Photograph of docks at Calcutta

U.S. Army. Via

Calcutta (88.325E 22.516N) was founded in 1690 by Job Charnock of the British East India Company.  Growth was rapid and the city became a major port for the export of agricultural commodities, including jute and opium, and the population of the city and suburbs in 1941 was about 3,621,000.  However, the Hooghly River on which it is built is shallow and silty, and required constant dredging to maintain the port.

The Ishapore arsenal is located  a short distance north of the city.  There was an important military airfield at Dum Dum, and the Tatas Steel Works were also located near the city. After war broke out in the Pacific, the British improvised an additional fighter strip on a road bordering the Maidan of Calcutta, the city's great open space, where it both was centrally located to counter raids and was a highly visible show of British  air power for the benefit of the nervous inhabitants of the city. An additional airfield was open at Bally (88.340E 22.650N) by early 1944.

Calcutta was first heavily raided 20 December 1942, doing slight damage but so panicking the civilian population that over a million fled the city. The British responded by bringing in a small number of Beaufighter night fighters, which on the night of 15/16 December 1942 shot down three Japanese bombers and put an end to the air raids for a time. A resumption of nuisance raids by 5 Air Division in January 1943 proved ineffective.

The Americans negotiated for military control of the great King George Docks to support the massive airlift over "The Hump" but encountered civilian opposition. Wavell worked out a compromise that put the port under a civilian director with two military deputies, one an American officer.

Rail connections




Climate Information:

Elevation 21'

Temperatures: Jan 80/55, Apr 97/75, Jul 89/79, Oct 89/74, record 11/44

Rainfall: Jan 0.8/0.4, Apr 3/1.7, Jul 18/12.8, Oct 6/4.5 == 50.1" per annum


Cox (2012; accessed 2014-6-8)

Pearce and Smith (1990)

Peattie et al. (2011)

Romanus and Sunderland (1952, accessed 2012-11-13; 1954, accessed 2012-11-13)

Saunders (1954; accessed 2012-11-13)

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