Thursday, 28 March 2013

19th & 20th March, 1947 - Ron's first Lock Up guard duty...

Wednesday, 19th March, 1947
A fine morning.  I spent it playing draughts in the recreation room.  In the afternoon I played tennis on the hard court at the rear of our club.

My Pal and I enjoyed our far from expert play.  The only inconvenience of having a tennis court attached to the Police Station is that the Sergeant has only to put his head out of the window & you are on the job.  He nabbed us two for night guard duties in the Lock-Up.  This guard is only on such occasions as this when two brothers were being held charged with treble murder & armed robbery.  Our duty was to take the form of 4 hour shifts so that the hours of darkness were split up among the three of us.  My lot fell from 2am – 6am in the morning.
I spent the evening at the Club playing ‘snooker’ and table-tennis & listening [to] the radiogram.

Thursday, 20th March, 1947
this is an article on sir Charles Tegart who designed the Police Forts,
 subsequently known as 'Taggarts' within which Ron lived
and served during his time in Palestine

I was called at 1.30 this morning to go on duty as Guard at the Lock Up.  I had never been in a Lock Up before so it held quite a deal of interest for me.  There were eight cells holding 68 prisoners so it can be guessed some of them were very large.  There were only three small cells built to hold two prisoners each.  My wards had a cell each.  Fortunately they were quiet and slept most of the four hours.
I slept during the remainder of the morning.  I answered letters in the afternoon prior to attending an Arabic lecture at 3.

In the evening I was on Special Guard in the Lock Up.  I cannot think of anything more disconcerting that to stand guard outside a cell & have the prisoner, accused of triple murder, triple manslaughter, attempted murder etc staring out of the murky interior at every move one makes.

Tuesday, 26 March 2013

17th - 18th March, 1947 - Rain! Good or bad? Depends on your perspective

Monday, 17th March, 1947
Today the weather took a change and became showery.

What a terrific contrast in the way the peoples of two countries look on rain.  At home we are always inclined to grumble when it rains whereas here the Arabs become very cheerful.  I was chatting to one on some petty subject or other when we heard the start of a shower of rain outside.  At once his face lit up, “Fi shitta, qwise kitteen,” he said (Good, it’s raining.)  It just shows how the subject of rain is at the back of the minds of these people whose country so badly need rain for the greater part of the year.

It is my turn for Prowler Guard tonight from 12pm to 6am.  Oh blow it’s going to rain.

Tuesday, 18th March, 1947
I came off Prowler Guard very tired this morning & wasted no time getting to bed where I slept soundly until lunchtime.

I lazed the afternoon away reading novelettes.  The evening I spent brushing up on my draughtsmanship.

Monday, 25 March 2013

14th - 16th March, 1947 - Escort duties continue then to local Cinema and sight seeing...

Friday, 14th March, 1947
This morning commencing dull & oppressive developed into heavy rain from 8am to 12 midday.

During this time I was on escort to a Ford 2 car carrying a B/C on the first part of his journey home on compassionate leave.  This took us to Ramle just south of Lydda[1]

On the Main road I saw my first signs of Martial Law.  At every second telegraph pole a ‘Bren’ position has been set up along the road, which is buzzing with army trucks & cars, four of the former we saw over turned in the side of the road.  Every truck that passed us sent up a shower of mud after it which gave the windscreen wipers great pleasure in smearing evenly over the window.  The driver had to get out and de-mud the screen at one time.

[1]Now know as Ramla and Lod

Saturday, 15th March, 1947
A fine day on which I was not called upon for duty.  I spent the time reading and answering letters.

In the evening I decided to sample the Wog* Cinema.  It was only the width of the screen but quite a respectable length.  We “honoured” the cinema by sitting in the best seats, wooden benches which were otherwise unoccupied.  The cheaper seats were quite full.  The two films shown were “South of Cata Fey[Santa Fe]” & “South Carolina” both Cow Boy.
Jacob's Well

Sunday, 16th March, 1947
A lovely day today.
I was called out just before lunch to join five others to a truck which went to Kilo 41, the District Boundary, to pick up the Chief Secretary who went to lunch with the District Commissioner. 
After lunch, Graham & I went for a walk to see Jacob’s Well on the outskirts of Nablus.

*Usual apologies for racial language!

Saturday, 23 March 2013

12th & 13th March, 1947 - Two rather contrasting escort experiences and a close call for the Super.

Wednesday, 12th March, 1947
Today though chilly at first cleared up and became very warm by mid-day.

