Eric French's short stay in Palestine comes to an end

"Round about May time I think, the Mandate was coming towards an end for the British and we were woken one morning with mortar bombs exploding all round the fort. I remember we had, I was on the bren gun and we had to pull the bren gun up on to one of the towers, through the trap door. I can remember hoisting the Union flag. Now whether the Jews knew we were, the British, were in the fort, I don't really know but they were the ones that were doing the mortaring and the Arabs were, I could see their head dresses, in the shrubbery below the fort.

The fort was on the main road to Jerusalem and the 4th Royal Tanks had moved out and there was a squad of them based around the fort, which I never knew until they started answering fire to the Jewish armoured cars which were coming up the road. The fort was on a very high height, reputed to be where David fought Goliath. A very high height, After the skirmish with the tanks and that we were moved out the fort back to Sarafand in lorries. And I think we were only back in Sarafand about three or four days before we moved out into Egypt across the Sinai Desert in convoy. I can remember we had three Royal Naval ships out in the Med on the one side and tanks on the other side escorting the convoy. And that was my episode of being in Palestine. Just for them few weeks."

"We'd moved to Sarafand. It was a garrison town, Sarafand was, all wooden buildings, wooden barrack buildings. But I remember one night before we did move out in convoy that the Royal Irish Fusileers burnt the cinema down, the open air cinema. And that was a right bonfire night that was. (chuckles) The cinema was on fire.

(Why did they burn it?)

I don't know if they... not only was the cinema burnt down but next morning when we were lining up in convoy in the lorries the wooden huts were starting to burn down as well. the officers weren't too happy about it. They told us to get out of the vehicles and try to put out the fire but not many of the lads had got much idea that they wanted to do it. They didn't want the things to be handed over to Jews or Arabs."

Eric French, Royal Lincolnshire Regiment, Interview ???