Havelock Walk, SE23

Place Name

Originally Havelock Street. Changed before the Second World War probably to avoid confusion with other Havelock Streets. Major-General Sir Henry Havelock (5 April 1795 – 24 November 1857) recaptured Cawnpore during the Indian Mutiny of 1857 which threatened to end British rule. Sir Henry, a member of the 78th Highlanders, won national acclaim and was awarded a knighthood for his actions leading the first attempt to relieve the troops who had been besieged by rebelling Indian soldiers. Hard fighting across rebel-held territory meant that by the time he had reached the garrison his force was too small to guarantee a successful evacuation. Instead they stayed and helped defend the British Residency. They held out against 30,000 Indian rebels for two months until a much larger force led by Lieutenant General Sir Colin Campbell stormed a walled enclosure that blocked the way to the defenders and by November 27 those inside were able to escape. However, it was too late for Havelock who died of dysentery. Of the 8,000 British troops, 2,500 were killed, the number of Indian casualties is unknown. Back in the UK, his actions secured him a promotion to Major-General and a baronetcy; and in a patriotic fervour many developers named streets after him and other heroes of the British Empire. Today his legacy is questioned. Dr Crispin Bates, Professor of South Asian History at the University of Edinburgh, said although Britons saw the event as a great victory, Indians viewed it as The First National Indian War of Independence. He told the Daily Mail: “The crushing of the uprising was seen in Britain as a great victory of British civilisation over violent and barbaric Asiatics. Unsurprisingly, Indians see these events very differently. In 1910, Indian nationalist V D Savarkar called it ‘The First National Indian War of Independence’.” Following the mutiny, The East India Company was abolished in favour of the direct rule of India by the British government. Another significant result of the uprising was the beginning of the policy of consultation with Indians.

 

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