissension amongst British Troops with a view to persuade the ignorant and excitable Indian population that they may with impunity defy law and order. [The] … situation in India though much improved is not yet nearly normal. In order that despatch to the United Kingdom … may proceed steadily without delay, it is essential that no foundation for such rumours be furnished to the Indian agitator class, who are very observant and watch closely the attitude of British troops. 
Unfortunately for the military hierarchy, the day after Monro’s caution was circulated, Afghan troops crossed the North-West Frontier, declared a jihad against the British, and called on Indian Muslims to rise in revolt. The ensuing hostilities, generally referred to as the Third Afghan War, involved hostilities on the border and an abortive rising by Muslims in Peshawar, as well as desertions from the Khyber Rifles. Around 140 000 British and Indian troops, aided by artillery and RAF aerial bombing, fought an energetic month-long campaign over difficult terrain, and compelled the Afghan leader, Amir Amanullah, to sue for peace. 
However, military success failed to resolve the demobilisation crisis, for the resumption of sailings was not extended to include the Territorials. At the beginning of May, a legal justification was aired in order to secure their continued retention. The War Office colluded with the Army of India in drawing attention to the 1918 Definition of War Act, which stated ‘termination of hostilities’ and ‘duration of war’ were coterminous. It then stated that the end of fighting in November 1918 amounted merely to the suspension of hostilities, and therefore the Territorials, who had undertaken service for the duration of the war, were obliged to remain in India.  To ease the Territorials’ disappointment, Army Headquarters granted local leave to the troops in India, and said they would consider compassionate cases on an individual basis and give priority of release to garrison troops.  The strategy may have enabled Monro to legitimate the detention of Territorials, but it was equally evident that he had also capitulated in the face of collective action by the Mesopotamian veterans. Moreover, although he had undertaken to ship the latter home, the War Office had unequivocally informed Monro that the War Office could send no military reinforcements from Britain to relieve the Army of India until mid-June. 
The ex-Mesopotamian drafts billeted in barracks at Poona, as well as soldiers with lower priority for demobilisation, including the Army Service Corps and the Pay Corps, then demanded to know whether their shipment home might be further jeopardised by a posting to the North-West Frontier. The veterans’ enquiry was informed not only by demobilisation, but also the Army’s chronic shortage of lorry drivers. To meet the Afghan threat to the North-West Frontier, the Army of India transported troops to the region by rail, but it was otherwise wholly reliant on motor vehicles driven by Army Service Corps drivers. In order to overcome the severe shortage of suitably qualified drivers from which the force initially suffered, a subterfuge was employed by Army Headquarters. Advantage was taken of a minor deciphering problem in the text of a telegram that had been sent by the War Office. The telegram initially ordered Simla to retain all demobilisable troops, ‘except RASC, invalids, and IWT’. However, Army Headquarters relayed the order to the troops in India with the addendum, ‘other than motor transport’. 
When the amended telegram was circulated to Karachi on 12 May, three-quarters of the 800 Royal Army Service Corps personnel at the depot went on strike and refused to entrain for the North-West Frontier. 
Brigadier General William Anderson, commanding Karachi Brigade, reported that the RASC men’s would produce ‘evil effects’ elsewhere, especially if news of the incident reached civilian ears. He confidentially recommended that the men be imprisoned, pending shipment back to Britain, as a deterrent to any other soldiers who might be similarly inclined, and then directly threatened to charge the protestors with mutiny.  The RASC men called his bluff, demanding to know whether the War Office was aware of the predicament in which they had been placed by the order to entrain. 
On 14 May, Anderson capitulated and negotiated with the RASC men at Karachi. He informed Simla that the telegram subterfuge had been exposed and that the men’s continued detention was ‘dangerous and useless’, concluding that all departmental personnel should be shipped home.  The following day, after a report of further unrest at Poona by Army Medical Corps troops, Army Headquarters acquiesced to the demobilisation of the RASC personnel, though they continued to insist that the War Office had not sanctioned the repatriation to Britain of Ordinance and Royal Army Medical Corps personnel. 
During the remainder of May and June, Simla repeatedly badgered the War Office to send reinforcements, for the Army of India urgently required 20 battalions of British infantry and departmental troops. These requirements were not only generated by the demobilisation crisis, the need to curb the Afghans and to meet the threat of civil disorder, but also because of a massive rise in the number of soldiers falling sick.  In outposts and military cantonments, personnel were suffering from general debility, due to malaria and the hot climate, but also as a consequence of the world influenza pandemic. In early June, the Viceroy notified the India Office that there were 62,625 British troops serving in India. Of these, he reported, 14,000 were totally unfit for active service (including 2,500 clerks at the Military Accounts Department, Poona), and around 24,000 men were awaiting demobilisation. Of the latter, 17,000 were war veterans from the Mesopotamian campaign, on whom Simla was compelled to rely for reinforcements, reserves and security duties. 
The War Office response was blunt and disappointing – no reinforcements could be sent immediately. Simla therefore decided on 11 June to reimpose the total suspension of demobilisation, and a month later British troops again mutinied.  Trouble was reported with reinforcements at Barbhan, where reinforcements refused to entrain for service on the North-West Frontier.  The men were cajoled into resuming their duties, but by early July a further mutiny erupted at Deolai, after No. 6 Composite Special Battalion, a counter-insurgency unit composed of ex-Mesopotamian veterans whose demobilisation had been deferred, were ordered to depart for the North-West Frontier. The Officer Commanding, Bombay, Major General Sir Wyndham Charles Knight, warned the Adjutant General, General Sir Havelock Hudson, that there would be trouble with No. 6 Special Battalion. 
Hudson responded by reciting well-worn assurances, insisting that the men’s interests were being looked after, but Anderson told him that it was impossible either to coerce the Deolali mutineers or conceal any such move from civilians.  Anderson warned: ‘We have to deal with a class of men, which is very discontented and unable to see more than its own point of view; very different from the former class of soldier, and lacking in the old men’s sense of discipline.’ 
