Thursday, 28 February 2013

15th & 16th February - Ron acquaints himself with Black Beauty

Saturday, 15th February, 1947
‘B’ Squad being best Squad at Law went on a tour of this District of Palestine.  They tell me they swam in the Sea of Galilee & looked over Acre Prison etc.
The work here has eased up considerably since half term.  We are now going through the C.C.O. in law.

This afternoon I spent wholly in cleaning “Black Beauty” my rifle.
Bob Matthews is now operator of the Camp Cinema.  The film tonight was “Boom Town”

Sunday, 16th February, 1947
This morning started bright & fine but by 10.30am this had changed to heavy rain.  Spent most of the morning on my rifle then wrote home to Mum & Dad & one to Joy.

February 1947. Group of Arabs and
 myself taken outside the Mohtar's
 house in Horsha Village near Shafa Amr.
 I changed headdress with an Arab
 who fancied the cap. Note Cactus
Went on guard tonight.
I received the developments of the snaps I took in Horsha village today

Monday, 25 February 2013

13th & 14th February - Ron gets some exam results and finally gets his gun!

Thursday, 13th February, 1947
Fine again today.

Today we had another lecture from the Senior Medical Orderly about Typhoid Fever.

Following this Mr Rowland Tims[1]  gave us a lecture on all branches of the Police Force & asked us if we had any special qualifications to put in an application for any of these branches.

After a lot of difficulty in making up my mind I put in an application for Mounted.  The wireless branch does not attract me, though to return to the B.B.C.[2] I suppose I should go into this branch but I will try to get into the Mounted and perhaps transfer from that branch if I should find I have erred in my judgement.

We had our law exam results today I had 82%.  Highest in ‘C’[3]

[1] Mr Rowland Tims joined the Palestine Police on 17.6.1939 as British Constable 526, was promoted Sergeant in March, 1942 and appointed Acting Assistant Supt in 1946 becoming a Platoon Commander in the PMF in 1947
[2]Prior to signing up for the Palestine Police, Dad was working for the BBC as a radio technician.
[3]I’m guessing from this and Dad’s references to ‘A’ & ‘B’ Squad that he must have been in ‘C’ Squad!  I know… get my detective skills!

Friday, 14th February, 1947
We rose at 5.45am this morning to find it very dull & stormy outside.
Today we are going to Jenin where we draw our rifles & proceed to the range.  We left Shafa Amr by truck at about 7am & arrived in Jenin at 8.30am.  We fired rifle, L.M.G. and T.S.M.C.  I am sorry to say that as other than my single shots rifle I was not very great.  The T.S.M.C. stopped every round & between it & Mr Tims I did very poorly on this weapon.  The day cleared up so that by mid-day we discarded our Denham jackets.  Our haversack rations were soon disposed of at lunchtime after which I met Raymond Bloomfield & had a chat with him for a short while.

It was dark when we got back to Shafa Amr & we were all very tired and dirty.

Saturday, 23 February 2013

11th & 12th February, 1947 - More fun with guns!... and "Every Kiss a Thrill!"

Tuesday, 11th February, 1947

I felt much better this morning.  Arms Drill “Slope & Order Arms”

Arabic with an officious new teacher.

A stack of mail came in today including three Valentines, a letter from Aunt Rosa, 2 from Mum & Dad & 1 from Joyce.

Wrote to Mum Dad and Joyce (15)

Wednesday, 12th February, 1947
Fine again today, brilliant sunshine.

P.T. at 6am – 6.30am.
Parades and lectures during morning.  More rifle drill.  I am afraid one of these fine days I am going to turn about so well that my rifle will be so surprised that it will not accompany me but drop to the ground.

This afternoon we spent digging out a rifle range at the rear of the camp.
The ground was nearly all stone bound together with sandy soil so was very hard even with picks and shovels.

I wrote to Aunt Fan early in the evening, then went to the cinema to see “Honky Tonk” starring Lana Turner.  It was a very good film, of old time America.

Wrote to Aunt Rhoda and Uncle Sam.

Wednesday, 20 February 2013

8th - 10th February - Ron complains about the dirt and the recruits are warned about VD!

