Britain's Naval and Political Reaction to the Illegal Immigration of Jews to Palestine, 1945-1949

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  • Britain’s Naval and Political Reaction to the Illegal Immigration of Jews to Palestine, 1945–1948 This book provides an important shift in the analysis of Britain’s policy towards the illegal post-war Jewish immigration into Palestine. It charts the development of Britain’s response to Zionist immigration, from the initial sympathy, as embodied in the Balfour Declaration, through attempts at blockade, refoulement and finally disengagement. The book exposes differences in policy pursued by the great departments of state like the Foreign, Colonial and War Offices and their legal advisors, and those implemented by the Admiralty. The book argues that the eventual failure of Britain’s immigration policy was inevitable in view of the hostility shown by many European nations, and America towards Britain’s ambition to retain her position in the Middle East. Fritz (Freddy) Liebreich was born in Vienna in 1927, entered Palestine illegally in 1939 and now lives in London. He is an expert on the Royal Navy’s attempts to stop illegal Jewish immigrants from reaching Palestine until 1948. He left school at 14 to become a mechanic and engineer starting his studies again on retirement. He completed his Master’s and submitted his PhD at King’s College London.
  • Britain’s Naval and Political Reaction to the Illegal Immigration of Jews to Palestine, 1945–1948 Fritz Liebreich LONDON AND NEW YORK
  • First published 2005 by Routledge 2 Park Square, Milton Park, Abingdon, Oxon OX14 4RN Simultaneously published in the USA and Canada by Routledge 270 Madison Ave, New York, NY 10016 Routledge is an imprint of the Taylor & Francis Group This edition published in the Taylor & Francis e-Library, 2005. “ To purchase your own copy of this or any of Taylor & Francis or Routledge’s collection of thousands of eBooks please go to http://www.ebookstore.tandf.co.uk/.” © 2005 Fritz Liebreich All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reprinted or reproduced or utilised in any form or by any electronic, mechanical, or other means, now known or hereafter invented, including photocopying and recording, or in any information storage or retrieval system, without permission in writing from the publishers. The publisher makes no representation, express or implied, with regard to the accuracy of the information contained in this book and cannot accept any legal responsibility or liability for any errors or omissions that may be made. British Library Cataloguing in Publication Data A catalogue record for this book is available from the British Library Library of Congress Cataloging in Publication Data A catalog record for this book has been requested ISBN 0-203-30987-1 Master e-book ISBN ISBN 0-714-65637-2 (Print Edition)
  • Contents List of figures vi Foreword viii Preface xi Acknowledgements xiii List of abbreviations and acronyms xv 1 Introduction 1 2 The determinants of British policy towards Jewish immigration into Palestine, from the Balfour Declaration via the Royal Commissions to the 1939 White Book and to the final abandonment of the ‘national home’ commitment 8 3 The British preoccupation with the perceived danger of communist infiltration and subversion 41 4 Britain’s fight against the sources of illegal immigration beyond the borders of Palestine and her confrontation with the financial, logistic and moral supporters in Europe and North America 55 5 The legal issues involved 97 6 Detention in Palestine—the deportation of illegal Jewish immigrants to Cyprus and their detention/ imprisonment: the legal base constructed by Britain 135 7 The rules of engagement adopted by the adversaries 154 8 The British forces engaged in anti-immigration patrols and the confronting Jewish adversaries 180 9 The physical confrontation: interception and diversion policies in theory and practice 191 10 Refoulement and abandonment of the boarding policy 220 11 Conclusion: conduct and effects of the British policy and the final failure of the blockade 239
  • Appendix 1 List of RN and PP vessels engaged in the ‘Palestine Patrol’ 247 Appendix 2 List of deportation and prison ships 251 Appendix 3 Details of Jewish illegal ships which landed immigrants on the Palestinian coast or were intercepted by British Armed Forces or Palestine Police 252 Appendix 4 Crew members of HM ships interviewed by the author 276 Appendix 5 Crew members of IJI ships interviewed by the author 278 Appendix 6 Biographical glossary 280 Notes 291 Bibliography 333 Index 345
  • Figures Between pages 182–183 1 Luggage belonging to illegal immigrants from the Susanna who came ashore on the beach near Nitzanim 2 Tank-loading space of LST 3016 before the embarkation of survivors from MS Athinai for Famagusta 3 Tank-loading space of LST 3016 after disembarkation of Athinai survivors, following Jewish ‘sabotage’ 4 ‘Welfare Wand’ 5 The ‘Irini’, crammed with more than 1,000 Albanian refugees heading from Velipoja 6 Sirius (Dalin), the first IJI ship despatched after the end of the Second World War 7 Launch of the Sirius 8 Sirius dressed overall for sea trials, 1945 9 The Paducah off the Turkish coast 10 The San Dimitrio heading into Haifa harbour 11 The San Felipe carrying 1,568 illegal immigrants, being towed into Haifa harbour 12 The San Felipe (Moledet/Patria), carrying 1,568 illegal immigrants, being docked in Haifa harbour 13 The Naval General Service Medal with ‘Palestine Clasp’
  • 14 Abbruziana (Jerusalem the Besieged) 15 Wreck of the illegal immigrant vessel Athinai visited by divers in 1998 16 An antique chart of Sirina showing sites relating to the sinking of the Athinai 17 Remains of the controversial radio transmitter, recovered from the wreck of the Athinai in 1998 18 Immigrants from the Fede II being transhipped for deportation to Cyprus 19 One of the passengers giving birth on board the Fede II 20 Illegal Jewish immigrants from Algeria 21 Former US coastguard icebreaker Northland 22 Scene on board the Maria Christina 23 Anatomy of a boarding, 1: HMS Childers (R91) CH class destroyer 24 Anatomy of a boarding, 2: Passengers and crew are driven below decks by tear gas 25 Anatomy of a boarding, 3: A ketch anchor is fired across an IJI ship from HMS Childers 26 Anatomy of a boarding, 4: Boarding parties from HMS Talybont keep the decks of the Heleni (Gabriela) clear 27 Anatomy of a boarding, 5; The battle is over—Galata (Shear Yashuv) under the control of a boarding party 28 Anatomy of a boarding, 6: Exodus 1947, Palmach, Hannah Szenesh, Eliahu Golomb and Haviru Reik on ‘Rotten Row’, Haifa breakwater
  • Foreword This book provides an important shift in the analysis of Britain’s policy towards the illegal post-war Jewish immigration into Palestine. It charts the development of Britain’s response to Zionist immigration, from the initial sympathy, as embodied in the Balfour Declaration, through attempts at blockade, refoulement and finally disengagement. In doing so it exposes differences in policies pursued by the great Departments of State like the Foreign, Colonial and War Offices and their legal advisors, and those implemented by the Admiralty. The book argues that the eventual failure of Britain’s immigration policy was inevitable in view of the hostility shown by many European nations and the United States towards Britain’s ambition to retain her position in the Middle East. The book begins, by way of background, by explaining the reasons for Britain’s early Zionist sympathies at the time of the Balfour Declaration and immediately afterwards, and by describing the gradual emergence of contradictions between the promises made to the Jews and those made to the Arabs and to the French. It then describes the developing perception among leading British politicians and military/naval figures that retention of meaningful influence in the Middle East demanded the appeasement of the Arabs and the abandonment of the promised Jewish National Home. The book describes the British preoccupation with the perceived threats of Nazi and later of communist infiltration in the region. It also touches on differences between the positions of the Protestant churches in England and Scotland, which were largely sympathetic to the Jewish aspirations, and the more pro-Arab leanings of many prominent Catholics. Evidence is provided to demonstrate that these conflicting sympathies were factors in the deterioration of British-Zionist relations. As the Second World War drew to a close there was a widely held belief in British political circles, based perhaps more on wishful thinking than on realistic appraisal, that given time and the expected economic and political recovery of Europe, Jewish holocaust survivors would renounce plans to end their diaspora and could therefore be resettled in their countries of origin. As it became clear that this belief was not well-founded, so the debate in Britain shifted in favour of limiting Jewish immigration and implementing a blockade against illegal Jewish immigrant ships. Given Britain’s need to be acting under the auspices of international law, the judicial base for the blockade is of great importance. It is, therefore, examined in depth and contradictions between International, Palestinian and Cypriot Law of the period are exposed. The conventions of the Territorial Seas v. The High Seas, the Right of Hot Pursuit and the relevant precedents are also examined. The judicial, political and naval rationale for detention, deportation and finally refoulement is investigated and described in detail, as is Britain’s struggle to deny the illegal Zionist immigrants’ logistic, moral and financial support from nations beyond Palestine’s borders. In describing the blockade, the book avoids repeating descriptions of already well- documented interceptions, boardings and arrests. Instead it focuses on two important case studies of illegal Jewish immigration ships and their attempted landings, the Guardian
  • (Theodor Herzl) and the Athinai (Rafiah). Why are these two exciting incidents singled out? Because in these otherwise fairly typical attempts to run the blockade, well-laid British and Zionist plans went awry. The book explains the ‘why’ and ‘how’, and uses these incidents to illustrate the contradictions in British policy. What were the reasons for the otherwise untypical use of excessive force by the Royal Navy in the case of the Guardian? Why and how did the Athenai sink, and why did her survivors proceed to wreak such damage as they could on their rescuers’ ship? Just as in the famous Japanese film ‘Rashomon’ there were conflicting British and Jewish versions of the story; both versions were factually correct but the respective interpretations could not be further apart. The book also deals with the failure of Britain’s proposed ‘last gasp’ refoulement policy. Refoulement itself was a euphemism for the forceful return of Jewish would-be illegal immigrants to their country of embarkation, and was the buzzword used at the time by the Foreign and Colonial Offices as well as by the Admiralty. The only time refoulement had been tried (President Warfield—Exodus 1947) matters went disastrously wrong and the incident proved to be a public relations disaster for Britain. In the context of the rapid run-down of Royal Navy capabilities in the years immediately following the end of the Second World War, and the resulting pressures to reduce overseas engagements, Britain’s attempts to thwart Zionist immigration became increasingly difficult to sustain. The blockade and its associated boarding policy suffered its terminal blow when the Admiralty conceded that the largest illegal Jewish immigration ships yet, the Pan Crescent and the Pan York, could be unboardable: as a result of their size and the number of refugees they carried, any boarding operation carried the risk of unacceptable damage and casualties, with potentially disastrous consequences for Britain and the world. As far as the outcome of the confrontation is concerned: the illegals suffered about 3,000 casualties, drowned or shot, Britain suffered four casualties, three drowned in an overturned whaler of HMS St Brides Bay, and one through the inadvertent discharge of a revolver, used to hammer open a tin of compote during a friendly party in an Illegal Jewish Immigration (IJI) vessel’s cabin. Ultimately all the Jewish illegals intercepted ended up in Palestine/Israel, so the huge effort expanded by the Palestine Patrol appeared to have been wasted. The book demonstrates that the endless and ultimately futile task of attempting to limit Jewish immigration contributed importantly to the British decision to terminate its government of Palestine. It also seeks to answer the question: who won the war of attrition between the Jewish immigration and Britain? There is no doubt that the overwhelming majority of the illegal immigration vessels were intercepted and successfully boarded; but ultimately the efficient maintenance of the Palestine Patrol had become so difficult that it had to be abandoned. New and important eye-witness accounts never published before, and a vast quantity of previously undiscovered original research from British, Israeli and Italian archives, will be combined with the considerable amount of secondary literature. A substantial number of officers and ratings who served in His Majesty’s ships involved in the ‘Palestine Patrol’ as well as crew members and escorts of illegal Jewish vessels, were interviewed and many of their testimonies have been quoted.
  • The British refusal to release the Jewish internees from Cyprus for 247 days after Britain’s evacuation of Palestine, the British Navy’s Rules of Engagement and much else is covered through textual notes. The book concludes with several useful appendices. One of these consists of the most complete list so far published of the Jewish and British ships engaged in the illegal 1945– 8 immigration, a key resource for future historians of the period. Another appendix gives names, ranks and positions of the British and Jewish eye-witnesses interviewed.
  • Preface In April 1939 the British government had approved involvement of the Royal Navy to block seaborne clandestine immigration. At the time the Admiralty carried out naval patrols, but these were only planned to continue ‘until the Mandatory authorities in Palestine had sufficient resources of its (sic) own in the form of coastguards and Marine Police to guard its coastline.’1 With the deepening international crisis which led to the Second World War the warships were diverted to tasks of higher priority, but once a state of war existed Great Britain exercised her belligerent rights to conduct blockading operations on the high seas. Towards the end of the Second World War the Jews’ suffering united all the Jewish factions in their concentration on a single aim, the creation of a Jewish state in Palestine. They were preparing for armed rebellion against Great Britain, if Britain should try to prevent the arrival of ‘illegal’ immigrants outside the meagre official quota. Foreign Secretary Bevin criticised the Zionists for making political capital out of the suffering of the Jews. Britain regarded Judaism as a religion, and the Foreign Office2 refused to see the Jews as a separate nationality: we insistently deny that it is right to segregate persons of Jewish race as such It has been a cardinal policy hitherto that we regard the nationality factor as the determining one as regards people of Jewish race Once abandon that and the door is open for discrimination in favour of Jews as such, which will ultimately become discrimination against Jews as such.3 Maurice Baxter, Head of the Foreign Office (hereafter FO) Eastern Department, cited inter alia: ‘HMG must, whether they like it or not, adopt a strict and effective policy regarding Jewish immigration. They cannot afford, in their own interest, to do otherwise 4 As long as the Labour Party was in opposition (or in a coalition) it was possible for the Party to make declarations which gave full reign to its sympathies with the Jews without paying too much attention to the views of the Arabs which were dismissed with scorn.5 When peace came to the Mediterranean in the late spring of 1945 the resumption of the ‘Palestine Patrol’ was not at first considered amongst the Royal Navy’s first priorities, but in the autumn of 1945, Civil Power requested assistance of the British military forces. The Palestine government made a formal request to the naval authorities, this was endorsed by the Secretary of State (hereafter S of S) for the Colonies, by the Cabinet and agreed by the Admiralty. Approval was given for the use of the Royal Navy for interceptions and boarding and the Royal Air Force was ordered to conduct maritime reconnaissance to give warning of suspicious vessels approaching. Demands for immigration from Europe naturally increased from the survivors of Nazi persecution and the trickle of would-be immigrants very quickly became a flood. Britain
  • tried to resolve the situation with scant international support, encountering hostility from the United States. The situation deteriorated, the politicians argued and the Royal Navy was saddled with the unpopular task of intercepting the many vessels with their human cargoes en route to Palestine. Having used large-scale illegal immigration to such effect, the Jews had naturally learned the lessons of its political, demographic and military consequences. Nor was the lesson lost on the Palestinian Arabs. In 1988 the Arabs conceived a plan to take a leaf out of the Zionists’ book; they prepared a small vessel, called it Exodus and planned to set sail from Europe to the coast of Israel.6 The ship was to be crammed with Palestinian refugees, as well as foreign and Arab journalists, television and radio reporters. This was obviously a dangerous escalation of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. The Mossad,7 acting on the orders of Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir (Yiszernitsky), promptly sank the ship. The Arab project was temporarily thwarted and unforeseeable consequences were prevented. Researching the Jewish illegal immigration for this book was an exercise permitting the narration of past events in the turbulent Middle East’s history, but in the twenty-first century illegal immigration from many countries with records of political instability and economic hardship is still very much with us. However, the main difference between the above-mentioned illegal immigration operations and the Zionist efforts remains the lack of motivation of the current batch of human traffickers and organisers, the so-called ‘snakeheads’ or human smugglers profiting hugely from the traffic, and Britain’s Zionist opponents of the 1930s and 1940s, who were the ideologically highly committed men and women of the Palmach and the Mossad, steeped as they were in the ideals of ideological solidarity, and brought up in the frugal, puritan life-style of kibbutzim settled by the members of mainly left-wing Jewish parties. They proved more than a match for the British Intelligence Services and ultimately for the Royal Navy. Note: The Jews considered immigration to Palestine to be their legal right and claimed that the phrase ‘Illegal Immigrants’ was invalid, since it was based on the 1939 White Paper. Zionist sources, therefore, prefer the definition ‘Unauthorised’ or ‘Clandestine’ Immigrants.8 In 1938 the Admiralty referred to it as ‘Illicit Immigration’ or ‘Gatecrashing.’9
  • Acknowledgements This book was originally written as a Ph.D. thesis for the Department of War Studies at King’s College, London. I dedicate this book to the memory of my parents Otto and Martha Liebreich of Vienna. I dedicate it also to their grandchildren Karen and Michael who share with their father not only a love for Israel but also a fascination with the near miraculous saga of the Illegal Immigration. Otto and Martha were lucky enough to survive but also proved extremely wise in foreseeing not only the war but also the Holocaust and managing to escape in 1938 and 1939 from Nazi-occupied Vienna and Prague by taking passage on the clandestine immigration ships then trying to reach the asylum of Palestine. But the Liebreich family’s four-and-a-half months Balkan and Mediterranean odyssey on the Danube paddle steamers Kralice Maria and Czar Dušan, on the ancient tramp steamer Frossoula for the Black Sea section of their journey and for the final lap on the ill-fated Tiger Hill is another story to be told. It is a matter of deepest regret that my parents did not live to read their son’s doctoral thesis, on which this book is loosely based or indeed this book itself, which in some ways is a testament to their memory. I should like to take this opportunity to express my appreciation for the generous assistance and fullest co-operation I invariably received from the staffs of the libraries listed in the ‘Sources’ section. I should also like to thank Professor Geoffrey Till of the British Royal Naval College, Greenwich and now Dean of Academic Studies at the Joint Services Command and Staff College (JSCSC) in Swindon, Wiltshire, and express my admiration, respect and enduring appreciation for his forbearance and invaluable assistance. Dr (now Professor) Andrew Lambert of King’s College, London, gave generously of his time. His advice, encouragement and assistance were invaluable. It is a pleasure to thank Professor Yoav Gelber, Director of the Herzl Institute for Research of Zionism at the University of Haifa. I hope my thesis and this book have not strayed too often and too far from his helpful suggestions. I am extremely grateful to Professor Martin Daunton of University College, London (UCL), now Chair of the School of Humanities and Social Sciences at Churchill College, Cambridge, and Master of Trinity Hall, Cambridge, from September 2004, who accepted me, a super-annuated engineer, at the tender age of 62 for a joint degree course in Economics and History at UCL. King’s College London allowed me to benefit from their excellent tuition for my MA and Ph.D. studies, I hope to justify their confidence. I owe a debt of gratitude to the people, British as well as Jewish, who consented to be interviewed and gave willingly of their time, memories and in many cases the hospitality of their homes. I also wish to acknowledge with gratitude the willingness of everyone I consulted to help me in my task, inevitably too many to mention individually. I am very grateful indeed to Dr Simon Wiesenthal of the Dokumentationszentrum in Vienna, and to Dr Yoram Shalit of Israel for his encouragement. I have been fortunate in the kind assistance of the following, to whom I offer individual and collective thanks: Captain
  • Enrico Levi, Jossi Harel-Hamburger, (ex-Captain of the President Warfield and overall Commander of the ‘Pan’ Operation), Dr Jonathan Morris of UCL, Edward P.Horne, BEM, of the Palestine Police Old Comrades Benevolent Association, Major (retd) Mike Kaufmann of the IDF archives in Givataim, Israel, the late J.David Brown, OBE, FRHistS, and Commander Ninian L.Stewart RN (retd) of the Naval Historical Branch. It is a special pleasure for me to acknowledge the debt of gratitude I owe to my good friend ‘Sammek’ (Rear Admiral (retd) Shmuel Janai), the indomitable illegal immigration activist and nowadays Head of several Haganah Veteran Organisations. Arjeh and Tova Silberbach of Tel-Aviv gave advice, encouragement and help when most needed. To several others who prefer anonymity, profound thanks for insight and information. Finally my thanks go to the many, many other helpful persons who aided me in my researches, for their kindness and patience. I must conclude by expressing my profound gratitude with a sincere personal note of thanks for the support of my family. Full credit for assistance and encouragement must go to my son Michael and to my son-in-law Dr Jeremy B.Levy, who between them patiently taught me how to tame my word processor. My thanks go to my daughter Dr Karen A. Liebreich for her constant encouragement. Finally I am totally indebted to my wife, Kitty, for her understanding and fortitude. Kitty suffered years of frustration by having to listen to my ramblings about ‘important’ documentary evidence unearthed and she patiently and graciously forgave me for home and car maintenance jobs omitted or endlessly postponed, when the task of revising the manuscript consumed so many days, evenings and weekends. I dedicate this book to her with love and gratitude. The Public Record Office (now the National Archives) at Kew formed the major archival source of this book, and I am indebted to the many members of staff and their courtesy when supplying documents and answering queries. Unpublished Crown copyright material from the Public Record Office quoted in this book appears by kind permission of the Controller of Her Majesty’s Stationery Office. All quotations from letters, telegrams and other documents preserve the original spelling and punctuation. Finally, I am most grateful to my sub-editor Mrs Jenny Oates of Cambridge who applied her considerable skill, logic and patience to wade through the draft of my manuscript. I trust her suggestions made this a better book. Despite the great help extended by these and many other people, I accept sole responsibility for any errors or shortcomings that may be found in this book. F.Liebreich July 2004
  • Abbreviations and acronyms They will soon drive us all Cuccu=Cultural Union for cryptic Clichés Unlimited The Star, 1951 The asinine jargon of capital letters reaches new heights of imbecility’ ‘Beachcomber’, Daily Express, 20 July 1945. Note: Some abbreviations may also refer to a department and not always to an individual. A Adjutant General AB Able-Bodied Seaman; Airborne ACA Allied Commission for Austria ACAS Assistant Chief of Air Staff ACNS Assistant Chief of Naval Staff ACS Archivio centrale dello Stato (Central State Archives (Italy) ADM Admiralty Adm Administration/Administrative AGM Admiralty General Message AHQ Army Headquarter AJDC American Jewish Distribution Committee AM.LDN. Air Ministry London AS American Seamen’s Association ASMAE Archivio di Stato Ministèro degli Affari Esteri (State Archives, Foreign Ministry, Italy) ASW Anti-Submarine Warfare AVHR American Air and Sea Volunteers for Hebrew Repatriation B busta (folder, file) BCIS British Chief of Intelligence Service Bde Brigade BEM British Empire Medal BMA British Military Authority/Administration BST British Standard Time Bt Battalion
  • CAB Cabinet Office Files CAT Commnunication and Training CB Commander of the Most Ancient and Noble Order of the Bath (awarded for bravery, second only to the Victoria Cross); Confidential Book CBE Commander of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire Cdr Commander Chish Chejl-Sadeh, the field force of the Haganah CIC Counter Intelligence Corps (US) CID Committee of Imperial Defence; Criminal Investigation Dept. (Palestine Police) CIGS Chiefs of the Imperial General Staff C-in-C Commander-in-Chief CIS Communications and Information Systems CM Cabinet Minutes CMF Central Mediterranean Forces CMG Companion of the Order of St Michael and St George CNI Chief of Naval Intelligence CNS Chief of Naval Staff CO Colonial Office; Commanding Officer Col. Colonel Coll Collated Comd, cmd Command COMJEW Commissioner for Jewish camps (Cyprus) COMPAL Command Palestine Copd Copied CP Cabinet Paper CRA (force) 6 AB Div, North Sector (Sub Districts Safad, Tiberias & Beisan.) Inc. 17/21 Lancers, 1 IG, 1 Para Btn, One tp 33 AB Lt Reg RA & two tps RE CRE Commander Royal Engineers CS Centro Sicurezza, the Italian counter-espionage service which in 1946 was in the service of the Allied Control Commission; Cruiser squadron CTS Communications and Training CVO Commander of the Royal Victoria Order DC Democrazia Cristiana (Christian Democrat Party, Italy)
  • DCTS Director of Communications and Training Section DGPS Directore Generale Publica Sicurezza (Italian, General Manager Public Security) Div/s Division/s, divisional DLP Democratic Labour Party DMI Directorate of Military Intelligence DMO Director of Military Operations DNC Director of Naval Construction DNI Director of Naval Intelligence DoD Department of Defence DP Displaced Person DSC Distinguished Service Cross DSD Director of Signals Division DSO Defence Security Office (Dodecanese or Palestine etc.); Divisional Signalling Officer; Companion of the Distinguished Service Order DST French Counter Espionage Service. Director de la surveillance du territoire. DY Dockyard Excl Exclusive f. Female Fmns Formations FO Foreign Office FRUS Foreign Relations US FS Field Security FSS Field Service Section G (ops) General Staff Branch (Operations) GBE Knight Grand Cross of the British Empire GCB Knight Grand Cross GCIE Knight Grand Commander (or Cross) of the Order of the Indian Empire GCMG Knight Grand Cross of the Order of St Michael and St George GCSI Knight Grand Cross of the Star of India Gen General GHQ MELF General Headquarters, Middle East Land Forces GI Gunnery Instructor GOC General Officer Commanding
  • Govt Government GRT Gross Register Tons GSI General Staff, Intelligence GSO General Staff Officer HDML Harbour Defence Motor Launch HHMS His Hellenic Majesty’s Ship HMG Her Majesty’s Government HMY Her Majesty’s Yacht HP Horsepower I Intelligence; International IC Intelligence Corps; in command (i.e. 2 ic=second in command) IG Inspector General IIP Illegal Immigration Palestine IJI Illegal Jewish Immigration Inf. Infantry Int. International; Intelligence IRO International Refugee Organisation It. Italian IZL Irgun Zvai Leumi (National Military Organisation), Jewish underground defence and resistance organisation JIC Joint Intelligence Committee JNF Jewish National Fund JSCSC Joint Services Command and Staff College KBE Knight Commander of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire KC King’s Counsel KCB Knight Commander of the Most Ancient and Noble Order of the Bath (awarded for bravery) KCMG Knight Commander of the Order of St.Michael and St.George KG Knight of the Most Ancient and Noble Order of the Garter Kt Knight L (Class). Leader LC Landing Craft LCI Landing Craft Infantry LCT Landing Craft Tanks
  • LHC Lidell Hart Centre for Military Archives LHI Lohamej Herut Israel, (Fighters for the Freedom of Israel, the ‘Stern Gang’) LO Liaison Officer Lt, Lieut Lieutenant M M branch m. masculine Maki Miflaga Communistit Israelit, (Israel Communist Party) Mapai Mifleget Poalej Eretz Israel, (mainstream Palestine Labour Party Mapam Mifleget Po’alim Me’uhedet (United Workers Party), Zionist Socialists MC Military Cross Med, Medn Mediterranean MED Mechanical Engineering Department MELF Middle East Land Forces MFV Motor Fishing Vessel MI Military Intelligence MI5 Military Intelligence Department (War Office Counter Espionage); for clarity and uniformity the author suggests that modern usage should be accepted and MI, MI5 and MI6 had been used throughout this book MILPAL British Troops (Military) in Palestine and Transjordan MIR Monthly Intelligence Report MOT Ministry of Transport Mov. Movement MOWT Ministry of War Transport MP Member of Parliament MR Map Reference MV Motor Vessel MVO Member of the Royal Victorian Order Nat. Arch. National Archives, new designation for the former PRO NCO Non-Commissioned Officer NKINDEL Narodnyi Kommissariat Innostrannykh Delam (People’s Commissariat for Foreign Affairs) NKVD Narodnyi Kommissariat Vnutrennikh Del (People’s Commissariat for Internal Affairs)—Soviet Security Service NLO Naval Liaison Officer (to MILPAL)
  • NOIC Naval Officer in Charge NV Note Verbale OBE Officer of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire OETAS Occupied Enemy Territory Administration South (Palestine) on Onorabile (honourable) Org Organisation OTP One Time Pad (designation of presumably safer coding) Par Parachute Para/s Paragraph/s PC Privy Councillor PCI Partito Communista Italiano (Italian Communist Party) PCP Palestine Communist Party P/L Plain Language PN Pennant Number PP Palestine Police PRO Public Record Office, Kew PSI Partito Socialista Italiano (Italian Socialist Party) PSS Palestine Secret Service P£ Palestine Pound PREM Prime Minister’s files (PRO) Q Quartermaster General QC Queen’s Council RA Royal Artillery RAF Royal Air Force RCN Royal Canadian Navy RE Royal Engineers Recce Reconnaissance Ref Reference Reg. Regiment, Registration Retd. Retired RIN Royal Italian Navy RN Royal Navy RNLO Royal Navy Liaison Officer RNR Royal Naval Reserve RNVR Royal Naval Voluntary Reserve
  • RSV Revised Standard Version Bible Rt.Hon. Right Honourable SASO Senior Armament Supply Officer. (This could be a special department at larger Navy bases [i.e. Malta] or an individual officer at small RN stations) SBNOME Senior British Naval Officer Middle East SHAEF Supreme Headquarters, Allied Expeditionary Forces Sigs Signals SIME Security Intelligence Middle East sing Singular SIS Secret Intelligence Service (UK) SITREP Situation Report SL S/L Sea Lord; Sub Lieutenant SNO Senior Naval Officer SOE Special Operations Executive S of S Secretary of State Sq. Square SS Steamship Tp/s Troop/s UDBA Yugoslav Secret Service Organisation UNCLOS I, United Nations Conference on the Law of the Sea, I, II II and III and III UNSCOP The United Nations Special Committee on Palestine USS Under-Secretary of State, Staff (this is one of the British Admiralty Intelligence departments) VCIGS Vice Chiefs of Imperial General Staff VCNS Vice Chief of Naval Staff VN Verbal Note (a written summary of a diplomatic document) V/S Visual Signalling WD Works Department wef with effect from WJC World Jewish Congress WO War Office; War Office Files W/T Wireless Telegraph; Wireless Telegram Y Jewish code-breaking organisation
  • 1 Introduction So a vicious circle is set up. The more refugees arrive in the west, the greater the activity of Zionists in organising illegal immigration, the greater the number of illegal immigrants making their way to the coast of Palestine, the greater the need for His Majesty’s Government to take measures to prevent such an influx from destroying the chance of an agreed solution to the problem. The stricter these measures, the larger the number of Jewish refugees piling up in camps in Europe.1 The high emotions raised by the subject of illegal immigration to Palestine have subsided long ago and it is now possible, indeed essential, to deal with the topic dispassionately. Most historians have described the events basically from the Jewish or Zionist view, this book, however, has outlined some aspects as seen and reported by the blockaders, although Jewish sources have frequently been consulted. There must be no misunderstanding; the author of this book has sought objectivity and detachment despite natural sympathy with the refugees. He obviously could not defend the views of those who either from pragmatic, or from other apparently justified reasons, supported restrictions on the number of immigrants allowed into Palestine and who demanded a more pro-Arab direction to the British post-war Palestine policy. The author did try to explain and describe this policy in the general immediate post-war context. Researches into the historical facts, a striving for detachment, but also a perception of the humanity expected by the survivors of the Holocaust became elements of this book, which examines the historical evidence in an attempt to understand how the situation has developed, how policies were executed and the extent to which they were effected. The contemporary words of policy-makers are often the most faithful way of presenting evidence, the author has therefore quoted, often extensively, from documentary sources. Throughout this book the author, a relative newcomer to these shores, has used ‘English’ and ‘British’ as interchangeable concepts, perhaps an irritating solecism which was, however, common especially among Scottish and Welsh writers. He recognised that already in the eighteenth century, when the principle of nationality had entered European politics, England was fast becoming part of a single polity covering all the British isles. In spite of an inevitable feeling of closeness and perhaps even identification with the passengers of the illegal ships, the author has tried not to take the side of the would-be immigrants, but neither could some of the British actions taken in prevention of illegal immigration be justified. Herbert Butterfield’s dictum that historians should refrain from judgemental moralising, self-righteous accusations and from the emphasis on sin and wickedness has always been kept in mind. The book attempts to be ‘judicious and even-
  • handed and fails to blame anyone in particular, but the writer does not eschew the responsibility incumbent on a historian occasionally to point the finger’.2 A number of officers and ratings who served at the time in His Majesty’s ships involved in the ‘Palestine Patrol’, as well as crew members of illegal Jewish vessels were interviewed in researching this book, and I am indebted for their generous assistance, but it is also well-known that the perspectives of actors who played roles in historical events could not always be entirely unbiased and objective, although the writer has sought to maintain a balanced approach that covered all the institutional participants. The perspectives, as recorded in memoirs, reports, memoranda and letters are compelling and fascinating, but the real question remains: are they history? When respectable historians such as Dalia Ofer and Zeev Vania Hadari could and did confuse the Patria with the Parita3 and the river steamer President Warfield (Exodus) with the corvette Norsyd (Haganah) or the Beauharnois (Wedgwood),4 or when Mordechai Naor locates the Athenai (Rafiah) sinking to Cyrenica,5 then unless authoritatively corrected this confusion will be perpetuated by generations of future historians, who may base their own researches on the perusal of such prestigious sources. Corroboration of individual testimonies with documentary sources has been attempted, whenever possible or feasible. For as the historian Marc Bloch wrote in The Historian’s Craft: ‘The majority of minds are but mediocre recording cameras of the surrounding world. There is no reliable witness in the absolute sense. There is only more or less reliable evidence.’ In cases where memories of incidents reported in testimonies differ radically from those of other participants in these events, historians may wonder: ‘Is he telling the truth as he honestly remembers it or is he suffering from that failure of accurate recollection that unfortunately affects all of us sooner or later?’6 There is no doubt that participants in events may be totally mistaken and that the more likely reason for their version of events was attempting to paint themselves in the best possible light,7 but even serious publica-tions have accepted hearsay or anecdotal evidence as fact and thus perpetuated misconceptions.8 Researching and recording the history of any underground organisation, as the Zionist authorities promoting the clandestine immigration to Palestine necessarily had to be, as well as the measures adopted by their opponents who were occupying the Palestine desks of the great British departments of state, or perusing the reports by officers of Britain’s armed forces, presented special difficulties. Jewish and British scholars and authors used basically the same documents in preparing their respective theses, dissertations, books and photographs and came up with quite different interpretations,9 with most British sources taking a lenient view of British responsibility, and most Jews laying the chief burden on Britain, while all agreed on the narrow limits of the engagement, that is, there was always mutual recognition of restraints and adherence to the unwritten rules of the game. Researching the material for this book very soon revealed a major shortcoming: a surfeit of primary documentary material, mainly British, was unearthed in several archives, while most secondary sources as well as television programmes were written or produced by Zionist Jews and inevitably described the Jewish aspect of events. None of these accounts directly addressed the major questions of the crisis in British-Zionist Britain's naval and political reaction to the illegal immigration of jews to palestine, 1945-1948s 2
  • relations, which culminated in the confrontation on the question of Jewish immigration to Palestine. I have tried to remedy this in this study. There has hitherto been a marked absence of eye-witness accounts from British participants, who could testify and narrate the viewpoint of Royal Navy’s officers and ratings who participated in the efforts to stop the post-war illegal immigration of Jews to Palestine. After considerable efforts it proved possible to alleviate this shortcoming partly by locating and identifying 45 sailors of different ranks, who served in HM warships during the critical time and were able to remember events and the attitudes of participants. I had the privilege to conduct interviews and conversations with a number of British10 and Jewish participants in the crisis. I again wish to express my gratitude to these men for their assistance. A caveat about the reliability of the human memory has been given above by quoting the historian Marc Bloch and it seems relevant to add at this point some of the reservations expressed by the historian Jan Vansina11 In many instances the reminiscences of these elderly participants in events were seen as no more than attempts by the narrator to project a consistent image of himself and in some cases a justification of his actions. Other memories could be considered to have been reordered, reshaped or incorrectly remembered according to the part they played in the creation of the narrator’s self-portrait. The author’s interviews with the above-mentioned elderly ex-RN and Illegal Jewish Immigration (IJI) sailors proved again, if proof was needed that ‘human memory is such, that it may rule out certain types of reminiscences genuinely believed to be correct’.12 Following the perusal of a large number of testimonies dictated or written by participants in historical events, even of interviewees quoted in this book, and especially after a critical examination of many recollections of his own war experiences or memories, as related to his own children and grandchildren, the author can confirm that ‘at some moment beweeen middle and old age most people’s memories start to falter and the brain’s function of eliminating the irrelevant and non-essential becomes unreliable’.13 However, he did acquire ‘a good insight into the gap between what may have been in the past and the rendering of memories’.14 Furthermore, historians attempting to utilise oral testimonies in order to research contemporary or near contemporary events must be aware that memory ‘is not immune to the influence of emotions and can therefore play strange tricks, magnifying and dramatising some experiences and diminishing or moderating others’.15 I myself tried quite recently the reliability of oral testimonies being muddled by time. In a relatively late issue of the Navy News (December 2001) the writers of Letters to the Editor, all ex-naval personnel, made no fewer than ten statements, which although they were obviously from memory, contained more fiction than fact. But in spite of my reservation regarding the excessive use of oral testimonies, I still wished to rely in some cases on adherence to sections of witnesses’ often-cited oral narratives, albeit with the admonishment taken from an impeccable source, Josephus Flavius: Introduction 3
