This section aims to be an eclectic collection of articles relating to the British Empire. The subject matters are varied and diffuse, but are all connected to imperial history in some form or other. If you would like to see any of your own work published here. I would be more than happy to read it over and convert it into a suitable format. Just send an email to: email@example.com
- Cutting out Expedition to Fernando Po
Ronald Bird recalls the role played by the Nigerian Colonial Government in World War Two for capturing Axis ships from the neutral Spanish colony of Fernando Po.
- Remembrance of Things Past
John Gullick considers the selective memories that have made it difficult for people to appreciate the constitutional contribution made by Britain to modern day Malaysia.
- The Jester
John Gullick recalls the stories of 'Old Sinister' better known as Arthur Frederick Richards, 1st Baron Milverton from his time in Malaya
- Colonial Law and Local Custom:
The effect of customary practices on prostitution
and juvenile delinquency
W. A. Ramsden, Q.C. explains how some long held African customs could come into conflict with the responsibilities of parenthood and caring for the young in Southern Africa.
- The Volcano
David Browning thought that he was part of an elaborate April Fool's Day joke in the New Hebrides when he discovered that he was involved in a much more sinister plot.
- Curtains in Kaduna
Ruth Holmes recalls accompanying her husband to Kaduna in Nigeria in the 1950s and attempting to use local materials and fabrics to decorate her house only to discover that one pattern in particular had an alternative and already established association.
- Malawi's Pioneering Role
in the Development of Land Husbandry
Anthony Young explains the revolutionary approach to conservation and yield increase during the transition years from Nyasaland to Malawi.
- First Posting in Kenya
J A Nicholas Wallis recalls his first posting to Kenya when he had to give a tour to a visiting American dignitary which ended up ticking off most of the stereotypes Westerners had for East Africa at the time.
- A Replica Pagan Temple in Fiji
Gwyn Watkins explains what it was like to supervise the construction of the old-style Fijian temples which had been the location for executions!
- Serengeti 1954
John Cooke recalls what the Serengeti was like for a D.O. before it was an internationally renowned national park.
- Colonial Law and Local Custom:
Marriage and Divorce in Basutoland
W. A. Ramsden, Q.C. gives a detailed account of the intricacies of balancing British views of justice and rights with those of existing African customs which had also to be honoured in the courts.
- Major O'Driscoll
Manus Nunan explains the character of Major O'Driscoll who served in Kaduna in Northern Nigeria.
- Meeting the Governor
Gwyn Watkins explains the formalities (and informalities) of meeting with the governor of Tanganyika on two different occasions.
- "Uh, uh! D.O. done come!"
John Adshead recounts how Hugh Sackville-West showed the soft power of British rule in Nigeria in quelling disturbances tactfully and with a minimum of fuss.
- My First Weights and Measures Prosecution
Clive Howard-Luck remembers his very first excursion as a Trading Standards Officer in the Rift Valley in Kenya and the speed with which justice could be achieved!
- Le Ministre
Manus Nunan recalls the time that he went from British administered Nigeria to French administered Chad and considered the differences in approach to imperial rule in West Africa.
- Marking a Boundary and Heighting a Mountain
Harry Threlfall explains the role he played in marking out the boundary between Tanganyika and Kenya and how he went about remeasuring the height of the mighty Kilimanjaro.
- Cadet to Governor
Peter Lane gives details of the parody board game played by his parents in Tanganyika charting the potential ups and downs of a career in the colonial administration.
- High Court Capers
Eric Bult recounts how a serious High Court affair in Lilongwe, Nyasaland descended into a comical scene of counsels and officials started recreating the crime scene with innovative props.
- Rusty Buckle
Ronnie Anderson gives an amusing biographical overview of one of the old time colonial administrators in Nigeria: William Alexander Crawford Cockburn. His exploits were the stuff of legend for those that followed him in the Nigerian service.
- Re-housing in Hong Kong
Brian D Wilson explains how the Hong Kong administration had to respond to the massive influx of refugees with the fall of Nationalist China in 1949 and find housing for a swelling population in a territory with finite and limited land resources.
- The Inebriates of the South Arabian Political Service
Michael Crouch recounts the antics of some of those political officers who over-imbibed despite living in an Islamic part of the world which looked down on the drinking of alcohol. However, a combination of heat, loneliness and boredom could result in some people turning to drink for company.
- Foreign Office Administration of African
Walter W Bowring explains how the British attempted to deal with the North and Eastern Italian colonies that they had seized control of during World War Two and attempt to organise them into viable political units.