Saturday, 8th February, 1947
This morning we had the usual Interior Economy in which the Barrack Room was washed out and the dexterity of the inmates made the floor more dirty than it was prior to washing.  We also had a lecture by the S.M.O. on V.D.  His Arabic English was difficult to follow but we got the gist of it.

This was followed by the theory and practice of Riot Drill in which stones were thrown with pleasure at some of our felloe recruits protected by shields & pick shafts This evening I went to the camp cinema to see “Strike Up The Band” starring Judy Garland and Mickey Rooney.

Sunday, 9th February, 1947
It has been a really glorious day today.  Most of us treated it as a true day of rest.  I was on “stand-to” over night but one of the chaps on guard took my T.M.C. back for me.  I scrubbed my webbing white & spent the remainder of the morning, afternoon & evening playing pontoon.  Over the day I won 200mils.  Tonight party sent out to Shafa Amr.  “Wog” riot rumoured.

Monday, 1oth February, 1947
Glorious weather again today.

I came over bilious during the morning & felt very ill at lunch time.

I went sick during the afternoon & was excused drill.

I went to bed early & got a long night’s rest.

Tuesday, 19 February 2013

5th - 7th, February, 1947 - Ron seems to enjoy his cinema trips but not so sure about shouldering arms!

Wednesday, 5th February, 1947
Fine again today.
Operation “Polly” (Evacuation) over.
Law starts again.
This afternoon we helped clear the very soggy football pitch of stones & put up the goal posts.
Received letter (3) from Mum & Dad & letter from Joyce.
Sent letter to Mum & Dad (12)

Went to see the film “The Hidden Eye.”  It was quite good but I had seen it before.

Wrote to Joyce. (13)

Thursday, 6th February, 1947
Fine today.  Very hot at mid-day.

Received a letter from Aunt Fan today.  Wrote to Mum, Dad & Joyce (14) Photos.

On guard tonight.  Full moon and quite mild to start with but later in night became cold.
Strengthen my grip on Arabic.

Friday, 7th February, 1947
Fine again this morning but breezes kept cool what would otherwise be a hot day.

A & B squads very proud this morning with their newly gained rifles slung on their shoulders.  We get ours next Friday I believe.

This lunch time I wrote to Aunt Glad and Uncle Will.

We had our first arms drill this afternoon.  I never before realised how difficult it is to throw a rifle about.  My left shoulder from “shouldering arms” is quite bruised and sore.

Monday, 18 February 2013

3rd & 4th February, 1947 - More cinema, the wives and children leave and Ron finds out more about the task ahead...

Monday, 3rd February, 1947
Fine this morning but showery at lunchtime.

This morning the P.M.F. sergeants have had their true police ranks granted.  1st B Serge down to 2nd & 2nd B Serg. Either down to acting unpaid or to B.C. [British Constable]

We had our first lecture on map reading on Palestinian maps.  The only differences are the symbols – many additional ones of course, such as mosques and minarets, sheikh’s tombs etc.

Went this evening to see “The Great Waltz”.  I saw this before in England but this did not spoil my enjoyment of every moment of it.

Bob received a Xmas cake from his home today and he kindly shared it with me.

After the stirring music of Strauss & the home thoughts stirred by the cake I went to bed in a very happy frame of mind.

Tuesday, 4th February, 1947
Fine today.

The British wives in the station left today for their evacuation with them went their children.[1]  The sergeants accompanied their wives away from the station so we were left very much to our own devices.

We had a very interesting lecture by Sergeant Palfreman on road checks.  This lecture opened my eyes to the many things hitherto undreamed of by me to which we may be called upon to act when we pass out from our training.  I hear today that the government have issued an ultimatum to the Jewish agency in so much that if they do not decide within the next few days to help us clear out the terrorists then we shall take it fully into our own hands.  Pointing again to Martial Law.

[1] Pathé News reel of Operation Polly

31st January - 2nd February, 1947 - Terrorist activity leads to the evacuation of the British women and children

Friday, 31st January, 1947
Very heavy thunderstorms during night & continued periodically during night.  I was taken ill at 5 o’clock this morning after medicine received last night.  We were late  for parade this morning so told to parade at 5pm.

