The End of the Mandate

A newspaper clipping from 1947 records the activities of British officials confined to compounds around Jerusalem due to the danger posed by the escalating tensions between Arab and Jewish groups in Palestine in the months before the end of the Mandate in 1938. The piece is decidedly pro-British and portrays the developing civil war (a direct result of British colonial policies) in terms of violent extremism.

Note that the article includes content that may be distressing to some readers.

The British in the Ghetto, Article

Excerpts from the diary of JH Iliffe covering the final days of April 1948 when Iliffe was preparing to leave Jerusalem for the last time. The entries paint a picture of a dangerous and volatile situation for all involved, and reveal Iliffe's concern for both the Museum he had looked after for over a decade, and for his staff and friends who would remain behind in Jerusalem, their home, while he evacuated to Amman.

Note that the diary includes content that may be distressing to some readers.

Diary Transcript

April 1948
poor Derham(?) was shot last night by the guards of the Egyptian Consulate, 4 shots, one through the heart.
At Museum in the morning, preparing for departure to Amman. Packed and put away in basement most of the unique and fragile objects.
{insertion on facing page}
During the morning, at Allendy Sq, Commander Leggatt(?), 2nd Secretary (or Vice-Consul?) at the nearby established 'Legation" in J'lem, was shot and killed {insertion - "by arab thugs"} while drawing cash for the 'Legation'; it is said that he was taken for a Jew. The incident gave rise to a pandemonium of firing, lasting some 1/4 hour, in which a bullet passed through the waistcoat of Mr R.M. Graves, head of the Municipal Commission, while in his office in the Municipality. People inside Barclays Bank dropped flat on the floor behind the counter, and altogether it was 15 minutes' bedlam. B. de Bunsen(?) & L.D.A Baron? were inside, & told me about it. Both officials were cashing their advance cheques today; here(?) the crowd of armed thuds waiting around. At Jaffa some 175,000 Palestine Pounds was stolen under similar circumstances.

Wrote letters to M Hannah? of AFT? and packed keys of trunks in lift Van and gave them to Baron to post in London.
Said au revoir to Baron, de Bunsen & others at the Club.

My luggages with John & Corbalt went off on an ? truck to Amman.
Heard that some Lift Vans in my ? had been damaged by a mortar bomb. I wonder if mine is all right?

28. Some 100 British officials left at 6.30am for 'an airport' en route to the U.K, leaving only some 8 or 10 in Jerusalem! By 8am the sense of isolation at Pollock's house in the Greek Colony was very pronounced, and the atmosphere wierd and tense. {insertion on facing page}

His Police Guards on the house, who had recieved their pay yesterday, did not appear today!

Hilton came in at 8.30, and, seeing me standing on the steps remarked "seeing you here is like coming across a white man in the heart of Africa"? Pollock and Hawken went off at 9.10 am to a rehearsal of the coming easter ceremonies at the Holy Sepulchre, etc.
waited for Jardine to come and pick me up in his car, en route to Amman. Meanwhile...

April 1948
28 (contd)
since 5am there had been heavy firing between Alamein Camp (now occupied by Iraqi's?) and Mka? Haim. In the feeling of the collapse of all authority I feared the possibility of Jardine's car or cars being stolen, as hundreds have been in the last 2 months. Then where eben? we for an flight to Amman? About 10, Lorow?, he turned up and we drove off to the Museum, through streets thronged with armed thugs, Arabs packing their goods and ch? on any vehicle they could muster, and general disintegration. I breathed somewhat more easily when we reached the Museum. There I saw DC Baramki (Dimtri Constantine Baramki), Yusuf Saad and some of the attendants (most of them) who had turned up. There is, I think, a 50% chance of enough of them staying at their posts to keep the Museum occupied. Whether armed forces can be kept from occuping it I am doubtful, but I impressed on all the importance of doing their ut-most to prevent this. Baranki showed me some of his furniture which had been deliberately shot through and through by armed Arabs who had broken into and siezed his flat, and which he had successded in salvaging and bringing to the Musuem. Poor D.C., he was on the verge of tears, when I spoke to him, but was manfully tring to pull himself together and keep and grip on the situation. I know he dreams of being...

April 1948
28 (contd)
Director of Antiquites of the arab State and therefore wants to hold on at his post, which I think he will do. I tried to encourage him telling him that the jews had agreed not to fire at the Museum, as long as it was not occupied as a strong point by Arab armed forced. As a final act I had the Crusader? Church window glass from Athlit put into security in the basement. Then Jardine & I picked a large armful of flowers from the plentiful display in the garden, to give to Pirie Gordon in Amman, with whom we hoped to take refuge.
Then we
by the Jericho road, just like refugees, and with that anxieity, whether we should really get safely past all the remaining barriers and obstacles, across to Transjordan. There was at the entrance to Jericho, one particularly loutish and ? thug, who tried to be a bit rough with us, but was restrained, in ? ? by his two fellows. At Allenby bridge the British police and troops had left this morning, and the Arab Legion had taken over. There was some slight stay about being admitted to T.J. but in my case my out-of-date Bridge Pass worked the oracle? Eventually we reached Amman at 1pm and dumped ourselves on Pirie Gordon's hospit-able...

28 (contd)
?. In the evening we went round to Harding's for a drink, then Jardine, David Wood-ford (of the Daily Telegraph), Harding, Johns, Corbett and myself dined at Tewfik? Coltar's new Club, the two ? and myself being hosts. The dinner, with excellent Portugieser? wine was very good and well served, and nor dear, at about 1 Palestine Pound per head including wine.

29. A insightful leisurely morning at Pier Gordon's, sal? over my jumbled possessions, writing of this doing for yesterday, and generally recovering my normal af?! In the afternoon wandered around the Saq and bought the ? ? green sports shirt (1.600 Palestine Pounds) which I ordered to be made up. Jardine & J G? bought a Dutch cheese as a gift for Pirie Gordon.

Today was remarkably cold, with a blustering wind, and occasional heavy rainstorms, a very ? rain for Transjordan.

PG at my request telephone though at? Pollock's house and asked that he send his furniture ? ? the Museum long, with whatever petrol he can acquire.

30. Still unusually cold. Tea at Kuikhuide's?, with Johns and Corbett. Wrote letters to be taken to Damascus ? by Jardine's driver and posted them, there being apparently ? ? mail ? arranged is Europe from T.J.: ? Marjorie Chamber's Encyclopaeidia (returning revised ? ? ?), and Joly? in Beirut (asking if...