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Palestine: events in 1947

As 1947 began to draw to a close tension mounted. The camp was swathed in barbed wire; mines laid which were sometimes set off by animals, with the occasional sniping at night. The squadron armoury was moved to the brick cookhouse and surrounded by more barbed wire. The water tower was modified into an observation and gun platform all under the charge of Ray Barlow, the West Bromwich and England Centre Half. 'Confined to camp' was the order of the day apart from call outs and other necessities such as trips to the bank in Haifa. Creully Club Newsletter

After the the UN Partition plan was announced in November 1947 violence escalated and the Zionist battle to colonize Palestine with the establishment of 'facts on the ground' began in earnest. Even though in February 1947 the British had announced their intention to leave Palestine the following Spring, attacks on British service personnel intensified even though nothing could be gained. See also Washington Report for an article about the violence of 1947.

This list below mostly records the deaths of British troops and Palestine Policemen but other significant incidents are also included. Detail sometimes conflicts and the same places were repeatedly attacked so an informed guess has occasionally been necessary. Please let me know of any inaccuracies or details you can add. A detailed and referenced account of all incidents can be found in the Palestine Encyclopaedia by Issa Nakhleh.

Month Day Event
Jan 1 Operation 'Lobster': cordon and search of Karton quarter by 1st Para, Tel Aviv; 2,242 people screened, 47 detained.
Jan 2 Lt Anthony Elliott (21) from London, 2/East Surrey Regiment killed by vehicle mine when travelling in Bren gun carrier, Kiryat Motzkin, Haifa.
Irgun attack military car park in Tiberias with flame-throwers.
Operation 'Mackerel': cordon and search of Yemenite quarter, Rehovoth by 3 Para; 9 Jews detained, 3 had whips.
Jan 3 Montefiore and Hatikva quarters of Tel Aviv searched; 64 Jews detained.
Jan 5 Arms câche found in Petah Tiqva; area screened and 20 Jews detained.
Jan 8-17 Operation 'Octopus': across Palestinian Jewish areas; 109 Jews detained.
Jan 8 Twelve members of terrorist gang, Irgun, arrested in Rishon le Zion by military and police.
Jan 12
Photo: IWM
BCs (British Constables) John Ballantyne (19) from Northumberland, and Gordon Morgan (25) killed when "a truck entered the compound of Headquarters District Police, Haifa. The guard checked the identity of the driver who parked the truck outside the canteen. The guard became suspicious and the truck was searched. On discovering a bomb in the back of the vehicle, orders were given to evacuate the building. A few minutes later the bomb exploded, killing two British constables and two Arab TACs, and injuring a considerable number of Police personnel and civilians." MOD Nine British Constables were seriously injured; 50 TACs and 4 BORs were slightly injured.
Jan 26 Kidnap of Maj H Collins (no longer serving) from his girlfriend's house in Mamillah Rd, Jerusalam. He was badly beaten and chloroformed then released on 29th Jan at a Jewish clinic. He later died from the chloroform.
Jan 27 Kidnap of Judge Ralph Windham from his court room in Tel Aviv. He was not ill-treated and was released on 28th Jan near Ramat Gam.
Feb 2-7 Operation 'Polly': evacuation of families and non-essential staff.
Feb 13 Lt General GHA MacMillan takes over from Lt General Sir Evelyn Barker as GOC British troops in Palestine and Trans Jordan.
Feb 19 Irgun terrorists mortar Ein Shemer airfield.
Feb 28 Terrorists attack Barclays Bank, Haifa: 1 British civilian and 2 Jews killed; 1 British soldier, 1 Arab Legionnaire and 1 naval rating injured.
Mar 1 Many killed in terrorist attack on Goldsmith's Officers' Club in Jerusalem:
"At approximately 15:20 on 1st March, 1947, truck No. M740R drove into King George Avenue, Jerusalem, from Keran Kayemeth Street through the barbed wire surrounding Goldsmith House Officers Club in King George Avenue. One person dismounted and placed a package in the building. At the same time, automatic fire was opened upon the sentries at Goldsmith House from the vicinity of the houses adjacent to the Synagogue in King George Avenue. The sentries replied. A small explosion occurred at this time at the rear of the East side of Goldsmith House which set a tent on fire. During exchange of shots, a number of persons dressed in Khaki as British ORs jumped from the truck and ran away. A heavy explosion then occurred causing extensive damage to Goldsmith House. Shortly before the explosion, a police vehicle proceeding along King George Avenue in the direction of Goldsmith House, was caught in cross-fire. Mr. Beynon, British Clerical Officer of Police HQ, was killed and BI Price, BC Church and Mr Cleary, British Clerical Officer of Police HQ, were wounded. Casualties as known at present are 12 dead, including Jewish female Telephone Operator, 15 injured. At least three more bodies are believed to be under the rubble." MOD
Cpl Arthur Fleming (23) of Penrith, and Trooper Thomas Hutchinson (20) from Kirkcaldy, Fife; 4th/7th Royal Dragoon Guards; killed when their scout car was blown up by a landmine on the Haifa-Jaffa road while escorting the Commanding Officer to a conference.
