A tricky encounter with a mob


The only other serious thing that I do remember was frightening was on detachment where there was a small level crossing with these railways along there, you wouldn't call it a railway. It was obviously a rail that was used by very small locomotives. But there was a gate, by the gate was a gatehouse which had a flat roof. And so there was trouble with the section of the Jews which had crossed with another, they weren't pure Jews, they had been causing a lot of trouble, nobody wanted them and I can't just remember why we were there. Transport were not involved with this, we just took people out and watched what was going on and not long after we had been there I remember a bren gunner was set up on the flat roof, the rest of the detachment was set around ready to be prepared for any trouble from these people from that side.

And suddenly we heard this shouting and this great mob came round towards us and the leader was chanting away, and they were all chanting away, and they outnumbered us by, I don't know, ten to one plus, twenty to one, I don't know, I can't remember now, but certainly we couldn't have held them back even if we'd opened full fire. And the officer in charge went up and tried to persuade the leader to turn back and he wouldn't so he came back, still shouting and warning that he would be shot and he was shot. I thought then that this might be the end of all of us. One or two of them rushed up and covered themselves in the blood from him and there was pandemonium going on but fortunately for us, or I wouldn't be talking to you now, they turned round and went back to where they came from.

But I think a lot of these things were unexpected. I don't think really the army knew, I don't think the powers in England knew, exactly what was going on. What the reaction would be. To me the whole thing seemed totally, totally out of order and nobody really knew or had any sort of real policy to deal with these situations and in the end we left it to them which was probably the worst thing that happened. I think we let the Arabs down and it was their land.

Interview 20th July 2010