Christmas Island Mutiny 1942

There had been many mutinies in the history of India and also in the history of the world. A mutiny is a rebellion inspired by the armed forces or soldiers. Every mutiny brings some changes indeed but we are told about only few of the mutinies which brought some worldwide and historic changes. Christmas Island Mutiny was one of them which led very major changes for India.

I am sure that very few of us have actually heard about it and fewer than them must know what happened in this mutiny. So I decided today to let you be aware of the Christmas Mutiny and tell you every incident that I know about it.

Christmas Island

The Christmas Island Mutiny is especially concerned to Christmas Island. The Christmas Island is an Island in Indian Ocean and is about 250 miles in south of Java Island and 700 miles south of Singapore. The Christmas Island got its name from the day it was discovered.

The Captain William Mynors, who was a merchant of the British East India Company, in his ship ‘The Royal Mary’ reached the Island on 25th December 1643 on the day of Christmas and so he named it Christmas Island.

Settlement of Christmas Island

At the time of Christmas Island Mutiny, the Christmas Island was under the possession of British Government. The Island was a place for settlement especially of Chinese and Malaya. The Christmas Island was rich of Phosphate and the most of its citizens were employed in mining it. T.P. Cromwell, who was a British Colonial Officer, was the in-charge of the Christmas Island and was serving there with few of his Indian Sikh armed soldiers.

During the later few years, the Island was posted with a detachment of British Officer Captain L.W.T. Williams with an Indian Officer Subadar Muzaffar Khan. Also they were provided support of four British Non-Commissioned Officers and gunners with 27 Punjabi Non-Commissioned Officers and gunners. A 6 inch Gun was also mounted in the Island in 1940.

The days in Christmas Islands were peaceful till the day when few Sikh Soldiers started a mutiny. This mutiny changed the history of the whole Island.

Causes for Christmas Island Mutiny

In the beginning of 1942, a Japanese Naval Squadron was approaching the Christmas Island to occupy it. The Naval Squadron bombarded on the Christmas Island and it is said that his bombardment was just a testing if its Weapons was working well or not.

Captain Williamson was scared and instead of responding, he waved a white flag just to maintain peace. Since the Japanese had not bombarded with some special reason so they left without any further action.

The situation became normal after some time, but this incident created a rage in Sikh soldiers against the British officer. They had understood that the Japanese could attack on them anytime and captivate them easily.


Incidents of Christmas Island Mutiny

It was 10th March of the year 1942 and L.W.T. Williams was having a party with his four Non-Commissioned Officers and other important British. The party was going well and soon it ended. All the officers then went to their Bed to have a good sleep. In the mid night, a group of few Sikh Soldiers, probably the mutineers, who disliked the Williams brutally killed him and also his four other Officers.

They dragged their bodies to the ocean and dumped them there. Literally the mutineers had got the support of the local police. The other Indian Soldiers including Subedar Muzaffar Khan also ran in fear but mutineers asked them not to worry as they had come to kill only the British Officers.

Events after the Mutiny

The very next day, i.e. on 11th March, the Mutineers ordered the citizens of Island to stay calm and not to spread and terror until the Japanese come. This step of mutineers indicates that they wanted to impress Japanese and provide them some favour.

Consequences of the Christmas Island Mutiny

The mutiny brought about considerable changes on a large scale. While it was being supported in some areas, it was also opposed in some other areas. Few important results of this Mutiny were as follows:

  1. The mutineers succeeded in impressing the Japanese troops but not very much.
  2. The mutiny made it easier for Japanese to reach and occupy the Christmas Islands.
  3. The British Government which was thinking over ending its rule from British India decided to delay its plan for next few years.
  4. Out of the Mutineers kept in jail, five were found guilty of killing the 5 British Officers and they were sentenced to death.