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The British Guiana Incident

Anchor 29

In August 1953, the Peoples Progressive Party, led by Cheddi Jaggan, in British Guiana called for a strike by the sugar workers who were fighting for the Sugar Producers’ Association to recognise their union.


By 10 September, the Governor of British Guiana was noting that the sugar industry was “at complete standstill”. Bookers, the leading sugar manufacturer, stated that the strike meant “a loss of profits” and that “the present situation can only be dealt with effectively by the Colonial Office”. Indeed, “unless something drastic is done, Bookers will cease to exist as a large firm in 5 years”.


Although the sugar strike effectively ended, it left its mark and it was clear that the PPP retained the wrong priorities. All in all, the PPP had “overstepped the limits of what we regard as decent government”, one British MP later explained.


On 9 October, the British Governor announced that the constitution was being suspended and the elected ministers were being removed from office.


HMS Superb was one of three warships (HMS Bigbury Bay & HMS Sheffield) who remained stationed off the Guianan coast and a few hundred British troops were landed.


The Queen signed the order suspending the constitution and overthrowing the government.


























A comment from Jon Willsher, one of HMS Superb's ratings, is as follows:


"I was serving in HMS Superb, flagship of the American & West Indies Station, the cruiser involved in this incident. We were told that we were going to remove the Government since they were Communists and that if we did not do so, the US would intervene. We were also given a secondary reason, it being that the Jagans were of Indian extraction and the native population would not accept them. Shades of Idi Amin at a later time".


Note You can see more information on this incident at


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