One of the chaps in the hut went into Haifa today & brought back two films I had developed.  Much “Bull Shitting” in hut & indeed all over camp tonight in preparation of grand parade tomorrow.

We had a petty test on small arms this afternoon.

Wireless anncts. Tonight say “all British Women & Children will leave Palestine & remaining British Personnel will be guarded  'so that army can get on with the job' ”

British Police living away from their stations must move into their stations.  Operation “Booker” came into operation this afternoon.

Saturday, 1st February, 1947
Showery this morning, clearing during the day.  We had our law examination this morning.  Also inspection by A/ASP [Acting Assistant Superintendent of Police] Rowland Timms.  Sorted out my mail this afternoon.

Went to camp cinema this evening to see Micky Rooney and Judy Garland in “Babes on Broadway”

Sunday, 2nd February, 1947
Fine this morning.
I sorted out the snaps I have to send home.
Wrote home (11) and enclosed snaps.  Wrote to Aunt May [enclosed] snap.  Wrote to Aunt Daisy.

Wednesday, 13 February 2013

29th & 30th, January - Ron is still poorly but the abducted Judge is released

Wednesday, 29th January, 1947

Muddy this morning but not raining.  I reported sick after P.T. at 6.45.  The M.O. told me to abandon the reduced diet & go back to full diet for two days & see how this affects me.  We were told this morning that the Abducted Judge had been released & that Police had not found the Major.  The Airborne rumours seem to have been unconfounded [unconfirmed?].

We were paid today £P16.200m.

Heard from Mum.

Wrote to Joyce & Mum & Dad (2, 9 & 10)

Thursday, 30th January, 1947
Fine this morning.

Had lecture from A.I.G. Brig Ferguson on the conditions in Palestine at the moment.  He told us that the abducted Major was released last night when the curfew had been lifted for a while for the specific purpose.  The condemned terrorist has appealed against his sentence.  Dov Grumer[1] is his name & he took part in the attack on Ramit Gan Police Station last April, being left mortally wounded by his companions.

[1]Dov Grumer (or sometimes Gruner) was executed on 22 April 1947 

Monday, 11 February 2013

27th & 28th January, 1947 Ron reports on recent Irgun activity...

Monday, 27th January, 1947
Ron's sister, my Auntie Joyce,
and his Mum, Florence Gladys
with Biddy and Chang the Pekinese...
Slept from 12 midnight to 4am when I did the second part of my guard.  Cold wind still blowing.  Received a copy of C.C.O.[1] today.  Heard today that at 5pm yesterday a retired British Major[2] in Jerusalem had been abducted by the Jewish Terrorists.  Also today 8 of these terrorists, armed, entered a District court Session in Tel Aviv & abducted the President of the Court.  Unofficially I heard today that 12 airborne Soldiers had been abducted with a threat that they will be “Publicly” hung if the death sentence on the captured terrorist is fulfilled.

Heard from Joyce today.

I am on “stand to” tonight.
Still on sick list.

[1] Not sure what C.C.O. refers to - anyone know?
[2]Reported in Hansard, and In the Jewish Telegraphic Agency Major H. A. I. Collins was abducted from his Jerusalem flat.  Judge Ralph Windham was abducted in Tel Aviv by eight armed men.

Tuesday, 28th January, 1947
Raining this morning  - no parades.

Had lecture at lunchtime by the Chief Padre of the Palestine Police.

We were told today that the High Commissioner had summoned the two leaders of the Jews in this country & gave them an ultimatum in so much that if by 12.13pm tomorrow the Judge and Major abducted were not returned, certain areas of Palestine would be put under Martial law.

I have reported sick again twice today with no improvement.

This evening the car used in the abduction of the judge in Tel Aviv was found in North Haifa.

24th - 26th January, 1947 - Ron reports sick

Friday, 24th January, 1947
Very wet again today.
Lectures on Arabic.  L.M.G. Rifle, Law and First Aid continue.
My diarrhoea has continued also.
Received letter from home today No1.

Saturday, 25th January, 1947
Not raining today.  Reported sick.  We had our first official period of “Internal Economy” here today.  All recreation trucks to Haifa have been cancelled until further notice.  This is because one of the last caught terrorists is to be hanged and his pals have threatened if the sentence is fulfilled to hang any Police or Soldiers they can.  Troops have been confined aswell.