  • if you [i.e. Justus] had written it twenty years ago, you might then have obtained the evidence of eyewitnesses to your accuracy. But not until now, when those persons are no longer with us, and you think you can no longer be confuted, have you ventured to publish it.16 True and applicable as far as the British-Zionist confrontation on the clandestine immigration is concerned, but many if not most British documents covering the subject were only released in the 1970s and 1980s and omitting this vital documentary evidence reposing in closed archives could have thrown grave doubts on the veracity of the narrative, which would not have been illuminated by oral testimonies, whose occasional reliability I sometimes permit myself to doubt. The author can therefore confirm that in the case of some writers and in some interviewees a kind of ‘retrospective embellishment happens when, probably unconsciously, they repress the negative aspects of their lives or the events they describe’.17 I believe that in decrying the need to treat uncorroborated testimonies with care, I can do no better than to cite Siegfried Sassoon: The unrevealed processes of memory are mysterious. Neither unconscious selection nor unconscious hazardry can be held responsible for one’s recovery of some moment which emerges—actual as ever—in contrast to the generalised indistinctness from which one elaborates the annals of personal experience.18 This book contains many attempts to verify dates, for the original date may have been false. Wherever the date of a quoted document was missing, the author has tried to ascertain it, and wherever a document was signed or initialled, the author has tried to establish the writer’s full name, his rank and his position in whatever authority he represented at the time. Most of the relevant official papers in Britain are now open to inspection in the Public Record Office, but by 2001 permission to cite from the navy’s official pre-publication copy of the Narrative of the Palestine Patrol by Commander N.L.Stewart RN (retd) had not yet been granted. It was finally released with publication of Commander Stewart’s Naval Staff History narrative The Royal Navy and the Palestine Patrol published by Frank Cass in August 2002. Sections of this book refer to documents which came into the author’s possession or were brought to his attention in their original French, Italian or Hebrew version. Minor inaccuracies may have crept in as a result of his translation, although every effort has been made to provide an English rendering faithful in substance and spirit to the original. This book has been written around distinct aspects of the main topic: the policy of the British Cabinet and the major Departments of State, the Colonial Office (CO), Foreign Office (FO) and War Office (WO), towards post-Second World War Illegal Jewish Immigration to Palestine. The book investigates the immigration and anti-immigration activities of what were traditionally considered Britain’s finest institutions, the army, the Royal Air Force, and especially the Royal Navy, in sealing off the coast of Palestine against the entry of the remnants of European Jewry. A relatively large professional and Britain's naval and political reaction to the illegal immigration of jews to palestine, 1945-1948s 4
  • highly motivated Royal Navy force had applied their customary skill and initiative along with their arsenals of conventional and unconventional weapons and equipment to carry out their government’s anti-immigration policy. However, the unwritten rules of engagement excluded the use of the ships’ primary armaments. They faced a fleet of miscellaneous ships crewed by a mixture of mercenary non-Jewish seamen and ideologically committed young Jewish men and women. This book describes the motives for this policy and the tangled web of support it received from Britain’s centres of administrative and executive power, from the Colonial Office, the Foreign Office, the Admiralty, the Chiefs of Staff, the War Office, the Lord Chancellor, the Board of Trade, the Mandatory government of Palestine, the Cabinet and finally from the Prime Minister himself. The book also shows some of the disputes and divisions between Whitehall departments and between Whitehall and the Colonial governments of Palestine and Cyprus. It shows some of the disagreements between these institutions. There were differences of attitudes which sometimes seemed to border on rifts over the role of anti-Zionist themes in the denigration of immigration. It will be shown that the Foreign and Colonial Offices had developed different approaches in their confrontation with the Illegal Jewish Immigration. I hope the book will reveal some of the divergences of opinions based on contrary agendas advanced by the various offices of state and the inter-departmental search for compromises. Such controversies are illuminated at some length in the sections of this book which deal with the disputes about the three-mile limit of territorial waters, the legal background to the fight against the Illegal Jewish Immigration and the unsavoury saga of continued detainment of Jewish refugees after abandonment of the Mandate.19 The book will show that officials in the Foreign Office were quite prepared to stretch the facts in the service of what they perceived to be a wider political cause, while the Colonial Office was sometimes perhaps more scrupulous in their arguments, although they carried ultimate responsibility for Palestine and were, therefore, frequently biased in favour of the High Commissioner for Palestine and the Palestine government. The most global view of possible consequences of the confrontation was usually held by the Admiralty. In 1938 the Navy had already washed its hands of the business, except that ships on their way to and from Haifa were allowed to make a short detour (if fuel permitted), and keep a special lookout for any illicit activity.20 On the other hand the legal advisers to the various Departments of State were usually cautious and ambiguous, as legal advisers frequently have to be. The raison d’être of the pre-war and wartime anti-immigration policy was supposed to be the ‘Nazi threat’, which after the end of the war turned seamlessly into the ‘communist threat’. Both these threats dried up in due course and revealed the true reason for the anti- Zionist policy adopted and especially for the U-turn on Palestine executed by the British Labour Party—the need not to antagonise Arab and wider Muslim feelings in the dangerous international climate of the pre-war Nazi threat and later in the anti-Soviet scenario of the Cold War. Following the end of hostilities it was mainly the self- preservation instinct of British imperialism which was trying hard to entertain the notion that communist plots lay behind most of the pressure for Jewish immigration into Palestine and indeed tried to prove that Soviet Russia stood to a large extent behind its organisation.21 The book also shows that, especially after 1938, British policy on Jewish immigration to Palestine became indelibly stained by a rather unsavoury mixture of Introduction 5
  • cynicism, arrogance and sometimes plain dishonourable conduct. Worse was to come, and between 1945 and 1948, the period covered by this book, British policy on Palestine seemed to become mired in insensitive blunders and public relation disasters. One of the aims of the author was, therefore, to research and analyse the policy of the British and Palestine governments towards the essential question of immigration and their attitude towards the Jewish survivors of Hitler’s death camps. Regarding the description of the British-Zionist confrontation as a ‘blockade of the Palestine coast’, it was necessary initially to define the applicability in this context of the word ‘Blockade’. What is a ‘Blockade’ and did it apply to the British confrontation with the Illegal Jewish Immigration at its embarkation points in Europe, at sea and in Palestine itself? Blockade has been defined as ‘cutting a place off by troops or by ships in time of war’,22 to prevent neutral ships from reaching enemy ports23 and as an act of war by the warships of a belligerent, detailed to prevent access to or departure from a defined part of the enemy coast.24 It differs from a ‘quarantine’ operation, for example, the US-Soviet Union confrontation over Cuba which was not an operation of war and could not have been enforced against neutrals. Examples of typical blockades were Germany’s declaration of a submarine blockade against Great Britain on 4 February 1915 and Britain’s retaliatory decision to seize all ships carrying goods of presumed enemy destination, ownership or origin. It can readily be seen that the act of subjecting foreign ship owners to conformance with a British/Palestinian Immigration policy should, therefore, not have been classed as a ‘blockade’. But the processes adopted by Britain of enforcing measures designed to prevent immigrants from reaching the coast of Palestine were certainly defined at the time as a blockade, although the confrontation could not officially be so designated without, thereby, recognising that the Zionists enjoyed the status and rights of belligerents. It is, however, recognised that in International Law a blockade during time of peace may only be resorted to as a compulsive means of settling an international difference, to be allowed only as a case of intervention or reprisal. Definitions of alternative methods such as ‘visit and search’ or an ‘embargo’ also did not cover adequately the various procedures adopted by British warships in the Mediterranean to ascertain whether certain vessels were carrying contraband. ‘Visit and search’ is a right to be claimed only by belligerents to stop, visit and search neutral merchant vessels on the high seas and in territorial waters and confiscate contraband. Was Britain or were the Zionists belligerents and were immigrants ‘contraband’ and could an ‘embargo’ comparable to the US patrols attempting to enforce prohibition have been legally employed to prevent the Yishuv25 from acquiring a proportion of the population, deemed to be excessive by the Mandatory authorities?26 However, Britain claimed that a blockade instituted by a state against its own territory was not a blockade for the settling of international differences and therefore had nothing to do with the Law of Nations. However, the ‘blockade’ was considered intolerable by the Jews, they saw themselves as victims and though initially defenceless, actually searched for and found means of retaliation. There is another aspect of the British-Zionist confrontation over Jewish immigration which this book records—the indubitable fact that Britain was always very much aware of the minutiae of International Law and was, therefore, very concerned indeed to Britain's naval and political reaction to the illegal immigration of jews to palestine, 1945-1948s 6
  • establish that the exclusion of immigrants was solely within the domestic jurisdiction of the Palestine government. To conclude: this book has been intended as a contribution to existing research and literature on the Illegal Jewish Immigration into Palestine, basing itself to a greater extent than has perhaps been accomplished by earlier publications on the frequently neglected British dimension. It will test the historical validity of some sources written on various aspects of the confrontation, such as the interaction between the various branches of the British establishment and it will also assess how far public opinion in Britain and abroad was able to influence decisions. Finally some space has been dedicated to appendices, listing for the first time in such a context as many details as seemed feasible within the constraints of space, of the protagonists: the vessels of the Royal Navy, Palestine Police and Mossad le’Aliyah Bet27 that were involved in the struggle. Introduction 7
  • 2 The determinants of British policy towards Jewish immigration into Palestine, from the Balfour Declaration via the Royal Commissions to the 1939 White Book and to the final abandonment of the ‘national home’ commitment This chapter shall endeavour to describe the general outline of the tortuous path from the Protestant idea for the restoration of the Jews in Palestine via the Balfour Declaration and over the various Committees of Enquiry to the final abandonment of the national home and mandate commitments. In order for the non-specialist reader to understand, and for him to be able to follow the tangled skein of the early honeymoon between Britain and the Jews, as well as the subsequent love-hate relationship with the Zionists, it was considered essential to include a chapter showing the deteriorating determinants of British policy towards Jewish immigration into Palestine. For the sake of the then prevailing atmosphere we may follow the atmosphere of idealism, practically from the period of Palmerston, his predecessors and contemporaries until Balfour and beyond and until the nadir of the British decision finally to abandon the Jewish national home and the mandate commitments had been reached. It is essential to realise that, ‘the development of British attitudes and policies towards an important historical movement, was the return of Jews to Palestine during the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries’.1 The first phase in this development in ‘English Protestant thought was the idea that the restoration of the Jews to Palestine was a necessary precursor of the “Latter Days”, when the “Messias” would come once again to inaugurate the reign of righteousness and justice, brotherhood freedom and peace.’2 Evangelical Christians began to predict that Britain would henceforth be used by God in assisting the restoration of the Jews. These English Protestants read in the Old and New Testaments of God’s faithfulness towards the house of Israel, and they truly believed that God still had an ongoing purpose for the Jewish people. The second phase followed in the 1830s and 1840s, when the attention of the British government as well as a body of high-minded English Christians was drawn during the ‘Eastern Crisis’, precipitated by the occupation of Syria by Muhammad Ali, to Britain’s strategic interests in Syria and Palestine. This festering crisis, as the author among many other historians believes, then led inevitably to the third phase, the process ‘of strategic assessment and diplomatic negotiation during the First World War, which led to the issue
  • of the Balfour Declaration in 1917, the British occupation of Palestine, and the first attempts to carry out the undertakings made in the Declaration’.3 In the seventeenth century there was already speculation that ‘England had a central part to play in the advent of the Millennium and Christ’s Second Coming’.4 The latter belief was supported by biblical texts such as the sentence in Romans, 9, 27: ‘Though the number of the children of Israel be as the sand of the sea, a remnant shall be saved’. But the Old Testament prophecies had an even greater relevance for the Jewish aspirations: I will bring thy seed from the east and gather thee from the west; I will say to the north, give up and to the south keep not back: bring my sons from far and my daughters from the ends of the earth. Isaiah 43, 5–6 Many Jews, but also many gentile Englishmen and women truly believed in the Old Testament prophecies: I will take the children of Israel and will bring them into their own land And they shall dwell in the land that I have given unto Jacob and they shall dwell therein, even they and their children and children’s children forever. Ezekiel 37, 21–5 Through their daily study of the Bible many an Englishman or woman, provided they were relatively high in the social scale of the time, had become familiar with the geography of the Holy Land. For them the deserts and towns of Edom, Judaea, Moab or Midian were as alive as their perception of English counties. They implicitly believed in the biblical prophecies which, by perpetuating God’s will, had vowed the return of the Jews to Palestine. However, the English Christian idea of Jewish Return to Palestine was unrelated to the nineteenth and twentieth-century concept of political independence for the Jews, but many Britons had been ‘excited by the idea of restoring the Jews to their ancestral homeland after 2000 years: the British had seen themselves as secret guardians of time, capable of using their vast wealth and power to replay history’.5 However, the motive force for Jewish nationalism was eventually to come not from the West, but from Eastern Europe, where continuing persecution and disillusion with the process of emancipation created a political and secular constituency for Zionism 6 Palmerston wrote in 1840, ‘There exists at present, among the Jews dispersed over Europe, a strong notion that the time is approaching when their nation is to return to Palestine’, and he proposed a British protectorate, under Ottoman sovereignty, over the country and that Palestine should be settled with wealthy foreign Jews. But Palmerston’s brief flirtation with the 1840 idea of a Jewish return to Palestine soon faded and, until late in the First World War there was no serious political interest, in European circles, in the Return of the Jews it was British political interests, as perceived in 1917, which prompted the Balfour Declaration, not dormant hopes for the Millennium—whatever the sentimental gloss The determinants of British policy 9
  • given their backing for the Zionists by bible-reading politicians like Balfour and Lloyd George,7 who as one of the fundamentalist Protestants felt hostile to the Catholics, but held to the belief that the return of Israel was ‘nigh at hand’ and that England was destined to help them. For some time there had been a supposition that the buffer zones of Sinai and Palestine were of vital strategic importance for the defence of Egypt, and Egypt’s north-eastern frontier had consquently already been pushed to Rafa and Aqaba. Lord Shaftesbury was already aware of the idea of restoring the Jews to Palestine as part of Britain’s imperial interest and with England at war with Turkey the Zionist concept was increasingly seen as being in harmony with British interests. In the course of the war with Turkey it was frequently suggested that world Jewry be offered a Zionist arrangement for Palestine, in order to gain their support for the Allies. There had actually been calculation among British Policy makers of the effect that a pronouncement like the Balfour Declaration would have on the attitude to the war of Russian and American Jewries—this particularly in view of rumours that the Central Powers might be contemplating a similar proZionist step. The rumours were well-founded. With the defeat of Russia and the occupation of vast Polish and Ukrainian areas, there were more than five million Jews living in the areas controlled by the Central Powers, compared to the puny circa 400,000 residing in England and the strict neutrality and largely pro-Turkish sentiments expressed by large sections of the American, German and Austrian Zionists. The author suggests perusal of even only one of very many pro-Imperial Germany’s pro- Zionist documents, it read: The Imperial Government is favourably disposed to the aspirations of the Zionist Organisation to create a Jewish National Home for the Jewish people in Palestine and is willing to promote this aim energetically. In recognition of the great economic and cultural benefit which would accrue to the Ottoman Empire from a Jewish settlement of Palestine, the Imperial Government is prepared to intercede with the friendly Turkish Government, so that a basis may be created for the unhindered development of a Jewish settlement in Palestine. The above draft was sent by Mathias Erzberger, a prominent leader of the German Centre [Zentrum] Party and Director of the Intelligence and Propaganda Bureaux, to Richard von Köhlmann, Minister for Foreign Affairs.8 There had actually been calculation among British policy-makers of the effect that a mooted pronouncement like the Balfour Declaration would have on the attitude to the war of Russian and American Jewry—this particularly in view of rumours that the Central Powers might be contemplating a similar pro-Zionist step. Some British statesmen became convinced that Britain and her allies would benefit immensely from the friendship of a world Jewry indebted to Britain by a Zioinist arrangement for Palestine. This was probably one of the reasons accounting for the origin of Britain’s binding commitment to the Jews. Lloyd George believed that in 1917 Russian Jews had become Britain's naval and political reaction to the illegal immigration of jews to palestine, 1945-1948s 10
  • the chief agents of German pacifist propaganda in Russia and he announced, ‘If Great Britain declared for the fulfilments of Zionist aspirations in Palestine under her own pledge, one effect would be to bring Russian Jewry to the cause of the entente.9 One other reason was the obvious desire to strengthen Britain’s hand vis-à-vis the French and escape the effect of the Sykes-Picot pact of 1916, with its agreement to an international administration in Palestine. Lloyd George, a fundamentalist Protestant, certainly did not want the French to have a foothold in Palestine. Together with Asquith in 1915, he believed it would be an outrage to let the Holy Places pass into the possession or under the protectorate of ‘agnostic, atheistic France’. Last but not least was the imperative to ensure that a friendly entity like a Jewish national home could prevent a potential threat to the Suez Canal. But the British statesmen who proposed the possibility of large-scale Jewish settlement to Palestine had a rather exaggerated belief in the effect which would be produced on Jewish opinion in Russia and the United States by British support for Zionism, at a time when the attitude of both powers was considered of great, perhaps vital importance in deciding the outcome of the war. It has often been claimed that the Balfour Declaration was an ill-considered, sentimental act largely concerned with the Hon. Member for Carnarvon Boroughs [Mr Lloyd George], and that it was a thing done in the tumult of the War. But hardly any step was taken with greater deliberation and responsibility.10 The Jewish Commonwealth in Palestine was meant to become a ‘little loyal protective Ulster amidst the enveloping hosts of Arabism.11 But an inherent Arab hostility to Zionism eventually became a serious political force in the wake of the Balfour Declaration. This hostility began to command widespread support among Muslim and Christian Arabs, while the anti-Zionist awakening at the end of the First World War and its emerging Palestinian-Arab national movement led to total opposition to the Balfour Declaration and to the Jewish national home. Palestinian Arab political circles had already raised their voices in protest against Zionist settlement before the First World War, and these voices became even more vociferous after news of the Balfour Declaration had reached Palestine. Military Administration officers and British Intelligence at once encountered this opposition. In so far as the mandate incorporated a British obligation to support the National Home, the [Arab] nationalist movement also declared total opposition to the mandate’.12 A conflict soon arose between those who demanded no more than civil and religious liberties and ‘reasonable facilities for immigration and colonisation as well as such municipal privileges in the towns and colonies inhabited by them as may be shown to be necessary’.13 and those who sponsored the Balfour Declaration which read: His Majesty’s Government view with favour the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people, and will use their best endeavour to facilitate the achievement of that object, it being clearly understood that nothing shall be done which may prejudice the civil and The determinants of British policy 11
  • religious rights of existing non-Jewish communities in Palestine,14 or the rights and political status enjoyed by the Jews in any other country. This inherent conflict between aspirations and promises was never resolved. It should be noted that ‘the National Home of the Jewish People’ of the original Balfour Declaration draft had been changed and watered down in the final version to a national home for the Jewish People’, a subtle but not unimportant difference between two interpretations to the basic aim of Zionism. Another small but actually very significant difference between the earlier and the final version may be noted: The capitalisation of the N and H in National Home had been changed to the lower case n and h as in national home.15 These changes had probably been instigated by Lord Curzon of Kedleston, who later succeeded Balfour at the Foreign Office.16 Curzon was strongly supported by the Rt. Hon. Edwin Montagu, a Jew and then Secretary of State for India. His homeland, Montagu said, was Great Britain. Curzon fought Balfour, the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, strenuously but vainly in the latter’s insistence for a declaration upon a Jewish national home in Palestine, but he lost the struggle with the Cabinet for a pledge to placate the Jews, and bring them in on Britain’s side in the war. Lord Curzon was consistently pro-Arab and anti-Zionist, considering Balfour’s pro-Zionism unfair to the Arab majority in Palestine. He warned against Zionist policy and objected on numerous occasions to the terms of the Palestine Mandate. He wrote: ‘I have more than once pointed out the growing and almost insatiable ambitions of the Zionists what is the good of shutting our eyes to the fact that this—a state—a body politic—an independent community—a republic—is what the Zionists are after, and that the British trusteeship is a mere screen behind which to work for this end?’17 Lord Curzon succeeded Lord Balfour as Foreign Secretary on 24 October 1919. As Secretary of State for the Colonies, Winston Churchill already had to defend the Balfour Declaration against fierce attacks in the Commons: Broadly speaking there are two issues raised tonight, and it is very important to keep them distinct. The first is, are we to keep our pledge to the Zionists made in 1917 to the effect that Her Majesty’s Government will use their best endeavours to facilitate the achievement of a National Home or are we to abandon it? Are the measures taken by the Colonial Office to fulfil that pledge reasonable and proper.18 And Churchill repudiated the McMahon promises to Shereef Hussain as made ‘because it was considered they would be of value to us in our struggle to win the war [and] there was also accepted responsibility for fulfilling the promises we had made to the Zionists.’ At that time (July 1922) the pro-Zionist policy of the Colonial Office under Churchill survived. After demanding that Britain should keep ‘the word she has given before all the nations of the world’, the anti-Zionist question was put in the House ‘That Item A be reduced by £100 in respect of the salary of the Secretary of State’ and was duly defeated, Britain's naval and political reaction to the illegal immigration of jews to palestine, 1945-1948s 12
  • Ayes, 35—Noes, 292. But it was an ill omen for the Zionists that even as far back as July 1922, the leaders of the anti-Zionist opposition in the Commons (Sir W.Joynson-Hicks and Sir J.Butcher), who had previously been enthusiastic supporters of the Balfour Declaration, had by then revised their judgement. They were soon followed by many more British parliamentarians and politicians. Twenty-two years after the Balfour Declaration it was generally realised that the question of Jewish immigration to Palestine was critically important for the Jews of Palestine as well as for world Jewry, because it was abundantly clear that failure to rescind the 1939 White Paper restrictions would condemn the Yishuv to remain a permanent minority. In fact, demo-graphic forecasts based on birth and death rates revealed that over a foreseeable period of time without appreciable immigration the proportion of Jews in the general population of Palestine would diminish into practical insignificance. The hope of establishing a meaningful national home would thus have been dealt a mortal blow. Repetition of the well-known arguments of nationalist Arabs about their political as distinct from their civil religious rights would exceed the scope of this book and other sources would have to be consulted for details of these claims, being based as they were on the wartime engagements to the Arabs, particularly as contained in Sir Henry McMahon’s correspondence with the Shereef Hussein of Mecca, given at the time with a view to securing military support against the Turks. In August 1915 Sir Henry actually wrote to the Shereef: ‘Arab interests are English interests and English interests are Arab interests’. These promises ambiguously made by McMahon were held later ‘by Arab nationalists to have included a British promise that Palestine would form part of an Arab state, although the vague texts of the relevant documents enabled the British government to deny that there had been any such intention’.19 A joint British-French declaration regarding the future government of the areas of the Ottoman Empire occupied by the allies, issued on 8 November 1918, was not so vague. It began: The goal envisaged by France and Great Britain in prosecuting in the East the war set in train by German ambition is the complete and final liberation of the peoples who have for so long been oppressed by the Turks, and the setting up of national governments and administrations that shall derive their authority from the free exercise of the initiative and choice of the indigenous populations.20 In November 1918 the whole of Palestine was placarded by Lord Allenby with proclamations to the Arab people to this effect: The war is to ensure the complete and final liberation of the people so long oppressed by the Turks and the establishment of a Government and administration deriving their authority from the initiative and free desire of the native population. They are far from wishing to impose any form of Government on the people against their will. The determinants of British policy 13
  • The Zionist interpretation of the Balfour Declaration, however, vigorously denied that the apparently conflicting British undertakings were incompatible. But these undertakings were quite obviously contradictory both in letter and in spirit.21 These conflicting engagements left British officials in Palestine with an uneasy conscience. Some were convinced that a British government pro-Zionist policy would involve an injustice to the Arabs of Palestine and they consequently searched for ways to change that policy, while many others were convinced that the passus in the preamble to the Mandate in favour of the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people, recognised a historical connection of the Jewish people with Palestine and was absolutely binding on the Mandatory government. War Office policy in the 1930s was inconsistent and fluctuated under successive commanders of the forces in Palestine. Generals Dill, Wavell and Haining saw their basic priority in defeating the Arab rebellion and they liaised with the Jews who helped the British to suppress it, but the new commander, General Evelyn Barker stressed the need to disband the Jewish armed forces. The British dilemma of the 1930s regarding their policy in Palestine can be boiled down to three questions; Jewish Immigration, the Land Problem and the future Constitution of Palestine. The following statement with regard to British Policy was presented by the Secretary of State for the Colonies to Parliament.22 It is obvious that if the Mandatory Power had only to take into consideration the interests of the population, its immigration policy ought to be directed primarily by considerations of the economic needs of the country. It is, moreover, equally clear that if the Mandatory Power had to take into account the interests of the Arab population, and if its sole duty was to encourage Jewish immigration in Palestine, it might be in a position to pursue an Agrarian policy which would facilitate and expedite to a greater extent than its present policy the creation of a Jewish National Home.23 That dilemma was confronted by a Palestine government, which was supposed to base its policy upon the principle that immigration shall ‘not exceed the economic capacity of the country at the time to absorb new arrivals’. Everything thus turned on correctly gauging the absorptive capacity of the country. Even at a perspective of more than 50 years since the events described it is mortifying for intelligent British people to observe the tortuous perambulations of British policy, which at the time were quite prepared to see Jews in Europe put to death by the Nazis for fear of Arab comment, by using the argument that Palestine had no more ‘absorptive capacity’ for persecuted Jews, while at the same time importing tens of thousands of illegal Arabs into Palestine to do necessary work.24 The post-war Labour government had decided to continue Britain’s anti-immigration policy after the end of hostilities and was prepared to use the vestiges of her navy’s resources to ensure compliance with the 1939 White Paper restrictions, which had imposed restrictions on the further growth of the Jewish national home in Palestine. The encumbrance of the Palestine government by apprehension of Arab sensitivities can characteristically be evidenced by a letter Lord Ormsby-Gore wrote regarding a Britain's naval and political reaction to the illegal immigration of jews to palestine, 1945-1948s 14
  • proposal to give a general service medal to armed forces personnel who had acted to suppress the 1936 Arab revolt. Ormsby-Gore wrote: I am sorry to say that I feel I must submit reasons against the proposal on political and general grounds it can only be regarded as a medal for services against the Arabs. We do not want it to go out to the world, especially the Islamic world, that we have been at war with the Arabs. I should find the effect of such an award most embarrassing.25 Impartiality was ensured when a naval version was subsequently awarded for service in ships engaged in the ‘Palestine Patrol’.26 Following the British policy of appeasement27 which reached its peak with the Munich Agreement and the renewed confidence it created in the possibility of preserving the peace, there also came a renewed determination to settle the Palestinian issue politically. By the autumn of 1938, even after the ‘Arab Rebellion’ had been put down, the military policies of the preceding summer had become a political embarrassment. On social, political and religious grounds the general balance of the conventional British middle-class outlook on Jews was profoundly unfavourable. At one extreme was the affinity between evangelical Protestantism and interest in the Jews. In the nineteenth century this led to schemes for the re-establishment of the Jews in Palestine. It can be noted that the messianic elements in Zionism were well designed to appeal to the evangelical mind, and it is not surprising to find among the few outspokenly pro-Zionist officials in Palestine a number of nonconformist and ‘Low Church’ Protestants. This feeling, which was widespread among British officials in Palestine throughout the mandatory period, especially during its earliest and latest years, was reinforced by traditional attitudes of the British officer class towards Jews and Arabs—unspoken or half-spoken assumptions which conditioned their thinking about the Palestine problem. The British officials in Palestine were drawn almost exclusively from the middle and upper-middle classes.’28 On the other hand the general tenor of the Catholic Church’s attitude towards the Jews and towards Zionism was at best ambiguous. On Monday, 25 January 1904 Herzl thanked his Holiness for the audience granted to him and subsquently recorded in his diary some remarks made by the newly installed Pius X: We cannot give approval to this movement. We cannot prevent Jews from going to Jerusalem—but we could never sanction it. The soil of Jerusalem, if it was not always sacred, has been sanctified by the life of Jesus Christ. As the head of the Church I cannot tell you anything different. The Jews have not recognized our Lord, therefore we cannot recognise the Jewish people.29 On 22 January 1904 Theodor Herzl met the Vatican’s Secretary of State, Cardinal Merry del Val, who told the Zionist leader: ‘as long as the Jews deny the divinity of Christ, we certainly cannot make a declaration in their favour.’30 On the occasion of the 1921 Palestinian-Arabs revolt, Pope Benedict XV, formerly Cardinal Giacomo Della Chiesa, declared that the situation in Palestine has been made The determinants of British policy 15
  • worse by the new civil arrangements (the substitution of the military government by a new civil administration) which aimed, in the opinion of the Pope, if not in their authors’ intention, at least in practice, to oust Christianity from its previous position and put the Jews in its place.31 Innumerable documents of the Vatican’s long-time rejection of the Zionists ambitions are extant, but a more recent example of the Second Ecumenical Council Vatican II prepared by Pope John XXIII must suffice to drive home the point, so well illustrated, by recording some of the latest, somewhat futile, attempts to improve the nearly 2,000-year-old problem of the Church’s relation with the Jewish people. In 1962 the German Cardinal Augustine Bea. ‘The Cardinal of Unity’, had accepted from Pope John XXIII the formal assignment to prepare a Conciliar Declaration on the Relations of the Church to the Non-Christian Religions32 for presentation at the 1962–65 Second Ecumenical Council Vatican II. At the heart of the problem which soon arose were Cardinal Bea’s provocative questions: ‘Are the Jews a deicide people?’ and are they ‘Cursed by God?’, in other words, it was considered a question of whether, when the authorities in Jerusalem of the period condemned Jesus and had him killed, they had become guilty of ‘deicide’. The expression: ‘His blood be on us and on our children’ (Mathew 27:55) was quoted in this respect. The discussion over the content of Nostra aetate and the laborious process of drafting and approval of the document lasted three years. The proclaimed aim of Vatican II was aggiornamento (modernisation and updating) and the introduction of a new revolutionary dawn in Catholic-Jewish relations. But serious difficulties arose with the leaders of the traditionalist, conservative, radical- rightist groupings within the Roman Catholic Church around the French Archbishop Marcel Lefebver and the Genoese Archbishop Giuseppe Siri which led to a tactical alliance between these groupings and the Arab and Eastern delegates, the Syrian, Copt and Greek Melkite patriarchs. It proved impossible to insert even the eventually proposed watered down Nostra aetate into the Constitution of the Catholic Church. The reasoning was that if the Catholic Church and the Council ‘absolved the Jews from the charge of deicide, they were betraying historical truth and the gospel it would have been a threat to Ecumenism.’33 This moderated, unexpurgated Nostra aetate eliminated the proposed but controversial denial of the Jews’ collective responsibility for the death of Jesus and also omitted regret for the expression ‘guilty of deicide’. It also no longer ‘condemned’ (damat) anti- Semitism, it merely ‘deplored’ (deplorat) it. In the final of four versions of the statement on the Jews in Nostra aetate, drafted after almost five years of discussions, the participating cardinals thus managed to avoid any expression of remorse for the negative attitudes and consequent injustices of the past. For his efforts in fighting for a meaningful Nostra aetate, Cardinal Bea was attacked as an enemy of the Church, a heretic, as having tricked Pope John XXIII and as having hatched a plot against the Catholic Church. The debate on the exculpation of the Jews from guilt for the cruxifixion never came to a positive issue, not even in view of the ruthless policy of extermination, inflicted upon millions of Jews by the Nazis. Consequently the distinctly anti-Jewish sentiment of the Roman Catholic Church,34 which ‘rubbed off on English Catholic officials in Palestine, who were generally hostile to Zionism’35 remained even after the publication of the bowdlerised Nostra aetate. Britain's naval and political reaction to the illegal immigration of jews to palestine, 1945-1948s 16
  • By the end of the Vatican II Council it remained clear that the Holy See never ceased to consider the Jews a rejected race and would not, or could not, remove the remaining seeds of anti-Semitism from Catholic Theology. By the end of 1919, Arab opposition to the Zionists had stiffened and the nationalist Arabs’ hostility to Zionism became a political force, in spite of many attempts to tone down the anti-Zionist propaganda flooding Syria and Palestine at the time.36 After 1918 there developed a[n] [Arab] nationalist movement which, although riven by personal and clan rivalries, by suspicions between Muslims and by the end of 1919 Christians and by social and economic differences among townsmen, bedouin and felahin [peasants], commanded widespread support among Arabs. The dominant motif in the ideology of this movement was total opposition to Zionism, to the Balfour Declaration, and to the Jewish National Home Arab hostility to Zionism was demonstrated in a series of riots in 1920, 1922 and 1929, in which a large number of Jews were attacked and many killed.37 These riots and the military and political costs of their repression caused many British officials in Palestine to become thoroughly imbued with the perception of the depth of the Jewish-Arab schism. They consequently questioned whether the Balfour Declaration policy should be continued and, repeatedly attempted to persuade the British government to change its policy in a sense unfavourable to the Zionists, sometimes even to the extent of urging the complete abandonment of the Balfour Declaration policy and of the British commitment to the Jewish National Home.38 Members of the British government thought they had little to fear from public or Parliament, as the public seemed always prepared to make concessions in order to avoid violence. In fact, 25 Jews had been elected in 1945 as Labour Members of Parliament, but there was no distinct Zionist lobby to speak of and no effective Jewish pressure group which could compare to the US political scene. Americans on the other hand tended to look for a just solution, without having to worry too much about the risks involved. American elections, as shown later in this chapter, can be swung towards either of the big parties by the Jewish vote, especially in some key Eastern marginal seats. The ruling Labour Party thus had no Zionist pressure to contend with and the Zionist plank in its platform was ‘the result of a profound conviction that the establishment of the national home is an important part of the Socialist creed.’39 Labour’s support for Zionism was reaffirmed on numerous occasions, even as late as May 1945, only a few weeks before the first post-war general election. The Labour Party in opposition or even as members of a coalition consistently promised to abolish all restriction on immigration into Palestine, if it took power. There is no doubt that the war-time Labour Party was deeply committed to a pro- Zionist plank, as proved by some verbatim extracts from texts of some of Labour’s official pronouncements. In 1943, for instance, the Annual Labour Party Conference The determinants of British policy 17