This morning I accompanied as escort, the convoy.  The journey of 120 Kilos was a rather hair raising experience as the driver, apparently unconsciously, drove at such a speed that the canvas hood, put up to shield us from the wind held on very insecurely by odd pieces of cord & wire, persisted in breaking loose in odd places so that between keeping ourselves on, the canvas on and keeping clear of flying cords, we had a full time job on.  At one stage we gave it up as hopeless & resolved ourselves to the uncomfortable but safe position on the floor.  The wireless operator’s batteries then broke loose as also did his description of the driver.

Thursday, 13th March, 1947
I don't know if this is the type but ...
This morning I was called out on my first personal escort duty.  The Superintendent drove the “Chevrolet” with myself seated comfortably beside him.  After travelling the Jenin road on the back of a 15cwt truck the same journey in this car seemed a joyride.  Instead of dropping into every pothole we seemed to glide over the top of them.
The police post we visited in which I found Eric Carter, is reputed to be the best in the country.  Whether it is unusual to receive visitors at the post or not I do not know but I was told by Eric that on the approach of the Super the alarm was given & Carter found himself on top of the tower ready to man the Bren gun.

We had an Arabic lecture this afternoon from an Arab who not only speaks English but has a system of presentation.

Thursday, 21 March 2013

10th & 11th March, 1947 - Prowler and explosive escort duty

Monday, 10th March, 1947
Today was spent quietly in the billet.  In the evening my duty was that of prowler guard from 6pm12 midnight.  This duty entails a strict watch be kept on each of the six T.A.C.[1] guards, by patrolling anywhere within the perimeter wire.  Also patrolling from one tower across the roof to the other tower.
These are the only station guard duties we are called upon to perform so for myself I find them much lighter than those at Shafa Amr.

Tuesday, 11th March, 1947
This morning I was up at six in order to be ready for my duties at 7.30am.

My duties this morning was to accompany another B/C [2] on a P.W.D. truck carrying glycerine.  We went with the empty truck to Tulquarm where after a delay we collected two boxes of the explosive.

We took these to a distant village, Sulphit(?) where they were to be used for making a cistern by the school for the schools use & for irrigation.  I had a long talk with the head-master.  I found him very well spoken & versed in present day affairs.  He also held very strong views on teaching many of which I had to agree with him upon.  He does not like anyone to have a text book other than the teacher.  This policy has been argued upon & I find there is much to be said for it & against it.

[1] Temporary Additional Constable
[2] British Constable

Sunday, 17 March 2013

7th - 9th March, 1947 - Ron's on escort duty.

Friday, 7th March, 1947
This morning after a fine breakfast, Graham, Mountford & myself reported at the M.T. yard to act as escorts for the convoy truck which does the following trip every morning.

We first went to K.41 where we met a similar truck from Jerusalem carrying mail for us & convoying two civilian V.I.P’s cars.  We turned about and taking the cars into convoy took them back to Nablus & onto Jenin where we handed them over with mail to the Haifa convoy.

Nablus in 1947-8ish
Spending an hour in Jenin then we returned once more to K.41 and then to Nablus where it was now 2.30pm & where an excellent lunch awaited immediate attention.

Cards passed the evening away with a letter home to fill up time.

Saturday, 8th March, 1947
This morning we did a repeat journey of yesterday’s escorting finishing at 3 in the afternoon.

We had just finished lunch when a sergeant asks us to go out on a truck with him to find a motorcycle which had broken through a road check in Jenin carrying a Jew and a Jewess.

We found them about 20 kilos from Nablus at Kilo.85 parked by the side of the road with a flat tyre.  The sergeant, satisfied they were not terrorists and after discussion, piled them onto the truck & back to Nablus Garage for repairs.

Sunday, 9th March, 1947
Beautiful sunshine all day.

We were not called upon for duty today so spent it idling the time away in the barrack room, reading & playing “Nap”.

Thursday, 14 March 2013

5th & 6th March, 1947 - A slow start: bored with playing cards, the new constables are eager to volunteer.

Wednesday, 5th March, 1947
We woke this morning after a sound nights rest to find it dull outside.

We were called at 10am for an interview with the Station Officer who asked us a few questions and gave us a short talk telling us that our work for our first two months here would consist mainly of guards, escorts & study.  He dismissed us with a few words of advice & we returned to our room.

A Euchre hand consisting of the five highest cards in play
(with spades as the trump suit): Jack of Spades,
Jack of Clubs, Ace of Spades, King of Spades,
and Queen of Spades

The remainder of the day I read books & joined the others in a game or two of Nap.

Thursday, 6th March, 1947
Today a showery, dull day we spent in idling our time away, getting browned off waiting for something to do.

We had just settled down to a game of Nap in the billet when a sergeant rushed in & asked for two volunteers to go on as escort on a truck going out to tow in another which had broken down at Kilo. 48.  Mountford & I got the job & rushed off in a half armour plated truck.

