Dec 1947-April 1948
Pages in Section 12
The Hanging of two British Police Sergeants
i. UNSCOP begins
ii. British Alienate UNSCOP
iii. The Two Sergeants
iv. Disbandment of the PMF
v. Life at Bassa Tegart 1947
vi. UNSCOP's Partition Plan and UN vote.
vii. Police Reactions to UN Vote
When on July 8th, the commander of British forces in Palestine confirmed the death sentences on Avshalom Haviv, Meir Nakar and Ya'acov Weiss the Irgun stepped up their search for potential hostages. They succeeded in capturing two sergeants, Clifford Martin and Mervyn Paice, in the early hours of July 12th. Despite two police searches of the diamond polishing plant where the sergeants were incarcerated, in a tiny air-tight cell dug out beneath the building's floor they remained undiscovered, existing on bottled oxygen, for seventeen days.
On July 27th the Palestinian Broadcasting Company announced that Haviv, Weiss and Nakar would be executed early on the 29th. Once again relatives were not allowed to pay last visits although Major Charlton, superintendent of Acre prison, refused to conduct the execution unless they were. He was sacked.
The Inspector of Prisons, Mr. Hackett, was appointed superintendent in his place, and along with Andrew Clow, the superintendent of Nablus jail, served as hangman.
At the break of dawn, on July 29th, Haviv, Weiss and Nakar were executed. A country-wide curfew was imposed at 11.0 am the same day.
The Irgun pulled Martin and Paice out of their underground prison and hanged them without allowing them to scribble a last letter to their parents.
They wanted to hang the bodies in the centre of Tel Aviv or from lampposts in Nathanya but the British army was patrolling Tel Aviv and Haganah teams were roaming Nathanya to prevent this. Instead, the Irgun placed the bodies in sacks and bundled them into a taxi driven by one of their members.
They took the bodies four miles out of Nathanya to a eucalyptus grove, hung bodies from tree branches,pinned a note to one of the bodies and then booby trapped the bodies so they would explode when cut down.
International journalists followed the police convoy racing from Tulkarm as soon as Jewish settlement police had notified the superintendent of the bodies' location. The journalists took photos of the two bodies, set up their cameras for the cutting down, and were splattered with decaying gobbets of flesh when the bodies exploded.
The Daily Mail published their reporter's article alongside the photo he had taken. This caused anti-Semitic riots in several British cities.
Next - Disbandment of the Police Mobile Force
Text Copyright Margaret Penfold, BA Hons, Dip Ed, British Palestine Police Association