Monro informed the War Office that as soon as British reinforcements reached India, priority would be given to Mesopotamian veterans detained in India, to be followed by Army of India garrison personnel. Thereafter, it was intended that the Territorials would be shipped home by units, and any remaining troops would depart ‘on arrival of similar formations from home and pari passu of all other formations according to priority of claims for demobilisation … [and] by length of service’. 
Army Headquarters simultaneously detailed Major General Knight and Brigadier General Owen Woolley-Dod to assist Anderson in dealing with the Deolali outbreak.  Woolley-Dod forwarded a lengthy memorandum that drew attention to the men’s resolution and solidarity. It stated:
Practically all the junior NCOs and privates had collected in one barrack room and that they refused to listen to any arguments. This was rather obviously done by the ringleaders who had rounded up the waverers to prevent them listening to reason at the last moment … the men had stated that they did not believe the word of any officer and that they stated that they were not in a mood to listen to the King himself … The mutiny, I believe the men call it passive resistance, has been carefully organised for some time past … It appears to be impossible to get any evidence against those who are suspected of being ringleaders in the movement, and, in a large camp like this, full of men in exactly the same situation as the mutineers, effective and immediate disciplinary action is impossible. 
Attached to the report was a copy of the mutineers’ demands, which proclaimed:
After mature deliberation this battalion has decided that it cannot consent to leave Deolali for any reason other than repatriation via Bombay. On the authority of No 6 Special Battalion we submit the following explanations, which are final, and will on no account be supplemented by verbal statement.
1) No action has been taken as regards our immediate repatriation in spite of a full statement of our case having on two occasions been forwarded to Major General Knight.
2) All official promises have been broken, which were made to us, and in consequence we cannot in future place any reliance on any such promises.
3) We are interested only in resuming our former civilian occupations and it is unreasonable and hopeless to expect our interests to be diverted to the NW Frontier.
4) The experience we have gained during the last three months has taught us that in unity lies our strength and therefore we are determined that we will not allow our best weapon to be lost.
We should like to add that full true statements of our case have already been forwarded to several prominent personages in England who are interested in our affairs. 
The predicament in which Anderson, Knight and Woolly-Dodd found themselves was similar to that which had occurred during April at Karachi, but at Deolali there was no one with whom the three generals could negotiate on a face-to-face basis. Anderson complained:
So far all attempts to discover the instigations [sic] of the trouble have completely failed. The ringleaders keep themselves absolutely in the background and the secret is well kept. Their identity may eventually be disclosed by censorship. With the aid of cadres of the regular units here about 150 strong who are now under orders for embarkation together with about 50 Garrison Artillery cadres totalling 200 it would be possible to disarm the battalion. This number is very small to deal with possible developments and the pitting of Regulars against Territorials and New Army is of very doubtful advisability. The attitude of other formations here is very problematical many men being in sympathy with the delinquents. 
Unfortunately on the 12th instant the English mail papers of the 20 June arrived here, giving three instances of collective disobedience amounting to mutiny, at home, by bodies of men ordered to embark for India, in which apparently the men got their own way. 
However, Military Intelligence maintained that the Deolali mutineers were more directly influenced by a clandestine rank-and-file network linked to units all over India, so Monro warned his senior commanders:
Indications exist of a central organisation with branches in various stations, whose object is to incite British soldiers ex Mesopotamia and elsewhere, detained in India, to refuse to obey orders moving them to any part of India except Bombay for repatriation. 
As far as the Delolali mutineers were concerned, Monro agreed with Anderson regarding the difficulties that might ensue if any attempt were made to arrest the men. On 15 July, Anderson was instructed make an offer to the mutineers:
It is the intention of the C-in-C now to give them a chance of abandoning their present attitude and inform them that demobilisation opens per man to [that is, from] Mesopotamia and that in the event of further refusal to obey orders he must place them at the foot of the roll of priority for demobilisation and report the case to the War Office, who may think further action necessary when they reach home. Add that it will not be necessary to send them north as definite news has been received of the arrival in India of the reinforcements on 24 July and in view of improved conditions on the frontier. 
The War Office was also informed that demobilisation would have to be immediately revived by Simla.  This news was immediately communicated to the No 6 Special Battalion mutineers at Deolali Camp, by General Anderson at a parade held on the morning of 16 July.  The men accepted Simla’s terms, but the decision to reopen demobilisation and the slow rate at which British reinforcements were scheduled to arrive, along with the sensitive military situation on the North-West Frontier, left the Army of India with an alarming shortage of troops. Worse still, any hopes that Monro may have entertained about the decision to reopen demobilisation finally settling trouble with the Mesopotamian veterans were swiftly dashed. On 27 July, Major-General Kemball reported that the Officer Commanding, Rawalpindi was faced with a mutiny by 94 artillerymen, who refused to move unless they were accorded the same priority for demobilisation as infantrymen.  The gunners were soon satisfied by a reassurance from Army Headquarters that they would not be unduly delayed. 
However, the Major-General was unsettled by the affair, for when approached for permission to assemble 500 soldiers as a reserve force at the Military Base Depot, Rawalpindi, Kemball rejected the proposal, explaining:
The temper of the men at present being detailed for drafts cannot be considered satisfactory. In the case of the men ex-Mesopotamia it may frankly be said it is bad. Drafts arriving from all parts of India, and their congregation together at Rawalpindi for any length of time, where they can compare notes, is certain, in my opinion, to lead to trouble … 
Nevertheless, the trouble to which Kemball had alluded was not long in manifesting itself, but initially it was not the rank and file who were disaffected, but 97 RAMC officers, who were all Mesopotamian veterans serving with Northern Command wishing to return to their civilian practices, and demanding to be immediately returned to Britain. Army Headquarters agreed that it was absolutely imperative that officers whose contracts had expired be shipped home, but the War Office could not provide more than 43 RAMC officer-reinforcements.  On 6 August, the disgruntled RAMC officers announced that they intended to go on strike on 15 August because they were aggrieved about their delayed demobilisation and comparatively low pay. Kemball reported: ‘Disciplinary measures are no deterrent and some individuals have announced that in order to gain the publicity they seek they would welcome being cashiered.’  The matter was settled after all the RAMC officers were awarded a pay rise, and some were transferred closer to ports of embarkation.  These latter moves, as Kemball confidentially admitted, were more than a palliative, for it was also a convenient excuse to disperse RAMC officers known to ‘exercise a harmful influence’ to faraway Southern Command. 
