Tuesday, 31 December 2013

29th & 30th January, 1948 - Ron describes procedures and becomes a little philosophical about letters of Condolence

Thursday, 29th January, 1948
Every time we go on duty we have to parade at the guard room where the Detail of Duties is checked and those on important jobs detailed off to draw a Thompson Sub Machine Gun.  We are then called to attention, port. arms and charge our magazines with five rounds of ammunition.  Then according to the officiousness of the Sargeant taking the parade we either straightway dismiss to our duties or first Slope Arms and then Dismiss, turning smartly to the right and marching off.  As my guard point is near the Billet no transport is provided and as at seven am there is no-one to relieve we make our own way to our posts.  The Sector Sargeant usually comes around to see us in accordance with his orders but he does this purely to safe-guard himself.  He signs our note books and departs after a short chat.  I have not known him come around on the afternoon shift.



Friday, 30th January, 1948
Although the weather was very poor today we all felt in much brighter vains as we were paid this morning.  I have never been in more sorry straights financially as I was before today.  I am now able to buy razor blades & shaving soap, stamps, envelopes and other necessities of which I have been short for a fortnight.

I wrote to Aunt Rosa today but fear my letter conveying my sympathies for her and the whole family’s great loss in Uncle’s Death is not as I would wish it to have been.  In my heart I think she and all others in such a position would rather not receive letters of condolence which of necessity must add to her already heavy sadness.  For she realises how we all feel but the act of committing our feelings to writing is just another of those many acts which would be far better left undone but which society or civilization or something dictates will be done.


Monday, 30 December 2013

27th & 28th January, 1948 - On guard again Ron manages to sort out the Army - then gets 'decorated.'

Tuesday, 27th January, 1948
A bitterly cold morning, I spent this morning on guard.  The Royal Artillery men who are doing a twenty four hour check on the road which passes us are fortunate in only working two hours on followed by four hours off.  They thus have a chance to recover the heat lost in the two hours on.
This week’s static is much less boring than was last week’s as there is an almost continuous flow of traffic on the road & pavement.  My friend and I chat to the soldier who is checking pedestrians’ passes as they enter the zone.  Occasionally he meets with an obstical (sic) for with his “muckers” he knows next to nothing of the Arabic language, we are then able to sort out the trouble for him.
One of my friends took quite seriously a comment I made at dinner to the effect that he sponsored a trip to the cinema for my guard friend & I.  He producing the necessary money was surprising and very pleasing for with the greater number of chaps in camp I have for a change reached the stage of being “broke.”




Wednesday, 28th January, 1948
(He mentioned Mules -  I can't resist posting this one again...)
The plans I had made for this morning had all to be cancelled when workmen arrived to distemper the barrack room.  They did the walls and the ceiling and the greater part of the floor with a pleasant yellow wash.  It took us the rest of the morning to remove that portion on the floor and windows.  The doors have been painted green and although bare of any wall adornments the room is now looking at least respectable.
I was working the evening shift today from 2pm to 10pm with a break for dinner.  After this break I went into the actual buildings of the Socony Vacuum for the first time.  I also entered the stables where 21 mules are housed.  I had a long and interesting chat with the Groom who was very pleased to find an Englishman who could speak Arabic.  He has been on night-work for about ten years so probably has not spoken to many Englishmen anyway

Sunday, 29 December 2013

25th & 26th January, 1948 - The Socony Co benefits from Ron's watchfulness and he gets to know his Army comrades


Sunday, 25th January, 1948
The beginning of another week and a new series of “Static Guards” of “Stags” as the army call them.  This week I am guarding the filling station of the American “Socony Vacuum Co.[1]”  Alternating, one day I do from 7am to 2pm the next from 2pm to 10pm.  This post is in the zone in which our billet is situated and as it is so near we are walked to and from duty accompanied by a sergeant.  Why I do not know.
There is a certain cult existing among the sergeants who try to make all our live as regimental as possible.  Fortunately they do not succeed as they are balanced out by other more sensible men.  We are paraded by the former type, a quarter of an hour before proceeding on duty.  The roll is called.  Certain men are detailed to draw Thompson Machine Guns for which no less than three books now have to be signed.  After this we are “fallen out onto the truck or duty sergeants”



