India was ready for a spark. Drought wrote a warning of famine across the country; Russia at UNO had fanned the winds of Asiatic nationalism. A trivial incident at Bombay touched off the British Empire's worst rebellion since the great Sepoy Mutiny of 1857.

Indians said that a British officer had used "insulting language" to a native seaman on a training ship. The British said that the officers had refused to let a political speaker address the crew. Before the sun went down, 12,000 seamen of the Royal Indian Navy had seized a score of ships, 18 naval shore stations...

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