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Winston Churchill - Amritsar Massacre Speech - July 8th 1920, House of Commons

Text of Speech as Scanned JPGs from Hansard

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[Back to Winston Churchill's Amritsar Speech, July 8th 1920, U.K. House of Commons Homepage]
[Background of Speech as Stated in William Manchester's 1984 - first Volume on Churchill]
[Text of Speech as hand-typed ASCII from Hansard photocopies]
[Text of Speech as Scanned JPGs from Hansard]

Text of Winston Churchill's July 8th, 1920, British House of Commons, Amritsar Massacre Speech

Following extracts taken from
Hansard House of Commons (U.K.) Proceedings
July 8th, 1920, Supply-Committee, Punjab Disturbances, pp 1719 - 1734

Text of Speech as Original Scanned Images from Hansard, pp 1719 - 1734

(thus no Typographical Errors - as can commonly occur after OCR'ing. Though on Page 1726, I believe the scribe must have done a typo or misheard on "Is the crown armed?" - I think this should be "Is the crowd armed?" as it does not really make sense in the context of the surrounding text otherwise? (Churchill is that point talking about guidelines of how sensible military officers should judge how to respond to a non-co-oporative crowd))
(OCR'd version under construction)

  • Page 1719 to Page 1720 - 215 KB Grey Scale JPG
    • End of Sir Edward Carson's Speech
      ('....I say to break a man under the circumstances of this case in un-English.')
    • 5.0 P.M.
    • Start of Churchill's Speech (The SECRETARY of STATE for WAR (Mr Churchill))
      "I think it may make for the convenience of the Debate if I speak at this early period in the afternoon, in order to put the Committee in possession of the views taken by the War Office, and to offer a full explanation of the course they have adopted. I shall certainly endeavour to follow very carefully the advice which my right hon. Friend who has just spoken has given, that we should approach this subject in a calm spirit, avoiding passion and avoiding attemptes to excite prejudice.."
      "...he conduct of a military officer may be dealt with in three perfectly distinct spheres..."
      "....First of all, he may be removed from his employment..."
  • Page 1721 to Page 1722 - 209 KB Grey Scale JPG
    • Winston Churchill
      "...I now come to the second method. The second method is of a more serious character.."
    • Mr Bottomley interjects.
      "What has all this to do with General Dyer - I mean with the specified case we are dealing with?"
    • Winston Churchill Continues
      "I have great respect for the Committee, and I do not believe it will refuse to allow a Minister or a Government to unfold a reasoned and solid argument to its attention...."
      "....The third method is of a definite penal character...."
  • Page 1723 to Page 1724 - 207 KB Grey Scale JPG
    • Winston Churchill
      "recommended that he should be ordered to retire."
    • Mr Gwynne interjects.
      "What was the date?"
    • Winston Churchill Continues
      "That was about a month ago...."
      "...The third method is of a definite penal character....."
      "....The conclusions of the Hunter Commettee might furnish the fullest justification for removing him from his appointment -"
    • Commander BELLAIRS interjects.
      "No, no!"
    • Winston Churchill Continues
      "I am expressin my opinion. When my hon and gallant Friend is called, he will express his opinion. That is the process which we call debate....." "....Nothing could be more unjust than to represent the Army Council as seeking to raise a constitutional issue, or as setting themselves up against the paramount authority of the Government....."
  • Page 1725 to Page 1726 - 206 KB Grey Scale JPG
    • Liet.-Colonel Croft interjects.
      "And the government may be true, also. The Cabinet may upset the whole decision also in the other direction?"
    • Winston Churchill Continues
      "Certainly. The Cabinet can certainly alter the employment of any officer...."
      "....one tremendous face stands out - I mean the slaughter of nearly 400 persons and the wounding or probably three or four times as many, at the Jallian Wallah Bagh on 13th April. That was an episode which appears to me to be without modern precedent or parallel in the modern history of the British Empire. It is an event of an entirely different order from any of those tragical occurences which take place when troops are brought into collision with the civil population. It is an extraordinary event, a monstrous event, an event which stands in singular and sinister isolation...."
      "Is the crowd attacking? That is the first question which would naturally arise. The second question is this: Is the crowd armed? That is surely another great simple fundamental question. By armed I mean armed with lethal weapons...."
    • Sir W. Joynson-Hicks interjects.
      "How could they be in India?"
    • Winston Churchill Continues
      "Men who take up arms against the State must expect at any moment to be fired upon. Men who take up arms unlawfully cannot expect that the troops will wait until they are quite ready to begin the conflict--"
    • Mr Donald interjects.
      "What about Ireland?"
    • Winston Churchill Continues
      "I agree, and it is in regard to Ireland that I am specially making this remark - or until they have actually begun fighting. Armed men are a category absolutely different from unarmed men. An unarmed crowd stands in a totally different position from an armed crowd. At Amritsar the crowd was neither armed nor attacking....."
  • Page 1727 to Page 1728 - 210 KB Grey Scale JPG
    • Sir W. Davidson interjects.
      "How many men had General Dyer with him?"
    • Winston Churchill Continues
      "My hon. Friend is as closely acquainted with the case as I am...."