Pte Maurice Lee (18) from Derby, 2/Sherwood Foresters killed by vehicle mine, Tel Aviv.
Mar 2 L/Cpl Albert Wedge (20), from Yorkshire, L/Cpl Robert Ogilvie (23) from Northumberland, and L/Cpl Frederick Bond (20) from Wellington, Somerset, 6 Abn Provo RMP; killed by a landmine disguised as a kilo stone detonated as their vehicle was passing, Mount Carmel.
Guardsman Donald Roberts (20) from Belgrave, Leicester; 3/Grenadier Guards, killed by vehicle mine, Hadera.
Mar 8 Guardsman Donald Stocker (20) from Hull, 3/Coldstream Guards, killed in attack on Citrus House.
Mar 9 Drvr Kenneth Harper (22) from Hereford; 3 Field Ambulance RASC; killed in terrorist attack on his post.
Mar 10 Pte Harry E Froud of 1/HLI, killed by terrorist attack in Jerusalem.
Mar 11 Gunner Ronald Fletcher (20) of 19 Fld Reg RA, killed in terrorist attack, Hadera.
Mar 12 Pte Harold E France (Pay Corps) killed in terrorist attack on Schneller Barracks (Syrian Orphanage), Harry Devey's account; 9 soldiers badly injured. Eyewitness account by Edward Worley
Mar 19 BC JA Stranachan (21) killed on duty.
Mar 20 Capt S E Whitfield (34) from Richmond, Surrey; RASC, TJFF and Police killed in terrorist attack, Ramleh.
Mar 23 Pte Michael Hogan (20) from Winchester; 2/Roy Hampshires; killed in mine explosion on Caifo-Haifa train, Rehovoth.
Mar 30 BI (British Inspector) LG Board (34), killed on duty.
Mar 31 BC Ernest Isaac Dwyer (19) killed on duty.
Apr 8 BC Basil Forth (20) "Killed when, at 20:30 hours, two British Constables, in civilian clothes, were shot in King George V Avenue, Jerusalem. One British Constable killed and the other slightly injured." MOD
Sgt John Beckett (41) from Lurgan; RAF Ein shemer; "Died as the result of injuries sustained while driving a blazing fuel tanker to safety." Awarded the George Cross." MOD
Apr 18 Pte Alan Tomlinson from Meadows, Nottingham; 61 Fld Dressing Station, RAMC; killed in terrorist attack on British Military Hospital Nathanya.
Apr 20 Red Cross depot bombed and many British soldiers injured.
Apr 22 Five troops killed in attack on Cairo/Haifa train at Rehovoth; 23 injured and 7 civilian casualties. After the explosion the survivors were machine-gunned.
Apr 22 L/Cpl W Minto; 2/East Surreys; killed in terrorist attack, Jerusalem.
Apr 25 BCs Stan Barnes (18), Alan Casey (19), Ronald Davies (19) and BI Allen Trutwein (31);
"Killed when, at 11:15 hours, on 25 April, the Police Orderly Room and Telephone Exchange at Sarona Camp were severely damaged by two bombs. A grey Morris van, previously stolen from the Palestine Post and Telegraphs, Tel Aviv, was driven into the compound by a Jew dressed in uniform. As a result of the attack, one British Inspector and three British Constables lost their lives, and five British Constables, one British Soldier and a TAC were injured. The condition of one of the Constables is was serious. The Jewish criminals are believed to have escaped from the area in the guise of postal workers carrying a ladder." MOD
Apr 26 ASP (Assistant Superintendent of Police) Albert Conquest, BEM, KPM, CPM, was murdered in Haifa. "Two Jews opened fire from a passing taxi at his car which was then stationary, and mortally wounded him. Fire was returned from another passing vehicle, and the taxi crashed but the two Jews escaped." Source: Nissa Nakhleh
May 4 Terrorist attack on Acre jail. 251 Jewish and Arab prisoners escape.