  • attended by three Labour members of the wartime Coalition government, Mr Attlee, Mr Morrison and Mr Bevin, passed a resolution which included the following paragraph: The Conference reaffirms the traditional policy of the Labour Party in favour of building Palestine as the Jewish National Home. It asks that the Jewish Agency be given authority to make the fullest use of the economic capacity of the country, including the development of unoccupied and undeveloped land. The 1944 Annual Labour Party resolution went even further: There is surely neither hope nor meaning in a ‘Jewish National Home’ unless we are prepared to let Jews, if they wish, enter this tiny land in such numbers as to become a majority. There was a strong case for this before the war. There is an irresistible case now after the unspeakable atrocities of the cold and calculated Nazi plan to kill all Jews in Europe.40 Further elaboration of the above statement of Labour policy was made in May 1944 by Arthur Greenwood: In each year since the war started, the Labour Party has made a declaration of policy on Palestine They have not wavered in any way from the attitude they have taken previously on the Jewish problem. Therefore, the statement which was made in the report issued a week ago must be taken in conjunction with the statements they have already made. The declaration makes it clear that there is a desire for the establishment of the Jewish National Home, and that cannot be satisfied until we are prepared to allow Jews, if they wish, to enter Palestine in such numbers as to become a majority.41 The above Party statements, made while Labour formed part of a coalition government, may usefully be supplemented by sentences taken from a speech made by Dr Dalton at the 1945 Annual Labour Conference, only weeks before he became Chancellor of the Exchequer: ‘It is morally wrong and politically indefensible to impose obstacles to the entry into Palestine of any Jews who desire to go there.’42 We consider Jewish immigration into Palestine should be permitted without the present limitations which obstruct it, and we have also stated very clearly that this is not a matter which should be regarded as one for which the British Government alone should take responsibility it is indispensable that there should be close agreement and co-operation among the British, American and Soviet Governments and in my view, steps should be taken in consultation with those two governments to see whether we cannot get that common support for a policy which will give us a happy, free and prosperous Jewish state in Palestine.43 Britain's naval and political reaction to the illegal immigration of jews to palestine, 1945-1948s 18
  • In July 1945 the unexpected happened and a Labour government was elected. There was dancing in the streets of Tel-Aviv. The euphoria was short-lived. Within a few days of taking office Labour had abandoned its commitment: ‘There were many British Ambassadors in Arab countries, and many Arab desks in the Foreign Office. The Jews had none.’44 With the assumption of power by the Labour government it soon became clear that the Cabinet’s enthusiasm had waned quite considerably. It is important to understand the reasons for this change. Britain had paid a debilitatingly heavy price for her victory and was left carrying worldwide burdens which far exceeded her economic strength. It was therefore imperative that Britain very rapidly evolve foreign policies commensurate with her resources. The new Foreign Secretary was faced with a British policy in Palestine still based on the 1939 White Paper which laid down severe restrictions on Jewish immigration and land purchase. But suspension of immigration and control of land transfer, which became effective with the 1939 White Paper, were not the main parts of the British policy, objectionable though they were to the Zionists. The Land and Immigration Regulations of the White Paper could be and were circumvented, but the Jews realised immediately that the gradual transformation of Palestine into an independent state with an assured Arab majority was, for their community at least, the most dangerous part of the White Paper. The new Labour Foreign Secretary, Ernest Bevin, The Right Hon. PC, MP, Secretary of State for the Foreign Office, felt unable to reverse British policy in Palestine without considering very carefully the new military and political commitments involved. The new Labour government felt that any concession to Zionism would endanger Britain’s future position in the Middle East. When enacted, and if carried through to its logical conclusion, the White Paper would have denied the Jewish people the possibility to reconstitute their promised national home, it thus would have rendered the Balfour Declaration null and void. This step was almost taken officially in 1941,45 it was abandoned albeit temporarily, but as a quid pro quo Churchill had to shelve the plan for an international Jewish Division within the framework of the British Army. Ernest Bevin’s sneers at the 1946 Labour Conference offered the Zionists all the confirmation they needed of his anti-Semitism: ‘The American campaign for 100,000 Jews to be admitted to Palestine was proposed with the purest of motives. They didn’t want too many Jews in New York.46 At the same conference Bevin was also reported to have said ‘the Jews are at war with the Gentile world’. Decisions made at conference are binding on the Party and become policy decisions; thus the Labour Party had indeed come a long way since the ringing declarations of their 1939, 1940, 1943 and 1944 conferences. All the evidence indicates that agreement on a new Palestine policy was given a fairly low priority by the new Labour government. In 1945–46 they were too preoccupied with their own domestic programme while at the same time becoming increasingly concerned by the threat of Soviet expansion. They, therefore, relied to a very large extent on Mr Bevin’s faculty for improvisation and seemed to be unduly impressed by the arguments put forward by Foreign Office and Colonial Office officials as well as by the Chiefs of Staff for maintaining the White Paper policy. However, the Party’s wartime pledges to the Zionists resulted in an initial reluctance within the Cabinet to accept fully the Foreign The determinants of British policy 19
  • Office, Colonial Office and Chiefs of Staff recommendations. A special Palestine Committee of the Cabinet reported on 19 October 1945 that Britain would support the appointment of an Anglo-American Commission to examine the situation of the Jews in Europe and to make recommendations. President Truman recommended that the survivors of the concentration camps should be allowed into Palestine, but Herbert Morrison, Chairman of the Palestine Committee was not alone in warning that any relaxation of the immigration restrictions would lead to protests from the Arab States and from the Muslims of India. But for a considerable time there was also a critical American input to the Palestine question. In the 1920s the United States had not been aloof from the Palestine problem47 and by the 1940s the United States under the Truman administration had committed itself to the Zionist programme for the establishment of a Jewish state and unlimited Jewish immigration into Palestine. President Wilson’s dedication to Zionism does not withstand close examination. He seems to have given it little thought—and a gesture to the Jews made him feel good in his daily Bible meditations. In the period when he was making his mind up, no one was at hand to warn of the problems that Zionist aspiration could create. President Woodrow Wilson was clearly out of touch, and with his physical collapse in September 1919, he could no longer arbitrate for the Jewish homeland. One last time, in February 1920, he ordered Secretary of State Robert Lansing to defend a pro-Zionist position at the peace table. Thereafter, plagued with breakdown in mind and body, Wilson grew testy with seemingly endless Zionist importunings. In May 1920 with feeble, shaking fingers, he pencilled his refusal to send yet another message affirming his support of the Jewish restoration. A letter from President Truman to Ibn Saud makes the US commitment to Jewish immigration into Palestine very clear: Your Majesty: The Government and people of the United States have given support to the concept of a Jewish National Home in Palestine ever since the first World War, which resulted in the freeing of a large area of the Near East including Palestine, and the establishment of a number of independent states which are now members of the United Nations.48 At this point President Harry S.Truman recorded the reason for the plea in his message to the king: It is only natural, therefore, that this Government should favour at this time the entry into Palestine of considerable numbers of displaced Jews from Europe, not only that they may find shelter there, but also that they may contribute their talents and energies to the upbuilding of the Jewish National Home.49 Americans found the idea appealing that Jews, having been cooped up in ghettos for centuries, would pack up their possessions and cure their homelessness by leaving for a new country. Americans may have disliked Jews, but they realised that the Jewish qualities which turned many gentiles into anti-Semites could only be cured by Jewish settlement in a new country while abandoning their restriction to urban occupations. They Britain's naval and political reaction to the illegal immigration of jews to palestine, 1945-1948s 20
  • realised that Zionism was perhaps, after all, only the attempt of the Jews to recreate a national existence in Palestine and they could see parallels with the American settlers who developed the West. They tended to regard the aboriginal Arabs like the Red Indians who had to yield to the march of progress. English people on the other hand tended to be surprised and irritated by the Americans’ apparently total disregard of Arab claims for justice. Americans, like their Australian or South African cousins, had fought long battles with the aborigines until they succeeded in opening up a nearly unsettled country and occupying it for the white man. But, the American knows that if an imperial power had espoused the cause of the Red Indians maintaining that no settlement could be allowed which was damaging to their rights, and that the development of the West could only be permitted according to the absorptive capacity of the country, half of the U.S.A. would still be virgin forest to-day.50 English feelings were a complete contrast to the American attitude. Most Britons are descendants of families who stayed put, heirs of traditions which in most cases go back for centuries. Many British families resided for generations in the same villages, towns districts or counties. Most of our families have lived in exactly the same villages and towns, or at least in the same district, for nearly a thousand years. Our deepest national fear is of invasion by a foreign conqueror. Our instinctive belief is that a nation is a community settled on its ancestral soil. Temperamentally, therefore, the Englishman is often hostile to Zionism,51 and their sympathies naturally seemed to lie with the Arab population, whose traditional virtues of courtesy, hospitality, good manners, a ritualised code of behaviour where much was left unsaid, chimed not only with public- school life but also with a prevailing admiration for the writings of T.E.Lawrence.52 It is this temperament which tended to make the average Englishman instinctively hostile to Zionism. Emotionally he tended to back the Arabs, who were seen to defend centuries of tenure of their land against an alien, synthetic and unnatural Zionism. The Zionists were fated to remain the “bad” and tiresome tribe The Arabs, even when in outright rebellion, somehow were “good” and even attractive in the perception of their British rulers.53 By contrast the Jews were perceived as noisy, ill-mannered, over talkative and bolshie in both senses of the word.54 Other British officials and authors noted that the Arabs revealed chivalric virtues, they were attractive by virtue of their physical courage, showed pride in their traditions, applied generous hospitality and boasted a well-developed sense of personal honour, while the Jews were less malleable and were less amenable to British charm and moral leadership. They were supposed to be rootless wanderers or exotic wielders of vast The determinants of British policy 21
  • international powers as well as revolutionaries, or both. Small wonder that Jews seemed to most British observers more threatening and less appealing than their Semitic cousins. There were those among the British whose visceral dislike of the Jews went deeper. One described their ‘fat, aquiline features’ and ‘widehipped women wheeling prams’, ‘their flashy overdressed look’ and their notoriety for the ‘negligence bordering on extreme minimalism of their dress.’55 Considering that most of the self-confident Zionist functionaries they encountered were of Russian origin, which presumably made them deeply suspicious of officialdom and regulation in any form. Even Weizmann claimed that the Eretz-Israelis were an excitable, impulsive lot and took themselves far too seriously. At the Zionist Commission meeting in London’s Memorial Hall on 4 July 1920, Weizmann went even further when he stated: ‘The Jews in Palestine suffer from delusions of grandeur’. Weizmann used the word ‘hypertrophy’. He then added that by contrast the British administration was stable and practical, and asked the rhetorical question, whether it was a wonder then, that the administration had become on the whole anti-Zionist, and perhaps even anti-Jewish? Many British officials, and even moderate Jewish, pro-British leaders like Weizmann, attributed to the Jews a characteristic of being surly, morose and uncooperative, it was unsurprising that the majority of British officials posted to Palestine had little sympathy for the establishment of a Jewish national home in Palestine and that they considered the project onerous, quixotic and of doubtful benefit to Great Britain: ‘There was a saying that everyone (among seconded British officials and officers) who came to Palestine came there to a certain extent pro-Jew, but after a time became essentially pro-Arab and generally ended pro- British.’56 It was not only the large American Jewish donors57 who managed to pull strings behind the scenes. By the 1940s, the Zionists leaders in the United States had already learned to apply their new strategy to initiate ‘Democratic and Republican competition for the Jewish vote thereby shaking Roosevelt’s assumption that the Jews were safely in the Democrats’ bag.’58 The Jewish vote was crucial in American elections, especially in New York, and the votes of its 47 electors were always the first prize in any election. The difference between winning or losing New York was 94 electoral votes (the presidential candidate needs just 266 votes for election). The Jewish vote was also important in the large states of Pennsylvania (36 votes), Illinois (27 votes) and Ohio (23 votes).59 The American Jewish leader Bernard Baruch, master financier and éminence grise to several presidents, stated that the New York Jewish vote of itself outweighed the assets of the entire Arab world.60 The Jews represented about 3 per cent of the vote, yet they cast an estimated 4 per cent of the votes in a presidential election. This seemingly insignificant difference of one percentage point in fact added up to some three-quarters of a million votes, enough to make the difference in a close election.61 American elections, therefore, can be swung towards either of the big parties by the Jewish vote, especially in some key Eastern marginal states. However, in contrast to the United States, there was never a danger of British election results being swung one way or another by the government’s or the opposition’s handling of the Palestine problem. British governments had little to fear from a public being irate about a perceived miscarriage of justice. Britain's naval and political reaction to the illegal immigration of jews to palestine, 1945-1948s 22
  • Setting up an Anglo-American Committee to search for a solution and decide on President Truman’s proposed admission of 100,000 Jews into Palestine was eagerly seized upon by Mr Bevin as it made it possible to postpone the decision on a new policy by at least four months. At this time it was already unclear whether Mr Bevin would be prepared to ‘put his trust in an Anglo-American jury and disregard the views of the Foreign Office, the Colonial Office and the Chiefs of Staff.’62 It became clear that Mr Bevin was not going to be swayed by humanitarian, legal or historical arguments. The essentials of any acceptable new British Palestine policy were clearly the need to ensure large-scale American technical and financial aid, but also, and this was the primary concern, to prevent Britain becoming involved in what might well prove to become ever- increasing military commitments. Moreover, it appeared from information which had become available to the British, that the Jewish Holocaust survivors in Eastern and Central Europe could hardly expect Palestine to provide a solid base for their eventual economic success. This was a factor which looked hopeful to the British. According to these sources the surviving Jews of Eastern Europe hardly expected Palestine to become their permanent home. The British authorities hoped that in 1945–6 most Jewish survivors living in Europe saw Palestine only as a refuge of last resort, while the reasons for coming to Palestine were essentially irrational, based as they were mainly on Zionist machinations and propaganda. In addition the British hoped that an absence or weakness of national identity would be generated in the Yishuv, this sentiment would be reinforced by the lack of security and that these factors would sooner or later lead to an increase in Jewish emigration from Palestine. This hope, or more correctly perhaps the wishful thinking of the Palestine administration, showed quite clearly in a letter from A.Cunningham, the last High Commissioner for Palestine, to the Right Honourable G.H.Hall MP, HM Principal Secretary of State for the Colonies: A number of factors seem to point towards its eventual diminution [Jewish immigration into Palestine]. Among these the advent of greater stability in Europe, the eventual solving of the displaced persons problem, the diminution in the actual number of Jews, the possibility of less American money being available and the shrinkage of markets for Jewish goods [through the Arab boycott].63 J.M.Martin in turn sent a memorandun to Sir G.Gater which included the following statement: ‘a very few years may bring an end to the pressure for Jewish immigration from Central Europe and possibly even a turn of that tide’64 British hopes, therefore, rested largely on the assumption that gaining time would facilitate a solution to the Palestine problem and that they were: dealing with a huge wave [implementation of departures for Palestine] but it could roll back just as easily if there was any amelioration of the economic situation [in Eastern Europe], or if the gates of Palestine were to be completely closed to immigration. If the Zionist movement were to fail in its efforts to facilitate the departure of the Jews they would seek their personal rehabilitation [in Europe] and over the years forget the Zionist dream.65 The determinants of British policy 23
  • There is ample evidence to show that the British tried to convince themselves and others that most of these refugees could and would eventually be made to return and then remain in their countries of origin. It was hoped that these refugees could continue living in continental Europe and consequently were looking at Palestine only as a refuge of last resort or a temporary solution. The reasons for trying to come to Palestine were considered to be essentially irrational. In addition the British hoped that the Yishuv would be increasingly affected by an absence or by the progressive weakening of a sense of national identity, which presumably would be reinforced by the lack of security, and that with normalisation of conditions in post-war Europe these factors would lead to an increase in emigration from Palestine and a return to their previous homes. The Middle Eastern problems created for Britain by the clash between Zionism and Arab national aspirations would, in the opinion of some British politicians, be easier to resolve if the proportion of the indigenous Arab population of Palestine to the Yishuv could be seen to increase as a result of the emigration of Jews and the higher birth rate and declining death rate of the Palestinian Arabs. In addition, Jews were perceived to have remained what they always seemed to be, rootless itinerant wanderers whose post-war conversion to Zionism was only forced upon them by adversity. At least a proportion of the large number of Jews who, disturbingly from the British viewpoint, demanded a return to Zion, were perceived to be motivated less by a full measure of enthusiasm, than simply by the absence of viable places of settlement. The attempts by would-be illegal immigrants, mainly from Eastern Europe, to effect clandestine landings on the coast of Palestine were, therefore, believed to result to a large extent from lack of opportunity to go elsewhere, rather than from any presumed passion for the cessation of exile and for a return to the Promised Land. To deter the would-be illegal immigrants, the British authorities attempted to block the Displaced Persons’ entry into the traditional countries of embarkation. When these measures failed to a very considerable extent, they tried to prevent departures of IJI vessels and their landing on the coast of Palestine. The harsh programme of repression against the Jews of Palestine, adopted by the Labour government, was already proposed in January 1946 by pro-Arab politicians such as General Spears, Britain’s Ambassador to the Levant during the Anglo-French conflict over Syria and Lebanon. It reflected fairly accurately the opinions held by a large part of Britain’s elite. In his testimony to the Anglo-American Committee of Enquiry he replied to a question by Manningham-Buller: I think it is almost impossible that there should be no trouble of any kind. We are seeing the result of many mistakes made over a long time. I am myself persuaded that it would be a far lesser evil even from the practical point of view to deal with the illegal Haganah and other Jewish formations then it would be to set the whole of the Middle East aflame in support of what they (the Arabs) consider an oppressed Arab majority in Palestine. Zionist apologists demanded the admission into Palestine of 100,000 Jews a year over ten years. This plan would have created a clear Jewish majority over the 1946 population of 1,250,000 Palestinian Arabs, but this plan was unacceptable to the British government, which insisted that the Arabs of Palestine must remain a majority. The government held Britain's naval and political reaction to the illegal immigration of jews to palestine, 1945-1948s 24
  • the viewpoint that it was unjust, immoral and undemocratic to turn an Arab majority into a Jewish majority by rescinding the White Paper and handing over control of immigration to the Jewish Agency. They were convinced that on seeing their majority diminish, as their country was flooded by Jewish immigrants, the Arabs would be incited to revolt; and there was another British objection to the Zionist plans—the demographic argument. The birth rate of the Palestinian Arabs was much higher than that of the Palestinian Jews, a Jewish majority resulting from immigration was in their opinion incapable of being maintained in the long term. By March 1946, nine months after VE Day, the Jewish survivors of the Holocaust still huddled in camps in Germany and elsewhere. They were acutely aware that they were not wanted by the Western Democracies and they had no desire to rebuild their own shattered communities or their devastated former countries. Many may have been indifferent to Zionism, but they were aware of the national home in Palestine which was: ‘keen and eager to receive them and to give them a chance of rebuilding their lives, not as aliens in a foreign state but as Hebrews in their own country.’66 How and why did so many members of Britain’s establishment abandon the idea of a Jewish national home as expressed at the zenith of the British-Zionist honeymoon? The progressive alienation of a large section of the British establishment from the Zionist aspirations, which led to the 1939 White Paper, actually began almost immediately after the conquest of Palestine by the troops of General Allenby, very soon after it became clear that the Zionists were energetically trying to realise their ambition to establish a Jewish national home, which would have to include political as well as economic control of the country. The military government administering the Occupied Territory of Palestine had appointed a ‘Zionist Commission’ with the following basic terms of reference: to represent the Zionist Organisation in Palestine and act as an advisory body to the British authorities there in all matters relating to Jews or which may effect the establishment of a National Home for the Jewish people in accordance with the Declaration of his Majesty’s Government. Mr Ormsby-Gore, a member of the Palestine Administration, became the Zionist Commission’s political officer, while Lord Balfour and Mr Lloyd George gave the Commission their unreserved support. However, a rift soon opened between the British authorities in Palestine, especially the administrators of the Army of Occupation, and the ‘Zionist Commission’, the predecessor to the ‘Jewish Agency’. Quite early on the British began to regard their ‘self-incurred obligation towards Zionism as an unfortunate blunder—an error that they should remedy as soon as possible.’67 Many British officials in Palestine who had been trained in a colonialist tradition saw the Jews as another category of exceptionally troublesome native: ‘They openly preferred the Arabs, who were authentic Orientals, mysterious and charming, to the loud and uncouth Jewish immigrants.’68 The attitude of practically the entire military administration was soon considered by the Jews to have become strikingly opposed to both the spirit and the letter of the Balfour Declaration. The army was perceived as restraining Jewish progress. The military The determinants of British policy 25
  • administration was seen to appoint too large a proportion of Arabs to public bodies like the Jerusalem Corporation and to interfere with Hebrew as a public official language. The Chief Administrator, Major General Money, for instance decided that all tax forms and receipts should be printed in English and Arabic alone, and that signboards in Arabic should be obligatory. Such legislation was intolerable to the Zionists whose constant vigilance and protests succeeded in rescinding such regulations. They expected a sympathetic government and above all a strict adherence to the principle of equality of rights, which they considered to have been granted by the Balfour Declaration. Weizmann’s continuous appeals for moderation failed to appease the representatives of the Yishuv, whose leaders accused Lieutenant General Sir L.J.Bols, the head of the military administration and Colonel Sir Ronald Storrs, the governor of the Jerusalem district, of conniving to tear the Galilee away from the Jewish national home and thus effect a partition of Palestine. Matters reached a head when the Chief Administrator of Palestine, Lieutenant General Sir Louis Bols, sent a despatch containing the following revealing sentences to General Headquarters in Cairo in which he reported on the riots which broke out in Jerusalem during the April 1920 Nebi Musa festivities: The Zionist Commission did not loyally accept the orders of the Administration, but from the commencement adopted a hostile, critical and abusive attitude. It is a regrettable fact that, with one or two exceptions, it appears impossible to convince a Zionist of British good faith and ordinary honesty they seek, not justice from the military occupant, but that in every question in which a Jew is interested, discrimination in his favour shall be shown it is unnecessary to press my difficulty in controlling any situation that may arise in the future if I have to deal with a representative of the Jewish community69 who threatens me with mob law.70 Sir Louis Bols continued his report by objecting, like General Money before him, to the introduction of Hebrew as an official language71 and to the setting up of a Jewish judicature: The situation is intolerable and in justice to my officers and myself must be firmly faced I recommend therefore, in the interests of peace, of development, of the Zionists themselves, that the Zionist Commission in Palestine be abolished. Matters improved with the departure of Lieutenant General Sir Louis Bols on 30 May 1920, the ending of the military administration72 and the appointment of Sir Herbert Samuel as the first British High Commissioner for Palestine. However, under constant pressure from British pro-Arab spokesmen and officials, relations between Britain and the Jewish Zionists deteriorated steadily. A very good example of a virtually general anti-Zionist bias of successive British mandatory administrations would be the virtual continuation of the Ottoman policy of supporting or at least condoning non-Jewish illegal immigration to Palestine, in contrast Britain's naval and political reaction to the illegal immigration of jews to palestine, 1945-1948s 26
  • to the near universal and general condemnation and confrontation with Jewish illegal immigration. As a buffer against the Bedouin the Ottomans had already brought the first Circassians from the Caucasus to Palestine in 1878. These truculent habitual warriors had been settled by the Turks as irregular garrisons on the desert fringes, allowing them to occupy and cultivate land, and thus hold back the nomad Arabs, who neither paid tax nor tilled the land at any time. Egyptian immigrants were settled by Ibrahim Pasha in Jaffa, Acre, Nablus and Beisan. Moors and Kurds settled in Safed, while the Arab tribes of the Wulda, Bu Sheille, Lheib and Adwquat, having been defeated in tribal wars and raids, entered Palestine at about the same time as the first Jewish settlers arrived. These Arabs cannot be considered indigenous to the land and neither can the Turks, Kurds, Moors, Algerians, Egyptians and Circassians imported by the Turks as a protective force.73 The virtually generally accepted British claim of an overwhelming Arab indigenous population, settled for a thousand years in a crowded Palestine, who were in danger of being swamped and displaced by the Jews was, therefore, considered by the more extreme Zionists to be a rewriting of history. Illegal Jewish immigration was always fastidiously reported by successive British administrations, while the very considerable Arab illegal immigration was only addressed when their detection had become flagrant.74 The British Mandatory authorities, whose tasks included recording the comings and goings in Palestine, was occasionally forced to mention the illegal Arab immigration, but only when the traffic became too prevalent. The movement was always underestimated, minimised and considered casual: In addition to increase in recorded immigration, a number of persons are known to enter Palestine illegally from both adjacent and European countries and remain there permanently.75 Considerable Arab immigration was indeed proceeding without restriction or record from such areas as Syria, Egypt, Trans-Jordan and Lebanon.76 There has been some immigration from the surrounding territories, which, since it avoids the frontier controls, is not recorded.77 Jewish illegal immigration was minutely detailed and meticulously recorded but all references to Arab illegal immigration were, perhaps deliberately, obscured. The preponderant concentration on the Jewish illegal immigration overwhelmed and negated all record of the parallel Arab traffic. Tewfik Bey al-Haurani, Governor of the Hauran, was quoted as saying, ‘In the last few months from 30,000 to 36,000 Hauranese Syrians have entered Palestine and settled there.’78 Approximately 35,000 Arabs immigrated thus illegally from the Hauran, part of Syria in 1934, but this population movement, ‘was denied by and omitted from British Mandatory Government data, records and statistics.’79 No mention had been made and no record was found, either in official Palestine government correspondence or in other files, concerning this number of Hauranese Syrian Immigrants. We must also not lose sight of the fact, that the above-mentioned figure was only from the spring to summer of 1934, from just one of the several depressed neighbouring Arab countries and did not take into account the number of The determinants of British policy 27
  • Arabs immigrating from Sinai and Transjordan, from which impoverished citizens were also known to be emigrating into Palestine. An Arab official’s (Tewfik Bey) unequivocal report therefore indicates that more Arabs actually entered illegally and subsequently remained in Palestine, than the total number of Jews for twice that length of time in 1934, who were approved to immigrate into their designated Jewish national home. Yet the official British record of immigration to Palestine for the entire year of 1934 (Report for the year 1935, Colonial No. 112, p. 49, 214), reports a recorded immigration of just 1,784 non-Jews, with only about 3,000 travellers remaining illegally and these figures supposedly included Arab immigrants from all points into all of Palestine. Even a year before Britain’s abandonment of the Mandate, debates there still took place in the Commons about the illegal immigration of Syrian Houranians into Palestine. George Thomas, MP, (Cardiff Central) asked the Rt. Hon. Creech Jones, Secretary of State for how many Houranians had crossed into Palestine and what measures are being taken to ensure that there would be no further illegal immigration of Houranians into Palestine. Creech Jones replied: ‘I have asked the High Commissioner for Palestine for a report and will write to my hon. Friend on its receipt.’80 In spite of a diligent search of the records, it proved impossible to locate the High Commissioner’s reply. The writer’s own, albeit anecdotal experience in Palestine, during and after the war, recalls a very noticeable presence of Houranians in all urban labouring jobs. Furthermore, in 1934 the mandatory government introduced the practice of deducting estimated numbers of illegal Jewish immigrants from Jewish immigration quotas.81 In fact, there are many British files, dating from the beginning of the Mandate to the 1940s, which contain references to Syrians from the Hauran being admitted freely to Palestine without passport or visa. The British authorities in Palestine tended to count the Arab illicit immigrants as indigenous deeply rooted Palestinians, while at the same time complaining that it was the Jews who were flooding the country beyond its ‘absorptive capacity’ and crowding out the Arabs.82 It is quite instructive to record the gradual deterioration in the relations between Britain and political Zionism through a step-by-step recon-struction of events from Britain’s acceptance of the Mandate, showing causes and effects, the chronology of disturbances and influences in Palestine and how they led the mandatory government to impose increasing restrictions on the Zionist enterprise. Cause and effect followed each other closely and Muslim riots were always followed by British concessions to the Arabs. It would be quite impossible to try and outline even a sketchy history of the Palestine Mandate and the details of the vacillations and subtle changes in British attitude to Jewish immigration within the scope of this book. The following short outline will suffice to illuminate the general trend denoting the diminution of empathy between the Colonial Office and the Yishuv, the ‘Death by a Thousand Cuts’ inflicted on the national home through the steady erosion of legal and other support. The Mandate and the Balfour Declaration were internationally enforced in 1920 at San Remo and were said to have contributed soon to the so-called ‘Nebi Musa’ riots. The Nebi Musa celebrations consist of an annual pilgrimage to a mosque near Jericho, which according to an ancient Muslim-Palestinian tradition is located on the site of the tomb of Moses. Acts of violence were committed in Jerusalem on 4 and 5 June 1920 in the wake of demonstrations in favour of Emir Faysal, who had just been proclaimed King of all Syria (including Southern Syria—Palestine). Dr Eder, Director of the Political Britain's naval and political reaction to the illegal immigration of jews to palestine, 1945-1948s 28
  • Depatment of the Zionist Commission, painted the picture of a plot between members of nationalist Pan-Arab associations, assisted by French agents. The so-called Palin Commission investigated the April 1920 disturbances in Jerusalem and cited as one of the major factors that, in spite of the fact that nothing had been said about Palestine being included in the Hedjaz Empire and the fact the Balfour Declaration had been published in 1917, the early impression left upon the Arabs generally was that the British were going to set up an independent Arab state which would include Palestine.83 There was a large amount of assistance rendered by Colonel WatersTaylor, Chiefs of Staff of OETAS, in organising the disturbances. Colonel Meinertzhagen, Chief Political Officer of the Egyptian Expeditionary Force, accused Waters-Taylor unequivocally of advising the Arabs to riot in Jerusalem during the Nebi Musa celebrations, and furthermore accused this officer of deciding to remove the army from Jerusalem during the disturbances in order to facilitate the rioters’ work. Colonel Meinertzhagen was duly dismissed by the military administration, accused by the Palin Committee of Enquiry of partisan reporting and unfounded accusations against a brother officer (Colonel Waters- Taylor). The Military Court of Enquiry made much of witnesses testifying about Jewish by-standers’ acts of provocation under Jabotinsky’s leadership. But there had been much Arab looting, stoning and knifing, there were calls to kill the Jews along with the popular slogans ‘Palestine is our land and the Jews are our dogs’ as well as ‘the Government is on our side’. Britain’s reaction to these riots was to introduce an immigration quota. In 1921 Haj Amin al-Hussaini was appointed by the British High Commissioner ‘Mufti of Jerusalem’, but in 1921 there followed renewed riots by Arabs in Jaffa and its environs, attacks by the Bedouin tribesmen of Abu Kishek on Petah Tiqvah and in the Tul-Karm-Hadera region, and so on. Fines were imposed on Qaqun, Kafr Saba, and the tribes of Wadi al-Hawarith and Abu Kishek, amongst others. The Haycroft Commission reported on the riots and recommended the temporary suspension of Jewish immigration; from then onwards the level of Jewish immigration to Palestine would be dependent on the state of the country’s economy. Eastern Palestine, approximately 75 per cent of the area of the national home (today’s state of Jordan), was separated from Palestine in 1922 through an ‘Organic Law’ which decided on separate Commissions for Palestine and Transjordan. Jews were now prohibited from settling in Transjordan. At the same time a White Paper linked with the name of Winston Churchill limited Jewish immigration to the controversial definition of ‘absorptive capacity’. In 1929 there were massacres of Jews in Safad and Hebron. Riots and assaults took place in Jerusalem and many settlements were attacked, following deliberate inflammation of the mobs by the Mufti and his followers. This led the British authorities to issue a Protection of Cultivators Ordinance for Displaced Arabs and to the Shaw Commission Report, which found Jewish immigration in 1925–26 excessive and recommended the imposition of restrictions on immigration and on the sale of land to Jews. The Hope Simpson Report alleging that Arabs were made landless and unemployed through Jewish immigration was published in 1930. Part of the British reaction to Arab The determinants of British policy 29
  • protests against immigration and land sales was the allocation of state lands to landless Arabs instead of Jewish settlement (as prescribed in Para. VI of the Mandate). The issuing of the Passfield White Paper, further restricted Jewish immigration based on absorptive capacity as well as land sales. The Protection of Cultivators Ordinance was further amended in 1931 to benefit ‘landless’ and ‘displaced’ Arabs. All these restrictive ordinances were issued in spite of the deliberate rulings in Cmd. 1708 of 1922, ‘that no ordinance shall be passed which shall in any way be repugnant to or inconsistent with the provisions of the mandate to be issued for Palestine’. But these ordinances and certainly the 1939 White Paper were quite obviously repugnant to the Jews and inconsistent with the provision of the Mandate which laid down that, ‘The immigration of Jews and their close settlement upon the land are indispensable factors in the execution of the charge laid upon the mandatory of establishing in Palestine a national home for the Jewish people.’ More Arab strikes and riots occurred during the Nebi Rubin festival of 1933 and the mandatory government instituted allowances and remunerations for Arab tenant farmers ‘not grossly neglecting’ grazing areas or proving ‘occasional presence’. It is hardly surprising that the central thesis in Joan Peters book From Time Immemorial, that many Arabs immigrated illegally into Palestine, attracted by the capital and skills brought by Jewish settlers, aroused furious controversy. Some reviewers endorsed the book’s historical importance84 and others, writing critical reviews, charged that it was written for purely polemical and political reasons.85 On balance, large sections of Ms Peters thesis are credible, that large-scale, illegal Arab immigration into Palestine was a recognised factor, accepted at least tacitly, and was frequently quite openly tolerated by the mandatory government. The list of Ms Peters detractors included Sir Ian Gilmour MP,86 Edward Said87 as well as Ian and David Gilmour.88 However, it is also indisputable, that a majority of these ‘temporary’ Arab or ‘Hauranian’ labourers became permanent immigrants and that this illegal Arab immigration made an important contribution to the tremendous growth rate of the Palestinian population. Ms Peters was not alone in pointing out the role played by the immigration of non- Jews to Palestine. Much information on the subject was collected in the 1930s and 1940s by the Counter-Espionage Department, Rigul Negdi, (R-N) under its first head Shaul Meirov (Avigur) and by the Jewish Agency’s Arab Secret Service Department, Sherut Jediot, (Sh-J) under it first head Esra Danin. On 10 October 1937 Ben Zion Lurie, a young historian employed by the Department of Education at the Vaad Leumi (National Council), sent a letter to the Political Department of the Jewish Agency, reminding them of an article he had published a week earlier in a daily paper.89 In the article Lurie proposed to carrying out research into the relationships of the Arab villagers in Palestine. He suggested, that: ‘a large proportion of the Arabs who live today in Palestine are foreigners, not only within our understanding of a remote past, but in fact, because they immigrated in the last few decades’. Lurie proposed a scientific research project assisted by the extensive geographical literature, (narratives of travellers and pilgrims, Christian, Arab and Jewish), to ascertain when and how every Arab village in Palestine had been populated and developed. He deprecated the spreading opinion that all the Muslims who lived at the time (1937) in Palestine were long-time residents or their descendants. Lurie realised that this was only one, albeit politically important part of the proposed research. According to Lurie the Britain's naval and political reaction to the illegal immigration of jews to palestine, 1945-1948s 30