There was also a short-lived ‘failure to parade’ on 23 August by men of 17 Special Battalion in Baluchistan. Rather predictably, the officer commanding Baluchistan reported that the trouble arose from ‘a few discontented men and a general feeling of doubt as to their departure’.  Thereafter, for a short while, there were no further mutinies by the rank and file, mainly because demobilisation had resumed, civil unrest had declined and the Afghans had concluded a peace treaty, ending hostilities on the North West Frontier. However, the soldiers’ grievances continued to be aired in the House of Commons, and got reported in India’s English-language press. 
Thus when the Secretary of State for War, Winston Churchill, assured his fellow MPs that the Mesopotamian veterans would get the highest priority for return home, adding that he deeply regretted the men’s continued detention, which he blamed on the emergency situation in India, the ‘demobilisees’ in India were incensed.  Far from reassuring the latter, Churchill’s statement prompted a hail of complaints concerning the terms under which soldiers had been ‘volunteered’ to remain in India.  Throughout August, the Bombay Chronicle published items that kept British soldiers well informed of efforts being made on their behalf by well-wishers in Britain. Surveying the British press, it declared that ‘numerous letters’ were ‘appearing in the press protesting against the detention of the Territorials in India’, and referred to a major mutiny by British troops stationed in Egypt:
Forty thousand British soldiers appointing their nominees held a conference at Kantara base in April-May 1919, where they passed a resolution to the effect that 1914-15 men must be sent back home at the end of May 1919, and that no excuse about the shortage of tonnage available will be accepted. In the meantime they refused to work, though continuing to draw rations, while their officers being without batmen had to do their own washing and prepare their own food. 
The demobilisees hardly needed to be stirred by the example of the Kantara mutineers, for by the end of August barely 4600 of the 14 400 Mesopotamian veterans had sailed for home, and no other groups of soldiers awaiting demobilisation had been informed of embarkation dates.  Simla’s plan had been to ship all the Mesopotamian veterans home by the third week in September, and then begin sending back the garrison troops and Territorials. However, these plans were constrained by the rate at which British reinforcements arrived in India, that is, ‘man-for-man’ relief. However, many of the 64 900 British troops stationed in India and scheduled to be demobilisation before the end of April 1920 were unconvinced about official assurances that they would be home by Christmas. Sir Charles Monro therefore decided to issue a press communiqué on 16 September, which was intended to reaffirm the Army’s intention that demobilisation would proceed apace, albeit on the basis of ‘man-for-man relief’. His announcement provoked the most extensive and critical mutiny by the Army of India since 1857, for the communiqué also revealed that Mesopotamian veterans, of all departments and lengths of service, would be granted priority over Garrison and Territorial soldiers. This news provoked an immediate protest by 400 clerks who had been temporarily attached to the Military Accounts Depot in Poona. The clerks, who had been recruited from various units, were worried that sustained absence from the original formations might adversely affect their priority for demobilisation, so en masse they made their feelings known to their recently appointed Divisional Commander, Major-General Nigel Woodyatt.  He later recalled:
A very unpleasant task it was, especially when the principal spokesman, stepping out of the ranks and tapping his side of the broad writing table with his knuckles, said he wished to speak to me as ‘man to man’! His argument was that a period of six months from the Armistice having now expired, he was, by law, no longer a soldier. This was quite a new experience for me, not having before found myself, as a general practically in the dock with my rank and file as judges! He presented an ultimatum on a dirty piece of paper containing four demands. To these he said he was instructed to require an answer by 6pm, or the men would take steps to prove they were very much in earnest, as they were thoroughly disgusted with their disgraceful treatment by Simla. The man – a sergeant – was a very good speaker, and although his action was unusual – not to say ill-disciplined – he was by no means aggressively disrespectful. He very evidently meant all he said, and there was a good deal on the men’s side of the question, which fact I felt very strongly. 
On 19 September, Woodyatt was compelled to negotiate with representatives of the rank and file of the Signal Service Depot at Poona, who were equally incensed over Monro’s announcement. The signallers’ delegates protested about the delays in demobilisation, and referred to the press communiqué as a ‘challenge to the troops’. The representatives also pointed out that the points they made also applied to all the British troops at Kirkee who were eligible for demobilisation.  They presented Woodyatt with an ultimatum, demanding:
All compassionate cases and all re-enlisted men who are due for furlough should have sailed by 30 September; 1914 men by 15 October; 1915 men including men over 37 by 31 October; men of first half of 1916 by 15 November; men of latter half of 1916, by 30 November; duration of war men by 31 December. 
They also required the authorities to respond by midday, Tuesday, 22 September. General Anderson, who added his own comments about the situation at Poona before telegraphing the signallers’ ultimatum to Army Headquarters, wrote:
Condition of things is very serious and large number of men are concerned. They are most determined and their attitude is practically mutinous. [Monro’s press communiqué] … acted like a red rag to a bull. In my opinion the only thing that will be of any use is a definite statement of much accelerated despatch. Recommend also urgent special allotment of compassionate cases up to about 200. In order that Indian Troops should not see mobs of British soldiers marching to insist on interviewing General Officers the only course open had been to receive deputations of representatives … 
They claim that Territorial units are receiving preferential treatment as 1916 and 1917 men of these units will get home before 1915 men who are not Territorials. Some 147 men who were sent back from Mesopotamia during December last, as they supposed for despatch home, complain that they still are still here and trained as signallers. The men are very discontented and state that they consider themselves no longer soldiers but civilians and even suggest that they be allowed to send a deputation to Simla. Great discontent is also expressed at the statements regarding lack of shipping when they see notices that large airy cabins are being provided for civilians proceeding home. 