May 12 BCs Alex Christie (26) and Dennis Easton (20) "shot at corner of Ben Yehuda Street and King George V Avenue, Jerusalem; both were in civilian clothes and both died." MOD
May 15 Lt Gordon J Graham and Lt Michael HH Holdway (21), Royal Engineers, killed while dismantling a mine on railway line, Qiryat Moskin.
May 16 BC Norman Winsor (23) blown up while driving the Haifa CID car.
May 31
Photo: Charlie Powell
Haifa oil refinery blown up turning day into night for more than a week.
Jun 4 BC PM Clancy (18) killed on duty in Sharon, Haifa.
Jun 18 5 British Officers kidnapped and later released in Jerusalem. This was not unusual. Sometimes men would be flogged.
Jun 21 Pte Leslie Hilliard of 2/Sherwood Foresters killed by terrorist attack in Nathanya.
Jun 28 L/Cpl Cecil D Clarke (32) of Stanway, Essex, Sapper Vivian M Culling (19), 199 Railway Workshop REs; and Pte W Beatson (21), 1/King's own Scottish Borderers; "Killed. At 21:40 hours on the 28th June Police were informed by an anonymous telephone call in English that shooting had occurred in Allenby Road, Tel Aviv. On investigation it appeared that some fifteen shots had been fired at four British soldiers who were walking along the street. Three of the four died of their wounds, the fourth was less seriously wounded." MOD
Jun 29 Capt Matthew Kissane from Paddington; Royal Irish Fusiliers: killed when "A number of officers of the 6th Airborne Division were dining in the Astoria restaurant when it was attacked by two Jewish terrorists who drew up in a taxi opposite the restaurant and fired Thompson sub machine guns through the windows at the Officers inside." MOD. Two other officers were wounded.
Sgt Alfredo Coia (20) of Glasgow, RASC; Pte EA Pierre (28) of Mauritius, Pioneer Corps; and Sapper E C W Summers (19) of Southchurch, REs; killed by terrorist sniper, Tel Aviv.
Driver Henning Andersen (28) from Aarhus, Denmark; RASC; "Shot at close range while walking in one of the main streets of Tel Aviv." MOD
Jul 15 Terrorists attempt to destroy RAF radar on Mount Carmel.
Jul 16 Pte William K Murray, 1/King's Own Scottish Borderers; killed by vehicle mine Petah Tiqva.
18 Sapper Charles Beck (21) from Walworth, London, 55 Fld Sq, REs, killed by terrorists in Jerusalem.
Cpl George Downie (21) from Dunbartonshire, 15th/19th Hussars; killed by vehicle mine. His friend, Dvr/Mechanic Ernie Carver was with him and suffered permanent hearing damage.
Jul 19 BC Raymond Hughes (19) killed by terrorists when 4 locations in Haifa are attacked; 12 men injured.
Jul 20 Drvr Lionel Harrop (19) from Oxford; 2 Field Ambulance RASC; killed near Nathanya when his truck was blown up.
Jul 21 Trooper JF O'Brien (20), 'C' Sqn 17/21 Lancers; killed in terrorist attack.
Jul 23 Sapper Matthew Oliver (24) from Armagh; REs; killed when 31 Plant Troop RE jeep was blown up by terrorists.
Jul 26 Signalman FWG Gatehouse from Southampton and Signalman Leonard AL King of 7 HQ Signals; killed by vehicle mine Jerusalem.
BC Peter Haigh died of wounds.
Jul 27 BC EG Brown; killed on duty.
Jul 29 BC Albert Dean (22) from Blackpool; killed on duty in Sharon, Haifa.
Guardsman Anthony Ruddy (21) from Belmullet, Co Mayo, Irish Guards; killed on ambulance duty.
Jul 30 Kidnap, torture and murder of Sgt Clifford Martin and Sgt Mervyn Paice (21) of I Corps. The murders were authorised by Amihai Paglin, later made Israeli government terrorist adviser.
Gnr J Cunliffe and Bdr D G Mitchell (25) from Brixton, 80 Lt AA Reg, RA; killed by vehicle mine Hadera.
BC J McIntyre (22) killed on duty.
Aug 5 BCs GA Hayes (26) and RJ Watts (20) killed on duty, Mount Zion; BC AB Middleton (24), killed on duty in Jerusalem.
