Eric Farthing talking about the murder of the two sergeants


"My name is Eric Farthing. I served in Palestine in the 4th/7th Royal Dragoon Guards from late 1946 until the end of the Mandate in June 1948. When I first got there were were an armoured car regiment. We had Staghound armoured cars and from the time we arrived there there were daily reports of terrorism activity against British personnel, vehicles, British military establishments and so forth. It got much worse as time went on. But the most serious episode I was involved with was an incident which is well-known in some circles these days, the kidnapping and murder of two sergeants of Intelligence Corps.

"They were kidnapped from a café in Nethanya in the early hours of the morning and as a result we had Nethanya under Martial Law for three weeks searching for them. We used to take over from the infantry at dusk and then patrolled the town in pairs of vehicles until we were relieved by the Infantry just after daybreak. We never found the two sergeants.

"Subsequently, Irgun, the Jewish terrorist organization, broadcast on their radio that they had been executed and told us where we could find them in a described eucalyptus grove. What they didn't tell us was that the bodies had been booby-trapped and when the young officer from, I believe, the Coldstream Guards, went to cut them down he was rather badly wounded. (30th July 1947)

"That atrocity was carried out by Menachim Begin who, and this point always sticks in my throat, went on to become Prime Minister of Israel. We susequently discovered that these two sergeants had been held from the time they had been caputured in a disused diamond polishing factory on the outskirts of Nethanya. Where they were eventually murdered by strangulation before they were taken to the eucalyptus grove I mentioned earlier. I have always found it extremely ironical that while we had Nethanya under Martial Law for three weeks for some inexplicable reason that factory was never searched and if we had been on to it in time we might well have saved the lives of those two NCOs. However, that was it."

Recorded 4th November 2010, Gloucester