  • second part of the proposed research should have been an examination of the ownership of the state-controlled lands—Giptlik, previously the Sultan’s lands. In the course of time much of such government (more or less owner-less) land had been appropriated illegally by adjacent villages. The base for this research was to be the government census of 1931 and it was proposed to extend it back over the last 100 years. Jitzhak Ben Zwi, the Chairman of the Vaad Leumi, followed up Lurie’s initiative and wrote a letter to Shertok: it is my aim, to illuminate the question of the origin of the Arab population [of Palestine], especially the rural part. In my opinion a quite considerable part are new immigrants who arrived in the course of the nineteenth century from Egypt and from other countries. There are Arab villages in the vicinity of the old [Jewish] settlements, the majority of whose inhabitants are the descendants of new Arab settlers, who arrived during Ibrahim Pasha’s reign, or even somewhat earlier, in the period of Ali Begh and Napoleon.90 The nineteenth-century author Ahad Haam had initiated correspondence with the elders of Rishon-Le-Zion and asked them for details of the Arab villages in their vicinity. According to Ben Zwi’s information the inhabitants of Marar (the village of Mu’arr near Ramle) and perhaps also the populations of Sarnouka and Sarafand Harb (Zarafand el- Harab) originated mainly from Egypt. And in 1940 they had still been known as Mazrava (Egyptians). Ben Zwi continued and asked Shertok to ascertain the origins of these villagers and when they settled in Palestine. The political importance of such a research project into the Arab villages had been recognised, but it had become side-tracked and taken over by an Intelligence project, when it was realised, that: Ben Zion Lurie’s proposal could be interpreted as an additional proof, that Palestine and the adjacent Arab countries constitute one homogenous bloc of interrelated populations, within which the peoples may wander between locations. The research may show, that the itinerant peoples are residents of Syria, Jordan, Iraq and Saudi Arabia, i.e. peoples of a common origin who may continue to claim a political solution which may re-unify them. The situation may alter, if the proposed research project could be made to show that the immigrants originated from Egypt, Sudan, Tunis, Algiers, Marocco, the Caucasus, Persia and Kurdistan, i.e. those remote countries which are not all Arab and who have no affinity with the Palestinian Arabs, and also if the research can prove that their immigration had been caused by necessity and from reasons which had no connection with the panArab and pan-Islam movements.91 The polemics between the two sides, the Arabs and the Jews have raged for many decades and there remains no end in sight. The Arabs transformed the Roman name of Palestine into the Arabian name Filastine and the Jews insisted on the traditional Hebrew name Eretz Israel, ‘The Land of Israel’. The Arabs convinced the British that even in The determinants of British policy 31
  • Hebrew the name should be Palestina and the Jews in turn conviced the British to add the initials ‘E.I.’ for Eretz Israel to Palestina. Between 1936 and 1938 there were again anti-Jewish pogroms, riots, assassinations of other Arabs and Arab strikes, known as the ‘Arab Revolt’. The Mandates Commission at the League of Nations put part of the blame on Britain and stated that ‘the vacillation of British policy had helped to encourage the Arabs in the belief that by resorting to violence they could succeed in stopping Jewish immigration.’92 The revolt was led by the Mufti, assisted by Syrian and Iraqi ‘volunteers’ and led in August 1936 to the appointment of yet another Palestine Royal Commission, to be chaired by William Robert Wellesley, Earl Peel, to ascertain the underlying causes of the disturbances which broke out in the middle of April (1936) to enquire into the manner in which the Mandate for Palestine is being implemented and to ascertain whether either the Jews or the Arabs have any legitimate grievances [and] to make recommendations for their removal and for the prevention of their occurrence.93 The resultant ‘Peel Report’ (Cmd 5479) disagreed with the earlier Hope Simpson Report (Cmd 3686) which was marked by insensitiveness to Jewish feelings and which had expressed opposition to the admission of any more Jewish immigrants as settlers on the land. Peel recommended that His Majesty’s Government (HMG) should take the appropriate steps for the termination of the Mandate on the basis of partition into one Jewish and one Arab state. The government demurred and adopted the time-honoured solution of appointing one more investigator94 to report again on land settlement, immigration and development. A further ‘fact-finding’ report was commissioned. The so- called ‘Woodhead Commission’, (for the report see Cmd 5854 October 1938) was, therefore, appointed and authorised to make enquiries regarding the practicability of partition and whether such a solution could do justice to Arabs and Jews. In its findings the Woodhead Commission quoted parts of a report submitted by the Permanent Mandates Commission to the 32nd Session of the Council of the League of Nations: Any solution to prove acceptable should therefore deprive the Arabs of as small a number as possible of the places to which they attach particular value and further the areas allotted to the Jews should be sufficiently extensive, fertile and well situated from the view of communications by sea and land. The Woodhead Commission expressed the opinion that the above objectives were mutually irreconcilable and proposed a modification of partition, by withholding fiscal autonomy from the Arab and Jewish states. ‘Woodhead’ admitted that they did not feel confident that Jews and Arabs would be prepared to accept the proposed compromise, but since they were only a fact-finding commission, they claimed that this was hardly their problem. Indeed Jews and Arabs immediately rejected any solution based on leaving Britain's naval and political reaction to the illegal immigration of jews to palestine, 1945-1948s 32
  • financial and economic liabilities, as proposed by the Woodhead Commission, in the hands of HMG. By March 1938 the Middle Eastern (Official) Sub-Committee of the Committee of Imperial Defence had been charged with devising measures to influence the Arab states in the Near East. In a preface to the detailed report of the Sub-Committee submitted January 1939 to the Committe of Imperial Defence (CID) there was the following reminder of the effect which British policy in Palestine was expected to have in the Arab world: We feel it necessary to point out at the outset, as an essential part of our report, the strong feeling which exists in all Arab states in connection with British policy in Palestine. It is evident that by far the most important measure which could be taken to influence the Arab states in favour of the United Kingdom would be our Palestine policy. We assume that, immediately on the outbreak of war, the necessary measures would at once be taken in order to bring about a complete appeasement of Arab opinion in Palestine and in neighbouring countries if we fail thus to retain Arab goodwill at the outset of a war, no other measures which we can recommend will serve to influence the Arab states in favour of this country.95 British strategic planners hoped that the termination of Jewish immigration would prevent a threatening general conflagration, release the troops tied up with fighting the Arab rebellion to bolster defence of the Suez Canal and secure the land route via Palestine and the Persian Gulf for bringing reinforcements over from India. Colonial Secretary Malcolm MacDonald revealed the government’s thinking in a candid speech96 laying bare the strategic preoccupations which governed official planning. A crucial determinant in the making of Palestine policy decisions after the end of the Second World War was the preservation of future goodwill. The need for Arab friendships was paramount when policy changes were proposed and especially the Foreign Office persistently claimed that ‘the Middle East was “one organic whole” which would react to whatever happened in one of its constituent parts.’97 The Jews were thought, unlikely to take any violent action against Britain, but would probably, as before, try to gain their ends by propaganda and political pressure. In short, the main dangers were to be apprehended from the Arab States.’98 The 1938 Munich Pact between Chamberlain and Hitler was the logical outcome of a general appeasement policy of trying to avoid war and appease the dictators. The partition plan was therefore finally abandoned by the government and replaced by a government White Paper,99 enforcing a severely pro-Arab and anti-Mandate policy. This White Paper was consequentially the logical follow-up of the general appeasement policy and based its curtailment and eventual complete stoppage of Jewish immigration on Article 6 of the Mandate, which stated that the Administration of Palestine, ‘while ensuring that the rights and position of other sections of the population are not prejudiced’, was required to, ‘facilitate Jewish immigration under suitable conditions.’ The determinants of British policy 33
  • In the 1939 White Paper, Britain claimed that the extent to which Jewish immigration into Palestine was to be permitted had not been defined in the Mandate; some British politicians, therefore, based their arguments on the above proviso in Article 6 of the Mandate ‘under suitable conditions’, and also habitually quoted the provision in the 1922 White Paper, which laid down that, ‘immigration cannot be so great in volume as to exceed whatever may be the economic capacity of the country at the time to absorb new arrivals’. The White Paper further argued that, HM Government does not accept that for all time and in all circumstances, economic absorptive capacity must be the sole criterion . If it has a seriously damaging effect on the political position in the country, that is a factor that should not be ignored . If in these circumstances immigration is continued to the economic absorptive capacity of the country, regardless of all other considerations, a fatal enmity between the two peoples will be perpetuated. In their White Paper the British Government announced that they cannot take the view that either their obligations under the Mandate, or considerations of common sense and justice, require that they should ignore these circumstances in framing immigration policy. In 1939 the British government decided to permit no further expansion of the Jewish national home by immigration unless the Arabs were prepared to acquiesce in it, clearly a forlorn hope when considering the Arab hostility to immigration. The White Paper was even more accommodating in satisfying Arab demands by stating that, HM Government are determined to check illegal immigration and further preventive measures are being adopted. The numbers of Jewish illegal immigrants, who despite these measures, may succeed of coming into the country and cannot be deported will be deducted from the yearly quota. [10,000 Jewish immigrants for each of the five years to 1944—if economic absorptive capacity permits]. The Colonial Office was enthusiastic about the White Paper: ‘The White Paper policy represents a clear decision to clip the wings of Zionist ambition and the day of “Rutenberg Concessions” is surely over.’100 Five days after issue of the White Paper, Winston Churchill gave voice to many dissident politicians and MPs who had their reservations about its contents and made a statement in the Commons. He began by stating, ‘This is a melancholy occasion I feel bound to vote against the proposals of HM Government.’101 Mr Churchill then proceeded to quote from the 1922 White Paper, of which he as British Colonial Secretary at the time was the author: ‘HM Government have no intention of repudiating the obligations into which they entered towards the Jewish people ’, and he selected the one point on which he and many of his colleagues were convinced there was plainly a breach and repudiation of the Balfour Declaration—the provision that Jewish immigration could be stopped in 1944 by the decision of an Arab majority. Britain's naval and political reaction to the illegal immigration of jews to palestine, 1945-1948s 34
  • Winston Churchill was clearly concerned about what Britain’s potential enemies and the Arab agitators would think when learning about the terms of the 1939 White Paper: ‘will they not be tempted to think: They’re on the run again. This is another Munich’, and be more stimulated in their aggression? Weizmann, one of the most conciliatory and consistently pro-British Zionist leaders appealed to the mandatory power: I say to the mandatory power: you shall not play fast and loose with the Jewish people. Say to us frankly that the National Home is closed, and we shall know where we stand. But this trifling with a nation bleeding from a thousand wounds must not be done by the British whose Empire is built on moral principles—that mighty Empire must not commit this sin against the people of the Book. Tell us the truth. This at least we have deserved.102 So Jewish immigration was restricted by the White Paper to a token quota for five years and was afterwards only to be allowed at the discretion of the Arabs of Palestine. The Jews in turn, in spite of the bitterness caused by the White Paper of 1939, still had a commonality of interests and ideals with the British people and the Anglo-Saxon world. It was not just a matter of gratitude for the Balfour Declaration or for the treatment of the Jews for the previous hundred years or so. The very existence and survival of the Jewish people depended on whether British ideals and ways of life, liberal tendencies, tolerance, freedom, fair-dealing, respect for human dignity, democracy and so forth, would prevail in the world. Under totalitarian regimes of any kind, Jewish life, Jewish civilisation and freedom were deemed impossible.103 But something had definitely snapped in the relationship between Jews and British in Palestine, and Weizmann stated: ‘as a firm believer in, and champion of, that relationship, I am forced to realise that what has been destroyed is so vital, and of such moral significance, that it cannot be restored by projects, resolutions and kind words’.104 One must not lose sight of the fact that suspension of immigration and control of land transfer, as promulgated and put into effect by the White Paper, were by no means, as far as the Jews were concerned, the most detrimental sections of the new policy; even more controversial and decisive were the constitutional paragraphs which proposed the progressive transformation of Palestine into a sovereign state with a guaranteed permanent Arab majority (para. 10[4]). As far as the Jews were concerned this was even less acceptable to them than the White Paper’s Immigration and Land Sale Restriction provisions. The Zionists. ‘friend’, Downey, proved absolutely consequent in his unceasing attempts to promote, and if possible complete, the constitutional White Paper provisions through early implementation of the offensive paragraph 10 (4). He plotted with the High Commissioner Harold MacMichael (another keen proponent of the White Paper policies) to influence his boss MacDonald in this direction. At the time (1940) Downie agitated assiduously and wrote continuously about transferring most functions of Palestine government to the Arab majority. A typical example is the extract from one of Downie’s memoranda to Shuckburgh: The determinants of British policy 35
  • S of S intends after consultation with Sir Harold MacMichael to propose to the War Cabinet that immediate steps should be taken to implement paragraph 10 (4) of the White Paper, i.e. appointment of Palestinian Heads of Department, with seats on the Executive Council.105 The White Paper was enacted in 1939, but perseverance with its implementation after the end of the war was indeed the British intention, as shown by steps planned as early as 1940–1.106 It would in fact have cancelled the Balfour Declaration. The Jews were convinced that the effect of the new policy for Palestine laid down by the Mandatory government was to deny the Jewish people the right to reconstitute their National Home in the ancestral country it is a policy which transfers authority over Palestine to the present Arab majority, decrees the stoppage of Jewish immigration as soon as the Jewish inhabitants form one-third of the total, and sets up a territorial ghetto for the Jews in their own homeland.107 In 1939 the British government were not particularly worried about the Palestinian Arabs, they were more concerned about the attitude of the Arab states, whose loyalty they felt was needed when the inevitable war with Germany broke out. A typical General Staff memorandum about Middle East strategy insisted they must have a peaceful, friendly Arab world at nearly any cost, as only minimal forces would be available for Middle East policing. It made no mention at all of the Jews who were discounted as a force.108 On 30 August 1938 C.B.Bateman wrote to Sir Lancelot Oliphant in a letter replete with affectedly elegant French phrases like ‘à titre purement personnel’, ‘sauve qui peut’ and ‘à qui de [sic] droit’ that: The Jews are anybody’s game these days Britain should concentrate on placating the Arabs they [the Jews] have waited 2000 years for their ‘home’ they can well afford to wait a bit until we are better able to help them get their last pound of flesh in the form of a constant percentage [population ratio] especially as we are the only friends they have left in the world.109 Bateman continued by writing about the ‘shamozzle’ in Palestine (one must assume that Bateman probably wanted to use the Yiddish word ‘Schlimazzel’, meaning consistently bad luck, accident-prone or a ‘real mess’, but then perhaps his French was better than his Yiddish), he advised Oliphant to invite the Mufti to London and to promise this confirmed enemy of the British (and the Jews) that Britain will call off ‘our Jew immigrants’ if he will recall his ‘thugs’. In the same letter he tried to reassure Oliphant at the Foreign Office that he was neither pro-Arab nor anti-Jew, he just thought those d***d Semites are ‘each as loathsome as the other’. In 1938–9 such officials were the shapers of Britain’s Palestine policy. It had become abundantly clear that there was no chance of reaching agreement between Jews and Arabs and the British government was thus faced with two equally unpalatable alternatives: it could either, ‘expose the government to a charge of breach of Britain's naval and political reaction to the illegal immigration of jews to palestine, 1945-1948s 36
  • faith to the Jews, or alternatively perpetuate hostility in Palestine and in the neighbouring Arab states’.110 Of the two evils the government chose the first. There was, however, a difference between the solutions proposed by the Foreign Office and the concessions to the Arabs proposed by the Colonial Office. ‘Both [Departments] agreed that the Arab demand for self-government should be refused’,111 but the Foreign Office was ‘prepared to go all the way to meet the Arabs as regards restricting Jewish immigration into Palestine.’112 By that time the British attitude to the Jewish national home had evolved from half- hearted support of the Balfour Declaration to an insistence that any Jewish right to Palestine must be conditioned by the consent of the Arab population already there,113 in fact it had veered so far towards a pro-Arab line as to render the Balfour Declaration nugatory. Indeed, an Arab veto on Jewish immigration after a breathing space of five years had been decided by the British government and was in fact incorporated into the White Paper;114 after that period Britain would give complete independence to Palestine. The English and the Arabs had finally united in one front. MacDonald said that in the event of war, ‘the security of British forces in the Middle East and lines of communications with India and the Far East’, depended on the maintenance of friendly relations with governments in the region. A ‘continuation of the estrangement in Palestine’ would not only threaten the entire British position in the Middle East; it might ‘also produce a good deal of unrest among the Moslems of India’. He continued by stating that the government had received strong and unanimous warnings from its military advisers and from British representatives in the Middle East and in India as to the dangerous effects which might be predicted in the event of the pursuance of certain policies in Palestine. Prime Minister Chamberlain supported MacDonald’s decision: ‘We are now compelled to consider the Palestine problem mainly from the point of view of its effect on the international situation if we must offend one side, let us offend the Jews rather than the Arabs.’115 But the whole raison d’être of the government’s pro-Arab policy was questioned by the Foreign Office soon after commencement of hostilities with Germany, when Bagallay argued that, ‘the only measure which would secure the British position in the Middle East would be British or Allied military successes.’116 The Foreign Office was convinced that antagonising the Arabs over Palestine would throw them into the arms of the Soviet Union. This and the need to ensure access to the Middle East oil in the expected global confrontation with the communist powers were thought to be the priority scenario to be prevented at all costs. Jewish friendship in contrast seemed to be dispensable. No British base on Jewish territory, which after all was bound to be surrounded by implacably hostile Arab states, seemed to be worthwhile, even if such a Jewish state could be persuaded to offer strategic facilities. It remained British policy to attempt and promote a settlement acceptable to both Arabs and Jews, but at the same time also to follow perceived British interests, which were quite generally understood to demand keeping on the right side of the Arabs, if it should prove impossible to impose a solution. The determinants of British policy 37
  • It was hardly surprising that the Foreign Office to a considerable extent succumbed to the wishes of the Palestine Arabs and pursued its struggle to oppose the partition of Palestine inside and outside the Cabinet. The British had anyway convinced themselves that for large masses of Jewish refugees coming to Palestine it was not so much a matter of their choice but rather a question of the lack of an alternative. The British also noted a near general disillusionment of the Palmach with the Yishuv’s leadership and their intelligence services frequently reported on the apathetic attitude of the general public. The commander of the Lohita (Knesset Israel) reminisces: Just a stone’s throw away were the lights of the Carmel and the honking horns of Jewish cars—and Jewish Haifa was so quiet! as if to remind us that there are still Jews in Haifa, brethren who failed to come to our assistance in our time of trouble.117 But public participation in illegal landing operations had virtually ceased at the very moment Britain introduced deportations. There was reduced Yishuv involvement and in the main the Jewish public stood by and placed the burden on the weak shoulders of the illegal immigrants. Nissan Leviathan, one of the Commanders of the Ulua (Chaim Arlosoroff) wrote: If their fellow Jews (who knew what was going on) had swarmed the beach to defend and extricate the immigrants, many of them might possibly have been saved the people defended themselves with their last strength as they were dragged to the landing craft. Even then their eyes searched the shore, seeking the awaited help, but help was not forthcoming.118 The British placed some hope in these factors and in the loathing of the Mossad L’Aliya Bet by the sailors of the IJI ships.119 Yehuda Arazi, who (during a critical time was the Mossad representative in Italy, used to receive the Palmachniks allocated as escorts with a certain amount of reserve and preferred to work with soldiers of the Jewish Brigade. But where would the hoped for emigrants from Palestine go? The sentiments so well expressed in 1939 by Sir Alexander Cadogan, Permanent Under-Secretary at the Foreign Office still applied in 1946–48: ‘If we have to limit drastically or stop altogether Jewish immigration into Palestine, we shall be on stronger ground if we can find a refuge elsewhere.’ At the time the possibilities of such an outlet in the British Colonial Empire were exhaustively explored, but the results were not encouraging. Kenya declared that a Jewish enclave would be an undesirable feature, the white settlers in Northern Rhodesia raised strong objections to the settlement of Jewish refugees and plans for a small-scale settlement in British Guyana had to be abandoned. When it came to the admission of Jews the absorptive capacity of the not inconsiderable expanse of the British Empire proved to be nil. Post-war plans did not fare much better. John Marlowe wrote: Britain's naval and political reaction to the illegal immigration of jews to palestine, 1945-1948s 38
  • If the Zionists and their supporters had concentrated on the humanitarian, instead of on the political and propagandist effect, and if they had in consequence asked HMG to treat these wretched people as refugees, and not as prospective Palestine immigrants, there is no doubt that HMG would have done everything possible to assist them.120 And Christopher Sykes wrote: The Jewish Agency were determined not to budge an inch from their essential principle: the flow of refugees was to come into Palestine and was to be diverted nowhere else: better that they should die than to be so used as to enfeeble Zionist resolve.121 But there was never a viable alternative destination for the refugees. M.R.Wright of the Official Committee on Jewish Illegal Immigration wrote a report122 in which he mentioned the only two possible destinations for a large number of Jewish refugees, the British zone of Germany and parts of the Colonial Empire. But the Colonial Office stated that there was no sufficient accommodation for this large number of Jews in any part of the Colonies (besides there was the point the Committee wished to make—the disadvantage, that Britain would completely fail to establish the principle of Refoulement).123 However, in this particular case enquiries had been made of the following: Northern Ireland: no camp facilities and opposition of the Northern Ireland government. Gambia: unhealthy region, accommodation for not more than 100. Sierra Leone: unhealthy and unsuited. Gold Coast and Nigeria: impossible on account of climate and physical limitations. Ascension: water supply broken down and formidable supply difficulties. St Helena: small, no real possibility of accommodation. West Indies: over-populated, and grave political issues. British Guyana: has room but needs considerable capital expenditure on the infra-structure. Malta and Gibraltar: overcrowded. Aden, Somaliland, East Africa and Mauritius: no accommodation, unsuitable climate and difficult supply position. Kenya: no accommodation. Transport to any of these destinations would also have been impossible in the ships available at the time as it would involve long hauls in tropical conditions. Brigadier Glubb, the commander of the Transjordan Arab Legion, voiced the feelings of a large proportion of British officers and officials, who seemed totally out of touch The determinants of British policy 39
  • with reality and perceived themselves as being neither pro-Arab nor pro-Jewish but pro- Empire. A rather tactless memorandum to the Foreign Office, the Colonial Office and with copies sent to most British embassies in the Arab states commences thus: The sufferings (however much to be lamented) of a few hundred-thousand Jews cannot be weighed in the balance with the future of the British Commonwealth which numbers thousands of millions. Moreover we shall not be jeopardising the safety and happiness of the British Empire for one or two years but for generations or even centuries. If as a result of ill- advised action on our part Russia were to establish herself in the Middle East, the premature collapse of the British Empire within a generation or two might well result.124 The note was accompanied by a crude out-of-scale pencil-drawn map of Palestine, proposing a partition allocating about 90 per cent of the land to King Abdallah of Transjordan with Britain retaining Haifa, Jerusalem and El- Arish. Expending hard-pressed British resources to enforce a settlement against the wishes of either or both of the antagonists, the Arabs and the Jews, was never an acceptable option, and when the United Nations General Assembly voted for partition and when this decision was rejected by the Arabs, there was no alternative to abandoning the Palestine Mandate and evacuating the British administration and their armed forces. On 26 September 1947 Creech Jones announced to the UN that, ‘in the absence of a settlement, the government must plan for an early withdrawal of British forces and of the British Administration from Palestine’. Britain's naval and political reaction to the illegal immigration of jews to palestine, 1945-1948s 40
  • 3 The British preoccupation with the perceived danger of communist infiltration and subversion An alleged danger of Nazi and subsequently of communist subversion, made sometimes in good faith by official British sources, was frequently voiced with a view to persuade British as well as foreign public opinion of the dangers inherent in Jewish immigration into Palestine. These spokesmen and official or unofficial mouthpieces tried to convince the authorities and media in countries which were perceived to have turned into the main sources of moral and financial support for the Illegal Jewish Immigration to abandon, or at least to reduce their support for the Jews. Soon after the end of the Second World War, British intelligence became convinced that the Russians had become very aware of the value of the IJI movement as an ideal weapon for increasing British embarrassments in the Middle East. The perceived threat of communist penetration of the Middle East through Jewish immigration was a seamless substitution of wartime fears, when immigration of Jews to Palestine was opposed by Britain on the grounds that they were enemy citizens and that the Nazis were planting spies among the groups of refugees. There was, the British claimed, ‘the possibility of there being agents of the German Government amongst them and the consequent danger to the internal security of Palestine’.1 Mr Knatchbull-Hugessen, Britain’s Ambassador Plenipotentiary in Angora (Ankara), made the humanitarian gesture of advising the Turkish govermment to send the 679 Jews on board the 200-ton MV Struma, a mere 200-ton hulk of an old yacht, marooned in the Bosphorus near Istanbul, on to Palestine. Following Knatchbull-Hugessen’s intervention, S.E.V. Luke, CO, wrote a rather intemperate minute: I must confess that I have read with considerable dismay the reply made by the Ambassador (to paper P1/4/32) as reported at A. This is the occasion on which, in spite of numerous efforts, the Turkish Government has shown any signs of being ready to help in frustrating these illegal immigrant ships, and the Ambassador then goes and spoils the whole effect on absurdly mis-judged humanitarian grounds.2 Lord Davies in the House of Lords3 was wondering what precisely was these Jews illegality, because under the provisions of the White Paper there was a quota due for the current half-year of 3,400 unallotted vacancies, applicable to Jews who wished to go to Palestine. At the same time the Lords had been informed ‘in another place’ (the House of Commons) that a certain number of exiled pro-Nazi Mufti followers had been readmitted into Palestine, although in his defence Viscount Cranborne stated that they were only
  • seven harmless hangers-on. Following an evasive answer by Harold McMillan MP, Commander Locker-Lampson MP made a sarcastic remark in the House, ‘Is it not the fact that the Jews have never cut the pipe line?’ (of the Iraq Petroleum Company, whereas the Mufti’s followers had). Lord Moyne himself wrote: ‘We have good reason to believe that this traffic [IJI] is favoured by the Gestapo the very greatest importance to preventing the influx of Nazi agents under the cloak of refugees.’4 The Deputy Minister of State, Middle East at the time, Lord Moyne, who is himself of part Jewish descent, used the above and the following argument as his rationale for sending back these Jewish refugees. Moyne felt that, ‘it was difficult to write with moderation about this occurrence which was in flat contradiction of Government policy and urged that Turkish authorities should be asked to send the ship back to the Black Sea, as they originally proposed.5 Lord Moyne’s hostile anti-immigration stance was neither forgotten nor forgiven and in 1944 radical Zionist assassins murdered him in Cairo. In a draft proposal to extend the powers of the High Commissioner for Palestine, to enable effective action to prevent the illegal immigration of Jews, J.E.M. Carvell claimed, without offering proof, that Jewish nationalist organisations ‘find ready accomplices in the S.S. and the Gestapo, who grant exit permits from German territory from political motives’.6 As a justification for their immigration policy the Colonial Office clearly wished for proof of agents’ infiltration through IJI. Not untypically R.R.Colton wrote (reporting on the Sakaria intercepted by the Royal Navy on 13 February 1940), ‘It is a pity that we can’t find an authentic Nazi at the bottom of it; it would have helped the Palestine Government’.7 Colonial Secretary Malcolm MacDonald, having been at the time the Cabinet Minister with most information to hand, wrote to Viscount Halifax, Information received from various sources leaves no room for doubt that the Germans are encouraging this traffic, probably with a view to import their agents into the Middle East in the guise of Jewish immigrants.8 HM Consul General at Smyrna reported via the British embassy in Ankara to the Foreign Office, the High Commissioner and the Commander-in-Chief Middle East about a proposed attempt by a Turkish ship to convey from a Romanian port to Palestine a number of German Jews posing as refugees, but really commissioned to incite Arabs to disorder and he added, ‘It is also possible that the Permanent Mandates Commission is an ingenious device for embroiling His Majesty’s Government with the Turks’9 The FO commented, ‘This illegal immigration is changing from a sordid traffic in which the Germans participated now and again, to an effort directed entirely by Germany and a part of their war policy.’10 The scope of this book prevents inclusion of many more of the innumerable documents proving the British fear of Nazi-Jewish collusion as one of the reasons for Britain's naval and political reaction to the illegal immigration of jews to palestine, 1945-1948s 42
  • blocking the wartime immigration of Jewish refugees. However, a number of quotations taken at random from minutes written by Foreign Office Assistant Secretary J.S.Bennett and distributed for comment to 15 Foreign and Colonial Office officials will not be withheld: As we know, the Germans have a long history of association with the promotion of illegal immigration at the European end. They have excellent reasons for doing so, as it serves the dual purpose of ridding Germany and the occupied territories of Jews, and of embarrassing us in the Middle East. We have got used to the curious phenomenon of partnership between the revisionist Jews and the Gestapo and even Jewish Gestapo officers.11 The author’s personal recollection is of at least some, probably partially financial, collaboration of Guttmann and Löbl, the two leaders of the clandestine 1939 Danube- Black Sea transport, strutting arm-in-arm with black-uniformed SS men around Prague’s Vaclavski Square. J.S.Bennett of the Foreign Office mused on what he would do if he were in control of German operations: I should seriously consider rounding up several thousand Jews from the Balkans, packing them into old and worthless ships at the Aegean ports, and sending them off on the voyage to Palestine under the usual discreet Gestapo supervision.12 There was the endlessly repeated insistence on the part of the government of Palestine, the Colonial Office, British Intelligence etc. on the supposed danger that Nazi, and after the war Soviet agents might be smuggled into Palestine among Jewish immigrants, and the determination of the authorities on account of this remote possibility to exclude all immigrants emanating from enemy or enemy-occupied or from Eastern bloc countries, in the case of the post-war immigration. These fears, as we learned, were baseless. Britain was never able to furnish proof of such Nazi subversion, and never was a single German agent found to justify these British apprehensions. It does not, however, disprove German or Soviet motivation, which was clearly to embarrass Britain and undermine its Middle East position. The Colonial Office used to counsel use of the argument that German spies were infiltrating the ranks of refugee groups, while the Foreign Office felt that this argument should only be used when there was concrete proof of agents having been found among refugees. To quote a senior Foreign Office official writing about refugees newly arrived in Palestine, if it is really the case that neither the authorities in Palestine nor we know definitely that a single enemy agent has arrived in this way, we would suggest that there is reason for caution in including this argument in our propaganda.13 The British preoccupation 43
  • Downie requested evidence for the claim about Nazi agents to which he received the reply ‘[T] the police have not been able to find any evidence showing individuals among the illegal immigrants to be enemy agents.’14 As we shall see, the communist bogey was likewise proved groundless. In Marxist-Leninist terms the conflict between Great Britain and the Zionists resulting from British adherence to the immigration restrictions had transformed the Zionist movement by 1947, ‘from an agent of British imperialism into an instrument of the struggle against British power’.15 At the first Special Session of the General Assembly of the United Nations, the Soviet Union’s Chief Delegate Andrei Gromyko addressed the delegates in a historic speech in which he advanced the tenets of Zionism by saying: The fact that no western European state has been able to ensure the defence of the elementary rights of the Jewish people, and to safeguard it against the violence of the fascist executioners, explains the aspirations of the Jews to establish their own state. It would be unjust not to take this into consideration and to deny the right of the Jewish people to realise this aspiration. It would be unjustifiable to deny this right to Jewish people, particularly in view of all it has undergone during the Second World War. Andrei Gromyko’s speech before the United Nations General Assembly in Lake Success on 14 May 1947, which thus pronounced on Soviet support for partition, was certainly a turning point for Soviet policy but also for the Palestinian communists. This speech dealt with the aspirations of Zionism, it had a few sensational ingredients which gave a pleasant sur-prise to Zionists and a nasty shock to the Arabs. Gromyko’s statement really meant a radical departure from the customary Soviet attitude towards the Arab-Jewish feud, officially maintained in Russia ever since the Revolution. Zionism and ‘Hebrew- ism’ had been treated for nearly 30 years as a brand of counter-revolution. Communist opposition to Zionism has a long history, which pre-dates the Russian Revolution and the Balfour Declaration of November 1917. Yet the Communist and Marxist critique of Zionism has always been vitiated by a curious inconsistency.16 The Russians had hitherto automatically portrayed Zionism as an agency of British Imperialism, while the Arab war against the Jews was described by the Comintern as a great revolutionary event. In his Collected Works (appendix to Vol. 2) Stalin himself charged Zionism with having a ‘reactionary-Nationalist tendency that has its followers among the Jewish bourgeoisie, intelligentsia and the most backward sections of the Jewish workers’. Following Gromyko’s speech it appeared to have become Soviet policy to promote creation of a Jewish puppet state aligned to the Soviet Union and comparable to the kingdom of Transjordan allied to Britain. It was possible that, Britain's naval and political reaction to the illegal immigration of jews to palestine, 1945-1948s 44
  • the Stalinist leadership also entertained some illusions about the likely development of Israel in the direction of a People’s Democracy after all a significant portion of the Yishuv had a more or less Marxist tradition.17 Anticipating and perhaps also following this trend in Moscow’s policies, the Palestine Communist Party (PCP) had changed its name soon after the end of the Second World War to the ‘Communist Party of Eretz Israel’, eventually even recognising the idea of a Jewish state and calling its members to register for National Service. Britain was concerned that, ‘the PCP recognition and support for the Jewish state led it to an alignment with Irgun Zvai Leumi (the military arm of the Revisionists)’.18 The British suspected that the communists had established a practical working basis if not control of the ruthless Stern Gang,19 a vicious offspring of the Irgun Zvai Leumi (IZL). The PCP may have had some contacts within these groups, but they had not actually taken over these two right-wing organisations. However, in 1947 the Jewish communists began to follow the opportunistic Soviet policy and opted for Jewish statehood. There was thus a wide-spread conviction, even obsession, among the British authorities that the Soviet Union was conniving, sponsoring and supporting the Illegal Jewish Immigration to Palestine, and there was the British fear that hordes of Red Fifth Columnists were exploiting the violence in Palestine and that hand-picked communists or fellow travellers were attempting to install a communist state in Palestine. This obsession with communist infiltration and subversion was shared by Ben Gurion and his dominant Mapai,20 which feared the ‘bolshevization’ of the future army, to be based on the Haganah and the allegedly heavily communist-infiltrated Palmach. Citing the communist takeover of all east European states Ben Gurion wrote to Ben Aharon that he ‘must understand that without physical coercion a minority cannot impose its will on the majority’.21 Ben Gurion considered dangerous the communist assertion, voiced frequently in the 1920s, that there was merit in parts of the Bolshevik military doctrine over a universal military doctrine, but he also supported some leaders’ strident demands that the army must of necessity have a socialist, openly class-struggle-oriented character. For years after the Revolution the Red Army used to practise a highly egalitarian regime in terms of pay and living conditions and officers were restricted to the same extremely Spartan mode of life as privates. There were no rank insignia, no saluting of superiors and no officer privileges regarding uniforms, mess and sleeping arrangements. This had been emulated by the Palmach, whose privates, NCOs and officers were farmer-members of communal settlements (kibbutzim), they nearly invariably represented left-wing parties and practised ‘Ideological Solidarity’, but these were actually the men and the units which were the activists of the militant struggle for IJI. It is a fact that there was a quasi- communist pattern of the Palmach as a highly politicised force serving as a school of socialism and soldier education and the units were vastly more democratised than the elite-dominated officer corps of, say, the British army. Ben Gurion and his majority Mapai Party loathed this left-wing alignment of the Palmach. On his part he always struggled for the creation of a centralised, disciplined army based on the British armed forces pattern, supplied and administered from a single centre. Therefore, he consistently promoted the influence of the officers emanating from the British armed forces over those emerging from the clandestine Palmach with their inclination towards a pro-Soviet The British preoccupation 45
