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The Last to Leave

Black Watch leaves KarachiOn the 26 of February 1948 the 2nd Battalion Black Watch paraded in Karachi before embarking on the troopship Empire Halladle.  The Royal Highland regiment had first landed at Bombay in 1782 to fight the Sepoys in the Mysore Wars.  They came for a second time in 1942 to take part in the second Chindit expedition in 1944 against the Japanese.  Now they were to say farewell to India.  The Battalion, led by pipers in full ceremonial dress, marched through the city of Karachi with fixed bayonets and colours flying. They then paraded in the grounds of Government House, for a Royal Salute to the now Governor General of Pakistani, Jinnah. The Battalion then proceeded to the docks. Units of the new Pakistani army assembled at the west  wharf to bid farewell to the Black Watch.  The Battalion formed on three sides of the hollow square and the regimental colors were tipped in salute to General Akbar Khan, who then addressed the troops.  The Kings Colours  and Regimental Colours  were then furled  and the Battalion slow marched  up the gangway of the  Empire Halladle.  They were the last British Army colours to leave Pakistan.

Two days later, it was India's turn to say  farewell to the British Army. The last British  troops to leave India were the 1st Battalion the Somerset  Light Infantry.  A ceremony took place on the 28th of February 1948. The slow march of the Somerset Light Infantry though the city of Bombay culminated at the Gateway to India.  The monumental structure was erected to commemorate the visit of King George V and Queen Mary in 1911.  Thousands of spectators were on hand to view the last moments of British India.  The new Indian Army was represented by a guard of honour from the Bombay Grenadiers, the 2nd Sikhs, and the Royal Indian Navy. Also participating were the 3/5th Gurkhas, and the Mahratta Light Infantry.

Gateway of India
SLF march through Gateway of India

The Somerset  Light Infantry marched their colors past the Governor to the sound of their regimental march.  The Indian guard of honor then gave a Royal Salute and " God Save The King" was played.  To this the Somerset  Light Infantry replied with a Royal Salute and the Indian national anthem.  Then the escort trooped the colours to the tune of "Auld Lang Syne "down the center of the parade ground and out through the Gateway of India.  The whole  maneuver was carried out with the utmost precision and proved to be a very moving sight.  Finally, the Somerset CO and General Whistler said their good-byes and passed through the gateway to a launch where the colours had already been embarked. As the launch pulled away towards the troop ship Empress of Australia, the crowds were shouting, waving, and in some cases weeping.  It was the end of the Raj.

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