Monday, 26th January, 1948
I made the most of my morning off this morning, the first for a week, to lie in bed until eight o’clock.  After breakfast I had a few games of table tennis – a very popular game here – then I dressed and took a walk to the Y.M.C.A. where my friend (a friend indeed) stood me a cup of tea and two of the fancy cakes to be had at the counter there.
It was quite warm when we went on duty at 2 p.m. and chatting with the army guards – a more intelligent lot than was our lot last week – the two hours passed very quickly.  At four we were relieved so that we could get our dinner.  We returned to our posts at 6pm.  It was a full moon this evening and there was a great deal of traffic on the road.  I am actually guarding the Socony Vacuum Petrol Co.  while my friend is guarding the Shell Petrol Co. between us is a French Co,  we were invited into the tent where the army guards sleep while off duty and we were given a cup of tea & made as much at home as could be.  Their only advantage over us lay in the fact that they possess an oil stove.



[1] The SOCONY Vacuum Oil Co (Standard Oil Company of New York) was later to become Mobil now a subsidiary of Exxon

Saturday, 28 December 2013

23rd & 24th January, 1948 - Guard duties continue and the troubles come close at hand.


Friday, 23rd January, 1948
A rather cold day, last night’s rains having turned the paths and yards of the camp into a mud field.   Further rain held off until the evening when we commandeered the P.W.D. Night Watchman’s hut while that person sat in the rear seat of a car parked in the Workshop Garage.  We realise now what a “Hole watcher’s” life is like in England.  Like that fraternity we have a brazier which we feed at regular intervals and which makes the army guards on the road block outside feel very jealous.
I received a parcel of papers from home today.  They are always appreciated and are leaped upon by all who see them.  Reading forms my favourite “escape” from this life of guards.  Since I have been in the country I have obtained quite a number of books and have formed a habit of reading which I hope I shall never lose.  A book club to which I belong sends me a book every month and these are of the type I most admire.


Saturday, 24th January, 1948
Today being the Jewish Holy Day not one of them arrived for work today.  Therefore the only person on duty at the P.W.D. with ourselves was an Arab Watchman who braves the ‘dangers’ and therefore as he says, defies the Jews.

The Abyssinian Embassy, Jerusalem -1948





Just before 10am when we were awaiting the arrival of our reliefs I was stood inside the Work yards talking to the Arab Guard.  My fellow Guards had been outside the gate and I saw them move away up the road to a corner which affords a view along a purely Jewish Street.  I then saw some Abyssinian boys from their Embassy nearby, go jabbering past the gate.  I managed to understand the words blood & stone & the watchmen told me that something was amiss at the top of the road.  I went up there where I saw one of my mates who told me that the other had just taken an Arab to the P.W.D. offices suffering form serious bleeding from a knife wound in the neck and from stones, these being sustained from the Jews as he passed along their street alone.  My mates arrived too late to prevent it.  I heard later today that the Arab died.

Thursday, 26 December 2013

21st & 22nd January, 1948 - Ron's settling into guard duty routine, makes some observations about the locals and contemplates the future..

Wednesday, 21st January, 1948
How quickly one gets into a routine as my life at the moment is.  Every day since we started the guards has been veritably the same.  In detail, small incidents have been different but the order of things is very constant.
The plumbers started on the restoration of our sanitary installations today.  The water is now so plentiful that the tank is overflowing onto the washroom floor.
There was nothing in the way of firing or explosions during the periods I was on guard today.  This afternoon, so I was told, two Arabs were shot dead on a road which runs parallel to our Static Point, probably as a result of this tomorrow evening will be more active.
I had long conversations with the R.A.F. Regiment guards on the road block outside the P.W.D. this evening.  This all helps to make the duties seem shorter, a thing I like very much.



Thursday, 22nd January, 1948
French Jewish Gold medallist
 Micheline Ostermeyer
source:http://www.westminstermemories.org.uk/
page_id__23_img__76.aspx
As this working with Jews is new to me I find it at times rather embarrassing.  In the short time I have been here I have talked with several Englishmen and several Jews whom I have mistaken for Englishmen.  This mistaken identity could lead to misunderstandings if one did not guard ones conversation.
What pettiness exists between the Arabs and Jews.  Arabs refuse to work with Jews because they are Jews.  The Lebanese Govt. announces their delegation to the Olympic Games will not take part in the Games if the Jewish Flag is flown.
It is all this dribble that is aggravating the already tense atmosphere here in the Near East.
A commission has just arrived here from England to recruit men from the Force into the Police and Prison Services at home.
I have no idea what I shall do but whatever it is I intend to settle to it as my career.  This is my principle trouble I do not wish to take employment where I may leave after a year.  The job I want, and what it is I do not know, is one that I can set my heart & brain to.