  • alignment. It is true, there were Zionist leaders like Moshe Sneh (Kleinbaum), leader of the Haganah until 1946, who genuinely believed that it would be possible to reconcile the Zionism of a future state with Marxist-Leninist doctrine, but none of the pro-Soviet individuals or parties had mass support. This basically political struggle between Ben Gurion’s right-of-centre Western-aligned Mapai and the left-of-centre Mapam ended with amalgamation of the Palmach in the army and dissolution of the separate Palmach command.22 Ben Gurion’s irrational fears of possible revolutionary activities emanating from Palmach and Paljam were based on the historical precedents of communist-inspired mutinies in the German and Russian armed forces, especially their navies. It was not surprising that Britain also shared these unreasonable fears. Russian connivance in organising IJI from Romania and Bulgaria appeared very probable to British Intelligence. Already in early 1946 the British Military Mission in Bucharest reported on the provisioning of a coastal steamer at Constanza before embarking 1,500 passengers for Palestine.23 This Monthly Intelligence Report (MIR) stated that the vessel was known to have already been under Russian control in December 1945, and adds that there were two other unseaworthy vessels at this Romanian port, expected to embark a further 2,500 Jews in the near future. The British authorities believed that communist agents were trying to infiltrate Palestine by way of IJI ships and via the Cyprus camps. All illegal immigrants were suspect, their luggage and bodies were searched during transhipment to the deportation ships and they were thoroughly interrogated by the British Field Security Sections. All correspondence, documents, photographs and so forth, were routinely scrutinised for traces of even the most far-fetched communist influence. References in reports by 299 FS Section Cyprus and dated 25 October 1947 dealt with the interrogation of emigrants who travelled in the Northlands and Paducah from Bulgarian ports. It confirmed the active participation of the Romanian government in the illegal immigration traffic. The British Legation in Bucharest was critical of the accuracy of the 299 FS Section report on the subjects of deportation of Jews from Transdnestria during the war and the organisation and financing of the illegal Jewish traffic by the Red Cross, however the ambassador seemed to believe what he chose to believe, that is, that in certain Jewish camps the inmates received ‘physical training and close-combat training really military training in the full sense of the word’.24 All that had really happened was that for a short time after 1947 Soviet Russia and the new governments in the Russian sphere of influence had temporarily relaxed the anti- Zionist policies to which the ruling communist parties of those countries had been committed: ‘While they have called on their Jews not to rush away in a panic and have invited them to stay put, they have not, however, placed any obstacles in the way of Jewish emigration.’25 Nor did they ban Jewish parties and their political activities. Furthermore, Russian policy had always been rather unstable and largely unpredictable. The directives upon which Mr Gromyko spoke in the United Nations General Assembly were very soon reversed and the communist parties veered back to their traditional anti-Zionist stance. British anxieties found their parallel in Arab pronouncements. Such pronouncements were played up in the British press, although we may be certain that the military might Britain's naval and political reaction to the illegal immigration of jews to palestine, 1945-1948s 46
  • and strength of the Arab irregulars participating in the 1948 struggle were well-known to British intelligence: The source of this threat is the 40,000 Jews who are waiting in the ports of the Black Sea under Russian supervision to enter Palestine on the 15th May [termination of the British mandate]. They have been preceded by thousands of Communists from Red Europe and have established a bridgehead in Palestine for the spread of Communism.26 The following information about communist selection of Illegal Jewish Immigrants from the Soviet-controlled Balkans was considered significant enough for retransmission to Washington, Cairo, Jerusalem and so on: Eight trains with 12,000 illegal immigrants had passed via Giurgiu and Dobritch into Bulgaria (for embarkation on the ‘Pans’) and it was reported that 1,000 to 2,000 had been nominated by Soviet authorities while 800 prospective immigrants had been turned back by the Romanian Siguranta (Security Service).27 A few quotations taken from secret reports submitted by 317 Airborne Field Security Section on the arrival of illegal ships will illustrate this British preoccupation with the danger of the alleged Soviet infiltration into Palestine. No less than 32 copies of these reports were normally distributed, with recipients ranging from Command Palestine (COMPAL) over GOC, CRA and GSO Airborne Div to 272 FS Section: Russia has if not organised then at least connived at an international racket for encouraging violation of the Palestine immigration laws for the purpose of embarrassing HMG at least one point in common between Russian policy and that of the Jewish Agency full consent and co- operation of local Bulgarian government officials (presumably only possible due to Soviet agreement) the beginning of another phase in the Russian anti-British campaign in the Middle East.28 The Soviet authorities in Bulgaria and Romania may have tried to infiltrate their own communist trainees into the ranks of Jewish immigrants, but the British authorities were unable to find in Captain Linklater’s report29 any real evidence to justify the charges implicit in the captain’s conclusions. They accepted that, no doubt the Soviet authorities in Bulgaria and Romania permit this illegal traffic the Jews move through Soviet-occupied Europe, and the Soviet authorities could stop them if they chose. But they do not choose, which is in a sense connivance but to say that this is a point in common between Russian policy and that of the Jewish Agency is rather misleading.30 As a matter of etiquette the Moscow Embassy could not very well send copies of their signals to the Colonial Office but they asked the Foreign Office to pass a suggestion to their sister department, ‘that it would have been better if the conclusions [of the report on the collusion between the Jewish Agency and Russian policy] had, on the facts available, been a bit more cautious’.31 The British preoccupation 47
  • The British authorities were thus well aware of Soviet complicity in the illegal immigration traffic or at least in Russia’s duplicity and passive tolerance of the embarkation of illegal immigrants from ports in the Soviet sphere of influence. After fruitless interventions by the United Kingdom Political Representative with the Romanian government the British tried to solicit the support of Russian Foreign Minister Vyshinsky: ‘the United Kingdom Political Representative in Roumania has requested the appropriate authorities to prevent the embarkation of the immigrants’.32 Mr Roberts cited a UN General Assembly resolution of 5 May 1947 which called on member states and peoples to ‘refrain from any action which might create an atmosphere prejudicial to an early settlement of the question of Palestine’, and requested the Soviet government ‘to be so good as to issue urgent instructions to the Soviet authorities in Roumania to support the intervention of the United Kingdom Political Representatives with the Roumanian government’.33 Two days later Mr Roberts asked Vyshinsky to give urgent consideration to the matter of the Paducah’s possible departure from Constanza. Vyshinsky replied tongue-in-cheek that according to enquiries no such ship was in Constanza at the time. Strictly speaking this was true; the Paducah had been moved in the meantime to Bourgas in Bulgaria and, anyhow, there was another discrepancy, as Roberts had erroneously first used the name Funducah instead of Paducah.34 It was British pressure that probably resulted in moving that particular embarkation from Constanza to Burgas, but after all the British interventions, the Paducah duly arrived in Palestine 2 October 1947. According to Captain Linklater the instructions given to passengers not to write letters in Europe was due in part, ‘to an efficient NKVD security screen; one and the same screen which allowed the ships [Paducah and Northland] to sail’.35 Writing on the transhipment of the Paducah passengers, Captain Linklater reported: The whole journey was Russian sponsored and we are forced to conclude that unless Haganah are masters in Russian-occupied territory, the preparations on the train could only have been carried out with approval from Moscow. and furthermore, ‘the Palmach escorts must have been in close contact with the inner supports of the iron curtain’.36 At the end of his report Captain Linklater drew the following conclusions: a That Russia was not only taking an interest in, but was in fact encouraging or organising Jewish illegal immigration: this was probably for the purpose of embarrassing HMG in the ME; b that the Paducah sailed with Russian knowledge from a Russian-controlled port; and c that Jewish immigrants from Russian controlled ports contained a notable percentage of Communists. Noting that passengers of the Northlands had been instructed by the Haganah not to write letters while in Europe, Captain Linklater surmised in a secret report from 317 AB Field Security Section that this instruction was ‘probably due to an efficient NKVD security screen, one and the same which allowed the ships to sail eventually’.37 Britain's naval and political reaction to the illegal immigration of jews to palestine, 1945-1948s 48
  • Field Section 317’s Northland report ends with the warning, ‘that there are reports to show that the Paducah and the Northland may be the beginning of another phase in the Russian anti-British campaign in the Middle East’. By that time British Soviet-phobia, regarding the danger to the Middle East, had been well established, vide the following top secret cipher telegram from the Comander-in- Chief of the Middle East Land Forces (MELF): Understand that majority of passengers of IJI ship Rafaeluccia came from Russian occupied Balkans and included at least three former Soviet Army officers clearly important to consider feasibility of interrogation notwithstanding known difficulties. Grateful confirmation and any views.38 But diligent searches of captured IJI ships, immigrants’ luggage, body searches and interrogation of suspects could never produce any real evidence to support British and Arab claims of communist infiltration. Widely distributed intelligence reports citing a sinister Soviet guiding hand relied on the flimsiest evidence: ‘A Russian Victory Medal with ribbon and one medal struck to the liberation of Prague in 1945 were found on the Cicino’.39 And in a report on the Rafaellucia we read, ‘At least three of the passengers were Russian educated junior officers they had photographs of themselves in full uniform.’ Captain Linklater came to the conclusion that a certain number of the passengers were Red Russians. In the report on the Pan York and Pan Crescent we read, ‘A proportion of the passengers are wearing green drab denim-type uniform and Cossack type fur hats; there is no snow on their boots’ (this was an attempt at humour by Captain Linklater). And further, ‘it is interesting, nevertheless, that some handbag mirrors with a photo of Stalin glued to the back were seen amongst passengers’. A picture of Stalin was also found glued to the inside of the briefcase belonging to a passenger on one of the Pans and Sir Alan Cunningham commented, ‘Although this may not prove anything in itself it should be realised that there are other facts’.40 The British intelligence officer’s conclusions were, ‘that if any large groups of Communists exist among the Russian speakers, they have arrived unarmed and without documents it was not possible to make a detailed examination of the Russian speakers; it was noticed, however, that they were not physically of a characteristically Russian type.41 Army Intelligence Units appeared to be on firmer ground when inspecting the personal appearance of the illegal immigrants rather than their possible communist affiliations. On the Maria Giovanni were: ‘very few good-looking Jewesses considering that so many were of Hungarian origin [and] there were a number of pornographic postcards and contraceptives and a complete absence of phylacteries [tefillim]’. Comments like the above are considered absolutely non sequitur by this author and are cited here to demonstrate the calibre and irrelevance of some of the low-grade army intelligence reports of the time. The British preoccupation 49
  • CID investigations of immigrants’ antecedents were possibly more professional. Immigrants’ possessions were systematically searched and separate lists of photographs, addresses, international reply coupons, letters, postcards and miscellaneous documents were made and evaluated.42 In the Maria Cristina (Lo Tafchidunu) the Palestine Secret Service (PSS) managed to identify a Mr Meir Levin as a representative of Pathé Films. Mr Levin was carrying a letter of commendation signed by Moshe Shertok. The official PSS report states: ‘You can travel anywhere and film even in Poland under Communist rule, if you have a letter signed by Mr Shertok.’ This British preoccupation bordering on obsession with communists was not confined to the questioning of IJI ship crews and passengers. A special team of investigators was sent from Palestine to Cyprus to conduct a massive search for communists among the crew and passengers of the Pan York and the Pan Crescent which arrived 1 January 1948 in Famagusta. The security agents searched the ships from top to bottom for almost a week, frisked the passengers, and rifled their belongings, without finding proof of communist subversion: ‘The only Soviet agents discovered aboard the Pan York and Pan Crescent existed in the minds of the British and of gullible diplomats and journalists’.43 But the complex Palestine milieu always generated unique and peculiar problems which mitigated against a more influential role for the communist movement. Especially within the Yishuv, communism was always doomed to play only an insignificant role. The Jews would never forget that while there were two national liberation movements— the Arab and the Jewish—for most of its existence the Soviet Union only considered the Arab movement as worthy of support, failing to recognise the Jewish aspirations. The Bolsheviks nearly always based their policy upon, [a] suspicion of the relations between Great Britain and the Zionist leaders, claiming that the Zionist bourgeoisie and the Zionist party were only branches of the imperialist counter-revolution.44 They were not so far out with their assumption of a 1917 British-Zionist complicity—no less an authority than David Lloyd George declared that one reason for adoption of the Balfour Declaration lay in, [the] state of Russia Russian Jews had become the chief agents of German pacifist propaganda it was believed that if Great Britain declared for the fulfilment of Zionist aspirations in Palestine one effect would be to bring Russian Jewry to the cause of the Entente.45 The communists’ declared aim was thus nearly always one of liquidating the Zionist enterprise. In addition Jewish communists had to compete with the left-wing Jewish elements grouping themselves around the Hashomer Hatzair and Ahdut Haavodah,46 which professed the much more attractive ideology of a synthesis between Zionism and socialism. The Jews viewed the consistently anti-Zionist policies of the Communist Party with distaste and abhorred the party’s support for termination of Jewish immigration. In addition the Jews remembered Russian neutrality in the Second World War until Britain's naval and political reaction to the illegal immigration of jews to palestine, 1945-1948s 50
  • Germany attacked the Soviet Union, while they themselves unreservedly supported the British war effort. The cool reception given to Soviet enticements and the Jewish reservations which foiled any communist attempt to gain a foothold in Palestine may be learned from figures showing the proportion of communists in the adult population of Israel immediately after independence, figures that serve to show how unfounded the British fear of communist domination really was: in the first elections to the Knesset, Israel’s parliament, the communists gained 3.5 per cent of the vote, giving the party only 4 out of 120 seats, and that meagre representation included two Arab communists. In addition most support for the Communist Party (Maki) came from non-ideological, non- intellectual and uninfluential members of the ‘lumpen proletariat’. The constant, near pathological fear of communist subversion, uncritically accepted and proclaimed by the lower and middle levels of the military, naval and intelligence community, and which proved influential in formulating British anti-Zionist policy, was never fully accepted by the Chief of Naval Staff, Admiral of the Fleet, J.H.Edelsten. In a minute to the First Sea Lord (Lord Fraser of North Cape),47 he makes disparaging remarks about a letter he received from Admiral Power. Admiral Edelsten commented that Power ‘always comes up with some titbit [about] the Jewish army being all Communist trained’ and he thought that ‘these remarks of his ought to be quashed or verified’. He added quite sensibly that he did not believe that Israel would have any truck with communists, as embracing communism is incompatible with Zionism. Nevertheless, Admiral Power’s letter together with Admiral Edelsten’s minute and the First Sea Lord’s comments were passed to the Director of Naval Intelligence (DNI) who replied that ‘far from welcoming indoctrinated Communists’, the Jewish authorities were sending them to out-of-the-way settlements where they could do the least damage.48 The DNI adds, ‘Until around November and December 1948, the Zionist immigration organisation itself chose the immigrants [and] Russian policy also veered strongly against Zionism as a “bourgeois” imperialist movement, and Jews under Soviet influence were urged to stay in Europe.’ And a Mr Cooper concluded that, Entirely contrary to their plan to direct a strong communist indoctrinated cadre into the Israeli forces they are assisting in filling those forces with young men who have experienced the unpleasantness of communism at short range, and whose chief motive for volunteering for the Israeli forces was to get as far away from communism as possible. The DNI proved the point by stating that only 3.5 per cent of members of the Israeli armed forces voted communist at the general election on 25 January, which was exactly the same percentage as for the civilian vote. In a letter to the First Sea Lord, Admiral Power half-heartedly apologised for his unproved allegation of communist subversion, but insinuated that relevant information was being withheld from him: I can only hope that DNI’s appreciation is correct. In this connection, I always value your personal remarks on such subjects and am very glad to get them, but I would like to take this opportunity to ask you to make sure The British preoccupation 51
  • that, if any important information comes to light, you will send it officially as well as personally to me. Admiral Power was unrepentant and continued to proclaim the communist danger in the new state of Israel, writing: The country [Israel] is in a rotten state and already contains a good many thousand communists who have been indoctrinated and screened by the Russians before being exported to the Levant. These are increasing every month and with the assistance of the Stern Gang and other extremists can be within measurable distance of obtaining control.49 It had perhaps escaped Admiral Power’s notice that the Stern Gang had already been very effectively dissolved by Ben Gurion in 1948. In another letter to the First Sea Lord, Admiral Power painted a lurid picture: There are, say 30,000 thugs plus remnants of Stern Gang and I.Z.L. ready and waiting for a ‘coup’ that Ben-Gurion may not be able to quash. Israel is the only country in the Middle East that has not proscribed Communism D.N.I., I know will say ‘Rot’.50 But it was Power’s prediction of a communist putsch on Israel’s horizon which, as it turned out, eventually proved to be ‘rot’. General Crocker and Acting Brigadier Magan, Crocker’s senior Security Officer, Admiral Power et al., proved to have been consistently wrong about the communist dangers in Palestine. Other political predictions made by these officers also proved incorrect. For instance, in Malta they forecast a vote of non-confidence in Dr Boffa.51 On 19 September 1949, Dr Boffa secured a vote of confidence by 24 to 7 (with 7 abstentions). Most if not all of the reports about communist infiltration of Jewish illegal immigration, as well as the various alarums and apprehensions alleging plots for subversion of the Israeli army subsequently proved unfounded. The problem was that though much of the contents of these communications were factually correct, their tendentious interpretation tended to render them counter-productive. To illustrate this point there follow some extracts from a confidential Foreign Office telegram: There has been a steady stream of Jews into Roumania from the U.S.S.R. during the past two years and many have been included in shipments of illegal immigrants to Palestine training camps for illegal immigrants in Roumania where para-military training was done were permitted by Soviet Section of Allied Control Commission assembly and embarkation of Jewish illegal immigrants from Roumania at ports on the Black Sea which are vital points on the Soviet line of communication, and readiness with which clearances were granted by NKVD were more than significant indications of Soviet participation immigrants who arrived on steamers Paducah (Geulah) and Northlands (Medinat Britain's naval and political reaction to the illegal immigration of jews to palestine, 1945-1948s 52
  • Hajehudim) belonged to extreme left-wing Jewish organisations and there were some among them who had recently arrived from Russia Russian military transport has been used for transport of Jewish illegal immigrants across Roumania.52 Some paragraphs in the same telegram reported ties between a certain Major Levy, a serving member of the Allied Control Commission, Soviet Section, and delegates of extremist revisionist and Palestine underground movements respectively (Klarmann and Auerbuch) and of their alleged co-operation with the NKVD, based on sightings at Soviet Secret Service HQ. Both the Paducah and the Northlands were ex-US Navy coastguard ice-breakers which had sailed with Jewish-American crews, one from Miami and the other from Baltimore for the Mediterranean, being shadowed all the way to the Bosphorus (under the Montreux Convention British war-ships were allowed to pass the Dardanelles only under strict conditions) by HMS Cardigan Bay, HMS St Brides Bay and other units of the Royal Navy. The Foreign Office was in the dark regarding the ships’ ultimate destination and the ports of the intended immigrants’ embarkation. This shows clearly from warnings scattered around Madrid, Bilbao, Bayonne, Algiers, Rabat, Oran, Tunis, Tripolitania, Leghorn, Rome, Bordeaux, San Sebastian, Admiralty Commander-in- Chief Mediterranean and so on.53 The above two ships were reported to have gun- mountings on their decks, (hardly surprising, as the vessels used to serve with the US coastguard) but no guns, which was expected to provide a valuable argument for insisting on detention if they put into port.54 Towards the end of 1947, Cairo army HQ became worried about a ‘Soviet Plot’ as is also shown by a signal marked ‘Top Secret’ from C-in-C MELF to GOC Palestine and Transjordan: ‘understand that majority of passengers of IJI ship Raffaeluccia (Kadimah) came from Russian occupied Balkans and included at least three former Soviet Army officers important consider feasibility of interrogation’.55 The British were always looking for communist agents infiltrated into the mass of refugees trying to enter Palestine. Captain Linklater, commander of section 299 of the PSS and five of his colleagues flew to Cyprus at short notice to check the enormous human cargo disembarking in Famagusta from the Pan York and Pan Crescent. He filled ten large crates with documents, personal photographs, and diaries taken from the immigrants and took them to Fayid in Egypt for evaluation. Linklater was able to produce an ‘accurate report on the selection of passengers in Roumania, how they were transported, life on board the ships, the structure of the ships and how they operated, and the relations between immigrants and the crew’.56 He gleaned important information about Romania and about that country’s relations with the Soviet Union and Linklater had the ships’ papers and a list of sailors on board, but was unable to catch any communist spies. In an interim report he wrote inter alia: If there are any large Communist guerrilla groups among the Russian speakers in this shipment, either they are still aboard the ship or else they have come unarmed and without documents the Communist regime in Roumania, under supervision from Moscow, wanted to evacuate the shipment of Jews at all costs and reached an agreement with Bulgaria to use a Bulgarian port for this purpose.57 The British preoccupation 53
  • This long interim report betrayed great disappointment at not being able to find Soviet agents or organised communist underground groups. Linklater was unable to furnish proof for the assumption that documents had been seized proving that the Pans had been full of Soviet agents. Yet both the British military and civilian administration continued to spread information in London and Washington, hinting at dangerous discoveries. The British publicity campaign remained keen and was often able to launch articles in US periodicals claiming that active members of the Communist Party had been found among the immigrants and that subversive literature, such as The Fundamentals of Marxist-Leninist Philosophy had been seized in immigrants’ possession.58 However, by this time open conflict had been avoided by the joint British-Zionist decision to transfer the Pans to Cyprus. The refoulement policy had been abandoned and the passengers of the latest immigrant ships had not been returned to their countries of origin. It was clear that, before long, they would all get to Palestine anyhow. The climax of the unauthorised immigration had been passed and both the British and the Zionist publicity campaigns were too late and indeed superfluous. In the 1930s and 1940s Britain had judged Jewish refugees to represent a serious security problem, and she persevered in trying to convince other nations, especially the Americans, of the imminence of this danger. Britain thus perceived of the Jews as a kind of Trojan horse that would spill Nazi and later communist subversives and spies into Palestine. Britain's naval and political reaction to the illegal immigration of jews to palestine, 1945-1948s 54
  • 4 Britain’s fight against the sources of illegal immigration beyond the borders of Palestine and her confrontation with the financial, logistic and moral supporters in Europe and North America For various historic, economic, political and emotional reasons, Great Britain became nearly totally isolated by the antagonistic and hostile attitude of most European and North American nations in her struggle to contain the flow of Illegal Jewish Immigration directed towards the shores of Palestine. Italy Due to political and logistic conditions immediately after the war, Italy turned into the main base for the Illegal Jewish Immigration. In the first year after cessation of hostilities most illegal vessels sailed from the shores of Italy. Geography and politics had combined to turn Italy into the most suitable base for the operation of an illegal fleet, and seven out of eight ships that embarked illegal immigrants in the last four months of 1945 sailed from Italy (only one sailed from Greece). This should help to explain that any description of Britain’s fight against the Jewish immigration from Italy must necessarily be more extensive than, for instance, the British-Zionist problems in Greece. There were only few candidates for immigration in Greece and the bitter civil war in which Britain was deeply involved was not conducive to the activities of the Mossad.1 Italy had been the first country to be liberated by the allies and Jewish Palestinian soldiers, initially from transport companies and later from the Jewish Brigade Group had been present in Italy at the end of the Second World War. It was therefore natural that the first post-war attempts to renew immigration from Europe were made by Mossad agents in Italy: ‘The chief difficulty facing the Mossad in Italy was the British army and the fact that the Royal Navy was in charge of the Italian fleet. This forced the Mossad to buy small ships, which were outside British control’.2 During most of 1946 the Italian authorities paid lip service to the continuous British demands for co-operation in the fight against IJI from their territory, but at the same time they raised innumerable objections to these requests and rendered only largely ineffective assistance. The Italians had temporarily retained the IJI ships Nettuno, Pietro and Dalia (all three ships had made several successful journeys with illegal immigrants from Italy to Palestine) and British intelligence asked the civil authorities to confirm that the owners and masters had broken Italian law,3 only to be informed that they could not be disposed
  • of until the Italian government had decided to enforce their laws and prosecute the offenders and that it was up to the Allied Commission to refer the matter to the Director- General of Merchant Marine, which was the Italian government department concerned. The proposal to impound these ships resulted in a lively buck-passing exercise between the Italian naval authorities, the Italian Public Security Organisation with their several agencies and centres, the British Field Security Services and the Port Security Officer of Bari, with the result that the ships were returned to the ‘unrestricted use of their owners to put them back on the Italy-Palestine run’. Captain White of 38 Field Service Section (FSS) referred to orders from his superiors, that the case of all Italians held in Italian prisons for assisting and abetting the illegal immigration of Jews must be handled by the competent Italian authorities, if they were considered to have violated British or Allied Military Law.4 By August 1946, the Foreign Office became very concerned about the movement into and out of the British-occupied zone of Austria and its Eastern Department asked the Allied Commission for Austria (ACA) for the text of the relevant decrees as issued by the military authorities (telegram No. 804 para. 2 addressed to the British Element of the Allied Commission for Austria). Central Mediterranean Forces (CMF) replied in due course that the frontiers were closed except for those in possession of special military exit permits or movement orders issued by Travel and Frontier Branch of the Allied Commission for Austria (ACA). Civilians wishing to leave the British Zone of Austria had to show an exit visa issued on quadripartite authority by the Austrian Ministry of the Interior in addition to the military exit permit, a visa for the country of destination and transit visa for any countries through which the intending traveller had to pass. Entry and exit was only by the authorised crossing points, the Tarvisio Pass to Italy and the Rosenbach tunnel to Yugoslavia. In August 1946 there was a prohibited zone approximately ten kilometres in depth and following the frontier, which could only be entered with a temporary entry permit issued by a Public Safety Officer. In theory, frontier control was operated satisfactorily: FS detachments worked at the official crossing places, there were occasional British patrols and regular Austrian frontier police patrols as well as static posts positioned at strategic points. However, the British members of the ACA were well aware that the controls were largely ineffective owing to the shortage of personnel, the length of the frontier, the weakness of control in the French and American zones and the virtual absence of control in the Russian zone (for example, parties of 30 or 40 Jews had been entering Austria through the Burgenland without being apprehended). It was also impractical to impose heavy deterrent sentences for frontier crossing offences as the gaols were too full and in any case imprisonment was no great hardship to a displaced person—the usual type of offender.5 There was, however some minimal, albeit rather ineffective, Italian support for the fight against IJI or at least a consistent collection and transmission of signalisation regarding the movement of suspect ships by the Italian organs of public security, who would then pass the information to General Staff Intelligence (GSI) at the British General Staff (from where it was distributed to various intelligence branches—and duly filed).6 After a four-month pause during the winter of 1946–47 the illegal immigration from Italy resumed with the departure of the IJI ship Susannah (Shabtai Lusinsky) from Metaponto. Resumption of this activity coincided with important changes in Italy’s Britain's naval and political reaction to the illegal immigration of jews to palestine, 1945-1948s 56
  • internal political situation, resulting mainly from three factors: near break-up of the political co-operation between the Italian anti-Fascist parties, worsening of relations between the United States and the Soviet Union and Britain’s increasing difficulties in Palestine. On the night of Thursday the 31st October [1946] troops of I.Z.L. attacked the offices of the British Embassy at Rome, which is one of the centres of anti-Jewish intrigue and the principal instigator of operations designed to impede the repatriation of Jews All our troops returned to their base with weapons intact.7 The attack on the British embassy resulted in a setback to the IJI activities in Italy and turned out to be a public relations disaster for the mainstream Zionists. De Gasperi sent his sentiments of solidarity to the British government and people, calling the assault a deplorable, stupid gesture, condemned by all Italians.8 Ambassador N.Charles and the Foreign Office used the occasion to launch urgent demands to bring under proper control the camps and administration machinery for Jewish displaced persons in Italy.9 Much was made of the phrase in the IZL communiqué ‘our troops having returned to base’, which had been interpreted as meaning that, The I.Z.L.communiqué has made it urgently necessary to bring under proper control the camp and administration machinery for Jewish displaced persons in Italy. You will have noted that I.Z.L. refers to ‘our troops having returned to base’. As the matter stands this could easily mean that the terrorists are at this moment living comfortably in some UNRRA camp safe de facto from enquiry or arrest by the Italian authorities who are not unnaturally afraid of the political consequences of provoking a row with UNRRA.10 In this telegram Ambassador Charles demanded that the Italian police should not be precluded by political considerations (that is, through falling foul of the United Nations Relief and Rehabilitation Administration (UNRRA) and the United States government) from combing every camp, settlement or organisational headquarters dealing with Jews, as well as depriving UNRRA and American Jewish Distribution Committee (AJDC) vehicles of the de facto immunity which they enjoyed at the time. As an essential step, Charles suggested that the Joint Chiefs of the Allied Staffs should instruct the Supreme Allied Commander to oblige UNRRA and AJDC vehicles and personnel to make themselves plainly distinguishable from Allied vehicles and personnel. However, Prime Minister De Gasperi’s visit to the United States between 3 and 20 January 1947 and re-evaluation of attitudes to illegal Jewish immigration became an indication of the centrality which this statesman allocated to a good rapport with America and to the entire future political alignment of Italy. This was one of the factors in the fundamental change that many Italian politicians underwent in their evaluation of the Jewish refugee problem. A government crisis with the objective of reducing the weight of the Left in the coalition was provoked on 20 January, even before De Gasperi returned from the United Britain’s fight against the sources of illegal immigration 57
  • States, but this statesman still succeeded in forming his third administration. At the time this did not lead to the complete break-up of the tri-party collaboration, which was still considered necessary for signing the peace treaty between Italy and the Allies (10 February 1947) and formulating the new constitution of the Republic. De Gasperi allowed this coalition between the Christian Democrat Party (DC), Italian Communist Party (PCI), Italian Socialist Party (PSI) and the independents Sforza and Gasparotto to rule until May, inaugurating a new phase in Italy’s internal and foreign policies and unsurprisingly leading to a certain re-evaluation of Italy’s attitude towards the Jewish refugees in the peninsula as well as to a reassessment of Italy’s long-standing confrontation with the organisers of the illegal embarkations to Palestine from Italian ports and coasts. De Gasperi very soon succeeded in ditching his Socialist Foreign Minister Nenni and replaced him with Count Sforza, who then played a crucial role in Italy’s unshakeable adherence to the Western bloc. The signing of the peace treaty by Lupi Di Soragna on 10 February 1947 and the treaty’s subsequent ratification in July 1947 ensured the departure of the Allied occupation forces by September 1947 and brought to an end the effectiveness of any subsequent formal interference through British pressure in matters concerning IJI. Italy’s submission to the armistice regime came to an end and her freedom of manoeuvre in matters pertaining to illegal immigration and emigration of Jews was, at least partially, restored. On 12 March 1947 President Truman issued a declaration of US help for Greece and Turkey and at the same time made a statement about the peoples who were going to be sustained in the face of internal or external pressures. Truman’s declaration signified the substitution of Great Britain by the United States as the controlling power in the eastern Mediterranean. The new strategy of containment of Soviet expansionism was bound to have a profound effect on Italy and confirmed the American intention to assume an active part in those areas of Europe, where Britain could no longer manage to sustain the burden of defending her zones of occupation. It must be taken into account that in the spring of 1947 Italy’s capacity for truly independent political or diplomatic action was still close to zero. However, after analysing the problems created by the Jewish refugees the politicians realised that in the light of Italy’s objective of full reintegration into the international concert of the powers, it had become necessary to reassess and redefine the state’s Middle Eastern and Mediterranean policies. The humanitarian and benevolent policies that Italy had permitted herself to adopt in her most difficult period, the months immediately following the end of the war, were finally perceived to be no longer the best policy to deal with the dramatic complexities highlighted by Britain’s changing role in the Mediterranean and the Middle East. The Second London Conference dealing with the Palestine Problem had opened on 27 January and closed two weeks later with a complete failure. On 4 February the British Foreign Secretary Ernest Bevin announced the government’s decision to submit the problem to the United Nations. Italy was obviously directly involved; on one hand she faced the illegal entry of Jewish refugees through the Alpine valleys and passes, on the other hand her ports and coasts were habitually used by the Zionists for the illegal embarkation of Jews for Palestine. She also had to take into account the elements of super-power interests and rivalries. The United States, which did not seem to have an organic, well-defined strategy Britain's naval and political reaction to the illegal immigration of jews to palestine, 1945-1948s 58
  • for the Middle East and whose policies appeared to be divided between the different options and constraints typified by Truman’s sensibilities in confronting the Jewish problem, the Zionist aspirations (and the Jewish voters), and the State Department, with its traditional responsibilities and prejudices. Then there was the Soviet Union, which, realising the British difficulties, had begun to revise their previous attitude of confrontation with the Zionists, hoping that a new more flexible pragmatic policy could be turned into an opening for their own penetration into the Middle East and the Mediterranean. Anglo-Italian discussions about suppression of illegal Jewish entry into Italy intensified in early 1947, especially with the new preoccupation, the fear of infiltration of Irgun elements amongst the refugees entering Italy. The flight of Jews from Eastern Europe had begun to diminish, following the mass exodus of the preceding two years, but pressures emanating from the increasing refugee camp populations could only be eased by clandestine departures for Palestine. For the whole of 1947 the passage through Italy maintained its importance as the principal outlet for the Jewish flight from Europe, the point where Brichah,11 joined Aliyah Bet (Illegal Immigration). Yehudah Bauer in his book Flight and Rescue: Brichah estimated that 16,913 Jewish refugees crossed the border between Austria and Italy in 1947, utilising the Nauders-S.Valentino road over the Resia (Reschenpass) and Valle Aurina (Ahrntal) passes on their way to camps in Merano and Casere, the latter being well-camouflaged as a recreation home for American soldiers. Passage was facilitated by efficiency of disguise, the undoubted ability of the Brichah agents, the traditional hostility of the south Tyrolean peasants to the agents of the Italian organs of Public Security and the scarcity of such agents, which made control of the extensive borders difficult. To these difficulties must be added the fact that the organisations which supported these clandestine activities frequently used vehicles identified with military or paramilitary registration plates. Most important, however, was the fact that many important leading functionaries of the Italian Organs of Public Security were convinced of the moral right of Jewish refugees to cross any border which brought them nearer to Palestine. In most instances it thus proved unnecessary to resort to the usual corruption which was endemic in similar cases in Poland and Hungary. The Italian diplomats who had to deal with British officials who were engaged in the fight against the IJI became involved in receiving numerous British notes and memoranda on the subject. In turn they had to evaluate the detailed, often incorrect or incomplete information transmitted by their British colleagues about the movement of Jewish DPs, who tended to gravitate into the zones of occupation nearest to the Italian borders. The British hardly ever omitted an opportunity to inform the Italian authorities of the gravity of their situation and how Italy had become a reservoir for the deprecated IJI and how this was bound to increase tension in the difficult Palestine situation. Throughout this the Jewish refugees who tried to enter Italy nearly always succeeded. British requests that the refugee camps in Italy should be controlled by the Italian authorities were at cross- purposes with the Italian aim of a gradual and at least partial removal of the refugees from the peninsula. The Italians, therefore, frequently gave tacit assistance to the IJI, while consistently trying to transfer the blame to the inadequacy of their security organs, who were allegedly incapable of supervising the refugee camps and also counterclaimed with some justification that rigorous control of the borders constituted a major task of the Allied occupation forces in Austria. They also advanced their most potent argument: Britain’s fight against the sources of illegal immigration 59