- Radio Bechuanaland / Botswana
Ian Kennedy details the instrumental role he helped play in establishing a radio network to cover the last years of British rule in Bechuanaland and for the newly formed Botswana.
- The Day's Work and Odd Jobs:
Rough Games in Gwoza
Ronald Bird recounts how he had to administer justice between two warring and rambunctious villages in post-war North-Eastern Nigeria.
- Signed, Sealed and Delivered
John Gullick recalls his role in ensuring that the Negri Sembilan rulers could sign and seal the 1948 Federation of Malaya in Kuala Lumpur.
- Slave Trade
Reg Collins understands why Britain is ashamed of the ruthless efficiency in which it pursued the slave trade, but wonders why it does not always get credit for its later role in suppressing the trade in the face of international hostility and recalcitrance.
- Crichton Ian Gavin: A Man Vindicated
R G Anderson sees how this Nigerian colonial administrator was one of the early victims of the authorities pandering to local politicians who did not appreciate Gavin's efficiency and honesty.
- How the Colonial Service helped build Israel
Michael Crouch explains the role that colonial officers in the Western Aden Protectorate played in assisting the ancient Yemeni Jewish population to reach the newly formed state of Israel.
- Setting the Record Straight
Alan Forward credits Andrew Roberts' account of how so few British administrators governed with the consent of so many. However, he also contemplates the exceptional case of the murder of the unfortunate Harry St George Galt in Uganda in 1905.
- Safari - Old Style
J D Hunter-Smith recalls going on what already felt like an old-fashioned style of touring his district in the Uruguru mountains in Tanganyika in order to promote soil conservation.
- The Human Crocodile Man
Christopher Bean recounts an unusual court case he became involved in when one criminal in Nyasaland took another to court for failing to honour payment for murdering a young girl.
- Television to Brunei
Maurice Freeland remembers how useful it was to be able to speak Malay whilst installing television transmitters outside of Bandar Seri Begawan in Brunei.
- Singing for my Supper
David Angus explains that when you are the ADC to a Governor-General and he asks you to sing unaccompanied to a party of over 100 dignataries in Northern Nigeria, you do exactly as requested.
- A Learning Experience
Eric Cunningham explains how he saw his role as a colonial educational officer change radically in 1950s Gold Coast as the colony was fast-tracked to independence.
- Moving the Maasai - What were the Conditions
David Forrester takes issue with Lotte Hughes' strong criticism of the Government of British East Africa for relocating the Maasai tribe between 1900 and 1912.
- New Gubernatorial Profiles and Pedigrees
Anthony Kirk-Greene explains the best publications and resources for finding out more about the governors and administrators of British colonies. He also explains how to find out about post-colonial governors and various heads of mission.
- Bwana Miti, Rongai, Tanganyika
N S Casson explains life as a Forest Officer in the small settlement of Rongai on the Northern slopes of Kilimanjaro in the 1950s.
- Ernest Hemingway Lost in Uganda
J R F Mills recalls the time that he was told that one of the most famous authors in the World had gone missing in a light plane and may well have ended up somewhere in the Murchison Falls National Park he was working at.
- The Mongu Walk
Valentine Setzkorn talks about the time he undertook a very old-fashioned tour of the route taken by migrant workers to get to and from Northern Rhodesia's busy mining industries.
- MV Ilala 2
W W Summerscales recounts his role in preparing the communications systems on Motor Vessel Ilala which was the descendent of Livingstone's steamer on Lake Nyasa. Amazingly, Ilala II is still in operation on the lake all these years later.
- The Dinner Party
John Grieve explains the finer subtleties and intricacies of arranging the seating plans for a formal dinner when a diverse set of guests have been invited to dinner with the Governor of Hong Kong.
- A Matter of Understanding
Simon Templer explain how as a young customs officer he had a rather major misunderstanding with a refugee fleeing from the Belgian Congo to the British Protectorate in Uganda.
- An Experiment in Democracy
John Gullick explains the role he played in helping to organise and run the first general election in Malaya in 1955 and how it helped embed a post-colonial transition of power.
- How to Kill Locusts: Chapter 2
Arthur Staniforth's account prompted Andrew Seager to reminisce about his battles against locusts in the British Somaliland Protectorate and how he used that experience in the World Bank years later.
- How to Kill Locusts
Arthur Staniforth recounts how he attempted to control locusts from swarming in remarkable surroundings in Sudan in 1945.
- Dura Camp
James Lang Brown gives an account of the time he had to travel to remote West Uganda to assess the environmemtal impact of miners in the forest and how he incidentally became the first paying customer on the newly opened Western Extension on the Uganda Railway.