The Adjutant General initially denied knowledge of any ‘broken promises’ embodied in the press communiqué, and repeated that the speed of demobilisation depended ‘on the rate at which the War Office can despatch relieves to India’.  He also restated the order in which it was intended to demobilise troops: Mesopotamian veterans, followed by compassionate cases, and then Territorials.
Hudson urged Anderson to use his discretion, both in carrying out his instructions and communicating the contents of the telegram. The Adjutant General also made much of the Commander-in-Chief’s efforts to ‘further accelerate demobilisation beyond what was possible by man-for-man relief’, by drawing attention to the latter’s request for additional shipping and the planned shipment home during September of 12 200 men in exchange for 5500 arrivals in India. 
The delegation’s complaints about civilian passengers’ comparatively luxurious treatment on board homeward-bound ships were dismissed by Hudson, who pointed out that the majority of civilians had spent over eight years in India, and were paying full rates for their accommodation. The Adjutant General also asserted that the negative response of men at Poona and Kirkee had not been replicated elsewhere in India. The Commander-in-Chief’s policy towards rank-and-file discontent was explained in the final part of Hudson’s telegram. Though admonishing the men, it is clear that Hudson was also scolding Anderson for failing to control the men of Southern Command, for the Adjutant General remarked:
As regards men who consider themselves civilians these should be advised of the provisions of the Naval Military Service and Air Force Act of 1919 and warned that it is better for them not to compel us, by their unsoldierlike conduct, to use the full powers of retention under that Act … Beginnings of indiscipline cannot be countenanced and care must be taken that recent conscripts who are last to go home do not utilise genuine grievance of older soldiers to become ringleaders in insubordinate conduct … Everything possible is being done to get them home and no action of theirs will accelerate their despatch … 
Anderson did not immediately communicate the gist of Hudson’s messages to the men at Poona. Instead, in his reply, Anderson drew attention to the men’s resolution and corporate solidarity:
I fear that the extreme gravity of the situation is not realised by you. The men are desperate and my information tends to show that they will stick at nothing. Their patience has reached the limit and they scoff at expressions of sympathy. They express utter indifference to safety of India or calls of patriotism. It might be thought that their attitude contained some element of bluff, but this cannot be relied on as their whole conduct points to desperation and fixed intention to enforce their will … they will not listen to any reason … I must be in a position to say something before noon 22nd … Men’s question asking to send deputation to Simla is one on which they lay great stress. Employment of force is most undesirable and other units insufficient even if they could be relied upon to use it. 
In desperation, Anderson briefed the Governor of Bombay, Sir George Lloyd about the military crisis at Poona. Lloyd later noted:
It is feared by the military authorities here that white troops will break out, start looting and burning houses. It is difficult for me to believe that white troops will behave in India in this manner but Anderson, who knows their temper, is alarmed. Besides these four thousand odd mutineers, we have only five hundred new Warwickshires. They have just arrived and could not be asked to use force on their fellows … Arsenal guard is also affected. Since April this is the third mutiny with which we have been faced, and it will be very bad if the Indian troops get to know. I fear that some of them have got wind of it this time, but we must hope for the best. 
Lloyd telegraphed the Viceroy:
This afternoon Sir Charles Anderson warns me that the attitude of the men is menacing and that no palliative measures or delays will suffice. The men demand to go home at once … and we have no troops sufficient for coercive measures. A final and definite reply is demanded by the men by midday tomorrow. 
Hudson again vainly tried to make Anderson use force to suppress the mutineers, the latter refused to do so, and reported that the men’s temper had not cooled:
The attitude of the men in quite respectful but uncompromisingly recalcitrant and in deadly earnest. They again demand to send to Simla a deputation of 15 from all units and state that unless this is sanctioned by Wednesday at 9am there will be a mass meeting of all troops at Poona and Kirkee … It would be impossible to control such a mass meeting and its probable action could not be gauged. I reluctantly urge that deputation … accompanied by a senior staff officer be permitted to proceed to Simla, as the only possible solution … In my opinion refusal to receive deputation would be fatal. 
Hudson also demanded to know what intelligence Anderson could provide about ‘outside influence and funds’. He also offered some unimaginative suggestions about dealing with the mutineers, which included mass posting of troublemakers away from Deolali and Kirkee, but refused to meet with the men’s representatives at Simla. When subsequently informed of Lloyd’s endorsement of Anderson’s perspectives on the gravity of the Poona crisis, the Adjutant General erupted with fury, but was compelled to acquiesce by the Commander in Chief. On 22 September, Monro told the War Office to send out reinforcements as fast as possible, and abandoned the existing ‘man-for-man’ basis of reinforcements. 
Meanwhile, the Poona mutineers held their meeting in the afternoon, voiced outrage at the obduracy of the Adjutant General, and set a further ultimatum. They demanded immediate permission to send their representatives to Simla, stipulating that Army Headquarters had to agree to the proposal by 9am on Wednesday, 24 September, failing which, Lloyd reported:
They threaten to hold a mass meeting on the race-course on Wednesday afternoon immediately after the races. I have also received reliable information that it is in their minds to march on the city in force … The whole of the public will become aware of the meeting if the men put either of these threats into effect. 
Lloyd’s claimed his information was based on ‘reliable NCOs’ who believed that ‘outside influences were at work’.  Lloyd also identified four possible courses of action:
(1) That coercion be used to quell the mutiny and troops sent promptly to quell the same or (2) to take the risk that the men are bluffing and will not in fact act up to their threats or (3) to meet the men’s demands and give an early and definite fixed date of sailing, or (4) to allow men’s deputation to leave for Simla at once. 
He dismissed the first point as unthinkable – ‘Example to Indians would be serious’ – and the second was too risky. He favoured the third point, but felt it was impossible to fulfil. After exploring the situation fully with Anderson, Lloyd commended the fourth point to the Viceroy, and the mutineers were duly informed that the Army were prepared to conduct negotiations with their representatives at Simla. 