Thursday, 19 December 2013

19th & 20th January, 1948 - Ron expresses a high degree of dissatisfaction in his new duties.

Monday, 19th January, 1948
The beginning of my duties in No 1 Guard Company started this morning.  Up at 5 in order to be ready by 5.45AM of course there was not water turned on and we had to wait for our breakfast.  Eventually we were paraded “in full webbing equipment” another source of complaint.  Setting off in a 3 ton truck with no seats we deposited the guards at their respective posts en route.
Myself & two others were deposited at the Public
The Street of Prophets, Jerusalem
source:http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki
/File:84_Street_of_Prophets_A.jpg
Works Dept’s Work Shops in the Street of the Prophets.  Here apparently the Arabs have been in various degrees of on strick 
(sic) (strike) since the beginning of the year.  They do not trust the Jews and demand adequate guards before they will come to work.  The returned this morning but finding only three guards went off on strick(sic) again at 8.30AM.
We were relieved at 10.15AM and were brought back at 6pm.  We spent the evening around a brazier and were relieved at 10.30pm.  We have these shifts to do all week as far as we know.




Tuesday, 20th January, 1948
This morning was very disheartening.  I have never felt worse since I have been in the Force.  Getting up at 5 again meant I was still tired, breakfast was late which I find terribly annoying.  Not being used to standing or walking slowly for four hours my legs were aching in the calves & thighs by 10 when I finished this morning.  The relief came and then we all had to walk the three kilos back to the Billet as the trucks were all engaged.
After lunch I felt really “browned off” as the expression puts it.  I could not help joining in withs moans and groans to the Sarg. when he came in for a chat this afternoon.  After the rest I was feeling in higher spirits when I returned to the P.W.D. at 6pm.  There were several heavy explosions during the four hours we were on but not very near to us.  I had a short talk with two Jews who unarmed, patrol a section of the road near our guard post. 
They are part of an official guard and as they put it are “Home Guards” they were empowered to question anyone on the streets at anytime and if they are not satisfied by their replies can take them to the Police Station.  The Arabs I believe have a similar system which they back up with a little more force than do the Jews.

Wednesday, 18 December 2013

17th & 18th January, 1948 - A trip to the "Y" and Ron gets to grips with his smalls.

Saturday, 17th January, 1948
This morning I went to the “Y.M.C.A.” in the heart of the city.  The building is a marvellous construction with a tower in the centre and domed wings on the main building.  I have been told that it was built by an American millionaire and is the largest Y.M.C.A. building in the world.
I visited the library there and found it to be an excellent collection of books.  Also there is a swimming bath and a gymnasium but I did not see these.
Also today I learn that we in this camp or billet are to be known as “The 1st Guards Company.”
Such stupidity on the part of the powers that be must only go to show that the days of the British as Police in this country are surely finished.


 

Sunday, 18th January, 1948
Sunday is never treated as a religious day of rest through the general mass of the force here, but it is noticeable that a Sunday morning is very different to any other morning in the week.  There is a general atmosphere of quiet and calm about a room or street which is not present on a weekday.
For myself today I was very energetic in that I did some washing.  I started by washing some handkerchiefs and a pair of socks and later ventured upon a vest and a towel.  I was very pleased with the results of this labour and as the local laundry is exorbitantly dear I shall continue my washing in fine weather, of small articles anyway.
A Detail was published this afternoon of the duties we shall all be on during the coming week.  I am with two others on guard at the Public Works Department’s Workshops.

Tuesday, 17 December 2013

15th & 16th January, 1948 - Where to find water and decent kitchen staff..