- Rain Stimulation in East Africa
B.W. Thompson explains how as a meteorologist in East Africa in the 1950s he was expected to help the rains to fall from the sky!
- Supermarket - Island Style
James Tedder explains the practicalities and processes of getting access to food and shopping in the British Solomon Islands Protectorate.
- Mail Day in the British Solomon Islands Protectorate
James Tedder explains the importance and relative reliability of the mail system in even the furthest flung and remotest part of Britain's Empire.
- Ufiti: Witchcraft and Law in Nyasaland
R E N Smith explains the medical role played by practitioners of witchcraft in 1950s Nyasaland and how difficult it became to disentangle medical negligence in the colony's legal system.
and Empires: A natural evolution
David Brent puts the history of Britain's empire into context with other empires and evaluates just how much it deserves its negative image amongst certain commentators and writers.
- A Piano, a Buffalo and Kidneys in Red Wine
Patricia Jacobs explains some of the more interesting trials and tribulations facing the wife of a District Commissioner in rural Uganda.
- The Resident, Rivers Province
Manus Nunan explains how he helped set up the first Crown Counsel's Chambers in Port Harcourt in Eastern Nigeria and his dealings with an old-school British Resident.
- Big Bang near Kilimanjaro
Graham Edwards explains a novel if unconventional way to remove vast numbers of swarming birds and help protect local wheat crops.
- More Condoms Please!
John Pitchford discovered that the people of the Gilbert and Ellice Islands had an innovative use for condoms!
- Two Knights and a Chief in Central Africa
Brian Reavill recounts a meeting between two key figures in Northern Rhodesian and what their tastes in art may have informed their understanding of justice.
- The Story behind the Story:
An Airfield Inspection
L J Holliday gives an account of what really happened at a fire at an airfield in North Borneo - as opposed to what the press had reported had happened.
- Trial in Perim (1955)
Bill Wickham explains how unusual it was for the British to become involved in judicial issues on the Island of Perim at the end of the Red Sea.
- The British Return to Malaya in 1945
John Gullick explains his role in accompanying the British invasion of Malaya in September 1945 and attempting to reassert control in a land torn apart by war. He also explains how he had to deal with their recent allies turned rivals the MPAJA.
- The District Officer in the African Colonial Novel
Anthony Kirk-Greene examines how Colonial Service in Africa was reflected in literature and how the officers of Empire provided inspiration for this genre of writing.
- ODTAA: One Damned Thing After Another
Eric Cunningham recounts a journey of his from Kumasi to Accra in the Gold Coast which seemed to take a dark turn.
- The Royal Visit - Aden 1954
Bill Wickham gives an account of the visit of HM Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh to Aden in April 1954.
- Bussa Rapids
Ronald Bird explains how he tried to revolutionise communications along the River Niger's most notorious stretch of rapids by attaching an outboard motor to the traditional boats that plied the waterways.
- Agricultural Reconstruction in Sarawak
John Foster explains how he helped to rebuild and develop the Sarawak agricultural economy in post-war Sarawak.
- Agricultural Enforcement in Nyasaland
R E N Smith recounts how he helped modernize and improve the efficiency of agriculture in one of Central Africa's less developed colonies.
- Memories of The Malayan Emergency
Brian Stewart remembers his time in Malaya working for the Chinese Secretariat (or Chinese Protectorate) which became an unexpectedly important institution in the fight against the Chinese rebels during the Emergency.
- About Cricket
L.J. Holliday illustrates the importance of sport to the colonial workforce by explaining how he had to travel over 500 miles by boat and plane from Sarawak to Borneo to play a return game of cricket.
- Lamu Town
Peter Lloyd explains what it was like to be sent to this ancient Arab trading town (and now a UNESCO World Heritage Centre) on the East Coast of Africa as a young District Commissioner in the 1950s.
- Police Eyes in the Sky in Hong Kong
Tony Bennett recalls flying over Lantau Island and Castle Peak from the open hatchway of the, even for then, aging Auster planes used by the Hong Kong Auxiliary police
- Love and Mixed Marriage
C.D.A. Cochran explains what it was like in 1970 in the British Solomon Islands Protectorate for a Briton to marry the grand-daughter of a renowned local chief.
- The Joy of Bushbashing
Reverend John Jeremy Collingwood explains the difficulties of traversing Northern Rhodesia whilst attempting to map the territory.
- A Kenya Journey
B.W. Thompson remembers a journey taken along the Mombasa to Nairobi road in 1952 which illustrated the best and worst of undertaking road trips in colonial Kenya.