Aug 18 Police Cadet Officer E Morris (24) killed on duty Mount Zion.
Sep 3 Letter bomb attributed to Jewish terrorists exploded in PO sorting office, London, injuring two workers.
Sep 15 Col V H Rivers, Pioneer Corps; killed in terrorist attack Hebron.
Sep 22 BC RE Goodwin (19) killed on duty, Mount Zion.
Sep 23 BC G Mallalieu (19) killed on duty Ramleh.
Sep 26 BCs Percy Bould (26), AJ Ford (18), AD Mitchell (19), JJ Murray (20); killed in terrorist bank robbery, Ramleh.
Sep 28 BC John Evans (23) killed on duty.
29 BCs Reg Bonfield (21), Anton Bowen (19), Fred Newton (21), William Nunn (19); killed in terrorist attack on Police HQ, Haifa. One person had a lucky escape:
"His bedroom overlooked Kingsway through a very large window. CD, lying naked, covered only by a sheet, was almost directly above the bomb; he took most of the glass in his body. When the rescue party reached him, his internal organs were hanging out as a result of one huge sliver of glass. No one gave him any chance of survival, but two days later I was talking to him in hospital. He had somewhere in the region of 130 stitches in his body and resembled the Chinese torture of a thousand cuts. Some of the injuries measuring three to four inches were held only by one, possibly two stitches. He looked amazingly well considering, and six weeks after was convalescing with King Abdullah of Transjordan, owing to his father's influence as an executive of the Iranian Petroleum Company." My Trinity, Eric Howard
Oct 7 Killed: Lt A M Elliott (25), RAMC.
Oct 25/26
row of coffins in communal grave.
Privates E Alexander, P Darbyshire, G Leatherland, R Matthews, A Milton, W Odey, N Stanford, F Wood, Aubrey Woodward, J Duncan, F Millard and Lance Corporals N Davies, D Inwood, D Preston were all killed near depot when lorry collided with another military vehicle on the Haifa/Jenin road. Palestine Post report
BC WE Thomas (20) killed on duty, Ramleh.
Nov 10 Gnr P Christoffersen (19) of Svendborg, 87 Fld Reg, RA, killed by terrorists.
Nov 12 Police Sgt EA Haubner (34) killed on duty in Sharon, Haifa.
Nov 13 BC FN O'Rourke (24) killed on duty.
Nov 14 Pte Jack Nicholson, 1/King's Own Scottish Borderers; killed in terrorist attack Tel Aviv.
BCs Graham Hopkins (21) shot while walking near Mustashfa Police Billet, Jerusalem.
RW Sexton (20) killed on duty.
Nov 14 Pte George E Thomas (19) from Truro, Cornwall, and L/Cpl Charles T Tovey (20) from St Johns, Worcester; Cold Storage Unit, RASC; killed in terrorist attack, Tel Aviv.
Nov 15 Pte Peter Brown (19) of Glasgow, 1/HLI; killed in terrorist attack Ritz Café Jerusalem.
Nov 16 Pte Archibald N Bremner of Glasgow, 1/HLI; killed in terrorist attack, Ritz Café Jerusalem.
Nov 21 Pte Kenneth Wilkins (19), of Erdington, Birmingham; Royal Warwickshire Regt, killed by sniper Latrun.
Police Sergeant CE Vince (25) killed on duty.
Nov 25 BC Richard Fletcher (23) killed on duty.
Dec 2 Pte Alexander Clifford (20) from Sunderland; 1/Argyll & Sutherland Highlanders; killed on train escort duty.
Dec 8 Pte John Kane (22) from Glasgow; 1/Argyll & Sutherland Highlanders, killed in terrorist attack Jaffa/Tel Aviv.
BC George C Shipley (23) killed on duty, Sharon/Haifa.
Dec 9 L/Cpl Ronald Barton (23) from Leicester; Prov Coy; killed by terrorists, Pine Road, Haifa.
Dec 10 Cpl Thomas Bastick (20), RASC; killed in terrorist attack (colleague wounded), Herzl Str, Haifa.
Dec 11 Cpl Stuart Mayland (20) from Kings Lynn; REs; killed in terrorist attack, Herzl Str, Haifa.
Six Arabs killed, 30 wounded when bombs thrown from trucks at Arab buses in Haifa.