Thursday, 15th January, 1948
This morning my two friends and I were up at seven o’clock.  We went out in search of water for a wash and a shave.  We visited every washroom we knew of in our billet without success.  In despair we decided to have breakfast first then perhaps to obtain some form the cookhouse.  This also failed but the cook was able to direct us to a source of supply which was a tap set out in an open place.  We now needed something to convey it in to a suitable place for a wash and shave.  The only container we could find was an empty tin for fifty cigarettes.  Needless to say our ablutions were of a “lick and promise” nature this morning.

Our first duty was allotted to us this morning.  This took the form of an escort to headquarters to bring back a lorry-load of barbed wire for strengthening the camp defences.  Fortunately before lunch the water in the camp was turned on so that we could have a shave in comfort now.
The afternoon and evening were psent idly, the former in the recreation room the latter at the cinema.
We met a friend who used to be with us in Nablus and is now employed in the “Records Office in H.Q.”  I have resolved to enquire into the likelihoods of the granting of a transfer to this section.



Friday, 16th January, 1948
A muster Parade was held this morning at nine and for about the twenty fifth time since I have been in the force I gave my name, number and rifle number to a sergeant who noted down similar particulars of all present.
The mess is a little better today than it was yesterday, the result no doubt of removing the “cook” from office.  The “mess boys” were unwisely chosen by the powers that be but I think with a little patience on the part of my fellow B/Cs we should be able to organise the present chaos.
I with a few others we called upon this morning to utilise the wire we had brought yesterday.  We blocked up all holes in the perimeter fence and greatly strengthened the whole.
Table tennis seems to be the principal form of recreation here and today I spent a considerable amount of time on games.
We still have not been told what duties we are to perform.

Monday, 16 December 2013

13th & 14th December, 1948 - Nablus Urban & Rural come to Jerusalem but the conditions are pretty Spartan...

Tuesday, 13th January, 1948
All in my room were up at 6.30am this morning to finish the packing started last evening.  We have been expecting this move for a long time but no date had been fixed.
At 8am we moved all our kit down to the veranda, where it was to stay until the lorries arrived.  For myself I had two suitcases a kit box and a bundle of blankets.  Both the Urban and the Rural Foot Police are moving out and their places being taken by Palestinians.  We were supposed to start out at 8am but as is usual in this force, unforeseen delays were encountered so that the convoy did not move off until 10.30am.  the Rural Station Officer was i/c the convoy and was in the lead in a G.M.C. Truck.  Behind this came four three ton lorries with all our kit on them and three 15cwt trucks with the 35 or so B/Cs in them.  The rear was brought up by two Motor Cyclist
A random picture of a convoy heading
 towards Jerusalem in 1948.
 Source: 
http://en.wikipedia.org/
wiki/File:Jerusalem_convoy.jpg
Police.  We first went to
Mount Scopus who knew nothing about us then we went on into the heart of Jerusalem to the Police H.Q. and about 100yds away a pistol shot was fired from the roof of a building down onto the main road.  This was all that happened and Police on Patrol cocked their rifles and were ready for more.  Our convoy carried on its journey entering the so-called safe zone of the “German Colony.”




Wednesday, 14th January, 1948
Last evening a party of us decided a visit to the nearby cinema would be very pleasant after our lack of entertainment of this type in Nablus.  It was a very good programme in a quite pleasant cinema.
All today we have been establishing ourselves.  When we look around and see how the army left this small camp we are very thankful that we are not numbered among their ranks.  A £P1,000 is the estimated cost of repairing the sanitary facilities alone.  I doubt not that more money than this will not be spent on or other badly needed necessities.  We have literally nothing in the room other than what we brought with us.  We have been forced to drive nails into the walls on which to hang our uniforms.  We all fear to hang up our civilian clothes as the fence around the camp is so weak that any thief could enter or escape via it in comfort.  Our mess has not yet been established so we are using the mess of those Police in the camp proper.  Late last night Police from Hebron arrived in the camp but I have not come into contact with them yet.  We still have received no information as to what form our duties will take.

Sunday, 15 December 2013

11th & 12th January, 1948 - A Bad Lad and Reform School Palestine-style, and some news of very imminent transfer.