We stopped and searched two trucks & an Arab driving a donkey but found nothing on any of them.  We also did not find, after climbing the mountain to Kilo. 41, any sign of the truck.  It was subsequently found at Kilo.38. & was an armoured car we had to tow.

Wednesday, 13 March 2013

3rd & 4th March, 1947 - Ron Passes Out! and the newly commissioned police constables receive their orders...

Monday, 3rd March, 1947
Today started dull & rather cool compared with the previous week.  We were thankful for this on this our day of Passing Out as no-one wished to drop his rifle or his body to the ground as a result of the heat.
We were inspected by the District Super. & we marched past him in very fine style.  I was never before so moved as I was by opening bars of the march.

Jenin Taggart (police station) is in the middle distance
We received our postings in the evening.  I am for Samaria.  This may mean Jenin Taggart but too near Depot for comfort.

In the late evening free beer & eats were provided & everyone from the O.C. to Sergs were canned.  Eggs and beer flew like wild fire.  We returned a little the worse for wear but nevertheless happy and content after midnight.

Tuesday, 4th March, 1947
At 4.30am this morning we were called for breakfast on the day of our journeying to our posts.

Paddy Graham
After last minute packing & jumping upon case & box to close the lids on the crammed contents had been concluded and the kit piled on the scene of yesterday’s March Past, we were set to await the transport to our new homes.

At 8.30 we set forth along the roads inland.  We came to Jenin where the party of 20 was split into 3.   Some going to Tulquarm and others remaining at Jenin while Graham, Reilly, Barclay, Mountford & McGill and myself continued our journey to Nablus.  Here we lunched and all settled into one barrack room.

We had a rough survey given us by the Sergeant who then left us to ourselves.  We went for a stroll around the town and found it very interesting in its two sections, modern & old.

Monday, 11 March 2013

28th February - 2nd March, 1947 Small arms and grenades training, a trip to Haifa and more preparation for passing out...

Friday, 28th February, 1947
At 10.30 this morning we left the camp for a trip to Jenin where we fired pistol and threw hand grenades.

We fired 10 rounds on pistol, 5 from the hip & 5 from the shoulder at a No 2 Target.

We finished Pistol just before lunch, which we had in Jenin Camp.  I saw Bloomfield who told me he had passed out in front of D.I. G- and I was now preparing for a passing out Parade before the High Commissioner this is to be filmed I believe.

After lunch we threw 2 grenades each.  I admit I did not like the thought of this but everything passed uneventfully.

This fine morning we had a full dress rehearsal of the Passing Out Parade.

In the afternoon 5 from each truck were allowed into Haifa.  Myself & Graham were lucky enough to go together.  Jock Wilton joined the party & we strolled around Haifa.  We had our photo taken & I bought a snap shot album for £1.500.  We went into the Queen’s Bar & had a drink or two.

Sunday, 2nd March, 1947
Another very fine day.  The morning was spent in last minute “bull-shitting” of equipment for the passing out parade.  Another full dress rehearsal before the District Superintendent took place this afternoon with the Police Band playing the march.

[1]This picture is sourced from a website by Pat Byrne, an Irish recruit to the Palestine Police whose own account based on letters he wrote home to his father gives an interesting parallel to Ron's.  I haven't been able to contact Pat, to whom I offer my thanks, and don't think the two would have met, despite the fact that many of their experiences took place in the same locations.

Sunday, 10 March 2013

26th & 27th February, 1947 - Ron sits though an exam and some rather dubious entertainment.

Wednesday, 26th February, 1947
More swotting & practice for Passing Out Parade.

I received a parcel containing digests & a book by J.B.Priestly called 3 Men With New Suits.

I went on guard at 6 o’clock & spent an uneventful night walking up & down.

Thursday, 27th February, 1947
The day we have been working for during the last two months is upon us.  The day of the law exam.

From 8.30 – 12.30 we all sat in the canteen puzzling out the answers of the 10 questions out of 12 we had to answer.

The examination, I thought was not terribly hard though some of the questions needed a little thinking about.

The afternoon was passed by a lecture from Mr Rowland Tims & the evening’s enjoyment was provided by Spinneys[1] in as much as he sold us the Gold Star.

Williams and Ingledew gave us a lively time dressing themselves up as wogs: Ingledew playing “In a Persian Garden” while Williams does a dance and entices a rifle sling snake out of a wicker basket.

[1]Founded in 1924, Spinneys distributed goods to British nationals in the Near East initially those involved in the Palestine railways.  Spinneys is still a major chain of supermarkets throughout the region.  I haven't been able to establish what the "Gold Star" refers to unless it was simply a brand of beer!

