Viceroy Wavell, 1943

  • General Archibald Wavell was appointed as Viceroy of India in October 1943 (replced Linlithgow)
  • Military man (had military defeats however)
  • Churchill thought he was the wrong man for the job, so appointed him as Viceroy as a useful way of getting him out of the way to put the more inspiring Auchinleck in his place
  • Suggests Churchill did not see job of Viceroy of India as an important one where political skills would need to be used
  • Wavell's main objective was to maintain India's boundaries to prevent a Japanese invasion and to keep India within the Empire until the end of the war
  • Wavell started his time in office by touring the subcontinent on a fact-finding mission, focusing particularly on troubled areas e.g. the Punjab 
  • Reinstated regular meetings of the 11 governors of British India, which Linlithgow had ignored
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The Bengal Famine, 1943-1944

  • One of Wavell's greatest challenges was the Bengal Famine
  • Huge increase in population in Bengal, the demands of the army for foodstuffs during wartime and the loss of imports due to the war, led to the collapse
  • The inevitable result was a terrible famine
  • Wavell took action to co-ordinate rationing and to try and stop profiteering but the problems of the famine were exacerbated by outbreaks of smallpox, malaria, cholera and pneumonia
  • Both Churchill and Roosevelt (fearful of damaging the war effort) refused to divert merchant shipping to take grain to Bengal and as a result between 1 and 3 million people died
  • Both Congress and Jinnah were extremely critical of the British response to the famine and made political capital out of the crisis
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