Built on the site of a Crusaders' fortress
 the citadel was converted to government
offices and a prison during the British Mandate
source: http://www.biblewalks.com/Sites/AcreCitadel.html
Sunday, 11th January, 1948









This morning I went to Acre on an escort duty.  We had first to take a boy to the remand home there.  The boy had been convicted some time ago and had been granted ten days leave over the recent Moslem feast period.  He had failed to return to the school and in the meantime committed a further offence.  He has now been sentenced to two periods of two years to run concurrently.  At the school the principle told me he is a bad lad and fears that two years will not improve him a great deal even under the training he will receive there.  At the school they are only punished in as much as they are under supervision and away from home.  For a boy who has committed only a minor offence the school is good institution as there he will receive much better food and treatment than in the majority of cases he would receive at home.  Also he is taught a trade, a thing he could not hope for under the normal course of affairs.  His schooling is more intensified and the discipline though it probably seems hard to him now will be of untold value to him when he goes out into the world to earn his living.  Short periods in such a school are of little avail as it is only with constant care and attention over a long period can he benefit.



Monday, 12th January, 1948




Yesterday morning, while I was on escort to Acre, a case of Armed Robbery was reported to the Station from Tubas Police Station.  Four men in a lorry had been stopped by two armed men and property of total value £P47 was stolen from them.  Only one accuse actually came near to the complainants but the other shouted to a witness.  On the evidence of the witness two men have been arrested.  On searching the houses of the accused persons a packet of tea was recovered, adding to the evidence arraigned against them.
Today a case of Attempted Murder occurred in a nearby village.  The complainant
apparently owes the accused a considerable sum of money & refuses to pay his debt.  The accused had an argument with the complainant and fired a rifle at him wounding him seriously in the shoulder, at the base of his neck.
At five this evening I was in the throws (sic) of reports to be submitted on these cases when the Sergeant came rushing into the office.  He informed me that the whole of the single foot men in Nablus had to be packed ready to transfer to Jerusalem at 8am tomorrow.  Inspector Josef Amer came in and I handed over my section of the “I” Branch in a quarter of an hour so the chaos which will follow, I dare not think about.


Thursday, 12 December 2013

9th & 10th January, 1948 - A case of petty revenge but Ron is enjoying his surroundings

Friday, 9th January, 1948
There was veritably no work at the office this morning so when a crime was reported at about 9am I seized the opportunity and decided to visit the scene of the crime.  Bribery & corruption, though very rarely heard of in public is very rife here among Government Officials.  One of the few magistrates who are not open to this interference is one who has his home in a village near Nablus and his vocation in another city.  An accused person in a case some time ago approached the Mag. with a substantial bribe, but as usual he refused it.  This annoyed the accused who came from the same village as the Mag.  To get his revenge he cut off Olive trees belonging to the Mag. and transplanted them in his own lands.  Myself & a Police Party first visited the Mag’s. Land where we saw two freshly planted trees of the same age & type as those stolen.  Two others were found in the Accused’s yard, and another planted in his land some distance away with a further patch of
ground where a tree had obviously been replanted and dug up again.  Thus two trees of the seven were missing.  Usually in a case of revenge or “Fassad” the accused is content with damaging a number of trees, leaving them on the complainants lands.  Petty “Fassad” of this nature is one of the commonest crimes I encounter and one of the most difficult to prove.  We often do not know the accused in such an offence for if the complainant has many potential enemies any one of them is capable of committing the act.  The punishment is of course light(?) but fails to deter further crimes of this nature.




Saturday, 10th January, 1948
It was a lovely morning this morning as I made my way over to the station.  After the recent rains the atmosphere tastes clear & clean and free from the summer dusts.  All the fields and mountain sides are now covered in a mantle of fresh young green.  The journeys by truck are much more pleasant through such country under a clear blue sky and today’s bright, but not hot sun, than in summer under a scorching sun and in clouds of dust.
The animals are beginning to cover their skeleton like summer selves with a more meaty body and no longer rush when they near water.  With plenty of food in them the cows



are more content and have time to see to the sleeking of their coats so that they look quite respectable animals now.  One never sees Arab cows with heavy udders for they are not bred for milk as the Arabs drink only goat milk.  Cows are bread to draw ploughs and for their meat which owing to their hard lives is never very tasty.  Sheep are more or less treated as one with goats here the milk of both being drunk in large quantities.  They are driven in flock by boys to graze on the mountain sides or off growing crops when the farmer is not near, for there are no hedges built, the land of one man carrying on into the next man’s land.  This often is the cause of Fassads between men.