      "...But there is another test which is not quite so simple, but which nevertheless has often served as a good guide. I mean the doctrine that no more force should be used than is necessary to secure compliance with the law...."
      "...We have seen them exerting themselves to show pity and to help, even at their own peril the wounded...."
    • Commander Bellairs interjects.
      "What about the women and children?"
    • Lieut.-Colonel Croft interjects.
      "There are no women and children in the trenches."
    • Winston Churchill Continues
      "I am bound to say I do not see to what part of my argument that remark applies...."
      ".....What I mean by frightfulness is the inflicting of great slaughter or massacre upon a particular crowd of people, with the intention of terrorising not merely the rest of the crowd, but the whole district or the whole country...."
    • Lieut.-Colonel Croft interjects.
      "Was not the frightfullness started three days before? Was not the frightfulness on the other side?"
    • The Deputy-Chairman (Sir E. Cornwall)
      "Hon. Members will have an opportunity of catching my eye, and I would ask them to wait, and not try to deliver their speeches in fragments?"
    • Winston Churchill Continues
      "We cannot admit this doctrine in any form. Frightfulness is not a remedy known to the British pharmacopiea. I yield to no one in my detestation of Bolshevism, and of the revolutionary violence which precedes it...."
  • Page 1729 to Page 1730 - 213 KB Grey Scale JPG
    • Winston Churchill Continues
      "....But my hatred of Bolshevism and Bolsheviks is not founded on their silly system of economics, or their absurd doctrine of an impossible equality. It arises from the bloddy and devastating terrorism which they practise in every land into which they have broken, and my which alone their criminal regime can be maintained...."
      "...Pinned up in a narrow place considerably smaller than Trafalgar Sqaure, with hardly any exits, and packed together so that one bullet would drive through three or four bodies, the people ran madly this way and the other. When the fire was directed upon the centre, they ran to the sides. The fire was then directed upon the sides. Many threw themselves down on the ground and the fire was then directed on the ground. This was continued for 8 or 10 minutes, and it stopped only when the ammunition had reached the point of exhaustion."
    • Commander BELLAIRS interjects.
      "That is absolutely deined by General Dyer."
    • Winston Churchill Continues
      "It stopped only when it was on the point of exhaustion, enough ammunition being retained to provide for the safety of the force on its return journey. If more troops had been available, says this officer, the casualties would have been greater in proportion....."
      "...and after 379 person, which is about the number gathered together in this Chamber to-day, had been killed....."
      "...We have to make it absolutely clear, some way or other, that this is not the British way of doing business....."
      "...I shall be told that it "saved India." I do not believe it for a moment....."
  • Page 1731 to Page 1732 - 218 KB Grey Scale JPG
    • Winston Churchill Continues
      "...On the contrary, as we contemplate the great physical forces and the power of the British Government in their relations with the native population of India, we ought to remember the words of Macaulay - "and then was seen what we believed to be the most frightful of all specticles, the strength of civilisation without its mercy" Our reign in India or anywhere else has never stood on the basis of physical force alone, and it would be fatal to the British Empire if we were to try to base ourselves only upon it....."
      "..I do not conceal from the House my sincere personal opinion that General Dyer's conduct deserved not only the loss of employment.........
      "..It is quite true that General Dyer's conduct has been approved by a succession of superiors above him.........
  • Page 1733 to Page 1734 - 209 KB Grey Scale JPG
    • Winston Churchill Completes his Speech
      "...For these reasons the Cabinet found themselves in agreement with the conclusions of the Army Council, and to those moderate and considered conclusions we confidently invite the assent of the House."
    • Mr Asquith Starts his Speech
      "I have heard this afternoon so much sound and excellent doctrine from the Treasury Bench, notwithstanding an occassional deviation in one or two of intercalary perorations from my right hon. Friend (Mr Churchill) who has just sat down, that I shall content myself with two or three observations....."
      "...He had two suggestions, and two only, to support his general allegation of hardship and grievance. The first was an extraordinary one - that General Dyer had not had a trial. General Dyer's case has been considered on his own evidence before the Hunter Committee. [HON MEMBERS: "No!"]. By what I think was an unfortunate decision, many of the witnesses who were available were not called an examined......"
      "...Here I must offer a word of criticism on a point which has not so far been referred to at all in the course of the discussion. I feel that it is deeply to be deplored and reprehended that the civil authority abdicated their function, and handed over something very much in the nature of a carte blanche to the general in command. I do not know who they were. I have no no knowledge of that. But it is the worst example, and in India particularly it is a very bad example......"


[Back to Winston Churchill's Amritsar Speech, July 8th 1920, U.K. House of Commons Homepage]
[Background of Speech as Stated in William Manchester's 1984 - first Volume on Churchill]
[Text of Speech as hand-typed ASCII from Hansard photocopies]
[Text of Speech as Scanned JPGs from Hansard]

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