Thursday, 7 March 2013

24th & 25th February, 1947 - More preparations for passing out and Ron has to make a decision about his future.

 Monday, 24th February, 1947
Today was another fine day, far too fine as regards heat we thought while practising for the passing out Parade.  We also spent part of the morning in swotting for the Law Exam.
Freight Train sabotaged by Jewish activists, Jaffa 1946
 Source: wikipedia

This afternoon we had a very interesting lecture from the Haifa C.I.D. bomb disposal division.
He explained many booby-traps used by the terrorists against us.

 Tuesday, 25th February, 1947
Another really hot day, but not according to the drill sergeant.

We spent the day in further preparations for the Law Exam & the passing out Parade which we are not told will be taken by the Inspector General & the march past will be to the music of the Police Band.

Myself and about 10 others were this afternoon offered positions with the C.I.D.
The majority of us declined the offer.  For myself I thought it over quickly and decided that I would not stand a very good chance to get on outside work which I want & even if I did change my mind after a few months experience in a Police Station I could apply for the C.I.D. course after obtaining my proficiency pay.

Wednesday, 6 March 2013

21st - 23rd February, 1947 - Ron and his comrades prepare for the Passing Out Parade and enjoy further tours of the region.

Friday, 21st February, 1947
Quite a nice day today but the strong winds of the last few days have persisted causing the sergeants no little inconvenience with their caps on the Parade Ground.

We have been practising more general salutes & march pasts for the day we are all looking forward to after two months.

The trip our squad had been expecting tomorrow has been cancelled as the standard or law over the whole squad is not very good so more lectures have to take place.

Saturday, 22nd February, 1947
This morning the weather was dull but threatening rain did not fall.

We spent a considerable amount of time practising the drill for the passing out parade.  The left-turn on the march presented the greatest difficulty unison being absent in this movement.

Sunday, 23rd February, 1947
Today we went for another tour.  This time we forsook the hills for the south plain.  We first however went to Nazareth where we spent an half hour.  Then we went to Afala and on [to] Tulquarm and across the wide fertile plain to Atlit the last stronghold held by the Crusaders.  We had our lunch on the beach here and I went in for a swim.  Bob Matthews accompanied me on a tour of the ruins.  The Arabs with fair hair are said to be descendants of the Crusaders.

Tuesday, 5 March 2013

19th & 20th February, 1947 - A trip to Acre and a talk on Dysentery

Wednesday, 19th February, 1947
As a privilege for my lucky position in the results of the law exam I went today with another squad on a tour of the Galilee district.

We set out at 8.00am in a 30 ton truck & 15cwt truck I rode in the 15cwt which took the lead, carrying A/ASP Mr Rowland Tims.  We first went to Acre* where we saw the 2000 year old prison built by the Romans.  Our next stop after travelling northward parallel to the frontier road & 4 kilos from it up terrifically high hills with sheer drops on one side of the road was Tashiha, a picturesque town set in the hills.  We then left the first class road and took a second class road to Safad.  This entailed more travelling up hill until we were 4000ft above sea level.  Leaving Safad we reached a point from which we could see Lake Tiberias & the Mediterranean.  We lunched by the Lake and some swam in it.  We travelled back to Shafa Amr which we reached at 4.30 having travelled 121 miles.

*Follow the link to Wikipedia description of Acre Prison break

Thursday, 20th February, 1947
A Dull morning with strong winds blowing all day.

We had another lecture from the M.O. this one on “Disentry” (Dysentery)

I began serious swotting for the Law Exam on next Thursday.

Practice for the Passing Out Parade took quite a period of our time this morning.

I sent a letter home today & enclosed the snaps taken in Horsha.

Monday, 4 March 2013

17th & 18th February, 1947 - Ron hears about the difficulties in countering terrorism...

Monday, 17th February, 1947
A messy morning turning into showers during the lunch hour & continued so throughout the day.

This afternoon we had what I considered to be one of the most interesting lectures I have had here yet.
It was given by an Inspector in the C.I.D. Haifa & was concerned primarily with the works of Jewish terrorists.
He said in his opinion these terrorists could never be beaten but they could and were being “nibbled” at by the quiet everyday police work.  By careful observance for slips, many terrorists had been caught but their organisation was so thorough as to be almost indestructible

This evening I went to see a film called “She Went to the Races” starring James Craig.  The story was very petty & the acting poor.  I received mail from Mum, Joyce and Aunt Daisy.

Tuesday, 18th February, 1947
Showery today.

We went through our usual training with an emphasis on the pistol, otherwise the day was very uneventful.

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