Wednesday, 11 December 2013

7th & 8th January, 1948 - Another uncomfortable visit to the Souk and a couple of renegade policemen...

Wednesday, 7th January, 1948
In preparation for anything that is likely to happen within the next few days, my friends & I decided to visit the “Suq” for our last purchasings.  The attitude of the local Arabs to us is markedly different since they have learned we are soon to leave this area.  All the shopkeepers who have catered especially for the English are worrying about whether they will be able to sell their remaining stocks while the other shop owners do not press their wares for sale as they used when we first came here.  A sight never seen in the “Suq” before the recent disturbances is the now common firearms display.  Every type of firearm can be seen from pistols to Thompson Sub machine guns of various ages.  I have seen 1902 Enfield Rifles & the very modern Thompson.  In the tailors shop today when trying on a pair of trousers I saw a .303 rifle behind the counter.  On examining it I found it to be serviceable but the barrel was very dirty.  The majority of the weapons are the same.  Their owners treat them as playthings and take very little care of them.  I gave the tailor a lecture on the care of firearms for which he cordially thanked me.



1946 - Allenby Bridge also known as King Hussein Bridge.
The bridge was first constructed in 1918 but destroyed in the
Civil War in 1948, eventually rebuilt and reopened in 1994 as the sole entry/
exit point between Israel and the West Bank
Thursday, 8th January, 1948
At about 9am this morning the Garage Foreman made the startling discovery that two of his 15cwt trucks were missing.  At once the cry went out that they had been stolen.  But how could they have been taken past the English Guard on the M.T. Gate? was the question all asked.  All drivers were accounted for but on further checking it was found that two mounted B/Cs were missing.  The Station Sergeant said he thought they were on the rifle range with a party firing this morning.  A truck was sent to the range to check up.  On the way there one of the trucks was found abandoned at the side of the road.  The two B/Cs were not on the range & their civilian clothes had gone with them.  One had been on a road block a mile from the station.  He had gone sick and come back to the station telling the gate guard he had come in for a cup of tea.  He later returned sitting beside a driver whom the Gate Guard did not recognise in one of the trucks.  The guard thought the duty
driver was driving him back to his post.  The truck was cruising to start as it reached the road block and was let through when it was seen to be a Police truck.  They went to Damiya Bridge across the Jordan but the Arab Legion would not let them cross.  They then went to Allanby Bridge & tried to bribe a B/C on duty there with Nil Result.  The B/C raised the alarm and they were eventually caught and lodged in Gaza Lock-Up having reached a point between Gaza & Beersheba.  I know the two chaps well and would never have thought they had such a daring plan hatching in the last few days.  The B/C i/c Road Blocks is on open arrest as he is a suspected accomplice

Tuesday, 10 December 2013

5th & 6th January, 1948 - Heavy rain and future plans for the evacuation of Palestine..

Monday, 5th January, 1948
What a beastly night it was last night.  From early in the evening when the heavy rain and cold set in it became gradually worse.  At about 3am I was awakened by a most terrific explosion which, if I had not known of the thunder storm raging outside, I should probably have attributed to Jewish origin.  I learned this morning, from one of the unfortunates who had to static guard in the storm that the explosion had been caused by a thunderbolt which, he said, had landed about three hundred yards away up the mountain.  Now the rains have started I expect they will continue through the winter.  It is only on rare occasions in England that I have seen rain fall as heavily as it did last night and this morning flooding the fields in just that period of time.
The cold has persisted though the rain has eased.  I sat in the recreation room this evening with about eight other chaps.  We all crowded around the fireplace competing with one another when a nearer chair became vacant.



Tuesday, 6th January, 1948
This morning the Assistant Superintendent of Police held a meeting attended by all the Inspectors & Sergeants in the Sub-District.  I learned afterwards that it was to discuss the approaching evacuation of the country in as much as it would affect Nablus Division.  Apparently all, except a few H.Q. Staff, are moving to a Depot at Haifa or Jerusalem where they will await transport to take them home.  The Administration and Crime branches are all to be taken over by Arabs and a company or so of an Army Battalion are to defend the area until such time as the country is properly evacuated.  The Mayor is going to act as the Liaison Officer between the Police & the Army.  We have all been left very much in the dark over the whole affair and no-one yet knows any dates at which the handing over is likely to take place.  We rather think it will be in the very near future, and I for one am, in a way, looking forward to the move as it means one more step towards England and the beginning of a new job, a thing forced upon me.

