At the stroke of midnight: Independence for India and Pakistan, 14/15 August 1947

The UK High Commissioner Terence Shone noted in his despatch giving an account of the transfer of power in Delhi that ‘The climax came at the stroke of midnight, when the moment of the transfer of power was marked by the blowing of whistles, hooters and conch shells. In the Assembly itself a cry of “Mahatma Gandhi Ki-jai” was raised.’

Independent India and Pakistan came into being on 14/15 August 1947. The end of empire, what was termed the “transfer of power” from the British perspective, came in carefully managed ceremonies, in Karachi on 14 August at the Legislative Assembly; and at Delhi on 15 August. After attending the ceremony in Karachi, Lord Mountbatten, the Viceroy, flew back to Delhi on 14 August. Late in the evening a resolution was passed proclaiming independence and inviting Mountbatten to be the first Governor General of India.

The seven leaders accept the plan for the transfer of power, 3 June 1947

The seven leaders accept the plan for the transfer of power, 3 June 1947

The University of Southampton is the home of the Broadlands Archives (MS 62) which include the papers of Lord and Lady Mountbatten. These Mountbatten papers contain material both of national and international significance, with approximately 250,000 papers and 50,000 photographs. A unique view of the transfer of power in India is provided by Mountbatten’s official papers as the last Viceroy of India. Further material can be found in the archive of Alan Campbell-Johnson (MS 350). In February 1947 Campbell-Johnson became the press attaché to a Viceroy of India, accompanying Lord Mountbatten to India and remaining with him throughout the transition of power and Mountbatten’s time as Governor General of India.

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