We had Identification Parade today as one of the Canteen Wogs[1] was found wearing a K.D. shirt.  He said it was sold him by one of the recruits.  He picked a most unlikely chap at this Parade.  Wog put in lock up.  Went to camp film show to see “Her Highness and The Bell Boy”

Sunday, 26th January, 1947
Very fine this morning but chilly.  Reported sick again though feel better.  Wrote to Joyce and to Mum & Dad. (7 & 8)

On guard tonight from 10-12 o’clock.  From 6 – 10 we talked with 1st Sergeant Jones, a man of great experience in the Near East.

He corrected the impression I had that Arab girls do not go to school.

From 10 – 12 a very cold East Wind blowing.

[1] I refer the reader to the discussion of racist language in the first post of this blog

Sunday, 10 February 2013

22nd and 23rd January, 1947 - Ron appreciates a change in the rations but has little time for some comrades!

Wednesday, 22nd January, 1947
Not raining today.
Lectures this morning.
Received letter from Mrs Carney.  Spent the afternoon with the other trainees making up the roads in the camp.
Received two letters, one from Dad and one from Joyce.

Food situation greatly improved.  Sergeant Murdoch present in dining Hall & at lunchtime the greater majority received “Back Sheesh” lunches.  This evening we had soup and bread at 7.30pm as extra.

Wrote to Mrs Carney.

Thursday, 23rd January, 1947
Light showers today but heavy rain last night.  Our squad warned that it is the most backward.  This is thanks to such men as O’Rourke who when he hears a five word sentence cannot repeat it.

I must stick into some swotting for the pending month ending examination.

Wrote Uncle Ronald and Home No.6 with photo of me with Arab Head-dress

Saturday, 9 February 2013

20th and 21st January, 1947 - Ron tries the new camp cinema and benefits from someone else complaining...

Monday, 20th January, 1947
Raining streams this morning.

Usual lectures and the beginning of a series of lectures on First Aid which may end in our taking the St John’s exam.  This evening I went to the camp cinema which has just been set up and housed in the mess hall.  There are three performances each week, entrance fee 50mils for B.C.’s and 75 for sergeants.  The film showing this evening was the “Broadway Rhythm.”

Tuesday, 21st January, 1947
Rain stops parades once more.  Camp swamped out.  One of the trainees here took my two films into Haifa to get them developed.  A complaint was lodged by a chap from another squad about the smallness of our meals of late.  We left it as it was before as we thought the deficiency was due to settling in.  This chap kept his breakfast of a small piece of liver & a few carrots & potato & took it to the commanding officer Mr McCloud.  He agreed with the complainant and the rest of the meals have been, today, very good.

Received a letter from home today – it was posted on 12.1.47 and arrives in Shafa Amr today.  Wrote reply to it tonight.

Irgun Zvi Leumi [1] threaten to attack Police installations tonight

Monday, 4 February 2013

18th and 19th January - Ron takes a trip to Haifa - but it's closed!

Saturday, 18th January, 1947
"January 19th 1947
Shafa Amr Police Training Depot
Group on a Sanger
with "Wilson Brown" Police Station
Right to left
Ron Brown  Jock Bruce  Blondy Pierson
Lofty Spencer (Ganet)  Paddy Graham

A Storm coming up so hurried snap."
Fine Today.  Lectures & Drill in the morning.  Passed the afternoon “Bull shitting” boots.

Heard this afternoon that it is my turn to go to Haifa on the “Passion Wagon”.  Left camp at 6.30pm with a party of 20 on a three ton truck bound for Haifa.

From 6.30pm Friday to 6.30pm Saturday Jewish Sabbath.  Not many shops reopen on Saturday night so not much to do.  All cafĂ©’s & bars in Kingsway & Jaffa Rd. out of bounds.  I went to St Andrews Club for something to eat and wandered Haifa with another chap who used to be here in the R.A.F.  Several of our 20 inebriated, (fools to call it enjoyment)  [Ha! ...Dad enjoyed the odd pint of Tanglefoot later in life!]