Monday, 9 December 2013

3rd & 4th January, 1948 - Cold winds, a bit of teasing and a haircut..

Saturday, 3rd January, 1948
The days are becoming colder now with gale force winds blowing through the valley in which Nablus lies.  As yet there is no form of heating in our offices but we hope shortly to get a stove of some description.  The barrack rooms are not heated in any way so in the evenings evidence of their desertion can be seen around the crowded fireplaces in the canteen and Club.  I am very glad I am off the normal foot duties which mean, in this station, an endless series of night and day static guards with a few escort duties as a variant.  I notice the sangers as used by the guards have been amended in construction so that they would now be of little use in case of attack as the loop holes, so appealing to draughts, have been blocked up.  All this goes to make the sanger a cosier place in which to spend a night.
When our particular friend is on guard we take a sadistical pleasure in educating him as to the number of seconds in a minute and minutes in an hour.  When he makes as if to cock his rifle we bid hurried farewells and return to the warmth of our beds.



Sunday, 4th January, 1948
We always have made a habit of rising late on Sunday mornings but since the cold weather has set in the day is becoming even brighter when we brave the keen air.
This morning I rose just in time to dash down to the mess before breakfast finished.  After breakfast I had my fortnightly haircut administered by a short tubby Arab who always wears a “Fez” as if he were selling a hair restorer of which his hair was no capable advertiser.  This barber comes from the town every second Sunday morning with his portable shop.  The portable is a marvellous combination of drawers, shelves, mirrors etc. and has so many compartments I often wonder how he knows which drawer contains which.  As all barbers out here he does not consider that his customer will be pleased unless he finishes by half drowning the poor unfortunate in about six varieties of hair oil.  His face can be seen to drop quite plainly when I refuse to have more than a small quantity of type 1.  The tip usually restores his confidence in himself.
 

Sunday, 8 December 2013

1st & 2nd January, 1948 - At work on the 1st January!? A thief, a road accident, and a bit of spring cleaning.

Thursday, 1st January, 1948
After the welcoming party given for the New Year in the club last night I retired at about half after one.
The next thing I knew was that the sergeant was waking me and trying to impress on me that everyone was wanted downstairs on the veranda for a rifle inspection.  This does not sound a very impressive opening to the year and was caused as two rifles were stolen during the festivities of last night.  The inspection was of no avail the rifles not having come to light.  Unfortunately we have a B/C in the “Humara” who is a known thief and although he is under open arrest on a charge of selling his own pistol and a force rifle he is suspected of having something to do with last night’s thefts.
At the office this morning I closed all the registers & files for 1947.  Why, I don’t know, but I hated this work as there was such an air of finality with it.  The Assistant Superintendent went through my court Exhibits and destroyed about thirty.  After all this work I found that today was supposed to be a holiday.



Friday, 2nd January, 1948
Modern Jiftlich;
an impoverished Palestinian village
I was rather annoyed at not being told that I was on holiday yesterday.  I did not bother to rush to work this morning.  I was only about half an hour later than usual but enough to put me right for the day.
A road accident was reported last evening so I had to pass the information on it to Divisional H.Q.   A boy was knocked down and seriously injured in Jiftlich Area when a lorry tried to turn after unloading oranges at a Bedouin Camp near the Jordan.

I handed 10 of my arms and ammunition court exhibits into the stores today and later put the court exhibit room in order.  I can now find exactly what I want at once, a definite asset in court exhibits which are always on the move to and from the court.
This evening Bicknell, Mountford, Moore & I went to the Club where we played table tennis and snooker.
The B/C suspected of the theft has been subjected to a grilling today and has admitted many minor things to some other B/Cs who are taking the law into their own hands with the aid of “Fil-fil.”[1]



[1] Not knowing the meaning of "fil-fil" I asked Graham Jenkins of the Palestine Police Old Comrades Association if he had any ideas as to its meaning.  His reply:  

"I seem to recall that the phrase fil fil  literally means  “hot pepper” but was used as  a sort of slang. In the context in which it was used it would appear to refer to “pressure” of some sort."

Hmm! The strong arm of the law!
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