The Viceroy notified Whitehall, explaining:
The retention of demobilisable men indefinitely anywhere in India would probably create a more inconvenient and possibly a more dangerous situation than would be caused by temporary reduction of the British garrison in India … We cannot afford to accept any risks of organised disturbance, and vague promises find no favour with the men in their present temper. 
The mutineers’ delegates travelled to Simla, arriving on Saturday, 4 October 1919. The opening round of negotiations began immediately, but there were no talks on the following day. The second and final round took place on Monday 6 October. A contemporary verbatim record was made of the proceedings, a typed copy of which was despatched to the India Office. What follows is a hitherto unpublished, edited version of the 47-page original typescript.
Sergeant Bowker, who appears to have been the same NCO who thumped his fist on Woodyatt’s desk at Poona, led the 25-strong delegation of mutineers.  Bowker spoke for the artillerymen at Kirkee, as well as the Poona mutineers, and although other delegates’ identities were not recorded, it is known that they included representatives from the Signal Service Depot, Military Accounts Department, 2 Combined British Infantry Depot and 36 Company, RAMC.
At Simla, they were chaperoned by four officers: Major Lionel Morse, 62 Punjabis (Signal Service Depot, Poona), Major Eric Ball (Deputy Assistant Adjutant and Quartermaster General, Bombay Brigade), Major Robert Sweet (Indian Medical Service) and Lieutenant [?] Donald (Military Accounts Department). 
Aside from the Adjutant General, Lieutenant General Sir Havelock Hudson, Army Headquarters was represented by Brigadier General Herbert Browne (Southern Command); Brigadier General Dennis Deane (Director of Demobilisation) and Lieutenant Colonel Sir Charles Miles (Assistant Military Secretary).
Simla, Saturday, 4 October 1919: First Day’s Proceedings
Bowker: Discontent had been spreading from the beginning of this year and it had gradually grown worse until in the end the sore appeared on the surface at Poona. That was not to say that there was no discontent anywhere else. That delegation had been up to some extent a safety valve. While they were reasonable creatures themselves there were others who were not. Speaking for the Signal Service Depot, one man went down from their committee because he considered their views were not strong enough. He was for violence out and out, plundering, looting and burning. At the same time they must be prepared to admit that that man had certain feelings, and if nothing was done … that man might get out of hand … He read a resolution passed at a meeting of the NCOs and Men of the Signal Service Depot which stated:
That this meeting of the NCOs and men … expresses its strongest disapproval and disgust at the evasive nature of the reply … The reply does not differ in any way from other vague statements of the military authorities, and confirms our worst fears that the authorities have no intention of releasing men from India until such time as it suits their purpose … this meeting demands that it be allowed to send a deputation to Simla immediately to state its case and its dissatisfaction at the continued scandal and the persistent detention of men in India … It therefore instructs the delegates to communicate immediately with the General Officer Commanding Poona Division to arrange for this deputation to Simla and demands the arrangements be made forthwith. In the event of the above been [sic] refused, it is urged that a mass meeting of all troops in and around Kirkee be held at the racecourse on Tuesday at 6pm to decide on extreme action being taken.
… whilst the delegation were at Simla, the men had given their loyal promise that they would keep quiet, but it behoved the Authorities to press forward the matter. It might be thought strange that men who had conformed to the rules of the military for so long should now at last decide to protest. They knew they were pawns in the game, but it must be remembered, as in Chess, pawns were a very powerful combination when working together. They were not, as in Chess, mere pawns of wood. They were human, sensitive creatures, and as such they had at least a love of home and kindred, which in the beginning of the war led them to great heights of patriotism, but if this love was going to be prevented from getting back to its object then it was likely to turn into a very bitter hatred towards those responsible for their detention. They were … keeping men who had volunteered to put themselves into military hands. Certain impressions had been in the minds of the men for a very long time … The Mesopotamian scandals were read by men, who, like themselves, were victims of them, or by men who were not in the Army at the time … From the beginning of the year they had had certain excuses put before them as to why they could not go home. The shipping excuse was first, yet during the years of war shipping had been found, and it was considered that shipping could not be found for demobilisation and the men began to wonder. After that, the hot weather excuse was brought along. Reliefs were not forthcoming was the next excuse whilst demobilisation was proceeding very rapidly in England … Later on, 1 July was given as the date for the recommencement of demobilisation. By 30 June they were told that the reliefs would be coming out. These did not materialise until well into August.
… it seemed hard that men who were on the way home should be sent to the Frontier where through the inadequate medical arrangements made up there, they died doing their duty on the Afghanistan front … Churchill’s memorandum was not satisfactory, but at the same time it was the first time the men had been given a definite date. It was something to work on, and the men cheered up a bit, but in Poona they found that while other men were going home nothing was happening at all for them … they found that the ex-Mesopotamian men went after their protest, and went rather quickly …
Certainly there had been some acceleration since the protest, but on inquiry they found that very few of 1914 men had left from any other place in India, beyond their Depot. They did not know how long the 1914 men were going to remain at Deolali … What was India compared with their own country. They read in the papers of strikes at home. Their place was at home looking after their people. Riots occurred in India. Riots were occurring in England and he considered that [at] such a time their place was at home. … there were many homes that had been shattered on account of the greatest lie that was even dissimulated throughout England – the volunteering lie.
They were treated worse than the German prisoners. The last batch of German prisoners left a few weeks back, [and] would be in their homes before this Christmas, which was more than a lot of them would have to look forward to … the men feel bitter. They could not believe that the authorities were doing their utmost to get them away. Officers in high positions were allowed to leave at any time … and they could live with their wives and friends and families … whilst the men themselves were living in Barracks with no family companionship … for four or five years … It called for war measures … The shipping could be obtained if necessary, as during the war. Coming to the last paragraph of their programme, with regard to the men desirous of demobilisation in India if these men wish to be demobilised, why could they not be released …
They knew that their programme did not right all wrongs. It would only give them a slight alleviation. It could not build those shattered homes, but they wanted … General Monro to take this opportunity of meeting [sic] out a slight measure of justice administering fair play to the British soldier in India.