  • Due to the inevitable repercussions on American public opinion the Italian authorities cannot assume an anti-Jewish policy, furthermore, they could hardly be expected to introduce very decisive frontier controls in view of a Jewish activity supported by UNNRA.12 The British pressure was not limited to the level of diplomatic intercourse, as demonstrated by scrutiny of the contemporary British and Italian press. In February 1947, for instance, the Italian Foreign and Interior Ministries were informed about an article which had appeared on 5 February 1947 in the London Daily Telegraph entitled ‘The Underground Route to Palestine via Italy’ in which the paper emphasised the facilities accorded to the Jewish DPs in Italy, beginning with UNRRA assistance from their moment of entry into Italy to illegal embarkation. The article listed some refugee camps, hachsharot,13 the Communist Party and so forth. On 26 February 1947 the Director of the Joint14 in Italy, Jacob L.Trobe, wrote to Foreign Minister Count Sforza about the apprehensions of the thousands of Jewish refugees pouring into Italy with nowhere else to go and demanded urgent discussions and a clarification from the minister. Trobe estimated the number of Jewish refugees in Italy at 26,500 of which 22,800 were being assisted by UNRRA and of which 11,400 lived in camps, 7,000 in hachsharot and 4,400 in towns. In a meeting with Trobe, probably on the 10 March, Sforza reconfirmed ‘the permanent good disposition of the Italian Government’, and on 20 March, Under- Secretary Eugenio Reale of the Italian Foreign Office declared during a cordial meeting with Raffaele Cantoni, President of the Italian Jewish Community, that ‘Italy continues to concede its hospitality to the Jews in transit to Palestine and considers with sympathy their national aspirations’. These sentiments were confirmed at the time by President De Gasperi.15 But apprehensions of the consequences to be expected from the imminent cessation of UNRRA activities and the effects this would have on Italian society and economy were already being expressed by the Italian authorities, especially in the weeks in which benevolent official declarations were made regarding the good will in the confrontations with the refugees living in, or intending to enter Italy.16 Projects were put in hand to introduce more decisive repressive measures in dealing with the Jewish refugees. On 20 March 1947 the Foreign Minister instructed his Ambassador in London to raise the problem of the immigration of Eastern European Jews into Italy with the British government and with the European centre of UNRRA. The Italian difficulties in controlling her borders adequately were re-emphasised, but mention was also made of the difficulties created by certain Allied elements. The opinion of the Italian authorities at the time can quite properly be gauged from the following sentences taken from telegram 08314 sent on 20 March by the Italian embassy in London to the Foreign Minister: They are dealing mostly with Jews who cannot, three years after cessation of hostilities, be considered ‘Displaced Persons’. They must be considered persons who are now abandoning the countries in which they reside, with the single aim to emigrate to Palestine, without being forced to do so by anybody, therefore spontaneously and of their own free will. Some of them are leaving the camps established for their succour in Germany and Austria illegally. It so happens that these Jews are sustained by this Britain's naval and political reaction to the illegal immigration of jews to palestine, 1945-1948s 60
  • assistance in substance we find that we are not facing people who are persecuted, deported or displaced through war, but dealing rather with the phenomenon of spontaneous emigration to Palestine, involuntarily favoured and acquiesced by UNRRA.17 These observations were at least partially correct, however they failed to identify the root of the problem. They took no cognisance of the fact that thousands of extermination camp survivors continued to languish in camps, with apparently nobody being concerned about their rehabilitation. It failed to take into account the many thousands of Jews who vegetated in camps in Germany, Austria and Italy and who resided there mainly in order to escape the real or perceived danger of new pogroms. They felt threatened in the countries in which they had experienced the destruction of their communities, the loss of their property and their families, and consequently many of these unfortunate Jews had chosen Palestine as the country in which they hoped to rebuild their shattered lives. However, the British authorities allowed the Jewish refugees in Italy only a monthly quota of 750 persons to enter Palestine legally. In view of the pressure put on the Austro- Italian border and the approximately 40,000 Jewish refugees already in Italy, it would have been impossible to clear the camps in a reasonably foreseeable future. This grave problem led Italy to consider regularising the situation by carrying out a census and interning all those Jews who had not been provided with authorisation of sojourn by 31 March 1947. It seemed preferable to hold Jewish refugees, who were awaiting embarkation for Palestine, in more secure accommodation than could be furnished by the mainland camps on the peninsula and on 2 April 1947 Migliori informed Count Zoppi that the island of Ustica had been made ready for the internment of Jews, who had been caught whilst trying to cross the border illegally. It was hoped that the concentration in one island, although the interned were not supposed to be exposed to any restrictions, would allow efficient surveillance of the refugees and it was furthermore anticipated that it would help to avoid illegal embarkations by preventing the approach of intended illegal immigrants to the coasts. Jewish illegal embarkations resumed in the spring of 1947 after a lengthy winter break and Italy’s problems in dealing with IJI increased in severity, especially in the light of a revised Jewish ‘Big Ship’ strategy. The Italian authorities examined the possibility of introducing new measures to put an end to or at least slow down the constant trickle of refugees, who tried to cross the Austro-Italian border illegally. Large numbers of memoranda and despatches with reports of illegal border crossings or attempted violations of the frontiers, sent by the General Manager of Public Security (Direttore Generale Publica Sicurezza) and by the Border Police (Polizia di Frontiera) at Bolzano and other areas to the Minister of the Interior are on file. An example of such communications shall be given at this point and may suffice to indicate the general preoccupation with this traffic. For example, on 18 April 1947 the Bolzano Border Police sent Despatch 316 under the heading ‘Foreign Jews in Italy’ to the Minister of the Interior: Two groups of illegal Jews of 70 respectively 182 persons had been arrested 4 April at 1.30 pm in the area of the Tenders Pass. They declared their intention to take ship from Italy to Palestine. In the first case it had Britain’s fight against the sources of illegal immigration 61
  • even become necessary to open fire over the heads of the refugees to effect arrests. Questioning the refugees revealed that dozens of Jews had escaped the attention of the police and had managed to reach Merano on board trucks with UNRRA registration plates. During the spring of 1947 the Italian press showed only rare and intermittent interest in the problems created by IJI. La Repubblica d’Italia published an article by G.Perrone ‘I contrabandieri trentini passano tutti i giorni’ (‘The Trentine Smugglers go by Every Day’) and items with the headlines ‘Irgun Zwai Leumi a Roma’ (‘The Irgun in Rome’) and ‘Dalla lotta anti-araba alla collaborazione’ (‘From the anti-Arab Fight to Collaboration’) on 2 and 20 April as well as on 1 May 1947, while the Momento Sera of 18 April included a brief note relating to Italian promises to Great Britain to collaborate in the repression of IJI to Palestine and covered the Italian request to UNRRA to stop the influx of Jewish refugees into Italy. In May-June 1947 British intelligence became aware of radical internal, organisational and technical changes of the IJI strategy initiated by the Italian Section of the Mossad le’Aliyah Bet (the Jewish Committee for Illegal Immigration); these changes were also noticed by the Italians and exercised direct and indirect influence on Italian policy. After many vicissitudes the ship Susannah alias Rosa/ Shabtai Lusinsky departed from a point near the port of Metaponto, ran aground on the coast of Palestine but managed to disembark some of their passengers before British troops could intervene, but three members of the boarding party drowned in the heavy surf.18 The Susannah incident and the LCT 265 problem led to sharp protests from the British Ambassador in Rome, Noel Charles, to the Italian Minister for Foreign Affairs, Count Carlo Sforza.19 The Ambassador pointed out with ‘great seriousness’ that i no report was ever received from the Italian authorities on the incident in Reggio Calabria where a proper interrogation of the master should have taken place, and where enquiries should have been made to prove the masters’ statements; ii removal of the ships’ passenger-carrying gear, etc., did not apparently take place despite the orders of the Ministry of Mercantile Marine; iii the ships were not returned to their respective ports of registry, as was reported to have been done; iv the subsequent movements of these ships were not properly supervised, nor were they detained pending the results of a formal enquiry; v it is now a matter of great urgency that the Italian authorities should trace and report the present whereabouts of the vessels LCT 265, LCT 147 and LCT 136.20 G.C.B.Dodds of Admiralty Branch MI and A.S.LeMaitre of Admiralty Branch USS, two veteran anti-IJI warriors, had confirmed on 28 and 29 March 1947 in Admiralty message 211625 that according to CCL/74 sales of such craft to foreign governments would be ‘on condition of no resale’.21 However, it must be noted that in fact there had not really been a ‘condition of no resale’.22 Admiralty Assistant Legal Adviser Dodds had further consulted the Commander-in-Chief and found that resale was not a condition of the transfer of these Landing Craft Tanks (LCTs) to the Italian government. In fact the only condition was that they should not be exported from Italy. The only document which the Italians had signed was the normal receipt-note including: Britain's naval and political reaction to the illegal immigration of jews to palestine, 1945-1948s 62
  • a Agreement ‘that the responsibility for safeguarding, moving and disposing of the material is that of the Italian Government’,23 and b Recognition ‘that such material is accepted as the property of the Italian Government upon the condition that an agreed settlement between the British Government and the Italian Government shall be made at an agreed future date’.24 This Admiralty legal finding obviously did not advance Britain’s case at all, nevertheless Dodd expressed the opinion that ‘the action of the Italian Government in allowing these craft, handed over for civil rehabilitation, to be used for illegal immigration is intolerable’.25 Ambassador Noel Charles had concluded his letter of 1 April 1947 to the Italian Minister for Foreign Affairs, Count Sforza, with the threat: This is a matter to which his Majesty’s Government attach the utmost importance and I am instructed to warn you, if further illegal Jewish immigrants reach Palestine after sailing from an Italian port, His Majesty’s Government will have to insist that they be re-admitted to Italy.26 Intensification of the IJI was noted even before the Susannah incident. On 9 March 1947 Corriere della Nazione writing under the headline ‘Gli embarchi in Puglia degli ebrei per la Palestina’ (‘The Embarkation of Jews from Puglia to Palestine’) noted that night embarkations have ‘lately intensified’ from unidentified points on the coast of the Salento peninsula and from Calabria. The article also stated that agents of the ‘Intelligence Service’ were at the time actually in Puglia in order to discover the points of departure of the Jews and the identities of the principal organisers of the illegal migration. On 23 March 1947 the San Felipe, renamed Moledet, departed with 1,563 passengers from the same base. The carabinieri of Matera had become aware of this embarkation and they sent a message with details of the operation to the Ministry of the Interior and to the ‘Centro CS di Taranto’, reporting the collaboration of local fishermen.27 On 7 April 1947 the Gian Paolo, renamed Shear Yashuv, and accompanied part of the way by the Albertina left from Bogliasco without encountering any obstacles. With the departure of the Susannah the British reactions predictably became harsher. They pointed out that the Susannah had already been arrested once by the Italians on 25 December 1946, together with the landing craft LCT 256, but without passing on to them the promised information and without adopting the effective measures which the British considered necessary to impede the illegal traffic. Sir Noel Charles warned once again that the British government might have to send back to Italy any new illegal immigrants who had departed from Italian ports and arrived in Palestine.28 Charles’ letter was remarkable not only because of its harshness of style but also because it threatened the entire basis of Italy’s policy in their confrontation with IJI. British-Italian collaboration had always seemed to be indispensable to prevent the entry of new refugees into Italy. It is a fact that Italian attitudes did not change immediately, but the tone and content of the British notes could not fail to influence Italian medium- and long-term attitudes to the refugee problem. The dilemma between the assurances demanded by Great Britain and Italy’s policy, which favoured the outflow of refugees from the peninsula, generated a conflict of Britain’s fight against the sources of illegal immigration 63
  • interests between Italy and Britain which can be characterised by quoting from one of many documents of the period: There are in Italy very many foreign Jews and their number tends to increase constantly targeted at illegal immigration. The flow of these elements into Italy is facilitated by international organisations which dispose of large means a large number of small tonnage ships weigh anchor from the Italian coast and sail towards Palestinian ports the British are making insistent demands for the repression of these illegal departures given the scarcity of our forces of surveillance and given our interest in avoiding the flooding of Italy with so many thousands of Jews, we have arrived at the limits of our possibilities we have made representations with the British Embassy in Rome, that if Britain continues with their attitude of insistent requests [for repressive measures] which are in such strident contrast with our own interests, we deserve at least to receive an assurance that the Jews that have arrived in Italy before a pre-determined date, will enjoy priority when the immigration to Palestine is being renewed.29 In the spring of 1947 Britain was made aware of important strategic and organisational changes in the Italian section of the Mossad le’Aliyah Bet. Yehuda Arazi returned to Palestine and Ada Sereni was appointed in his place. Ada Sereni proceeded with a decentralisation of activities and created specific sections (Embarkations, Shipyards, Radiotelegraphy and so forth), each reporting to a head of department. Potentially more important was the decision to abandon the strategy of using mainly wooden vessels of 450 to 600 tonnes and pass from these ‘small’ ships to ‘big’ ships. The Zionist intentions were manifold: there was the aim to flood, engulf and thus overwhelm the Cyprus internment camps and consequently place the entire British White Paper policy in jeopardy and there was certainly the intention to influence US and European public opinion. The decision to transfer to a ‘Big Ship’ strategy was deliberately taken to coincide significantly with the debate in the UN General Assembly and with the work of a new United Nations Special Committee on Palestine (UNSCOP). The United Nations approved a resolution to refrain from any action which ‘may contribute in creating an atmosphere prejudicious to a rapid solution of the Palestine Problem’. The President Warfield (later renamed Exodus 1947) arrived from Marseilles in Porto Venere on 24 April 1947. The Mossad’s new ‘Big Ship’ strategy had put Italian and indeed British policies to their most severe test. This ship, capable of carrying 4,000– 5,000 illegal immigrants, had arrived in Italy in the middle of the UN deliberations and while UNSCOP was still investigating the problem. The political situation was extremely fluid and rapidly changing, and Trygvie Lie, the Secretary General of the United Nations, was exhorting all members to do everything in their power to discourage IJI to Palestine, while the talks on the Question of Palestine were not yet concluded. On 3 May Noel Charles sent Sforza a personal message from Bevin in which the British Foreign Secretary again requested that Italy block the illegal traffic of Jews from its coasts, referring in particular to the President Warfield. On 7 May the British Ambassador sent a Britain's naval and political reaction to the illegal immigration of jews to palestine, 1945-1948s 64
  • long, detailed letter full of British requests and observations about the suspect ship to the Italian Foreign Minister. Charles’ letter underlined the risks inherent in the situation: All experience of this traffic in illegal Jewish immigrants shows that once the ship has completed its fitting out and has left Porto Venere, it will be extremely difficult, if not impossible, to keep track of its movements, and it is very likely not to be heard of again until it arrives off the coast of Palestine. In any event, it would probably not be possible to detain the ship once she has left port and the position is therefore, that if appropriate action to stop the President Warfield from leaving Porto Venere is not taken within the next day or so, it may be too late to prevent a further abuse of Italian territory and a further serious incident in Palestine this traffic is a scandal which I am sure the Italian Government will wish to play their part in suppressing in the interests of common humanity.30 The suspect ship Trade Winds (Tikva), which had been prepared in Portugal to embark 1,400 passengers, arrived at Porto Venere only a few days after arrival of the President Warfield. A total of 1,414 refugees embarked on the Trade Winds from the Villa Ceriana di Bogliasco and from Bocca di Magra. According to a memorandum of discussions that took place between Peter Lee, a Third Secretary at the British Embassy in Rome and Count Vittorio Zoppi, the Managing Director for Political Matters in the Italian Ministry for Foreign Affairs, Lee stated that the Bogliasco was considered to resemble a ‘Kibbutz’, and that the Italians could have avoided a repetition of such an incident, at least at this point of the coast, which could so easily serve as an assembly point for the embarkation of illegal immigrants.31 The Italians replied to Lee, pointing out the difficulties encountered in imposing entry and exit restrictions on such extensive land and sea frontiers and in addition they rapidly diverted the discussions to the political arena. The Italian negotiator Giovanni Battista Migliori, the well known Christian Democrat politician and extraordinary Delegate, then stated that he was given to understand that, ‘The possibility of halting a departing convoy or a moving column was a one-off episode, but the fact of about one million Jews from Central Europe trying to reach Palestine is a problem which was quite another matter.’ This time the Italian daily papers broke their silence and reported the circumstances of IJI quite openly, emphasising the British information passed to the Italian organs of public security. The dailies Avanti and Il Messagero wrote about plans to repatriate ‘unwanted foreigners, war criminals, common criminals and fascists’. The papers claimed that many fascists had camouflaged themselves as illegal Jews. La Voce Repubblicana commented that the Italian police were restricted to reporting but not intervening and that the British ‘Intelligence Service’ had not yet identified the brains behind the organisers of IJI. Furthermore La Voce Republicana wrote that there were only eight agents of the British Intelligence service in Genoa and in all of Liguria,32 compared to 100 agents employed by the US Counter-Intelligence Corps (CIC).33 Other popular dailies of 10–11 May also carried articles about the IJI.34 In this atmosphere there took place a meeting called on the initiative of the Ministry of the Merchant Marine with representatives of various interested departments to try and agree a common guideline when dealing with IJI. Councillor Guelfo Zamboni a First Britain’s fight against the sources of illegal immigration 65
  • Secretary of Legation at the Foreign Ministry expressed the opinion that, ‘given the numerous urgent British requests the moment has surely arrived to demonstrate our effective collaboration in the repression of illegal departures of Jews for Palestine’. It was agreed that the Ministers for Foreign Affairs, Interior and Defence (Naval Branch) should prepare guidelines, while the Ministry of the Merchant Marine would prepare instructions to pass to all the relevant authorities.35 The opinions expressed at the meeting on 10 May by representatives of all the Italian departments involved in the control of IJI indicated an impending U-turn in Italian attitudes. It appeared that Italian policies would be redefined, that the authorities would now agree to accept the British requests for co-operation and that this could lead to a prolonged suspension of IJI activities. Following the understanding reached at the inter-departmental meeting, the Ministry of the Merchant Marine communicated new instructions regarding IJI to the directors of all ports and informed the superintendents (questori) of the police areas (comandi generali dei carabinieri) and the customs (guardia di finanza). The new guidelines demanded that the port commanders increase their vigilance, report immediately the presence of strange ships, inspect all suspect ships and refuse to supply fuel to such vessels. In spite of the will to collaborate with the British, the new guidelines proved ineffective almost immediately. The local British consul had informed the questor of Bari police of the arrival in Mola of groups of Jews with the evident intention of illegal embarkation. The commander of the Bari carabinieri ensured compliance with the order for surveillance, however he protested that there were ‘only inadequate legislative means at his disposition’, and he restricted his activity to reporting the departure of the Aghia Orietta alias Lohame Hagetaot with 1,456 illegal immigrants on the following day.36 However, the attitude of the Italian authorities, at least at Foreign Ministry level, had definitely changed. Investigations revealed that the immigrants had been transported to the point of embarkation in coaches with AJDC registration plates, that two iron piers to facilitate embarkation had been constructed at Cozze near Mola and that the local fishermen assisted in the operation. Ship-to-shore light signals and radio transmitters had been used but these illegal activities did not result in repressive measures by the Bari forces of Law and Order.37 The peace treaty with the Allies left many problems in suspense, one of them being the problem of Libya which directly involved Italian-British agreements. With the Italian press writing openly about Puglia as the bridgehead for the illegal immigration to Palestine38 and the notoriety of the chief actors involved in the President Warfield, the time seemed ripe for significant concessions to the British demands. Italian policy in the latter part of 1947 revolved around the problems relating to the economic reconstruction and the reintroduction of Italy into the international circuit, while the official acceptance of a role for the UNSCOP investigation combined with Cold War tensions and the attitude of the Soviet bloc countries towards IJI were all factors counselling most official organs to recommend caution in the attitude towards illegal departures. Top-level discussions took place between the Italian authorities and the persons responsible at the Mossad le’Aliyah Bet for IJI from Italy, partly as a result of the Zionists’ new ‘Big Ship’ policy. These talks resulted in assurances for a temporary suspension of embarkations. Britain's naval and political reaction to the illegal immigration of jews to palestine, 1945-1948s 66
  • The Ministry of the Merchant Marine gave provisional instructions for the prohibition of the President Warfield’s departure, leading to vigorous protests by the vessel’s captain.39 Sir Noel Charles wrote a lengthy letter directly to Carlo Sforza, complaining of lack of motivation and dilatory tactics on the part of the Italian authorities, which in his opinion would lead to a delay of only a few days in the departure of the vessel. On the ship, he wrote, there were 1,200 boxes with rations and 2,100 lifebelts, which strongly pointed to embarkation of a large number of passengers, while the crew were 80 per cent Jewish. Sir Noel insisted that Italian experts should examine the ship for suitability for such a journey. He admonished the Italian authorities and claimed that this was a test case and that in the case of departure and arrival in Palestine the refugees would be sent back to Italy, with all the resulting publicity and damage to Anglo-Italian relations at this particularly delicate moment. At the time the Italian government will inevitably become subject to pressure of an embarrassing character from Zionist interests.40 Charles ended his letter by emphasising that arrest of the President Warfield would serve the best interests of both the British and the Italians, but to the Italians the situation was embarrassing because they considered locking the President Warfield in port an illegal act. A further meeting between Fransoni, J.C.Ward, Zoppi and representatives of the Ministries of Merchant Marine and Defence was convened for 12 May to try and find a way out of the impasse by establishing the ‘maximum help’ which the Italian authorities were prepared to give the British. The meeting decided to order an inspection of the ship to ascertain its fitness for the journey and to use the pretext that the American insurers were prepared to insure the President Warfield for coastal traffic only. It was furthermore decided that following the inspection and provided some small repairs were completed, the ship should be given permission to sail, but only for its home port of Marseilles. The meeting agreed that there was no other means to delay or impede the vessel’s departure, but as a concession to the British it was agreed the President Warfield would be accompanied by Italian warships until she left Italian territorial waters. At this stage the President Warfield was by no means fully prepared for her planned journey, she had insufficient fuel and her exit from port was blocked by Italian patrol vessels. The Italian authorities were then assured in negotiations with representatives of the Mossad le’Aliyah Bet that they would agree to a temporary suspension of embarkations from Italian ports to allow tempers to cool and avoid embarrassing scenes like the battles for the release of the Fede and Fenice, especially as the French had agreed to permit the vessel’s departure from Port de Bouc. When informed of the Italian decision to release the vessel, Ward renewed Charles’ request to maintain the blockade of the President Warfield in Porto Venere, threatening various unspecified serious consequences for British-Italian relations. The only Italian concession came in a somewhat dilatory reply from the Foreign Ministry who concluded that ‘the President Warfield has extended her sojourn in the waters of Porto Venere for an additional 48 hours.’41 Following the threats issued by the British Embassy in Rome, Sforza sent a long telegram marked ‘Secret’ and ‘Most Urgent’ to Carandini, his Ambassador in London,42 in which he recapitulated in detail the development of events around the President Warfield in the last few days and Britain’s fight against the sources of illegal immigration 67
  • the decisions taken by the president of the council (presidente del consiglio) and by the Foreign Minister, and in which he requested that inter alia the Ambassador should make the following immediate representations to the British Foreign Office: The Italian government has done the maximum possible to accede to the pressure exerted by the British Ambassador, but ultimately there is no justification for an intervention which is contrary to international maritime law such an illegal intervention would lead to complications with the European and North American Zionist organisations. Sforza also asked his Ambassador to request that the British Foreign Secretary inform Sir Noel Charles that the Italian authorities would like to comply with the British requests, however, they would consider it more useful if the Embassy, ‘would agitate only for that which is permissible by the terms of the armistice instead of continually trying to pressure us into illegal actions’. On 17 May, Charles sent a letter to Fransoni summing up the British strategy in her relations with Italy on the question of IJI, in which he promised Britain’s full political support and assured him of his government’s readiness to indemnify Italy for any damages which might accrue due to a possible legal tussle with the owners of the President Warfield.43 The case of the President Warfield was not the first, nor was it the last confrontation on the subject of IJI between the British and Italian authorities. The tacit Italian support lent to IJI in 1946 gave way in the spring and summer of 1947 to an unrelenting British diplomatic offensive. Intervention followed intervention.44 On 23 May for instance three separate memoranda were sent by the British embassy in Rome to the Italian Foreign Office, demanding urgent action to control three illegal ships suspected of involvement in the illegal traffic of Jewish refugees, namely the vessels Urania, Northland and the landing craft Farida (LCT 147). On 30 May, Ward communicated to Zoppi a list of control measures proposed by Britain and whose urgent adoption by the Italian authorities was requested.45 Interruption of illegal departures in May 1947 together with a new influx of refugees created a delicate and more acute situation for the authorities who at the same time faced a political crisis. On 13 May, De Gasperi presented to President De Nicola the resignation of his government. On 6 June De Gasperi formed his fourth new government in which all the departments involved with IJI (Interior, Defence and Merchant Marine) were held by Christian Democrats with the exception of Carlo Sforza who remained in control of the Foreign Ministry. The collaboration between the DC and the parties of the Left came to an end and with the launch of the Marshall Plan on 5 June 1947 the Italian alignment with the United States and its radical, anti-Soviet Cold War became total. These events certainly affected Italy’s confrontation with the urgent DP problem and its attitude to the IJI to Palestine. Britain in the meantime continued to put relentless pressure on Italy to collaborate in the repression of the illegal immigration. The Italians did try to suppress the illegal traffic, but they were naturally more interested in the repression of the migratory movement of Jews from the Allied zones of occupation towards the Italian peninsula than in the suspension of embarkations. Between March and 1 June, 187 illegals were stopped by the police at the Resia (Reschen) and Aurina (Ahrnstal) passes Britain's naval and political reaction to the illegal immigration of jews to palestine, 1945-1948s 68
  • alone.46 Faced with this situation, Italian diplomacy continued to request that the British authorities in Austria adopt a less controversial or confrontational attitude when demanding introduction of increasingly repressive measures to impede embarkations for Palestine.47 The Italian authorities were still trying to abstain from decisive control measures, and therefore avoided taking actions which could be interpreted as being anti-Semitic. The Italian police had the authority to stop and inspect allied vehicles, but at the same time they had orders to avoid incidents when trying to arrest them. The Italian press was very well aware of the logistical help rendered by UNRRA and other US aid committees to the illegal transports.48 It was usually extremely difficult to verify the truth and origin of such reports especially during a phase in which pressures and notes submitted by the British to the Italian authorities followed each other without interruption. Taking note of these and of innumerable similar articles published in the press, Ambassador Charles sent a further letter to Sforza,49 in which he demanded that Italy should impede the influx of refugees, claiming that there were adequate means at her disposal for this task. British pressure combined with internal problems finally led the Italian authorities to introduce repressive and restrictive measures on the illegal entry and departure of refugees. The Italian representatives in Poland, Czechoslovakia and Austria were informed by Fransoni of the temporary suspension of entry visas for East European Jews pending the anticipated UN solution to the Palestine question.50 The telegram spoke vaguely about the ‘superior national interest’ and the ‘actual international situation’. Fransoni replied to Charles on 9 July 1947 and promised to introduce increased police vigilance at the Brennero and Resia passes, and accurate control of vehicles suspected of carrying illegal immigrants, regardless of registration. Fransoni also promised the return of illegals caught in the province of Bolzano, having entered via the San Candido (Innechen) pass, and also to send illegals caught in other provinces to the island of Ustica. He also asked Charles to send a British liaison officer to work alongside the prefect of Bolzano. The incessant British requests for control and intervention led to a hunt for embarkations against innocent ships, but the actual results were unremarkable. On 8 July 1947, Noel Charles passed to Sforza a letter written by Bevin on 27 June 1947 on the subject of IJI in which he again requested Italy’s collaboration in the repression of the traffic, and in which he claimed that the organisers of the traffic ‘are using Jewish refugees as a means of exerting political pressure on the Government of Palestine at a moment when the future of that country is under consideration by the United Nations’.51 Foreign Secretary Bevin’s letter did not contain any new aspects of substance which had not been previously formulated by his Ambassador, what was new was the direct intervention of a British Foreign Minister with his Italian colleague and the invitation to observe UN recommendations, this to a country which was not yet a member of this body. On 11 July 1947, the steam yacht Vrissi carrying the flag of Panama, sank after an explosion in the port of Genoa. The Vrissi had been prepared for illegal immigration by the Irgun Zvai Leumi (IZL) and suspicion fell on the British Secret Service and in particular on Lieutenant Commander ‘Buster’ Crabb’s52 mine-clearing crew in Venice.53 The presence in Palestine of the UN Commission of Enquiry resulted in special Mossad efforts to send IJI ships to arrive while the members of the Commission were in the country and they succeeded in despatching the Bruna from a pine forest near Miglarino Britain’s fight against the sources of illegal immigration 69
  • between Pisa and Viareggio. The fact had not escaped the Italian authorities who were informed of the embarkation by customs. The British were particularly irritated by the apparent lack of Italian preventive action, because the Bruna had been included in a list of 14 suspect ships which had been passed by J.C.Ward of their Embassy to Zoppi.54 The arrival of the Bruna in Haifa with a load of immigrants and a further departure of illegals from Bocca di Magra led on 29 August to a verbal protest note from the British Embassy to the Italian Ministry for Foreign Affairs. The note said inter alia: This clandestine embarkation was inaccurately reported at the time in the local press and persistently denied by the Public Security Authorities in the area. It is evident nevertheless that embarkation did take place and from careful interrogation of the Jews subsequently disembarked from the Bruna in Haifa it is clear that they were not interfered with by the local Italian Public Security Authorities. It concluded: The British Embassy considers in the circumstances that it must draw the attention of the Italian Government not only to its dismay that it should be possible for illegal activity of this nature to take place on Italian soil but also to its surprise that at a time when Italy is making such great efforts to expand her mercantile marine and development of her sea trade Italian shipping should be allowed to be used for such wasteful and unworthy ends.55 By July-August 1947, public opinion in Italy had become bored with the reporting of events resulting from confrontations with IJI. The pressures surrounding the President Warfield were directed mainly at France and only short articles on the topics of refugees, illegal immigration, the arrest of the President Warfield and the battles at sea appeared in the Italian press. Reports in the daily papers on the President Warfield incident concentrated mainly on the anti-British demonstrations organised at the end of July by Jewish refugees in Bari, Torino, Cremona and other cities, but attacks on Britain in the Italian press intensified with the impasse reached as the ships, crammed with refugees, continued their attempt to unload their wretched passengers in Port de Bouc.56 The official Italian attitude towards IJI in the summer of 1947 may best be summed up by quoting from a letter by the Italian Foreign Minister Sforza to his British colleague, Ernest Bevin, written in reply to the British Foreign Secretary’s request for Italian collaboration in the repression of IJI. Sforza’s letter re-emphasised the official Italian policy of assuring Britain of proper collaboration, listed the efforts to control the influx of refugees and stated the obvious—the need to reach an internationally accepted solution to the Palestine Question. On 29 July 1947 Sforza wrote: The Italian Government takes full account of His Majesty’s Government’s concern with the question of the IJI directed towards Palestine, and to this end the Italian authorities have maintained and are Britain's naval and political reaction to the illegal immigration of jews to palestine, 1945-1948s 70
  • maintaining constant contact with the Embassy of Great Britain with the aim of controlling and impeding—to the possible limits—this illegal flow. In this respect it would perhaps be necessary to be able to rely more fully on the co-operation of the British military authorities in Austria and Germany, to be directed at preventing the recently increasing entry into Italy of an ever-increasing number of groups of Jews, who continuously seem to succeed in entering the country through the Alpine valleys the Italian government trusts that by accepting letter and spirit of the resolution recently adopted by the United Nations, all the peoples involved will abstain from adopting any means which may prejudice an early solution of the Palestine Question And in a message directed to the British Ambassador and attached to Sforza’s letter addressed to Bevin, Sforza wrote apropos the collaboration accorded by Italy: I can not help it, but I feel I must underline, that the attitude we have adopted in accepting the British requests [for collaboration in confronting IJI] prejudices our very own interests and is detrimental to a solution to the problem of the foreign refugees in Italy and to their eventual dispersal towards other countries.57 From the above it becomes quite clear that Italy’s position immediately after cessation of hostilities was still inferior, especially when compared to the Great Powers, to which in 1945 Great Britain still belonged. According to the Italian historian Toscano, The dramatic conditions of the country’s isolation paradoxically allowed it to adopt in 1945–6 a kind of freedom, of ‘conscious irresponsibility’ in the question of its policy of confrontation with the IJI. It allowed Italy to express anti-British sentiments and also to re-affirm the political and physical presence of the country within the Mediterranean ambit.58 In addition, in the first months after the end of hostilities there were other factors—the hope of influencing Jewish-American public opinion, and the importance of demonstrating a humanitarian and political solidarity, following the inheritance of many years of fascist and Nazi persecution. In the summer of 1947 the situation had changed. There was a gradual, if only partial, return to normality, but above all the political canvas had radically altered. Socialists and communists had left the coalition which became Catholic-oriented, a peace treaty had been signed and the armistice regime had been replaced by Italy’s re-entry into the inter-national systems, the Marshall Plan and admission to the United Nations. Other factors also weakened the IJI from Italy. The new Mossad policy of ‘big ships’ with their thousands upon thousands of immigrants was just not practicable from the peninsula. After the President Warfield only one other ‘big ship’, the Pan Crescent, was being prepared in Italy, and this vessel did not escape the attention of British intelligence. Early in 1946 the 38 British Field Security Section had raised a proposal to use bogus fishing craft for anti-IJI patrol work. This idea was most definitely vetoed by Captain Britain’s fight against the sources of illegal immigration 71
