Last British Soldiers leave India

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Last British Soldiers leave India

The 28th of February 1948 AD

After the end of WWII it was clear that the British Empire was coming to an end. In the Indian sub-continent the end of British rule was spurred on by mutinies among her own forces there, desperate to return home after lengthy war service. Lord Mountbatten negotiated the independence of Pakistan and India, though his misjudgements and poor organisation were partially responsible for the bloodbath which cost more than half a million Hindus and Muslims their lives.
On August 14 1947 Pakistan came into being; the next day the Union of India was born. But British troops remained in place to oversee some of the transition, and to protect remaining British interests at a time of great instability. Thus it was not until February 28 1948 that the last British soldiers in India departed: they were the men of the First Battalion the Somerset Light Infantry. On their final day in Bombay, before boarding a troopship bound for Liverpool and home, they paraded for one last time in the former jewel in the crown. Fittingly they marched through the Gateway of India, and were presented with a parting gift by the Army of India, a silver replica of that gateway. This regimental treasure is still kept at the Military Museum in Taunton Castle, a glittering reminder of what was effectively the very last day of the British Raj.

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