Hudson said he thought the authorities had realised everyone of their difficulties [sic]. General Sir Charles Monro was an old soldier. He had served in a Regiment and no man was a better Company Commander. He was thoroughly in sympathy and they could be assured during the whole of his time since the Armistice his one idea had been in their interests … after they had had a long talk with General Deane … they would be satisfied that the authorities were not so callous as they had imagined … He did not object to the expression ‘the volunteering lie’ but … all their shipping was allotted to them by the Government … He had 38 years’ service and the Chief had a little more, and no man who had been a soldier for that amount of time, whatever else be his faults, want of sympathy for his brother-in-arms was not one … they would hurry the thing up as much as they could but do not let them arrive at conclusions which did not satisfy them. It was not going to be a compromise … General Deane … would meet every single point they had raised …
One of the delegation inquired how far the Indian government was dependent upon the Home Government
General Hudson replied [that] General Deane would be able to show how far they had gone … As regards demobilisation schemes the first one that was started, the ‘Pivotal man’, the ‘key’ man – they as soldiers said at once that the system was wrong. They said the first man to go home should be the man who had borne the heat and the burden of the day.
Deane said … before the middle of September … ‘man-for-man’ relief was considered necessary on military grounds and it was thought to be perfectly possible … [to] get the men home at the rate of 20 000 a month from 1 October. The War Officer promised to send them 50 000 men by the end of November. He … read them the actual telegram: ‘The Secretary, War Office, London, 17 August, shipping has been allotted which would admit of 50 000 Troops including 20 battalions already arranged for being landed in India by end of November, no other source from which we can assist you are [sic] available … and their scheme if it had worked all round, would have got 50 000 men away by the end of November up on the man-for-man relief system … if this scheme had materialised in the ordinary normal course, they would all have got home … down to the last conscript by the middle of December. Their minimum demands were that the last demobilisable man should leave Bombay on 30 November and the last man should leave India by 31 December. He was simply asked [sic] them [a] straight question – if they beat their demands by a fortnight would they be satisfied?
The delegation expressed their satisfaction.
Deane said … The arrivals from home in September were only 5500 men although they have sent home from India at the end of 17 September 17 016 men. If they looked at Winston Churchill’s memorandum they would find he had accepted the ‘man-for-man’ relief. It was in India Army Order No 38 (Special) … He did not think that showed what they were accused of – callousness to fair demands … the Chief took a very big decision on 21 September. He decided that [the] man-for-man relief system should be abolished and all possible shipping should be utilised irrespective of reliefs from home. In other words he took a very grave risk in denuding India in a manner that had never been faced by another C-in-C since the Mutiny. They were now trusting their women and children to the loyalty of the Indian Army … he … read a telegram from the Quartermaster General to the Director of Marine, Bombay … ‘22 September 1919 Chief has decided to accept any shipping you can arrange for [the] British irrespective of arrivals …’.
He believed that many men believed what they saw in the newspapers and they did not believe what they heard from their Officers. He could only say as one behind the scenes there were more lies in the newspapers than anywhere else. Anyhow, if they were still in the least inclined to doubt he would read them extract from the Pioneer of 1 October and … 3 October.  … the total accommodation on these ships was for 22,428, in addition to this they also had all those commandeered, so they had got something like 25,000 passages …
With regard to the Sergeant’s [Bowker’s] excellent speech, he thought the points were put extremely well, and he was entirely in agreement with most of them. But there were some things he was afraid with which he did not agree … Naturally when this very serious situation of practically – they would not call it mutiny – but very strong action arose, they began to make inquiries and found that in the Northern Command there was no insubordination of any sort. He knew perfectly well that every one of those men had absolutely just grievances, and there was not a single one of those 14 points which he could answer to satisfy everyone. Accounts had appeared in the press, and he had seen practically every soldier’s letter he could get hold of which had appeared in the press. Reports of the Generals had come up and they understood how hardly the men had been used. They also realise that men who came out in 1914 had every right to get home. Yet Winston Churchill’s memorandum … showed that the men in India were to be kept two months beyond the time he was detaining them in any other place. Out here they considered that everybody ought to be treated alike. As regards the attitude of other areas he would just like to read them a long letter … from Bellary:
To Sir Charles W Miles … from Acting Company Sergeant Major Lockyear, Depot 1/4 Somerset Light Infantry, Bellary, 11 September 1919. NCOs and men of the Depot … whatever dissatisfaction might have been previously fostered by neglect will not now assume such proportions as would cause acts to the discredit of the 1/4 Somerset LI. We are now enabled to write to our relations and prewar employers giving definite hopes of their seeing us all within an appreciably short space of time, which fact, besides being satisfactory and reassuring to them, gives us a sense of not being entirely forgotten which we have been for some months past, strangers.
One of the delegation said he had friends in the Depot from where the letter to Sir Charles Miles was received and … he knew that there were men there just as discontented as anywhere else.
Deane replied that he was not arguing that there were no discontented men anywhere else. The marvel to him was how the British soldier played up so well during the hot weather. He thought he had done his best to make them realise that they knew what the feelings of love and home and kindred were to the men. As regards shipping they must remember there were at first 4,200,000 men to demobilise … The original demobilisation scheme aimed at gradual demobilisation from India all through the hot weather, and they were prepared to reduce … the garrison one-third below what it had ever been reduced before, in order that men should continue to go home, and they had kept on pressing the War Office to produce people to take their place … It was understood that the men felt that there was a greater call on them to be at home than staying out here for the safety of the Indian Empire, but he would only ask them one question. Were they to consider in a big question the claims of the individual and the claims of a small class, or were they to consider … the claims of the community?
With regard the delay at Deolali, General Deane said that place was a sort a reservoir. It was a necessary part of their machinery for getting them out of the country smoothly with their proper equipment and with their documents in order … The significant point was that these shipping programmes were simply the very devil. For instance on 18 September there were 6800 men in Deolali. A week later there was not a man they could send down to fill a ship required to be filled, and the date of the sailing of the ship had to be put off … another point was that they could not cram Bombay with troops as there was no accommodation for them.