  • Bennet of GSO III(I),59 who reasoned that such patrol work should be undertaken by the Royal Italian Navy (RIN) under the direction of the Centro Sicurezza (GS), especially in the sector controlled by Captain Fienga RIN, a liaison officer between the CS and the Regia Marina. However, Captain Bennett expressed a rather low opinion of the RIN’s efficiency and suggested that the two boats operated by Fienga should be held in readiness, to act only when information of illegal activity was forthcoming. It was emphasised that any arrests must be made by the questura at the instigation of the CS in accordance with Italian civil law and not by Field Security. Captain Bennett also suggested that demands for action by the Italian authorities should be based on the prewar Italian Navigation Code.60 In general it is remarkable that the British military authorities in Italy felt they had to adopt an extraordinary low profile when trying to fight IJI. A typical internal General Staff Intelligence (GSI) memorandum,61 for instance, includes the instruction, ‘Please ensure that WHITE [Captain R.T.White of 38 FSS] is instructed to omit all reference to illegal immigration from his general reports he can make separate resumés for you and us personally.’ The reason for this softly-softly approach to reporting was the justified fear that details of British and especially Italian counter-measures might leak to agents of the Mossad. The very active Captain White of 38 FSS would sometimes make elaborate preparations to intercept the possible illicit embarkation of Jews for Palestine, preparations which involved detailed co-operation with Italian CS and Regia Marina RIN. Arrangements might include Italian motor torpedo boats from Bari and Brindisi for patrol duty and arresting, as well as security forces from Maglie as a raiding force, but all the Italian authorities were given to understand was that the operations had to do with arms- smuggling and normally no mention was made of Jews. Captain White’s report62 is just one more instance showing how the entire operation, especially Italian cooperation, was practically run on a shoestring. There were apparently no stocks of fuel and lubricants for the Italian motor torpedo boats which were only issued with enough fuel to reach Otranto. This meant that petrol, oil and grease had to be supplied by 54 Area to Otranto by truck. Telephones were few and far between. There was one telephone at Santa Cesarea town hall, but its use would attract unwelcome attention, there was one phone in the UNRRA camp at Santa Maria (Bagni), which for obvious reasons could not be used and the Regia Marina signalling stations and watch posts were, without exception, without phones. Communications relied on the two private cars supplied by CS Bari and Regia Marina Bari and on 38 FSS’s 15-hundredweight truck which suffered continuous tyre trouble. Coast watch was done either on foot, in spite of the distances involved and the shortage of personnel, or using the two private cars. In his report, Captain White makes the sensible recommendations: a that the camps in the ‘heel’, which proved ideal ‘jumping-off’ points for embarkations to Palestine, be moved to some other part of Italy; b that the refugees be brought under Italian law regarding the registration of aliens and that their liberty should be restricted by the liability to arrest if found away from their registered addresses; c that the Italian government should be pressurised to introduce legislation to prevent the movement of vessels suitable for IJI between sunset and sunrise, and Britain's naval and political reaction to the illegal immigration of jews to palestine, 1945-1948s 72
  • d that vessels suitable for the illicit traffic in immigrants should be prevented from landing or embarking passengers at any point on the coast other than at recognised ports. These recommendations were obviously politically sensitive and there was little hope that the Italian government would be able to comply, even if Captain White’s proposals had been fully supported by Britain. Other recommendations he made were more modest and involved assistance to CS Bari in obtaining tyres for their car from WD sources, the exchange of 38 FSS’ two WD trucks for unmarked private cars, permission to purchase plain clothes from Intelligence Service funds and authority to hold on section strength at least three automatic pistols. The keen and enthusiastic Captain White attempted to increase control of the coast from Taranto to Gallipoli and turned to the Capitaneria di Porto Taranto, carabinieri and Regia Guardia di Finanza (Customs and Excise) for help. Colonel Vincenzo Bravo commanding the Capitaneria di Porto appeared to be very helpful, but he stated that owing to a shortage of boats, personnel and fuel it was impossible to institute complete control of the coast. However, he agreed to furnish a fortnightly report of suspicious shipping in the port. Colonel Sartaggio commanding the Regia Guardia di Finanza was also keen to co-operate, but he stated that he could not increase control as none of his detachments in Scanzano, Metaponto, Termitosa, San Vito, Pulsano Maruggione or Avetrano had craft at their disposal and he had only 25 men to control the entire coast from Torre Santa Caterina to Nova Seri in the west. Matters were not helped by the tussle for ownership of eight gun-boats belonging to Customs and Excise which were handed by the Royal Navy to the RIN instead of returning them to their rightful owners, the Guardia di Finanza. In 1946 these craft were lying inactive in Taranto port due to shortage of fuel. Foreign Office sources were clearly not very impressed with Italian co-operation. For instance, the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs had been warned on 1 August 1947 about the Pan Crescent and asked to do everything possible to detain her. On 24 August the Director of Political Affairs in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs was personally warned of the Pan Crescent’s imminent departure and urged to arrange her detention. Signor Zoppi promised to do what he could, but advanced the familiar argument that ships could not be detained indefinitely without legal force. And on 19 September a further note was sent to the Italian government pointing out the seriousness of international complications which might ensue. The Pan Crescent sailed on 25th September from Venice bound ostensibly for Casablanca, although there was a last minute panic: an Italian dockworker had placed a timebomb into one of the Pan Crescent’s holds and the vessel’s stern settled on the shallow bottom of the outfitting basin (see also Appendix III, p. 279). It was only due to a delay in the departure that the Pan Crescent did not sink in the deep waters of the Adriatic. Following the departure J.E.Cable minuted: The Italians had not done very well in the case of the Pan Crescent she has obviously been given more fuel than that required to reach Malta the Yilderan was also allowed to sail the 450 illegal immigrants who Britain’s fight against the sources of illegal immigration 73
  • reached Palestine waters on board the Farida are also believed to have come from Italy.63 The Head of the Foreign Office Italian Section was concerned at the lack of co-operation shown by the Italian authorities and asked the Ambassador in Rome to again rap Signor Zoppi over the knuckles: ‘Italian Government will be aware of the numerous expedients which can be employed for this purpose [detaining the Pan Crescent] and Signor Zoppi’s argument is not entirely acceptable.’64 Italy’s economic condition after the lost war was very difficult and many sailors and fishermen were prepared to work for the organisers of the illegal immigration, even if this involved a transgression of the law: In addition there was the sympathy for humane and sometimes also for political reasons, which many persons in the ruling circles of Itay showed towards the illegal immigration. A lack of empathy for Britain was an old tradition, deeply embedded in most layers of Italian society. Britain’s demand that Italy must surrender to her the remnants of her fleet won her many enemies in political circles and especially in the ranks of their navy, who were after all expected to supervise the maritime activities in Italy.65 France From March 1946 to May 1948, when the state of Israel was established, some 16,000 illegal immigrants sailed from French ports in a total of 14 vessels. These people, for the most part, were Jewish survivors of the Holocaust who after the war had fled from eastern Europe to the displaced persons camps in Germany and Austria and from those camps to France.66 Decisions on embarkations and departures of IJI vessels, relations with port authorities, border crossings, information on British intelligence and so on, were organised in very close liaison with the French Counter Intelligence Agency (DST). The co-operation between French Counter-Espionage and the Mossad was closer than the relationship with any other friendly intelligence service, information was pooled and freely shared and secret codes were exchanged.67 Names of ships, ports, countries, financial matters, names of operatives and organisations were usually encrypted, but in some cases the recorder was unfamiliar with the code and wrote en claire. The operational log was based to a large extent on urgent telephone messages, and it did not require great expertise to decypher the messages.68 The French Secret Service followed the British agents, who lurked in the most obscure ports across the width and breadth of France and spied on them. The phones of suspected British agents were routinely tapped, information was evaluated and passed to the Mossad representatives.69 British controlled agents were active in the French zone of Austria and reported on the issue to Jews of passports purporting to be of South American republics: ‘The French authorities at Innsbruck, in particular General Bedouard and Colonel Miller, give every assistance and also provide Jews with “lascipassare” to cross the [Italian] frontier.’70 Britain's naval and political reaction to the illegal immigration of jews to palestine, 1945-1948s 74
  • On 17 March 1947, the Foreign Office sent a confidential telegram to their Paris embassy which was considered so significant and important as to be repeated to the Washington, Rome, Belgrade, Bucharest, Athens, Stockholm and Brussels embassies.71 For the record the telegram initially recorded the repeated representations to the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs which were made in the last few months, concerning the transit of illegal Jewish immigrants through France and their embarkation from French ports for Palestine. The telegram mentioned once more the serious embarrassment which this illegal Jewish traffic caused to the British government as well as to the government of Palestine, which had a trying job in their exercise of the mandate. It voiced the complaint that France had been reluctant to modify the transit quota of 8,000 Jews without visa or ultimate destination. The telegram went on to voice complaints about the last four immigrant vessels that had arrived in Palestine, that is, the Merica (Lanegev) which arrived in Palestine on 8 February 1947 with 650 passengers from Sète, the San Miguel (Hamaapil Haalmoni) which arrived on 17 February 1947 with 800 passengers, also from Sète, the Abril (Ben Hecht) which arrived on 9 March 1947 with 600 Jews from Port de Bouc and the San Dimitrio (Latrun) which arrived on 1 November 1946 in Palestine with 1,279 Jews from the French camp at La Ciotat, and it voiced apprehension over reports from reliable sources which spoke of the Zionists trying to forestall eventual UN recommendations by despatching upwards of 15,000 Jews during the following two or three months. The telegram listed specifically three vessels which were known to be ready for sailing: the Honduran-registered Guardian (Theodor Herzl), the Greek- registered Archangelos72 and the San Filipo (Moledet) whose Panamanian registration had been withdrawn. The Foreign Office stated: The illegal Jewish immigrant traffic is not a spontaneous exodus of refugees, but a carefully organised Zionist campaign to force the hand of HMG and increase the proportion of Jewish population in Palestine. The French Government in doing nothing to hinder this Traffic, are led, no doubt by humanitarian considerations, into active support of the Zionist cause and are thereby most gravely embarrassing the attempts of HM’s Government to reach a fair solution of the Palestine Problem. The Foreign Office urged its Ambassador in Paris to reproach the French government in the strongest possible language for their failure to co-operate more fully and pressed them to take immediate and effective steps to stop further illegal embarkations from French ports. You should leave them in no doubt that this is a matter to which HMG’s Government attach the utmost importance and one in which they expect full co-operation from the French Government in the spirit of the newly signed Alliance [the Treaty of Dunkerque]. No avenue was left unexplored in attempting to secure French co-operation in trying to stem embarkations from the French coasts. The 1929 International Convention for Safety at Sea was invoked in a note dated 21 March 1947 by Ambassador Duff Cooper, but in Britain’s fight against the sources of illegal immigration 75
  • reply T.J.Teitgen, the French Acting Minister for Foreign Affairs, sent a rather equivocal note,73 in which he claimed: a France has always implemented the International Convention for the Saving of Human Life at Sea where vessels left in a regular manner some vessels (i.e. San Dimitrio, Ulua), however, have embarked passengers irregularly. b captains of all ships of nations having signed convention will have to present security certificates (article 54). c no more French visas on collective passports before Ministry of Foreign Affairs has checked validity of visas of ultimate destination. d before considering returning foreigners having entered France illegally, the French Government requires to make sure the territories concerned will take them back. The Foreign Office was unhappy with this evasive reply and questioned the French assurance of applying the ‘Safety of Life at Sea Convention’ while allowing the 1,800- ton Guardian to load 2,500 passengers quite openly at Sète.74 M.Bousqet of the French Ministry for Foreign Affairs made it very clear to HM Minister in Paris that there was stiff French opposition on the part of socialist members of the French government (the Prime Minister was also socialist) to the improved control of ships leaving, to the refusal of oil bunkers and to the proposed Anglo-French discussions on IJI and possible British reciprocal concessions75 on German workers for France. Two main factors influenced the French stand. One was the anger that many French harboured for forcing the withdrawal from Syria and Lebanon, and the second ‘was the empathy that was felt by wide circles among the French population, particularly by the Socialist leaders, for the Jewish refugees because of their suffering during World War II’.76 There was stiff French opposition to any request for discussions on ways and means of controlling illegal immigration to Palestine especially on the part of socialist members of the government. Mr Duff Cooper reported to Creech Jones on the French Prime Minister’s attitude, ‘I found him somewhat unresponsive.’77 Britain, however, put renewed pressure on the French Government and made concrete suggestions for improving the control of departure from the South of France. One of these proposals was that, ‘the Ministry of Foreign Affairs should in future be enabled to establish a check on all visas of ultimate destinations of groups leaving France’. In practice this would have implied that they could consult the competent mission or consulate as to the authenticity of the visas. But this alone appeared to be unsatisfactory to the British embassy who demanded that the French should consult the British embassy as well as the representative of the country of destination. But it was of course realised by the Foreign Office that in the unlikely case of entering into such consultations with French authorities this would have meant that Britain was encroaching on matters of French internal sovereignty. At informal meetings, the French authorities had eventually reached a satisfactory agreement to the effect that the British embassy would be given all possible facilities on the official level to check up on nominal rolls and visas of groups leaving France, but the French Foreign Ministry had soon gone back on the whole principle of providing the British embassy with information of the details of these group movements. It did not wish to be bound to this in black and white, owing to the pro-Jewish complexion of the Cabinet.78 Britain's naval and political reaction to the illegal immigration of jews to palestine, 1945-1948s 76
  • J.G.S.Beith79 minuted, ‘The French atttude is most unsatisfactory and if, in spite of current negotiations departures should continue, we shall press the question of “refoulement” more strongly.’80 Maurice Baxter, Head of the Foreign Office’s Eastern Department concurred81 and suggested that the facilities wanted by the French to recruit German workers should be withdrawn if Jewish illegal immigrants continued to leave France for Palestine. However, the Jewish refugee issue was only a minor factor in overall Anglo-French relations and the increasing British pressure did not bring about any drastic change in France’s policy in regard to illegal sailings: ‘Britain largely failed to move the French authorities to prevent the illegal traffic of Jewish refugees through their country and through their occupation zones in Germany and Austria.’82 With the French assistance in preparing the Panss for embarkation, the British Ambassador in Paris saw no chance that further representations could lead to an improvement in French attitudes. In discussions with the Secretary General of UNO he deplored the ‘harm done to Anglo-French relations by the supine attitude of the competent French authorities towards vessels visiting French ports on their way to pick up illicit Jewish immigrants’,83 and requested the UK delegation in New York to devise something more specific and urgent than just another UN resolution. The secretary of the official committee on Illegal Immigration into Palestine as well as the Ministerial Committee headed by the Secretary of State were prepared to put heavy pressure on governments who were aiding and abetting illegal immigration. According to Mr Beith of the Foreign Office, ‘France came first among these’, and he added, ‘the matter is one of great urgency’.84 The poor and frequently non-existent co-operation between Britain and France in matters pertaining to the Illegal Jewish Immigration to Palestine can best be illustrated by the serious but typical case of the President Warfield. On 18 June 1947, the British embassy in Paris had informed the French Foreign Ministry that the President Warfield had been given only 8 tons of fuel and when the President Warfield moved for bunkering to Caronte on 16 June the embassy added that they hoped most strongly that no further bunkers would be granted to this vessel (No. 335). But by note of 28 June the embassy expressed His Majesty’s Government’s concern that President Warfield had received 315 tons of oil bunkers from the ‘Compagnie Française de Raffinage la Mede’ (No. 366). In addition the vessel’s Veritas certificate had been amended from a certificate of sea- worthiness which restricted her to carry passengers in what was known as ‘R’ trade or coastal traffic, and which would have allowed the French to refuse clearance for the open sea and which would have required the vessel to return coastwise to her last port of call, Marseilles, (No. 202) to read instead ‘permission granted to proceed to Black Sea without freight or passengers and in fine weather’ (No. 368). On 10 July the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs informed the British embassy in Paris (No. 403) that as the vessel’s clearance certificate was limited to fine weather with no passengers, President Warfield could not legally embark passengers. Nevertheless she cast off during the night of 10/11 July and sailed (No. 144). On 12 July, Mr Bevin wrote again to M.Bidault expressing his dismay at this news (No. 407), only to be told by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs that M.Bidault had decided not to lay the requests contained in Mr Bevin’s letter before the Council of Ministers, but to take them up with the Prime Minister. The Ministry made it clear in turn that Britain’s fight against the sources of illegal immigration 77
  • M.Bidault’s undertaking (that the passengers would be forced to disembark) could not be regarded as a decision by the French government unless and until Paul Ramadier (P.R. was the French Prime Minister) confirmed it (No. 427)!85 Details of the saga of the President Warfield’s confrontation at sea with units of the Royal Navy, the interception, boarding and deportation of the passengers to Hamburg will not be recorded in this book, as they have been extensively documented in the media.86 One of the harshest British condemnations of French attitudes towards British requests for co-operation was contained in Embassy Circular No. 44 addressed to the British consular missions in Bordeaux, Lille, Lyon, Marseilles, Nantes, Nice, Rouen, Strasbourg and Toulouse: the French Government have failed in their specific undertakings their administrative inefficiency has been such that it clearly amounts to a violation of the spirit of our previous understandings the sympathy shown to the illegal immigrants by many French authorities has outstandingly contributed to the blackening of our name in the French press and specific French undertakings to assist us have been broken.87 The penultimate paragraph of the circular contains the admonition not to disclose official British sources and not to quote the actual dates of letters. Sweden Even countries which played only a relatively minor part in illegal immigration operations, like Sweden for instance, were reluctant to co-operate with Britain in preventing Jews from attempting illegal entry into Palestine. The British Naval Mission in Denmark had added to earlier information by sending a telegram to the Naval Attaché in Stockholm about the Honduran-flagged SS Ulua, bound from Le Havre to Stockholm and rumoured to be taking Jews from Sweden to Brazil, and suggested the ship needed watching.88 Approaches had been made by Chancery, British Legation Stockholm, to the Head of Department at the Swedish Ministry of Foreign Affairs, demanding that the Swedes should insist on being shown a valid visa of destination before permitting shiploads of Jews to leave their country.89 However, this official, a Mr Engzell, proved less than helpful. He said that, ‘it would require an alteration in Swedish law the Swedish authorities are not even empowered to look and see whether a person leaving the country has a visa for anywhere else or not’, always provided only that, ‘the obligations, financial or otherwise, to Sweden, have been fulfilled’. Sweden was unconcerned, he stated, with such people’s destination or with anything that happened to them after they left Swedish territory. Mr Engzell pointed out that, ‘it would be necessary to institute an exit visa in order to comply with our (British) wishes’. Mr Engzell had reinforced his arguments by stating that, Britain's naval and political reaction to the illegal immigration of jews to palestine, 1945-1948s 78
  • During the war the Germans had made several attempts to force the Swedes to institute an exit visa to prevent Allied nationals or persons who had escaped from occupied countries from leaving Sweden but the Swedes had steadfastly refused to meet their wishes.90 C.B.Jerram, the British Ambassador in Stockholm, then contacted Mr Grafstrom of the Political Department at the Swedish Foreign Office (the Foreign Minister being conveniently unavailable), repeating the earlier request. He also stressed, ‘the responsibility of the Swedish Government to satisfy themselves that these persons were not leaving Sweden to infringe the regulations of a friendly country, regulations moreover which derive from our international obligations.’91 Mr Grafstrom repeated that Sweden had not agreed to prevent anybody from leaving Swedish territory and that there would be a great uproar in Sweden if that principle were in any way infringed, all he agreed to do was to bring what Mr Jerram had said to the attention of the Swedish government. Foreign Office Assistant Legal Adviser J.G.S.Beith received the Swedish line, that they had no obligation to check on the visa of destination of Jews leaving their country, he was also made aware that the French Ministry of the Interior had taken a similar stand. As a legal man he was obviously aware how difficult it would be to, ‘point to any international obligation which requires Governments to look into the validity of the visa of final destination of travellers leaving their country.’92 Beith expressed the opinion that, our main basis for representations to European Governments designed to prevent the embarkation of Jewish illegal immigrants for Palestine is the assumption that, in present circumstances, friendly Governments can be expected to take such action, and that owing to the present intensive traffic in Jewish illegal immigration from European ports, we are justified in asking the Governments concerned to pay particular attention to the scrutiny of visas of destination of Jews leaving the country.93 This assumption was not shared by most European countries serving as points of embarkation for IJI. However Beith had been right when he expressed his apprehension that, ‘the legal basis for our representations is likely to be increasingly questioned and Eastern Dept. would therefore be grateful for any other legal arguments with which to support our case.’94 Mr W.V.J.Evans, the Foreign Office’s Legal Adviser, duly confirmed that, ‘in general there is no rule of international law which requires a State to concern itself with the destination of persons leaving its territory’. This rule, however, Evans qualified by stating: ‘There is a rule under international law to exercise due diligence to prevent persons within its territory from committing acts injurious to foreign states,’95 and he suggested that the following exceptional Britain’s fight against the sources of illegal immigration 79
  • circumstances could be pleaded as giving rise to a duty on foreign states to take active measures to prevent illegal immigration into Palestine: a Illegal immigration promotes civil strife. b Its scale causes embarrassment to the government of Palestine. c It interferes with the fulfilment of HMG’s obligations. d It is a movement organised by states outside Palestine. e Ships carrying illegal immigrants are frequently armed. Mr Evans summed up the advice passed to his Foreign Office colleague Beith: The element of violence is therefore present and the injurious acts are committed partly within the foreign states concerned. Moreover, the increased travel control which we are asking those states (in this case Sweden and France) to exercise is not so burdensome as to be out of proportion with the injury now caused and would assist in preventing persons from illegally entering Palestine, but also in rendering ineffective the activities of those who are engaged within those territories in organising illegal immigration.96 Mr Evans was thus of the opinion that Britain was justified in continuing to press her requests. As W.E.Beckett, Legal Advisor at the Foreign Office, commented, it was the best case that could be made out, but that he was not sure that it would bring round the Swedish and other governments. Indeed it did not. Beith sent copies of Evans’ note to Paris, Brussels, Stockholm, The Hague, Athens and Belgrade, and as we shall see, it failed to bring round any other government either. A final assessment of the general Swedish government attitude to the Ulua departure may be ascertained by reading excerpts from a letter written by J.Thyne Henderson of the British Legation, Stockholm to the RT Hon. Ernest Bevin: As regards the excuses put forward for the lack of Swedish action in the case of the Ulua they are rather weak. If the vessel was not a passenger ship it should not have been allowed to sail with more than 12 passengers. If it were a passenger ship it should have been judged according to the regulations in force for such ships the excuses that nothing was done because the vessel was to make only the comparatively short voyage to a French channel port are particularly weak it suited the Swedish authorities better to believe the Jewish assertions than those of HM Legation because if they had accepted our statements they would have been practically forced to take some Britain's naval and political reaction to the illegal immigration of jews to palestine, 1945-1948s 80
  • Yugoslavia Yugoslavia was not allocated the top priority by the organisers of IJI to Palestine, although tens of thousands of Jewish immigrants passed through this country and embarked from her ports. However, the importance of Yugoslavia in the British confrontation with the Mossad le’Aliuah Bet and the relevance of Jewish illegal immigration to the relationships with communist regimes merit the inclusion of a separate chapter in this book. With the liberation in 1944–45 of wide areas of Yugoslavia by the units of Tito’s partisan army, the Allies arranged for the newly founded UNRRA to aid refugees and Holocaust survivors in this country. The Jewish Agency organised so-called Palestine Jewish Relief Units with the intention of attaching these Palestinians to the UNRRA crews being assembled in Cairo. The reluctance of the British authorities to tolerate Jewish Agency involvement had been discernible from the very beginning of the UNRRA aid effort. Chaim Weizmann wrote to John Martin, Assistant Under-Secretary of State at the Colonial Office, requesting British government support for the planned liaison between UNRRA and the Jewish Agency and he also passed on details of the training being given to Jewish crews of aid workers, who at the time planned aid operations in the liberated areas of the Balkans.98 The letter was passed to Richard Law, British Under Secretary of State, Foreign Office. Mr Law replied a month later that UNRRA was well aware of the guidelines which had been set up. He ruled that non- government agencies may only be called in to advise and consult, and finally, that he considered the matter closed. From this and other correspondence it becomes fairly clear that the Foreign Office was not interested in involving Jewish bodies in aid organisation, and that they particularly objected to co-operation between the Jewish Agency and UNRRA.99 The British apprehension of collusion between the Jewish Agency and UNRRA on the subject of aid for illegal immigration were justified. On 23 December 1946, Lord Inverchapel had complained in a letter to Lowell W.Rooks, the Director General of UNRRA, about this organisation’s alleged provisioning of IJI vessels. Mr Rooks replied to Mr Roger Makins, Minister Plenipotentiary at the British embassy in Washington, DC. He neither admitted nor denied the UNRRA involvement, but his answer amounted practically to a snub for the British diplomats: We have no knowledge of this incident I shall keep you informed it would be unlikely that exception could be taken to the utilisation by the recipient government of UNRRA supplies for the maintenance of post- hostility refugees passing through their territory as regards the illegal character of the voyage, you will appreciate that at the time this would be a matter for the Yugoslav authorities to take up: it would be unlikely that any UNRRA official was consulted.100 On 23 January 1947, Lord Invergordon sent a telegram to the Foreign Office: Britain’s fight against the sources of illegal immigration 81
  • The Director General, UNRRA has replied to my letter in the following terms: ‘I have received a telegram from Belgrade informing me that our Mission there has requested the Yugoslav Government to provide all available facts regarding the provision of two wagon-loads of UNRRA foodstuffs from [sic—to!] Jewish passengers embarking at the Yugoslav port of Bakar The UNRRA Mission in Belgrade have asked whether further information can be given them in order to facilitate fuller investigation’. The Foreign Office duly advised Washington of the date the wagon-loads of food were supplied—28 November 1946, and that the number of refugees involved was 790. The British Minister, Lord Moyne, on his part had also been very concerned about the large number of Jews in the American UNRRA delegation, which he considered excessive. He said, ‘The number of Jews [in UNRRA] was exaggerated, but, there were several of them in prominent posts and that they were easily identifiable as Jews from [a] distance.’ In fact the possibilities for Jewish Zionist infiltration into the areas of Yugoslavia liberated by Tito were poor,101 especially as long as Tito’s partisans had not been recognised as the legal government. In 1945 the Yugoslav government and the ruling Yugoslav Communist Party were fanatically attached to the idea of World Revolution and committed to a severely anti- imperialist stance. Support for the Yishuv in its struggle with the British was seen in Yugoslavia as the logical assistance extended to a worthy National Liberation movement. The Yugoslavs help was spontaneous, decent, friendly and warm. Between us there was no need for balancing petty political accounts. The Yugoslavs understood that we were not Communists and that we were interested exclusively in one and only one subject, illegal immigration to Palestine.102 The background to the Jewish-Yugoslav friendship was that they had only just finished their partisan war—and that they knew very well what an underground struggle entails.103 Menahem Shelah wrote, that Yugoslav support for the Mossad was neither consequent nor continuous, and it had frequently been influenced by international events,104 for example the British pressure105 and Yugoslavia’s participation in UNSCOP. But there is no doubt that Yugoslav policies, at least until the beginning of 1947, were developed in close collaboration with the Soviet Union, although the impression persists that Yugoslavia had relatively more freedom of action and more room for manoeuvre than other Soviet-bloc countries. There was also another factor influencing Yugoslavia’s philo-Semitic stance: the Moslem minority of nearly 2 million souls in Bosnia, Herzegovina and Kosovo, which used to identify with their co-religionists, the Arabs of Palestine. Thousands of Yugoslav Moslems had joined Waffen SS Divisions, which in the Second World War fought ferociously at the side of the Germans. Tito’s new government saw in the Moslems potential enemies and equated their support of the Palestinians Arabs with collaboration with the enemy. Western-style public opinion did Britain's naval and political reaction to the illegal immigration of jews to palestine, 1945-1948s 82
  • not exist in communist-controlled countries, and so expressions of pro-Arab sentiments were not welcome in 1945 Yugoslavia and indeed were not forthcoming. In May 1945, the Yugoslavs attempted to gain control of the Istrian peninsula, but they were thwarted by the despatch of British and New Zealand units to Trieste. A demarcation line, the so-called ‘Morgan Line’ named after the British general who devised it, was then drawn up, agreeing the temporary partition of the disputed areas between the parties. The Yugoslavs were left in control of Fiume (Rijeka), Zara (Zadar) and Pula, while the British forces were left in possession of Trieste, Gorizia and Trevisio. Final settlement of the borders between Italy and Yugoslavia was to be agreed after a plebiscite, and the Yugoslavs, therefore, tried to infiltrate Yugoslav citizens into areas with Italian majorities. An illegal Yugoslav intelligence organisation called UDBA was established in Ljubljana, Jewish refugees were attached to the stream of would-be immigrants who entered the British zone and this policy apparently served both Zionist as well as Yugoslav interests: We utilised the Yugoslavs secret trails to allow our people to cross from Slovenia to Trieste. The Yugoslavs’ intention was to introduce their people into Trieste, apparently in an attempt to create ethnic facts on the ground, which would prove decisive during future negotiations on the ownership of the area. The border crossings took place with the help of the Yugoslav security services in Ljubljana.106 In 1946 the collusion of the Yugoslavs with the Zionist organisers of IJI was nearly total. The legislation in force in Yugoslav territory to control the movements of persons leaving the country was not being enforced to its full extent, although nominally the Yugoslav government exercised control of departures through power of the Ministry of the Interior to grant or withhold passports. In telegram 1197 Mr Clutton of the British embassy in Belgrade replied to a Foreign Office enquiry: I was recently given a broad hint by a member of UNRRA mission here that it [the illegal immigration of Jews] was being organised by association of Jewish religious communities of Yugoslavia the Jewish community is certainly very well organised here, and seems able to look after, and if necessary to hide, Jewish refugees who are living here without proper documents.107 The Belgrade embassy continued their message by reporting that, ‘the Assistant Minister for Foreign Affairs assured me of Yugoslav co-operation. I do not, however, think this will amount to more than an attempt to stop entry of Jews into Yugoslavia.’108 Minutes written by Mr Beith, Legal Adviser to the Foreign Office, summarised as follows: No-one can leave the country without a passport and an exit permit granted by the Ministry of the Interior. Control of the movement is theoretically complete but illegal crossing of the frontier in either direction is, owing to the nature of the country, feasible. It is believed that Britain’s fight against the sources of illegal immigration 83
  • exit permits can be purchased. There is apparently an efficient Jewish organisation aiding the illegal movement of emigrants, and numbers of refugees cross the Morgan line.109 It is noteworthy that communist Yugoslavia had been a federation of six republics and two autonomous areas, and that the interior ministries of these republics had considerable latitude in the independent control of their affairs. However, security matters were generally controlled centrally from Belgrade. This also applied to a large extent on the relationship with the illegal emigration and its organisers. The embarkation of 2,680 Jewish refugees (23 July 1946) on the Balboa/Haganah (ex-Canadian Corvette Norsyd) in the Yugoslav port of Bakar is a good example of this Jewish-Yugoslav co-operation. The Jews arrived in the port in 86 railway carriages from camps near Zagreb, the capital of Croatia. Every person had been issued with American K-rations for four days, the rations having been drawn from Yugoslav army stores. Yugoslav army units closed all approaches to Bakar and the port had been declared a military zone.110 However, in 1947 and 1948 and until proclamation of the State of Israel, the Yugoslav attitude to IJI underwent a fundamental change. The British Ambassador in Belgrade, Mr Peake, had frank and confidential conversations with Marshal Tito, who promised to institute a full enquiry into the discrepancies between the telegraphed information regarding the Athinai and the assurances previously given to HM Ambassador. Detailed interrogation of the Athinai crew in Piraeus revealed considerable information concerning the assistance and complicity of the Yugoslav authorities in the ship’s sailing:111 ‘The Yugoslav authorities were cognisant of the ship’s presence in their waters from 19th October 1946. On this date Athinai entered Split harbour and was boarded by Yugoslav port authorities’, who provided a pilot to take Athinai to Novi via Rigovenitsa and Zara, where she was met by the Chief of Police of the whole Croatian coast. At each port of call in Yugoslavia, Yugoslav guards were placed on the quayside to prevent the crew communicating with the shore. The Athinai was supplied with engine oil, fuel oil and food in the presence of the Yugoslav authorities the rations brought to Bakar by rail were stored in the Port Customs House. The embarkation was carried out in the presence of the Chief of Police and of the Port authorities of Bakar the Athinai flew the Yugoslav flag when she entered Yugoslav waters.112 A personal letter from Ambassador Peake to Josip Broz Tito dated 31 December 1946 passed information in British possession on the Athinai and recorded that a further ship was about to embark illegal Jewish immigrants from a Yugoslav port. The Assistant Minister for Foreign Affairs, who passed Peake’s letter to the Marshal, said to Mr Peake that, he would be very surprised if in fact another ship was to sail, for although at the request of UNRRA the Yugoslav authorities had accommodated Britain's naval and political reaction to the illegal immigration of jews to palestine, 1945-1948s 84
  • Jewish displaced persons in the camps, the Marshal had given instructions that transit traffic was to cease.113 There were four main reason for this change of tack: 1 The inclusion of Yugoslav representatives in the deliberations of UNSCOP. The participation of Yugoslav representatives in UNSCOP had been an event of supreme importance for the embattled state, which at the time was still struggling for recognition and international legitimacy. The Yugoslav members of UNSCOP, Brili and Simic, were committed to the project of a bi-national state in Palestine rather than to the partition of Palestine into a Jewish and an Arab state. 2 The intermittent heavy pressure exerted by Britain, and Yugoslavia’s apprehension that benevolent promotion and support of IJI could jeopardise the outlined agreements to the Trieste problem. 3 The beginnings of the rupture between the Soviet Union and Yugoslavia. 4 Tito’s attempts to assume a leading position in the Organisation of Non-Aligned countries. There was also concern about the detrimental effect which Yugoslavia’s support for the partition of Palestine might have on Serbs, Croats, Macedonians, Montenegrins, Slovenes and Albanians, all of whom had their own nationalistic aspirations, and in the case of the Moslems also religious demands.114 The Yugoslav government thus began to fear the hostile reaction which her support of Zionism could generate in the midst of her Moslem minority. Replacement of the Yugoslav Consul in Jerusalem, Mr Kristic, (September 1947) with the Moslem diplomat, Hadjibegovic, was interpreted as an attempt by the central government in Belgrade to appease this Moslem minority.115 The Zionist leadership made strenuous efforts to change the Yugoslav attitude back to support for partition and assistance for IJI, but they were unsuccessful. Yugoslavia’s definition of the ‘Anti-Imperialist Struggle’, her support of national liberation movements like the communists in Greece or the Haganah in Palestine, her fight for a world of justice and equality against the ‘Capitalists’, ‘Colonialists’ and various other ‘Oppressors’ had to be moderated. Yugoslavia’s idealistic and fanatic but naive ex-partisans were forced to arrive at territorial compromises with their main antagonists in the area, the British, they had to liquidate the succour given to the communists in the Greek Civil War and they radically restricted their collaboration with the Mossad in order to break out of the international isolation which had resulted from Tito’s break with Stalinism and the Cominform. Removal of the shelter given to the Mossad operation and the prohibition of embarkations from Yugoslav ports belonged to the same totality of altered, basically anti- Zionist policies, which reached their low with the break in diplomatic relations as a follow-up to the Six Day War. North America More than 32,000 illegal or rather unauthorised and clandestine Jewish immigrants, almost 50 per cent of the 69,563 refugees who sailed from August 1945 until Israel’s Britain’s fight against the sources of illegal immigration 85
