The Royal Air Force strikes of 1946 was a series of demonstrations and strikes at several dozen Royal Air Force stations in the Indian subcontinent beginning on 22 January 1946. As these incidents involved refusals to obey orders they technically constituted a form of mutiny.
A series of demonstrations and strikes occurred at several dozen Royal Air Force stations in the Indian subcontinent beginning on 22 January 1946. As these incidents involved refusals to obey orders, they technically constituted a form of mutiny. The protests arose in response to slow demobilization and return of British troops to Britain, and use of British shipping facilities for transporting G.I.s. The "mutiny" began at either Maripur or nearby Karachi (RAF Drigh Road) and later spread to involve nearly 50,000 men over 60 RAF stations in India, Ceylon, Burma and as far away as Singapore, Egypt, North Africa, and Gibraltar. The peaceful protests lasted between three and eleven days.
For their part, the British Government argued that the amount of shipping available was insufficient to permit immediate repatriation of the large number of personnel. However, later declassified reports have shown that British troops were deliberately retained in India to control possible unrest from the independence movement, and the grievances of the RAF men may have also included significant political views and sympathy with the communist Party of India.
The initial protests in Karachi took the form of a collective refusal to prepare kit for inspection and going to the parade ground at the normal time but in casual khaki drill rather than the "best blue" uniforms required when on morning parade.
The issues were ultimately resolved. Some of the airmen involved faced courts-martial. However, the precedent set by this event was important in instigating subsequent actions by the Royal Indian Air Force and later, the Royal Indian Navy in February 1946 in which 78 of a total of 88 ships mutinied. Lord Wavell, Viceroy of India, commented at the time, "I am afraid that [the] example of the Royal Air Force, who got away with what was really a mutiny, has some responsibility for the present situation."
article by Bernard Shilling and published in the December 1986 issue of Aeroplane Monthly.