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Palestine: events in 1945


"It again became necessary to take defensive precautions, so barbed wire entanglements were erected around camps and police stations, and trip flares set up. Tin cans were also hung on the wires to help sentries detect any movement of intruders. Jackals and 'pi dogs', however, often set off the trip flares and it was felt too expensive to keep replacing them, so we mainly relied on the tin cans!" Palestine Betrayed, Robin Martin

Compared with elsewhere, Palestine had been quiet during the war but by the end of 1945 violence was beginning to build up. Public buildings, banks, post offices were regularly attacked by gangsters and stone-throwing mobs and armed terrorists in British uniforms were stealing arms from wherever they could. In November the High Commissioner, Lord Gort was replaced by another British general, Sir Alan Cunningham who General Montgomery thought too soft. Not so many troops were killed by terrorists this year though many died from sickness or vehicle or other accidents.

In 1945 service men and women were still able to use public transport and even hitch lifts. Daphne Mawby remembers walking back to her billet at night alone along the beach: something that would soon be unthinkable. As the violence increased life for everyone changed dramatically.

Most refugees were keen to get home, having considered their stay in Palestine as only temporary but the Jewish Agency made great efforts to prevent Jewish refugees from leaving. Sadly, many refugees had no home to go to or their country was now occupied by the Russians and the US or Canada were unwilling to take them; Europe was struggling with the aftermath of war so didn't want them either. Some returning Greek refugees were most unfortunate when their ship, Empire Patrol, sank after a fire.

The table records deaths of British troops and Palestine Policemen but other significant incidents are also included. It is not exhaustive and can only give some idea of what was going on. The fighting was relentless and so-called revenge and retaliation attacks neverending. Quotes come from the MOD Roll of Honour. Please let me know of any inaccuracies. A detailed and referenced account of incidents can be found in Issa Nakhleh's Palestine Encyclopaedia.

Feb 25 Terrorists attack airfields at Lydda, Petah Tikvah, and Qastina, destroying seven aircraft and damaging eight others.
May 8 VE Day - the war in Europe is over and troops are eager to leave the army and go home, not continue in action in Palestine.
Jul 13 BC George Wilde (41); killed on duty.
Aug 14 VJ Day, Japan surrenders unconditionally. Unfortunately Allied troops did not arrive for more than a fortnight giving the Japanese time to murder many prisoners and try to eradicate evidence of medical experimentation and POW camps. See 'The Final Betrayal' by Mark Felton.
Aug 25 BC Bertie Sharpley (32); killed on duty (shot by a prisoner).
Aug   World Zionist Congress in London resolved that Palestine be immediately established as a Jewish state.
Sep 28 BC James Barry (26); "Shot and killed at the central post office Tel-Aviv by two young men he had stopped. He died instantly after being hit by three bullets at close range; at the same time as this incident an explosion occurred near to the scene." MOD
Oct   First of the illegal immigrant ships arrive.
Oct 10 BC Gordon Hill (22); killed on duty; Sharon, Haifa. Athlit camp was attacked and 208 detainees released though some refused and were bound and gagged causing one woman to be asphyxiated. Constable Hill was in the pursuit party. Issa Nakhleh's Encyclopaedia
Oct 31 Railway cut in 153 places. Three police launches sunk. Railway yards and Haifa oil refinery attacked by Jewish gangs.
Nov 1 Gnr Harold Yates (25) from Sheffield; RA; "Killed by Jewish insurgents, dressed as British Officers, armed with tommy guns when a mass attack took place on the railway system." MOD
Mass orchestrated rioting in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem.
Nov 25/26 First of the settlement searches: Operation 'Guy Fawkes'.
Dec 27 Killed: BC Edward Hyde (28), BC Noel Nicholson (20), ASP George Smith (44) and Ptes Likoebe Kurata, Vincent Nthinya, Tapotsa Ntisa all in African Pioneer Corps; in terrorist attack on CID HQ, Jerusalem.
ASP Denis Flanagan (33); "Killed in one of three attacks against police buildings at Jerusalem and Jaffa and a military installation at Tel Aviv. MOD
L/Cpl Richard Symons (30), REME, from Westminster; killed by terrorists attempting to steal from arms store, Tel Aviv.


Larking about on the beach
Edwin Jack and mates
Daphne Mawby and her patrol
Allenby crossing
palm trees on a  bay