Monty on Palestine – Ignore world and Jewish opinion
2 January 1947
On 2 January 1947, Field Marshal Montgomery, Chief of the Imperial General Staff, sent an urgent telegraph to General Sir Harold Pyman, Chief of Staff of Middle East Land Forces. He informed him that the Cabinet Defence Committee had backed his own preference for a hard line in Palestine, where demands were mounting for the immediate creation of an independent Jewish state. Monty cautioned Pyman that the High Commissioner must ‘use the military and police forces at his disposal to maintain proper order in Palestine and no nonsense about it.’ He was also to order General Sir Evelyn Barker, the commanding officer in Palestine, to abandon previous policies aimed at winning over hearts and minds and instead ensure that military operations ‘be carried through firmly and relentlessly and despite world opinion or Jewish reaction in America.’1 Within a few weeks, the sledgehammer strategy, which included summary military courts, curfews, restrictions on civilian movement and aggressive house to house searches, had proved itself self-defeating with a sharp rise in terror attacks.
- Benjamin Grobb-Fitzgibbon, Imperial Endgame: Britain’s Dirty Wars and the End of Empire, Palgrave Macmillan, Basingstoke, 2011, p. 70.
- Ibid., pp. 72-73.
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