- The Raj Re-Visited - A Study Trip to India's Capital
Dr Robert Carr takes his students to revisit the old imperial capital in Delhi to trace the legacy of Britain's connection to its Jewel in its Crown
- From world-empire to global umpire?
Quentin J. Broughall analyses how Britain has changed its relationship to the rest of the world from the end of the First World War to the modern day. He believes that Britain has successfully adapted its role in the face of decolonisation and alongside the expansion of various international institutions. He argues that Britain managed to ensure that Britain was able to maintain considerable diplomatic and global influence despite the dissolution of most of her formal empire.
- Empire in Your Backyard; Imperial Plymouth
Plymouth was a key port that played a vital role in the imperial story. This article examines how Plymouth shaped the Empire, but it also examines the effect that the Empire had on Plymouth. This article uses Plymouth as an example to chart the impact of Empire on a specific locality. It focusses on the hidden Imperial heritage that is often overlooked or white-washed from memory. It shows how macro events could effect a micro community and vice versa.
- Sigiriya: The Most Remarkable Fortress in the World
This account by Percy L. Parker and suggested by Rohan Fernando details the discovery and archaeological excavations in the 1890s of the Lion Rock in Ceylon which uncovered beautiful frescoes and a long lost settlement in a real life Indiana Jones story.
- V P Menon - The Forgotten Architect of Modern India
Rohan Fernando presents a profile of the man who provided key Constitutional Advice to the final three British Viceroys and did so much for the creation of the Indian State in the form that it took.
- How the Empire has been taught in British Schools
Stephen Luscombe tracks the way that 'Empire' and 'Imperial Themes' have been taught in British schools over the last two centuries and explains how we have arrived at today's political and educational attitudes to the subject.
- The Cullinan Diamond
David Buckerfield visits the mine where the world's largest ever diamond was discovered in the Transvaal.
- The Victoria Falls
Peter Roberts explains how David Livingstone became the first European credited with discovering these magnificent Falls in the midst of the Dark Continent.
- The Anglo-Zulu War
David Buckerfield provides another photo essay visiting the iconic sights of the Anglo-Zulu War; namely the battlefields of Isandlwana and Rorke's Drift.
- Cyprus Emergency
Jim Herlihy discusses the emergency which affected the island of Cyprus from 1955 to 1960. Jim served in the Special Branch of the Cyprus Police from Jan 1956 to Oct 1960. He served at Kyrenia, Lefka and Nicosia.
- Kenyan Independence
Jim Herlihy, who was in Special Branch in the colony, looks at the events leading up to Kenyan Independence. Jim served in the Special Branch of the Kenya Police from Sep 1960 to Oct 1963 in Nyeri and Nairobi.
- Burma's Last Days
Jim Herlihy explains the final stages before Burma was hurriedly handed its independence in 1948. From Aug 1946 to Jan 1948 he served as the Assistant Superintendent of Police, Armed Police, Myaungmya and also as the Assistant Commandant Burma Frontier Constabulary in Taungyi and Pyongyang.
- Churchill's Capture, Imprisonment and Escape
David Buckerfield has taken his motorbike and followed the movements of a Young Winston Churchill who was captured by the Boers in the Boer War. His subsequent escape was something of a sensation at the time and helped raise Churchill's profile.
- The Aden Emergency
Jim Herlihy was Superintendent of Police, commanding the Counter Terrorist Group of the Aden Police Special Branch and was one of the last British people to leave the colony in 1967. In this article he writes a candid description of the intelligence battle that lead up to the abandonment of the colony. He served in that capacity from Mar 1965 to Jan 1968.
- Learning from Adam Smith
Dr Ian Buckley wonders what lessons could be learned by decisions makers today from the Empire's most influential eighteenth century economist.
- White Mischief: Central Africa and Civil War 1953-79
Dr Robert Carr examines the role of the Central African Federation on the decolonisation process for the colonies of Nyasaland, Northern Rhodesia and Southern Rhodesia. He discusses the reasons for its failure and why it left one of the more unpleasant colonial legacies.
- "Am I not a man and a brother?"
Jonathan Wooddin investigates British attitudes to black West Indians in the nineteenth century. Where their attitudes racist, pure and simple? Or were they more subtle than that?
- An Informal Empire?
Neil Simpson considers just how successful the British Empire was in establishing informal links with nations such as Egypt and Argentina.
- Australia's Foreign Wars: Origins, Costs, Future?!
Dr Ian Buckley considers how a clearer understanding of how wars of the past began might well improve our ability to handle contemporary security concerns without such resort.