With regard to what to be referred to as the ‘volunteering lie’, General Deane read the series of telegrams beginning with that dated 14 April from the War Section.
In view of these telegrams he asked the deputation to put themselves in anybody’s chair at Simla, and inquired whether they would not have taken the same action. He knew perfectly well that was only half the story. On 5 May the situation instead of being a kick-up in India was such that the whole of the Frontier was ablaze, and everything that had been the concern and the nightmare of the General Staff for the last 20 years had happened. They knew that the railways and telegraphs were in danger of being interrupted at any time … and on the 5th the decision was taken that every white man was wanted, and on 8 May they received the orders of the Army Council to retain every man and stop demobilisation. On 8 May there was no question of volunteering …
One of the deputation enquired whether the officer who set the telegrams as to the volunteering was still holding his position.
Deane replied that he did not know, but he did know that a great many Commanding Officers in their own enthusiasm thought that it was shared by the men, and that was no doubt an explanation … The moment it was realised that the men might suffer steps were taken to correct the impression at home, and a certificate was now available for any man to say that he was compulsorily detained. General Deane said with reference to the last point in their programme, the demobilisation of men in India, and the demand for their immediate release – he agreed to that entirely … they had tried to protect the man’s own interests. If any men took up employment in India they became civilians in India, and the War Office refused to have anything whatever to do with their passage home, and the only way of getting them home would be as civilian paupers … so if employers took a soldier into their employment they had to guarantee his passage home if necessary … But some of the employers tried to dodge it. So to help the man he was given a month’s leave, and if at the end of that time he liked his job, out he went – demobilised …
One of the deputation inquired why something could not be put on the form as to the passage home.
Deane remarked that it was a very good point, and he would perhaps arrange for a certificate in that form instead of the employer having to write [it] out. [He] … said they were at first in favour of letting every single man go who could possibly get a job in India, but it was represented that this would not be fair to the 1914-15 men and other men who wanted demobilisation out of India. It would have been argued that they were releasing men for their own jobs in India, but no fellow could go who had a job at Home. The C-in-C was now prepared to let them all go …
The meeting then adjourned until Monday, 6 October.
Simla, Monday, 6 October 1919: Second Day’s Proceedings
Deane said he hoped they all understood one another much better now … He knew they wanted something in writing that they could show their pals down at Poona which would satisfy them that the Authorities really meant business. As regards Poona alone, there would be nothing easier than for him or the C-in-C to accept every one of their points, but he thought everyone of them would agree that that would be unfair, and he thought personally, it would be cowardly. It would be taking advantage of their powers to satisfy men who were in a position to give trouble at the expense of those honest soldiers who were sticking it out without saying a word … What he thought now to satisfy everybody was a communiqué which the Adjutant-General would sign and send round all General Officers commanding, all Commands, for communication to their men … If there were any points which they thought wanted clearing up or wanted slight amendment or discussion, he was perfectly ready to meet them in as friendly away as possible … Anything that had been in their power they had done, and they were prepared to meet the men more than half way … [Deane reads out the draft communiqué.]
Deane asked to whether the deputation thought that was satisfactory …
On the suggestion of Sergeant Bowker it was decided that the communiqué should be worded so as to refer not only to the men desirous of demobilisation in England but to men who had assured employment in India.
Deane said … personally he would like to work out a programme now telling them how many there were belonging to each category and each date more or less on the lines they wanted …[but] there were the men in hospital. What about them? These men were going to be left behind … They might arrange for every man who is left behind to go straight from hospital to Deolali, but … there were difficulties in sending them straight away to Deolali …
Bowker said his opinion was that most of the men would like to go back to their Depot before proceeding to Deolali as long as they were not detained. They very often had kit there.
Deane said they had to send the men from India fully equipped … If they had pushed men straight from Bombay they would have gone off without warm clothing, saying that the Government of India had not equipped them properly before proceeding to England. In some cases men arrived without their kits … Some men were not playing the game apparently, and actually sold their kit on the way to Deolali …
Bowker enquired whether they might have the rough numbers of the different categories for Deolali.
Deane replied that he was quite ready to give them that, and … each man would be able to calculate roughly as to when he would be able to go … but they could not guarantee the ships would go say at the rate of three ships in two days. They might get ten ships in seven days. On the other hand they might get seven days without a ship … if they did not want to accept these suggestions they could adjourn and meet again in the afternoon …
Bowker said he did not think this was necessary. He … said that General Deane had stated they would be able to dispatch 50,000 men by the end of November. He presumed that would include the 7,000 [conscripts].
Deane replied that was so if everything went right. If the War Office agreed, the authorities out here were not going to stop them … He was going to put a few more cards on the table. He was going to ask them [the deputation] as they had influence with their people down at Poona and elsewhere to help the Authorities a little by trying to induce the men [who] were inclined to stay on to do so.
Bowker asked that the communiqué should be published in such a way that all units would know. He also asked that a guarantee might be given to members of [the] deputation that as soon as they got back to their units they might be allowed to follow up their class immediately.
Deane replied that he would assure everyone [who] had come up with the delegation that he should not be delayed a day …
Bowker raised the question of the 140 drivers at the Signal Service Depot who had come down from Mesopotamia in January … they would like [an] explanation as to why they were delayed.
Deane replied they knew all about their case … Towards the end of the war, it was found impossible to raise enough British personnel to keep the Signal Service going. Therefore it had been necessary to dilute it with Indian personnel … at the end of 1918 … Indian drivers were sent from India to Mesopotamia and all the Signal Service British drivers were brought back to India with the idea of training … and using them for the Signal Service while the less educated Indians could be utilised as drivers …
Deane As soon as these men came from Mesopotamia into India they became part of the Garrison of India. They joined the Signal Service Depot and they were supposed to go through the mill, and after so many months the mill would turn out so many beautifully trained signallers. He knew what they all felt – that on 11 November they had run a mile race. They had made a spurt and they had won, and then they were asked to run another lap, and he thought it perfectly magnificent how most of the men had done it, even though their hearts were bursting.
