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Memories

My father passed away 4 months ago, and his wife, my step mother, succumbed to cancer last week.  96 and 93 years old respectively.  Coincidently, it was 35 years to the day since my mother died.  The funeral was yesterday and now a generation gone.

We’ve been sorting through dads possessions and my sister came across an article written in 1993 by dad in the now defunct Palestine Police Association magazine which you may find interesting.  I’ve written previously about some of dads close encounters while serving in Palestine from 1938 until the British withdrew in 1948 but this was an account from his own pen.

From the editor of the magazine……..

Our Tom was stirred by a previous edition of Taht el Taht (No. 24) which depicted the one-ton barrel bomb device that made such havoc of Haifa District Police Headquarters and billet one Sunday morning on 29th September, 1947.   

"I was sleeping peacefully that Sunday morning on the second floor when at 6.00 a.m., the dividing wall of my bedroom crashed in on me.  I spent most of the following hours carrying the injured down the non-existent staircase to waiting ambulances.  I saw the Arab coffee-vendor lying out there on Kingsway calling for help.  He died later, and I remember seeing a body stripped of its uniform being hauled from the barbed wire.  Twelve died in that attack and Const. Robert Pringle was blinded with many others injured”

The following describes the attack by the Irgun Z’vai Leumi on a cafe frequented by the police in dads squad…………..

“I had not long been posted to Sgt. Kealy’s anti-terrorist section.  He was a very fluent Hebrew speaker and had contacts.  He was worried that something was going to happen but could get no information.  Our section was six strong:  Sgt. Bill Haubner, B./Consts. Holman, Turner and Eric Martin, myself and of course Kealy.  We were to finish up with just two of us intact.  Myself and Holman.  Bill Haubner was killed and Kealy, Turner and Martin were all shot and wounded and sent home to England.  Eric Martin we still hear about.  He was shot in the spine and has ever since been in The Star and Garter Homes at Richmond, Surrey.  This shooting incident came about sometime later at a cafe (Cafe Haas – Ed.) a little way down in Kingsway where we regularly gathered for a cuppa about 11.00 a.m.  The fire came from above us instead of from where we might have expected, the street.  Two members of the I.Z.L. held up office staff in offices above the cafe and opened fire straight down on us.  I was just heading for the place when the gunmen opened fire and arrived in time to help my pals into an army truck." 

Ed Note: A sad tale but evocative of the times.  On a lighter note Tom’s son was born on 6th January, 1948, nearly two months afterwards in Government Hospital, Haifa.  This brings a brighter tone to the proceedings.  But we thank Taht el Taht for reminding us of those far off days in Haifa.  Once the nicest town in the Eastern Mediterranean and a city of death, struggle and suspicion for many a long month.

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  1. January 5, 2012 at 7:56 pm

    As always, DB, the stories from your father are evocative.

    As an ex cop yourself, I thought you would appreciate these stories.

    • January 7, 2012 at 11:47 am

      BTW – Happy Birthday. On time on my side of the IDL but a day late on yours.

      Birthdays always remind me of my mortality.

  2. june in florida
    January 5, 2012 at 11:06 pm

    Your Dad was a great writer with a terrific memory, sad it’s still in turmoil over there. Condolences for step-moms passing.

    Thanks, June.

  3. January 7, 2012 at 12:41 am

    Isn’t it amazing…. the turmoil is still going on in that part of the world. Will it ever stop??? I visited Haifa a couple of times when I was in Israel about 10 years ago…. lovely town.
    Sorry to hear about your step-mother’s death. You are right, another generation gone, taking with them their precious memories. So good that your dad wrote some of his down so we can read them now.

    We toured the Middle East a few years back and Palestine was on the agenda but not a tour of Haifa. Unbeknown to me, the group organised a detour to Haifa with me dozing on the bus when we came past the Haifa town sign. A very pleasant surprise and we spent few hours in the city of my birth particularly the Mt Carmel area and the church where I was baptised. Quite moving actually.

  4. March 12, 2012 at 7:57 am

    Palestine Police Old Comrades Association Newsletter is by no means defunct. Issue No 239 is about to go to press.
    Martin

    My apologies. My father told me he thought it had folded up but good for you guys that it’s still around.

    • September 6, 2012 at 11:10 am

      Good day, my farther served on Palestine I believe somewhere around 1944 to 1947/8 – my family lost contact with him many years ago and as I am, or maybe, the ony surving family member (his daughter) is there any way through the Palestine Police Old Comrades Association news letter I could try an track him down or at least find some info as to what happend to him – though very much doubt he’s still alive but i would great to know something about his wherabouts, late or not.. He was Inspector Thomas (known as Tony) Arthur Stevens. I now live in Zimbabwe (formerly from Kenya) my contact address – thank you.

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