Naval Mutiny 1946: When Military Rebelled!!!

In the previous post, we have read about Cabinet Mission 1946. We have seen that Muslim League delegates refused the Cabinet Mission, they adhered to their demand for the separate state. After Quit India Movement the nationalist sentiment was growing at its peak. Everyone was seeking for the independence from the oppressive government.

Subhash Chandra Bose led the Indian National Army(INA). There were three upsurges- one on 21st November 1945 in Calcutta, the second on 11th February 1946 in Calcutta to protest against the seven-year sentence to the INA official, Rashid Ali. The last one was Naval Mutiny of 1946.

Naval Mutiny 1946

Actually in initials phases of National Freedom Struggle Indian Masses particularly educated middle class and capitalists were the seeker for the Independence and the Indian Military Forces under the banner of British Government oppressing their own people. But it seems the enthusiasm among people for the independence spread like waves and these waves stimulated Indian Military Men also.

So, likewise of the 1857 Revolt, Royal Indian Navy stood against the oppressive policies of Government. The Naval Mutiny started on 18th February 1946. The naval officials of Bombay post went on strike. It started when 1100 naval ratings of HMIS Talwar struck work at Bombay to protest against the problems faced by them.

There was racial discrimination between British and Indian Officials. Though there were not many Indian Official ranks Indian officials face salary discrimination. British Government was paying more to the British Officials than Indian Official. There was also an issue of unpalatable food and abuses to boot.


The navy Sepoys resented the arrest of BC Dutt of HMIS Talwar during Quit India Movement. Other ratings from Castle and Fort Barracks also joined this strike. The Sepoys never supported the Indian Masses but always suppressed their Freedom movement. But Indian masses showed ultimate support to the navy sepoys. People from the Bombay city joined the Navy Official and stayed with their strikes.

Naval Mutiny of 1946
Naval Mutiny of 1946

The Naval Mutiny and popular fury in Bombay alone accounted for the destruction of thirty shops, ten post offices, ten police chowkis, sixty-four foodgrains shops and 200 street lamps. The normal life of the Bombay city was completely ruined.

In the last phase of Naval Mutiny, Karachi post also stand with the HMIS Talwar. HMIS Hindustan(Karachi) along with one more ship and three shore establishments went on strike in support of HMIS Talwar. Soon on every military establishment like Madras, Vishakhapatnam, Calcutta, Delhi, Cochin, Jamnagar, the Andamans, Bahrain and Aden strike took place.

Significance of Naval Mutiny

Royal Indian Navy Mutiny Memorial, Bombay
Royal Indian Navy Mutiny Memorial, Bombay

The military, which was the power of British Imperialistic government, stood against the government for the second time. Actually, during the revolt of 1857, the Indian Sepoys were not well equipped and trained. Because they were working as subsidiary forces. But after the 1940s, the situation changed and now the Indian Sepoys, Officials have participated in two world wars(World War-I, World War-II) on behalf of British Government.

So, in the 1940s our soldiers showed their arms and ammunition against the imperialist government. The same incident took place during the French Revolution of 1789. The Army of France sided with the local masses and stood against the malevolent Louis XVI’s Government.

The Naval Mutiny almost decided the fate of British government in India. Now, only formalities were left. Soon the day will come when the tricolour flag is going to be hoist in Independent India.

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