- A Gap Year with a Difference
Matthew Showering resisted the idea of a Gap Year until he decided to use one with a purpose. That purpose was to see how the ex-colonies and dominions had coped since their independence. India is his first destination...
- The Evangelical Empire:
Christianity's contribution to Victorian Colonial Expansion
Dr Robert Carr examines the role of religion in disseminating Western ideas and justifying the evangalical zeal of missionaries as they sought to spread their influence around the Empire.
- A Case History: Britain,
Empire Decline, and the Origins of WW1: Or, Might the Lessons of the
Boer War have 'Saved the Day'?
Dr Ian Buckley considers whether the carnage of the First World War might have been predicted, and thus avoided, by a more careful analysis of the style of warfare engendered by the Boer War.
- Jerusalem Lost: Britain's Zionist Fiasco 1917-1956
Dr Robert Carr examines Britain's relationship with the Jewish Zionists from World War One to the Cold War. He tracks the deterioration of a relationship that got off to such a promising start in 1917.
- Faith and Family in South India
David Gore tells the story of three generations of a family of Christian missionaries who worked among the poorest of the poor at the southern tip of the subcontinent, showing why, more than a century later, they are still remembered there today.
- The necessity for imperium, stupid! The 1870's debate and international security
Lee Ruddin considers the the motivations for Imperialism in this crucial decade: the decade that contrasted Gladstone's policies with those of Disraeli. But it was also a decade with fundamental strategic imperatives of its own.
- Concession & Repression: British Rule in India 1857-1919
Dr Robert Carr traces the delicate balancing act between moving towards home rule and/or crushing dissent by successive imperial governments.
- Don't Put Imperialism on Trial Stupid!
Lee Ruddin explains that we all the problems of the present Middle East should be laid at the door of nineteenth Century colonialism. Imperialism is an all too easy excuse to hide behind.
- The Rise and Fall of the British Empire
Tim Hughes charts the rise and fall of the Empire and relates it to the impact it has had on his hometown of Liverpool.
- Pashto Under the British Empire
Dr Ali Jan explains the influence that the British had on the Pashto Language.
- What Mr Sanders Really Did
Veronica Bellers has very kindly allowed us to print the manuscript of her book detailing life in Colonial Africa.
- Missionaries in Northern India
This is the story of two families working on behalf of their faith on the fringes of the Empire.
- Gladys' Story
February 29th, 1880. The hazards of 19th century travel: this is the story of a shipwreck that occurred off the west coast of India as related by a young passenger on the ship.
- The House that Byrd Built
David Gore considers William Byrd (1674 - 1744) of Virginia, the founder of Richmond, one of the most remarkable colonists of his day. Traveller, scholar and writer, Byrd had influence on both sides of the Atlantic which he crossed ten times. The great Georgian mansion he built on the James River, his diaries and the witty, satirical accounts of his expeditions reflect the early history of the State of which he was one of the founding fathers.
- With the 17th Lancers in Zululand
This is the transcript of a lecture given by a participant of the campaign some 100 years ago.
- My God, Maiwand!
This battle was one of the most serious setbacks suffered by a British/Indian force on the Indian subcontinent. David Gore describes it here using first hand accounts of survivors and, with background notes, he examines the circumstances that led to the defeat about which there is still controversy although more than a century has passed.
- The Abyssinian Campaign
This campaign to release British hostages held in the interior of the African continent was regarded as an excellently executed classic Victorian 'Little War'.
- Death on the Pale Horse
Some sixty years after the British left India, David Gore recalls the courage and eccentricities of a Scottish dynasty that served there across two centuries.
- Churches of India
One legacy of the Imperial Raj are the buildings that the British left behind. The churches shown here are direct descendents of one of the most important institutions in the empire; religion.
- The British Press and the Indian Mutiny
The Indian Mutiny was a massive shock to all levels of British society. Why were they so rudely awakened by this event and what role did the press play in warning, covering and evaluating the Indian Mutiny.
- The Indian Caste System and the British
Today, people think that the rigid caste system operated in India is the result of ancient requirements of religion. But just how much of this rigidity was due to their religion? Or how much was it due to a conscious direction by the British to create artificial divisions in order to make it easier to divide and rule the sub-continent and its people?
- Mulligatawny Soup
Recreate the days of the Raj by trying your hand at cooking an authentic Anglo-Indian meal.
- Bureaucracy on the Wires
A witty look at the importance of clear communications to effective governance.
- The last goodbye!
When Hong Kong had passed into Chinese rule, the sun had finally set on the British Empire.