The deputation inquired whether there was any truth in the rumour that these drivers were intended for other fronts to be employed taking horses.
Deane replied that so far as he knew there was not a word of truth in it …
The deputation inquired how it was that at the same time as these drivers were there, the Depot was full of RFA  who went home.
Deane answered that he could not answer a thing like that without making inquiries …
One of the members of the deputation who said he was one of the drivers concerned remarked that at the time they could get to know nothing.
Deane … sympathised with the drivers … The dilution scheme was intended to secure signallers to keep up their establishments. That was why the drivers were being asked to learn signalling. He understood that they were really being asked more than was fair, but … they had been unable to get men to learn signalling. They had now had to reduce their nine signalling companies to two … it was impossible [to] command an army without them … [but] he thought the scheme might perhaps have to be altered.
The deputation said there seemed to be some trouble as to when different units got their orders from Simla. The RAMC  men did not go from their unit when men of the same categories were going from other units. Again the MAD unfit men were also kept, when they knew unfit men had gone from the Division.
Deane said … in India they required 1,554 RAMC personnel. They had got 905 demobilisable men and 187 Regulars making a total of 1,092. In a fortnight or three weeks’ time these 905 men would probably be gone. What was to be done? Hospitals required them. He thought any man who had been in hospital knew what it was to be cared for by skilled medical attention … he knew that though these things had only just been brought up, but he could tell them that the thing had been going on for months and months. The War Office knew of all these demands … The authorities had been trying to get a local service of ladies and men – anyone who they could scratch in. They might replace them by boys from the new Regiments, but they could not get skilled men … He wanted them [the deputation] to feel confidence in the authorities and help and encourage the men who are inclined to stay, to stay on for a month or two …
The deputation inquired whether representations were still being made to the Home Government.
Deane said … both Commander-in-Chief and the Viceroy were sending home telegrams and he thought the wording of them was even stronger than, should he say, the ‘ultimatum’ of the deputation.
The deputation inquired whether General Deane thought that the case called for another rider as to all men going whatever their unit.
Deane … promised to make a note of it …
An RAMC member of the deputation said that he did not think, that so far as his Depot was concerned that they will be able to get one per cent to stay … the men felt that they had been unfairly dealt with. For instance hospitals in India in the old days were practically manned by orderlies and native personnel. In their particular hospital there had never been a native in the wards, and the men had had all the cleaning up, etc., to do.
Deane pointed out that it was all a question of attitude. He knew perfectly well that when the deputation came up, they had told him (the authorities) politely but quite plainly that they were callous, liars, and would not do a thing until the men mutinied. He put it quite bluntly, though he would like to make it quite clear to them that he understood exactly what were their feelings. He hoped they would go away with some idea that they were not so bad as they were painted in the newspapers, and by people who had been made absolutely desperate by their own hardships.
The deputation raised the question of the MAD unfits, who were neither sent home nor to the hills.
Deane stated that War Office orders were that 20,000 ineffectives were to be sent home. The WO talked about men who had been 28 days in hospital. Their object was to clear all hospitals so that they could get doctors and medical personnel back to their civilian jobs. This did not suit the authorities here, as ‘ineffectives’ to them meant people who were possibly in transit or not with their units, so they decided to have every man in India looked at by a doctor [who] had [been] declared ‘fit’ or ‘not fit for India’. They started by sending off ‘unfits’ … Demobilisation had not started. He had not formed the Directorate until 9 January and even then they had only small arrangements at first. Army Demobilisation Regulations had not even reached India by aeroplane until 8 January and … every man who was definitely declared unfit to stand another hot weather was sent home. Fourteen thousand men classed unfit for another hot weather were sent …
Deane: Every man who was not sent home as definitely unfit to stand another hot weather in the plains should have been sent to the hills.
The deputation inquired whether they could be informed why men [who] are recommended for the hills were not sent.
Deane … promised to inquire into the matter …
The deputation contended that there had been slackness on the part of the orderly room of the MAD men at Poona. They therefore considered that guarantees were required that when this communiqué was received by units that it would be acted upon.
Bowker also raised the question of the MAD clerks, who, he said, were promised that they would only be kept at the MAD offices for from three to five months …
Deane explained that the Military Accountant General, under whose orders these arrangements were made for these clerks, had now gone. He made an estimate that there were 100,000 accounts in arrears, and the War Office had insisted on the revision of every one. The MAG had said that if he could have 3,000 men at an easy calculation the work begun in three to five months … if he [Deane] did not know that the British soldier always put his back at [sic] every job he was put on and played the game, one would have said that they were so sick at being there that they did not do any work. Personally he did not believe that. He thought there must be some explanation.
Donald said that the accounts should have been finished by September this year. Many of them that were almost complete … and the men were to have been released this month and next month …
He knew in many cases men had been given a holiday because they had got their work done in a certain time …
One of the MAD clerks said that in some cases they had as many as three or four accounts for the same man but the greatest obstacle was getting replies from Divisions all over the country. If a clerk took an interest in his work he naturally did not like sending out these accounts until they [sic] had got them absolutely correct. They did not want to be kept back because they were in the MAD but they were prepared to continue right on with the work until they were demobilised.
Bowker said it was very unfair the way the men had been worked … There had been some difference of opinion on the management of things. Some very bad things had gone on, but he thought the men had played the game very well there. Their attitude was ‘Here is a poor fellow’s account in a mess. I will put it straight and I only hope mine will be straightened in the same manner by someone else.’
Deane said … the points they had brought forward were very much the same troubles with which the authorities had to deal at Simla. They were not in a place like England covered with telegraphs, railways, etc. They were in a huge continent and replies from Divisions, Brigades and so on took … [a] very long time.
The draft communiqué was then read:
Press Communiqué for Home Papers
Updated by ETOL: 17.10.2011