18 Arab prisoners escape from Acre Gaol; 2/Bttn Middlesex Reg prevent mass escape.
Dec 12 Pte Charles R Marshall (21), 1/King's Own Scottish Borderers; killed by sniper Jaffa.
20 people killed, 5 wounded by barrel bomb at Damascus Gate.
Al-Tira: raided by terrorists, 13 villagers killed and many wounded. British troops bus out a number of women and children.
Dec 13 Gunner Gerald A Taylor (19) from New Maldon, 1st RHA; killed by sniper (3 colleagues wounded), Herzl Str, Haifa.
6 killed, 25 wounded by bombs outside Alhambra Cinema.
5 killed, 47 wounded by two bombs at Damascus Gate.
Al-Abbasiyya (al-Yahudiya): attacked by terrorists dressed as British troops; many villagers killed or injured. British troops arrive and prevent further murder but villagers soon flee. Zionists troops occupied it on 4th May 1948 and it was later fully destroyed.
Dec 14 BC Peter Cornaby killed on duty.
Dec 16
soldier standing to attention
Sgt Hammond's funeral
Police Sgt Reginald T Hammond (31) from Hackney:
"fatally wounded when, at 19:29 hours, he, and another Counter Intelligence Division Sergeant, were shot at junction of King George V Avenue- Jaffa Road, Jerusalem. He died in hospital." MOD.
10 killed by bomb at Noga Cinema in Jaffa.
Dec 18 Al-Khisas: 12 villagers killed by Zionist troops driving through and firing machine guns and lobbing grenades. Some villagers fled and the remainder were forcibly evicted in June 1949.
Dec 19 Qazaza: Terrorists blow up the Mukhtar's house; many killed.
Dec 20 Cpl George Morroll (20) from Walsall, 2/Royal Lincolnshire Regt; killed by sniper when on patrol at Salameh, Tel Aviv.
BC AH Hunt (19) killed on duty.
6 Arabs killed, dozens wounded by bomb at Haifa refinery. This attack led to a massacre of Jews working at the refinery on 30 December.
Dec 25 Pte Danny Gallagher (21), RAOC; and Craftsman Dennis H Pickering (20) from Birmingham; REME; killed and Ptes C and VR Birch seriously injured; in terrorist attack Café Galina, Tel Aviv. Herbert Samuel Esplanade, Tel Aviv. Danny Gallagher had been looking forward to demob in January.
Dec 26 Craftsman Ian Holden (21) from Sussex, REME; "Killed when four British soldiers of Workshops, Levant Fair, were shot in Herbert Samuel Esplanade, Tel Aviv, by members of the Stern Group. Two of the four British soldiers were killed and the other two injured. (Ref: WO 275/64)" (Possibly belongs to above group.)
Dec 28 Sgt James Matthew (20) from Stockton-on-Tees; 2/Middlesex Regt; murdered in Acre Gaol.
Dec 29 Pte Richard F Patterson (21), 2/Royal Lincolns; shot dead in his bed during terrorist attack on Tel Litwinsky camp. Others also shot in bed.
BCs Jack Foster (20) and Stephen Hirst (21); "Killed around 12:30 hours when a taxi containing members of the Irgun Z'vai Leumi fired several shots from Stens near the Damascus Gate, Jerusalem, and then threw a large bomb; 11 Arabs killed and 27 injured.MOD
Dec 30 BCs Marriott and Alfred Hunt (19); "British Constable Marriott was killed and No. 1335 British Constable Hunt was seriously injured when an explosion occurred as they were walking near the entrance to the Mahne Yehuda market; both were in civilian clothes. At 1845 hours, British Constable Hunt succumbed to his injuries. MOD
Dec 30 Grenades thrown at Arab labourers outside the Haifa refinery killing 6 and injuring many. Arab workers in the refinery almost immediately then killed Jewish refinery workers resulting in 39 deaths and many injuries. Haganah later retaliated by attacking two nearby Arab villages (see below),
Dec 30 BCs Peter Foster (20), and Albert D Marriott (21) killed on duty.
Dec 31 BC CD Dore (25) killed on duty.
Balad al Sheikh and Hawassa attacked by Haganah. An estimated 60 villagers killed.
On duty
Photo: Ian Walker
On duty
Photo: Bill Tolley
Herzl Street, Haifa
Photo: Desmond Starbuck
Train wreck
Photo: Alan Cathcart
Pte Woodward's coffin
L/Cpl Albert Wedge
Private Phil Darbyshire
Killed in RTA 25.10.47 near Haifa.