Bought watch £4.10s [1]

Sunday, 19th January
Rained slightly this morning after we had scrubbed out Barrack room.
Police Band gave recital at one o’clock today.  Very good.  Band composed of German Jews.  Finished Letter No. 3 home.  Wrote Joyce No. 4.  Billiard table now in use.  Played on it tonight.  Very Good. Lost Game.

[1] I remember this watch well.  Dad wore it for many years until one day, after mislaying it, he discovered it in the ashes of a garden bonfire he had made a few days before.

17th January, 1947 - Ron on night guard duty... the first of many.

Friday, 17th January, 1947
A very good night on guard.  Cold wind but dry.  T.A.C. from 8 – 10pm could not speak much English & was inclined to be lazy.  I slept from 10pm – 2am then went on guard from 2am to 4am with a new T.A.C.  This one was very cheerful and wide awake & spoke very good English.  He was a Moslem and told me of his religion.  I told him of English ways of farming.  This last guard soon went by.  Came off at 6 o’clock.

Mugshots of Menachem Begin, arrested 1940
Commander of the Irgun from 1943 - 1948
No P.T. Inspected on Parade by B.I. Trehern - not too good a turn out.  Blanchard displeased, so stiff Drill.  Fine all day.  Heard that N.M.O.[1] has declared they will kill any policeman they find, where the chances of their being caught are few.  Not a new threat however.  C.I.D. Bulletin report Arab castrated after acquittal on charge of raping Jewish Girl.  Jews in trucks.  [ - Can't say I really understand this remark!]  Wrote home (3).

[1] The NMO, or "National Military Organisation in the Land of Israel" was also known as The Irgun.  This was regarded as a terrorist organisation with the Zionist goal of creating an Israeli state - it's logo; a fist gripping a rifle, with the legend 'Only Thus'.  The Irgun Commander in Chief at this time was Menachem Begin - later to become 6th Prime Minister of Israel

16th January, 1947 - Ron is out on Cross Country manouvres

Thursday, 16th January, 1947
Fine again today.
Sergeants Palfreman & Blanchard away on a case in Jerusalem.  To occupy the two squads we were sent out on a manouver.  At 8.15am we were briefed in camp.  Six of the forty six were sent on to hide in a prearranged cave, unknown to the rest of us, at about five miles distant to the camp on the Horsha to Shafa Amr track.  I remembered this cave from our trip on Sunday.  We were split into three squads under squad commanders nominated by ourselves.  Simkiss[1] was ours.  We single filed from the camp at 09.30 and after a fairly stiff cross country march we arrived on the hill above the cave at 1300 hrs.  Our squad & another were good but the third squad commander lost command of his squad & arrived in the rear of his squad.  We then went onto another ruin where the commanders were hiking up.  Quarry blasting mistaken for advance signal so it fell through.  20 miles.  Am on guard tonight, first guard 8 – 10pm.

[1]3557   8829  William Ernest Simkiss   B/C Born 15.9.1928  service commenced 3.12.1946   A&T Shafr - Bethlehem  12.3.1948

Sunday, 3 February 2013

14th and 15th January - Quiet days for Ron... learning Arabic and Army expectations.

General Richard Gale

Tuesday, 14th January, 1947
Rain Continues.  No Parardes.  Lecture by General R. Gale O.C. 1st Division of army in Palestine.  He talked to us on the reasons for the army and its duty in Palestine & what it wanted from the Police.  Very little happened today.  I wrote to Mrs Catley this evening – also Miss Wilson.

Wednesday, 15th January, 1947
Not Raining this morning so Parades continued as normal.  Did not rain all day.  Our first Arabic lesson[1] today.  After lunch, as recreational training we went for a five mile cross country route march up over the jebels, under Serg. Cass as guide.  Wrote to Dave.

[1]Dad always blamed his acquiring of Arabic for the deterioration of his grasp of French!  He clung on to a few phrases of Arabic which he would sprinkle into conversation.  My knowledge of Arabic is non-existent however and so in order to repeat them here I rely on phonetic representations... "Inshallah" - meaning "God willing" and " "A'halin musa'halin mor u'haputein" for which I have no definition.  If any reader with a knowledge of Arabic can hazard a translation I'd be grateful!

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