  • independence in May 1948, travelled to Palestine on vessels purchased in the United States and manned by US volunteer sailors.116 The following ten vessels were US- purchased and US-manned: Colon, Balboa, Ulua, Abril, Trade Winds, President Warfield, Paducah, Northland, Pan York and Pan Crescent. Except for the Ulua no US vessel reached shore before being captured. The American press reported claims made by Zionist organisations in the United States, that the measures introduced with the 1939 White Paper violated the 1924 Anglo- American Convention which had provided that no change should be made in the Mandate without US consent. They demanded that the matter should be brought before the International Court of Justice.117 In 1945 British diplomats in Washington were already complaining about Zionist lobbying of President Truman: ‘this is very annoying, but I got a hint last night that rats were at work’.118 Full-page advertisements soliciting support for the Illegal Jewish Immigration to Palestine appeared in the American press throughout the years 1946 and 1947. The New York Post, for example, carried a rather intemperate article on 25 September 1946: THIS MAN WAS MURDERED (Jewish casualty during interception of the Adriana—Palmach). Firing point blank into a shipload of refugees is the latest exploit of the British Navy a crime, just as unlawful, as barbaric and as primitive as any committed by the Gestapo and Himmler’s Schutzstaffel see to it that killing Hebrew refugees does not again become a sport like shooting fish in a barrel. Join the ranks of the American League for a Free Palestine. Under a US Treasury ruling, contributions to this organisation were ‘Tax Exempt’. Another of a veritable flood of advertisements in the US media announced: Men, women and children are assembled, waiting at the ports of Southern Europe. They are not waiting for commissions, reports, promises, quotas. They are waiting for you. The number who will reach Palestine next week, or next month, depends on you. It costs $250 to move one Hebrew from Europe to the only home that waits for him. So let’s get them there. Give us the money—it will get the ships.119 An earlier sample selected here at random from innumerable others was an advertisement headlined ‘Mr President, you are being double-crossed’.120 It ended with the exhortation: Let’s take action. The American League for a Free Palestine is determined to bring about the movement of large numbers of Hebrews to Palestine without waiting for British consent resolutions and protests have failed, what is needed now is food, trucks and ships and the people will be on the move contribute and get your friends to contribute. Britain's naval and political reaction to the illegal immigration of jews to palestine, 1945-1948s 86
  • This advertisement was inserted by the American League for a Free Palestine Inc, and was endorsed by more than a dozen public figures who signed as Co-Chairmen and Vice- Chairmen. One of the American organisations which became very active in support of illegal immigration was the ‘American Sea and Air Volunteers for Hebrew Repatriation’ (formerly the Jewish American Seamen’s Association)121 which pledged to confine its transport activities to ‘the sea and air voyage from the shores of Europe to the shores of Palestine’.122 Mr Balfour (Sir J.Balfour of the British Embassy in Washington, not his namesake, the late Foreign Secretary Lord A.J.Balfour) called on Dean Acheson, to discuss newspaper reports about a drive to raise £2,000,000, launched by the ‘American League for a Free Palestine’, of which £750,000 was to be used for buying ships to run Jews through the British blockade.123 Acheson agreed that HMG was entitled to a reasoned reply to its representations, but as he saw it, there was no legal basis on which the United States Government could prevent appeals for funds or resolutions as that passed by the Zionist Organisation of America. He did promise, however, to examine again the question of preventing the organisations concerned from soliciting contributions on the basis of tax exemption.124 The Rt Hon. Lord Inverchapel, British Ambassador to Washington, also passed on the British Foreign Office’s concern about the support of American Jewry and the media for IJI to Palestine to the State Department on numerous occasions. A letter written by Lord Inverchapel at the request of Foreign Secretary Bevin to Secretary of State James F.Byrnes125 attempted to ensure at least a measure of relief from the relentless Jewish- American pressure and the financial and other support for this illegal traffic. In his letter Inverchapel called for attention to advertisements which had appeared in the American press and which solicited money for organising illegal immigration into Palestine. He quoted Mr Bevin’s anxiety to avoid a situation in which nationals of one member of the United Nations had been allowed to supply money to prevent another member state from carrying out its obligations. Inverchapel wrote that Mr Bevin was particularly concerned about the collection of funds for illegal immigration and about claims made in these advertisements that ‘by ruling of the Treasury Department, contributions are tax exempt’. Lord Inverchapel pointed out this must mean that the organisations collecting such funds had been classified as charitable or as being in the public interest. In the same letter Lord Inverchapel complained about another sort of activity which, ‘bids fair to have consequences just as serious, namely the chartering, manning and despatching of ships from American ports for the illegal immigration traffic’. At the end of the letter Lord Inverchapel expressed the hope that the Secretary of State would feel able to approach Mr Snyder, Secretary of the Treasury Department, on the subject of tax exemption granted to contributions to these funds. In April 1947 Lord Inverchapel sent an aide memoire to the Acting Secretary of State summing up the previous nine months of representations about a resolution passed by the National Administrative Council of the Zionist Organisation of America. This Council was lending all it resources to continue a never-ending flow of visa-less immigrants to Britain’s fight against the sources of illegal immigration 87
  • Palestine and had financed the IJI vessels Abril, President Warfield, Trade Winds and Northlands. In section 5 of his aide memoire Lord Inverchapel wrote that, the United States Government should use every means at their disposal to put an end to these activities [and] he would be glad to learn at an early date, as instructed by the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, what action the United States propose to take to this end.126 The Foreign Office was unhappy about what they considered ‘the Washington Embassy’s fairly weak protest’127 to playwright Ben Hecht’s open letter to the terrorists. FO telegram No. 4928 (E4221) contained very strong instructions to impress upon the State Department that it was intolerable that such advertisements should appear in the press of a country friendly to Great Britain but Lord Inverchapel’s note ended tamely by urging: ‘that a statement should be issued by the US Government condemning in the strongest term the present advertisements and the activities of which complaint has already been made.’128 Mr Garran complained that Lord Inverchapel had disregarded his instructions and suggested that a personal telegram be sent to the Ambassador expressing regret that the instructions had not been carried out more precisely and that the Foreign Office wanted more effective action. Incidentally, telegram No. 4928 had inadvertently been sent en clair and not in cypher, a fact that Garran considered, ‘all for the good, for the [US] administration will at least know the terms of the Embassy instructions’. F.B.A.Rundall agreed with Garran, the Colonial Office and MI 5 concurred as well, but the final handwritten lines penned on 9 June and initialled ‘B’ for I.P.Butler tended to downgrade Mr Hecht’s tirade to a rather more realistic lack of importance: ‘I confess to doubts whether these extravagances by a rabid Zionist do much harm to us or to AngloAmerican relations and I think that we can leave it at that for the present.’129 It is significant that Rundall, who was only a consul in New York, as well as Baxter and Garran of the Foreign Office could permit themselves to express serious interdepartmental criticism in writing about a note sent by Lord Inverchapel. After all Lord Inverchapel was Ambassador Extraordinary and Minister Plenipotentiary to Washington, and therefore, for all practical purposes, Rundall’s boss. The British Ambassador Extraordinary in Washington, Lord Inverchapel, had been made aware that consideration was given in London to the possible refoulement of the President Warfield passengers. He warned the Foreign Office of the likely American repercussions: I feel bound to point out that the forcible return of these people to the country which was so recently the scene of the worst anti-Semitic atrocities would almost certainly cause a wave of American indignation I think it right to enter a caveat against possible action which might have unfavourable repercussions at a delicate stage of Anglo-American relations.130 Britain's naval and political reaction to the illegal immigration of jews to palestine, 1945-1948s 88
  • However, it had been minuted that the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs had declared at a meeting that, ‘he would expect a considerable howl from the States as the result of a decision to send these Jews to Hamburg’.131 The decision, therefore, seemed unavoidable. The Foreign Office minute agreeing the decision to disregard the American ‘howl’ was countersigned by all concerned and sent after consultation with Orme Sargent,132 despite its probable repercussions. The largest proportion of the funds expended by the Zionists on IJI was collected in the United States. A few figures will suffice to indicate the meagre sums budgeted by the Foreign Office to the British ConsulGeneral in New York as the maximum expenditure allowed to fight the American juggernaut of aid for Illegal Jewish Immigration into Palestine. These meagre sums may be compared with the AJDC budgets, which had risen by leaps and bounds since 1943 to US$58,000,000 for 1946 and US$122,000,000 for 1947, and which will serve to indicate the difficulties encountered by the British representatives in the USA. In June 1947 Lord Inverchapel, for instance, requested that the Foreign Office approve the expenditure of a measly US$500 for research work to study and record the relevant angles of US law, to be undertaken by the American law firm Coudert Brothers. There was, however, also the proviso that the costs could be higher if Coudert were required in addition to obtain information as to the activities of the different Jewish organisations or firms involved.133 Foreign Office approved expenditure of approximately US$500 and confirmed that the further investigations mentioned should not be undertaken.134 Under the circumstances Coudert Brother’s fee seemed modest. They sent their opinion in an 18-page report to Sir Francis Evans in New York for transmission to Eastern Department, Foreign Office. They reported on six separate matters enumerated by the Consulate: 1 Are the activities of such organisations as the American League for Free Palestine, the Palestine Resistance Fund, the United Zionists-Revisionists of America and the Political Action Committee for Palestine in conformity with the law? 2 Can the claim to tax exemption for contributions to the American League for a free Palestine be challenged? 3 Are attempts to subvert the administration of a friendly power legal? [It was understood that no sabotage or destruction of specific targets in the objective country had been planned in the United States.] 4 Are there any legal means of preventing the fitting out of ships for the transport of illegal immigrants? 5 Are there any precedents which would be of use in making representations to the United States government regarding the whole question of illegal immigration into Palestine? 6 Are organisations appealing for public funds required by either Federal or State law to publish balance sheets or financial statements showing how the funds collected are expended? As to the first item, there was little comfort for HM Consul General in Coudert Brother’s opinion. Certificates of incorporation, statements of purposes and objectives, appointment of directors for the organisations were in perfect order and statements had been filed Britain’s fight against the sources of illegal immigration 89
  • showing that these corporations had not been established for pecuniary profit and were intended to have benevolent and charitable status. As to the second point, Coudert Brothers opined such corporations or associations were entitled to a tax exempt status, provided annual reports of their receipts and disbursements had been filed. On the third point Coudert Brothers noted that as far as circulation within the United States of hostile or revolutionary propaganda was concerned, however violent, there was considerable doubt whether international law provided redress. The democratic conception of freedom of speech and of the press presented serious obstacles in this respect. If it could have been shown that public appeals had been made for funds to support terroristic activities in Palestine, Coudert believed that it would have been the duty of the United States to interfere, but it appeared that the public appeals were for funds to be used for charitable purposes. According to Coudert Brothers the attitude of the United States in previous controversies did not afford ground for the belief that it would be disposed to take action in this instance. Existing precedents quoted by Coudert Brothers included the British enquiry as to the legality in the United States of participation in the Irish National League in 1885 and there was the complaint made by Spain in the same year, regarding support for the insurrection in Cuba. In 1914, the Austro-Hungariam Ambassador had protested in vain about Serbian organisations publicly inviting contributions to Serbian warfunds. These complaints had been answered by stating that the United States punished treason against its own government but not against others, The US Secretary of States had declared in 1911 that, ‘the mere carrying out of revolutionary propaganda by writing or speaking does not constitute an offense against the law of nations’.135 As to the fourth item enquiring whether there were any legal means of preventing fitting out (IJI) ships and so on, Coudert Brothers could not find any precedents having any direct bearing on the subject, but if the Foreign Office was in the possession of information that ships were being fitted out in the United States for the purpose of violating the Palestine immigration laws, then it would of course be perfectly proper to make representations requesting that such vessels be denied clearance or other facilities in US ports. For the fifth point which questioned whether there were any precedents regarding the making of representations to the US government in connection with the whole question of illegal immigration into Palestine, Coudert Brothers suggested that the various legalistic citations quoted under this point seemed to furnish as much of an answer as possible. For the final item, Coudert Brothers was not aware of any Federal or State law requiring publication of such information. Corporations which claimed to be exempt from tax under the relevant Section 101 (6) of the US Internal Revenue Code were required to file annual returns with the Treasury Department setting forth their receipts and expenditures, these returns, however, are not open to public inspection. The final passus in the law firm’s opinion must have been cold comfort for the recipients: We have no doubt that the Government of the United States will wish to conform strictly to the letter and spirit of the relevant statutes and policies Britain's naval and political reaction to the illegal immigration of jews to palestine, 1945-1948s 90
  • in accordance with the rules of international law and the rule of comity which apply to intercourse between friendly states.136 In fighting US support for the Zionists, Britain faced a fundamental problem: they were trying to persuade the US government to take a legal-istic view of what to them was a domestic political question. Rundall took a realistic view and warned that Britain may produce ‘all the international law in the book and it will count for little against the Jewish vote in the next election’.137 The outcome of the disagreements between the British Foreign Office and the American government was absolutely crucial for the success or failure of Britain’s fight against Jewish immigration into Palestine. As shown, American tax exemptions for funds raised by the Zionists for IJI were unsuccessfully challenged by Britain but never removed, and no legal means were ever discovered to obstruct the sale of ships or their departure without passengers for foreign destinations, nor the eventual embarkation of illegal immigrants. Belgium On 4 August 1946 the Foreign Office instructed its mission in Belgium to report what legislation was in force to control the movement of persons leaving the country and to what extent it was being enforced. The reply reported that all passengers for embarkation were checked by police before boarding and had to show valid travel documents to take them to their destination.138 Parties travelling on collective passports not issued in Belgium were not admitted in transit, unless an application had been passed through the police and cleared with the Ministry of Foreign affairs. In August 1946 the Belgian authorities were working out a procedure which was supposed to avoid repetition of the Hochelaga incident. (see Appendix 3). Greece His Britannic Majesty’s Embassy in Athens exerted constant pressure on the Royal Hellenic Ministry for Foreign Affairs by sending numerous memoranda and letters, reminding the Greek authorities of their own laws and decrees, which it was claimed would oblige them to take action against ships which were in contravention of these regulations. The Greeks were usually not very co-operative in taking effective steps to stop the traffic in Jews, however, the British embassy in Athens considered that by May 1947 the Greek Foreign Minister had replied to British notes on the subject in a more helpful vein.139 The Greeks explained, that under Greek law it was not possible for the vessels engaged in this illegal traffic to be penalised by the cancellation of their Greek registration. Greek law does indeed provide the government with the right to deprive a Greek ship of its nationality, but only on the grounds of a serious offence. Such a cancellation invariably meant confiscation. Chancery opined: Britain’s fight against the sources of illegal immigration 91
  • It was probable that the judicial authorities to whom the Minister must make application, and the Supreme Court to whom the shipowner may appeal, would not consider that engaging in smuggling Jews was a serious enough offence to merit deprivation of nationality and the consequent confiscation.140 The Chancery at the British embassy in Athens had been informed that the Greek Ministry of Mercantile Marine had just (May 1947) drafted appropriate legislation, but they confessed that they had their doubts as to how effective it would prove and when it would be passed. Chancery’s reflection on the Greek Ministry’s ‘more helpful vein’ appears therefore, in hindsight, rather premature and slightly optimistic. A note written in September 1947141 reminded the Greeks that obligations imposed by Greek law demanded that, ‘under the provisions of Law 5231 of the 30th July 1931 and the relevant decrees, any vessel sailing under the Greek flag is required to carry a crew consisting entirely of Greek subjects’. It seemed unlikely that Greek vessels engaged in the traffic in illegal immigrants to Palestine could comply with these regulations, but the British Ambassador clearly believed, that strict enforcement of Law 5231 by consuls and other Greek authorities would provide a valuable means of detaining such ships. In the same note the British Ambassador also promised ‘shortly’ to furnish the black list of (Greek) ships and shipowners, which had been requested in the Ministry’s note No. 31454 of 2 July. For obvious reasons the Greek authorities had not been on the distribution list of the weekly (later fortnightly) top secret lists of ‘Suspect Shipping’ compiled regularly by the Cabinet Illegal Immigration Committee. Reports by HM Consul in Piraeus on shipping suspected of being intended for illegal immigration were generally so vague as to be self-defeating. One such report stated inter alia: There are rumours in the cafes and amongst the fishing population that many of these craft are the so-called Palestinian Fleet. I have not taken any steps to check this up but during a short walk round the area from the Customs to the end of the Naval College, the following craft were noted There followed a list of 16 vessels, eight of which were unnamed, and the rider, ‘I have not included in the list any of the craft at the top end of the harbour nor those lying in St. George’s Bay and at Perama.’142 Another list of five ex-Naval vessels (four sloops and one submarine depot ship) which had been sold to new Greek owners, contained the names of four vessels that had been berthed in British ports and one in a Dutch harbour. Only one (the Earl of Zetland) had been involved with IJI, but it had already arrived in Palestine by the time the list had been passed to Ernest Bevin for a query with his Greek colleague.143 It seems doubtful that such low-grade intelligence could have been of much use to the Admiralty in combating IJI. The same applies to reports dated 22 March and 8 April 1947 which named the vessels Cairo, Euthalia, Laconia ex Talisma, Ephtalia ex Baddek, Andrea ex Anchusa, Macedonia ex Fritillary, Amarinthia ex Lady Blanche, Thessalia ex Britain's naval and political reaction to the illegal immigration of jews to palestine, 1945-1948s 92
  • Lorna and Gortynia as being suspect, together with an additional 11 named vessels lying at the time in Piraeus. The informant added a caveat: ‘I have not been able with my limited means [he obviously needed more money], to obtain names and particulars’, and he further added that the members of the ‘Maris’ Group (one of the suspect companies) were reported to be, ‘individually and collectively, completely without scruples and ready to make money, provided there is no personal risk attached’. But, by definition, all budding Greek post- war ship owners had to be unscrupulous to survive and prosper. British Legations sometimes made sarcastic comments about the weekly MI5 reports on IJI into Palestine. The Stockholm Chancery for instance wrote to the Foreign Office: on page 3 you have an unknown ship at sea which seems capable of the most amazing geographical gymnastics. It seems to have sailed from Malta on June 12th with an unknown number of Jews from Stockholm area and then from Malmö for Gdynia on June 13th. A glance at the map will show that this must have been a record-breaking voyage. Also why the unknown number of Jews should have decided, having got as far as Malta, to return to Poland (whence they mostly escaped) via Malmö can only be due to some process of Hebrew psychology with which we are unfamiliar.144 Getting into the spirit of this exchange the Foreign Office replied: We were sorry to gather from your letter 54/85/47 of the 12th July that you suspected us of forcing a single ship to combine the roles of Wandering Jew and Flying Dutchman both these will o’ the wisps have been eliminated from Weekly List No. 11. The Foreign Office also routinely informed the Greek authorities about ships reported to be under the Greek flag and which were strongly suspected of being involved in the illegal immigration traffic. In March 1947 the Foreign Office instructed their Athens embassy to request the Greek authorities to cancel the registration of the caiques Agias Trias, Archangelos and Vasilakis, whose owners were abusing the Greek flag in order to further this illegal traffic.145 The Greek reply (Athens Embassy Despatch 148) was simply the usual promise to do all in their power to help,146 but no useful reference was made to the specific request for cancellation of registration of the three named vessels,147 except an expression of willingness to assist, provided the British embassy could furnish details of home ports, tonnages, registration numbers and the names of the owners. As an example the Greek Foreign Ministry quoted the impossibility to comply with the British request for cancellation of the caique Agias Trias registration. The reason given (if true) was persuasive, the Ministry claimed that there were more than 20 ships sailing under the Greek flag and named Agias Trias.148 There were no legal grounds in Greece for detaining organisers of illegal immigration into Palestine who had otherwise committed no offence.149 Higham suggested that in the case of suspect ships they should only ask for cancellation of their registry and a ban on their sailing. By 1947 Greece had ceased to be a significant player in the IJI. Britain’s fight against the sources of illegal immigration 93
  • The fact that no illegal ship has sailed from a Greek port since the Henriette Szold in July 1946 and dismay caused by the Ada150 incident tend to show that the organisers of the traffic are turning their main efforts towards other countries than Greece.151 Romania and Bulgaria More than 29,000 illegal immigrants, about 41 per cent of the total numbers of the illegals who sailed from European ports to Palestine after the end of the Second World War, departed from Balkan ports in Romania, Bulgaria and Yugoslavia. Romania had the largest reservoir of Jewish survivors and supplied most of the immigrants. For economic, political and social reasons Romania was keen to get rid of a proportion of her Jews. The infrastructure for most departures was provided by Yugoslav ports (in the second half of 1946). Later departures of clandestine would-be Jewish immigrants left mainly from Bulgarian harbours (in the winter of 1947–8). The Bulgars and Romanians charged the organisers a special tax for every Jew who embarked from their ports, while the Yugoslavs did not demand a special fee. On the subject of the illegal Jewish immigrants there existed an ideological affinity between the Soviet, the Bulgarian and the Romanian governments. The Soviet Union was trying to undermine the British position in the Middle East and hoped that sponsoring illegal immigration to Palestine would eventually contribute to the elimination of the British bases and perhaps even to gaining a foothold in the Middle East and on the shores of the Mediterranean. Any means for increasing the British difficulties in Palestine was, therefore, welcome to the Soviet bloc.152 Romanians wishing to leave the country had to hold valid national passports. Collective or special emigration passports were also issued, but these passports were subject to the same conditions as ordinary passports. Every foreigner had to present a valid national passport (or a recognised identity document) as well as a certificate that the holder was authorised to enter Romania and that there was no police record against him (in Romania). Regulations were not always enforced due to corruption and confusion in the Romanian administration and owing to Soviet interference in frontier control.153 Sir M.Peterson spoke to Mr Dekamozov about the continuance of IJI into Palestine and about the Russian authorities being duped by fraudulent visa or shipping papers. Dekamozov went through the usual arguments, about this being Romanian government business and he spoke ‘about Russia not wishing to interfere in Palestinian affairs and about Russian representatives not being in a position to challenge authentic visas’.154 British intelligence ran an extensive operation inside Romania. Their agents gathered up-to-date information on the selection of Jews in the various towns, the state of readiness of the ships, the problems of recruiting crews, the establishment of training camps for the leaders and the planned timetables for the trains. The agents leaked contradictory information to the Romanian authorities about army deserters, forged documents, smuggled cash, collaboration with Western intelligence agencies, corruption and deceit. The British also leaked contradictory information to Washington about Soviet agents among the immigrants, weapons training by communist experts, collaboration with the Soviet Union and so on. In fact it seems, that British intelligence, and Britain's naval and political reaction to the illegal immigration of jews to palestine, 1945-1948s 94
  • occasionally even the High Commissioner Palestine, sometimes failed and leaked contradictory or erroneous information to their own departmental heads155 Bulgarian-British co-operation in the prevention of IJI departures from Bulgarian ports was as bad or worse than the Romanian attitude. Dominion governments were informed of the negative attitude assumed by the Bulgarian Ministry of Foreign Affairs: ‘Bulgarian Government felt themselves unable to prevent these embarkations since papers of Jews were in order and all Jews embarked had visas for Persia, Turkey, Syria, Lebanon or Egypt’.156 However, J.E.Cable of the Foreign Office was sceptical and slightly sarcastic: The issue of Persian, Syrian, Lebanese, Turkish or Egyptian visas to Jews was so obviously improbable as to arouse immediate suspicion in anyone whose eyes were not deliberately closed the choice of these particular countries suggests an impudent confidence and a certain sense of humour on the part of the Jews.157 But Cable was also aware of the futility of protest: ‘I doubt, however, whether the point is worth making now.’158 Sterndale Bennett, British Ambassador to Sofia, was one of many officials who frequently claimed Soviet collusion in embarkation of Jewish illegals. For instance in a telegram the Ambassador informed the Foreign Office that, 1 the port of Bourgas had been closed at 20.00 hrs on the night before departure of the Paducah; 2 both Paducah and Northland had been handled in Bourgas by a Russian shipping agency, which normally handled only Soviet ships; and 3 port of Varna had been closed until 17 October (presumably to mask embarkations).159 Britain had asked Bulgaria repeatedly for co-operation in what Sterndale Bennett described ‘an international responsibility’ to avoid any action which might prejudice the solution of the Palestine problem, brought at the time before the United Nations, or which might effect the status quo pending a solution. However, the Bulgarian Minister for Foreign Affairs said: The Bulgarian Government had been willing to prevent embarkation of Jews for Palestine but were stalled with the statement that persons embarked had valid visas for other countries the question was evidently more complicated than he had realised and that he would study it with a sincere desire to avoid misunderstandings.160 The quest to solve or at least alleviate the IJI problem also led in the autumn and winter of 1947–8 to some bizarre and desperate proposals. In telegram 1019 the Foreign Office suggested visits by vessels flying the red ensign to Romanian and Bulgarian ports, ostensibly for the purpose of fuelling or provisioning, but with the real aim of monitoring embarkations of refugees. The idea was to furnish proof of country of departure and justification for refoulement. But, Britain’s fight against the sources of illegal immigration 95
  • a The Montreux Convention demanded a time lag between the announcement of a warship’s intention to enter the Black Sea and its passage of the Dardanelles. With respect to the length of notice to be given the Turkish government, prior to the passage of warships through the Straits, a differentiation had been agreed between Black Sea and non Black Sea states, with three days demanded in the case of the former and fifteen days for the latter. The final solution which appeared in Article 13 of the Convention stipulated that the normal period of notice in the case of non-riverain Powers would be fifteen days. This would have impeded RN ships shadowing suspect vessels into the Black Sea. The Turkish Minister for Foreign Affairs had also pointed out,161 that the Montreux Convention provided only for sanitary control and had no provision for increasingly prolonged presence in port, unless the vessel were engaged in some form of trade.162 b It might have proved difficult to explain to the Roumanian government the reason for increasingly prolonged presence in port. c The greatest difficulty would have been encountered from the Russians who would naturally be extremely suspicious of such a ship plying between Roumanian and Bulgarian ports.163 The number of economic, political and legal difficulties caused the abandonment of the mooted Black Sea operation by British warships. Even the proposed derivative of using ex-corvettes, which were at the time employed as transports between Haifa and Cyprus, was rejected. The Commander-in-Chief Med also suggested using a yacht for this purpose, which could overcome some of the objections. This also was rejected by Cable of the Foreign Office, who believed the use of a yacht was not worth while, ‘since we could do little or nothing with the information when we got it’.164 Also during 1947–8 the British diplomats were already well aware of Britain’s deteriorating influence in the Balkans. Sir D.Kelly, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary in Angora (Ankara) sent a telegram, which tried to avoid an over- estimation of Britain’s bargaining power. Sir D.Kelly expressed the hope that the Foreign Office would not assume that, while we are impotent vis-à-vis the Bulgarian and Roumanian Governments, we [still] possess the means of pressure on the Turkish Government if the latter are unwilling to resort to dubiously legal measures or risk having the Jews dumped on them we no longer have the indirect means of pressure we had a year ago when the Turks were receiving free military instruction, were hoping for military supplies from us, and were making us substantial sales of goods against sterling.165 Normally nobody would have been allowed to enter or leave Bulgaria without permission of the Allied Control Commission. This control was supposedly strictly enforced by the Bulgarian National Militia, except for Soviet, US and British subjects.166 The Bulgarian Minister for Foreign Affairs was unwilling to adopt the exceptional measure of checking up on the destinations of travellers on suspect ships in the case of countries with which Bulgaria was not in diplomatic relations. Britain's naval and political reaction to the illegal immigration of jews to palestine, 1945-1948s 96
  • 5 The legal issues involved The legal dimensions have not been as adequately noted in earlier specialised articles and books as the political and humanitarian dimensions of the clash between the British authorities and the Illegal Jewish Immigration movement. There is abundant mention of the legal issues in the general literature on Zionism and the Palestine Mandate, however, most if not all the relevant issues are here summed up, probably for the first time in layman’s language. The text which follows has been written with the aim of remedying a significant, if not a major deficiency in the existing literature. The three-mile territorial sea: erosion and demise of a doctrine Here the author intends to familiarise readers with the basis of the International Law of the Sea and gives a brief overview of the issues and of their historical context, in so far as they are relevant to the doctrine of the three-mile limit of territorial waters and to the legal implications of the freedom of the high seas. It may be useful initially to define the terminology of ‘territorial waters’ and ‘high seas’. Some authors used the term ‘jurisdictional sea’ in place of ‘territorial waters’ to ensure connection with the literal meaning that applied at the time and to avoid the idea of territory. The term used by modern writers and in international intercourse is the ‘territorial sea’. The term ‘territorial waters’ was used to denote all waters within three miles of the coast’s low water mark, while all waters outside territorial waters must be deemed ‘high seas’. All modern treaties and statutes relating to maritime jurisdiction relate to the marine or nautical mile of 1,853 metres or about 1.15 English statute miles. The so-called three-mile limit thus equalled about 3.5 statute miles. Some statutes also referred to leagues as a nautical measure, equalling 0.05 of a degree or 3 international nautical miles (5.55 km). No really exhaustive historical study can be attempted within the inevitably rather restrictive scope of this book and a very short overview will have to suffice, starting with the Roman law concept that the sea was free to all nations and continuing with the attempts by jurists at encroachment. Claims of varying intensity and extent for jurisdiction of waters were raised by different nations, until no expanse of ocean was too vast to evade national pretension to exclusive control. In fact Pope Alexander VI Pont. Max. (formerly Rodrigo Borgia) in his Papal Bull ‘Inter coetera’ of 4 May 1493 divided the Atlantic Ocean between Spain and Portugal and declared:
  • ac de Apostolicae potentates plenitude, a omnes insulas, et terras firmas, inventas et inveniendas, detectas et detegendas auctoritate omnipotentis Dei nobis in B.Petro concessa, ad vicarius Jesu Christi tenore praesentium donamu, concedimus, assignamus.1. Spain therefore claimed for a very long time the exclusive right of navigation in the western Atlantic, in the Pacific and in the Gulf of Mexico as proclaimed by Pope Alexander VI, while Portugal assumed similar rights in the Indian Ocean and in the South Atlantic. These pretensions were successfully challenged by other seafaring nations, mainly England and the Netherlands. By the Customs Consolidation Act of 1876 Britain abandoned her notorious Hovering Acts2 as they were generally called, under which a certain measure of control over smugglers was exercised up to 12 miles from shore, thus conforming to international law. All previous Acts were repealed by the 1876 Customs Consolidation Act, which made British municipal legislation conform with international law ‘in the sense that no foreign ship was subject to any customs or revenue regulations outside the three-mile limit of territorial waters’.3 Lord Stowell had justified the passing of these ‘Hovering Acts’ on the grounds that maritime states were allowed by the common courtesy of nations for their convenience to consider those parts of the ocean adjoining to their shores as part of their dominions for various domestic purposes and particularly for fiscal and defensive regulations more immediately affecting their safety and welfare.4 The case for limiting the jurisdiction to three miles was finally won when Britain proclaimed that the 1876 Customs Consolidation Act marked the repeal of the earlier statutes and former claims. Foreign vessels were no longer controlled on the high seas and the regulations applicable to such vessels were not enforced more than three miles from shore. After this time Great Britain made no attempt to apply her customs or smuggling laws to foreign vessels outside the three-mile limit.5 Section 7 of the 1878 Territorial Waters Jurisdiction Act enacted, that the term: ‘Territorial waters’ of her Majesty’s dominions [refers] to the sea adjacent to the coast of the United Kingdom or the coast of some other of her Majesty’s dominions which is deemed by international law to be within the territorial sovereignty of her Majesty and that any part of the open sea within one league [3 miles] of the coast shall be deemed open sea. The policy adopted by Great Britain had, therefore, remained consistent since at least the middle of the nineteenth century. For the same reason she has constantly opposed the enforcement by other nations of their revenue laws beyond the three-mile limit.6 Britain’s dilemma in the 1940s of wishing to have jurisdiction over parts of the high seas in order to be better able to intercept IJI vessels, but at the same time, as a major maritime power, to adhere to total freedom of the high seas, was therefore real and legally insurmountable. Britain's naval and political reaction to the illegal immigration of jews to palestine, 1945-1948s 98
  • So Britain had become the champion par excellence of the three-mile limit and of the freedom of the seas, incidental to achieving and holding the position of mistress of the seas for a century. Lieutenant Commander J.M.Kenworthy asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, Lieutnant Colonel A.Buckley the following question: what is the position in international law as to the extent of territorial waters; how many states recognise this limit; and what was the conclusion reached on this subject at the Barcelona Conference in March and April 1921?7 Lieutenant Colonel A.Buckley, an Under Secretary of State at the Foreign Office replied: The only rule which can be said to have received general recognition as defining the extent of territorial waters is that prescribing a limit of three miles drawn from low water mark. My hon. friend understands, however, that a number of states have at different times claimed to exercise jurisdiction for various specific purposes over a wider limit.8 Sir A.Shirley, MP for Drake, then asked A.Buckley an additional question: ‘Has this country at any time, with any nation, recognised any limit outside the three-mile limit?’, to which Lieutenant Colonel Buckley replied, ‘Not that I am aware of’.9 It was the United States which, in fact, had been one of the most outspoken critics of Britain’s attempt to board, search and arrest IJI vessels beyond the three-mile limit, although, soon after the 18th Amendment took effect (Prohibition, 16 January 1920), US coastguard vessels boarded, searched and seized foreign, sometimes British, vessels found to be engaged in smuggling intoxicating liquors into the United States in violation of her laws.10 At The Hague Codification Conference on the Law of the Sea (13 March–13 April 1930) there was near general agreement on the proposition for delimiting the territorial sea, but there was also strong opposition to the establishment of a contiguous zone beyond the three-mile territorial sea. Only nine states, of which Britain and Japan were the most prominent, wanted a maximum three-mile limit for all purposes.11 At the time the United Kingdom was the staunchest defender of a three-mile zone without a contiguous zone. It was still a major maritime power, and like most major seafaring nations claimed that the high seas, which were ruled by the traditional freedom of the seas, began immediately beyond the three-mile zone. Great Britain, in common with the other states who recognised only a three-mile zone, was, therefore, unwilling and indeed unable to intercept and seize foreign-flagged ships outside the territorial sea. They were even unable to exercise jurisdiction in case such ships had infringed the immigration laws of a British governed territory, and consequently it did also not recognise the right of other states to interfere in peacetime with her own vessels sailing the high seas. In the event the 1930 Hague Conference neither clarified nor adapted international maritime law. The conference decided to recognise the ‘Right of Hot Pursuit’12 but it repudiated the argument of the British delegation, ‘that the three-mile limit was the rule of The legal issues involved 99
  • international law because the maritime powers which owned most of the world’s shipping had so decided.’13 The doctrine of hot pursuit in the international law of the sea is closely related to the principle of the freedom of the high seas since it constitutes one of the traditional limitations to that freedom.14 The process of eroding the three-mile limit and broadening the discussion of states’ rights and responsibilities was already noted at Hague in 1930, and accelerated after the end of the war. This trend may be of some interest to readers, although the details are not strictly within the remit of this book. However, President Truman’s proclamation of September 1945 introduced a new doctrine which asserted jurisdiction and control over the American Continental shelf, thereby starting the mechanism of creeping out into the high seas. It became increasingly pronounced following the first United Nations Conference for the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS I)15 and this trend might now be impossible to stop. The discussions at UNCLOS I were followed by UNCLOS II.16 Both these conferences failed to reach agreement on a uniform limit of territorial waters, as a result the limit traditionally upheld by Great Britain of a three-mile zone of territorial waters remained unimpaired. Commander Alan Noble made the following statement to the House of Commons: ‘[T]he position is that the only generally recognised rule in International Law is that the breadth of territorial waters is three miles and that all waters outside that limit are high seas.’17 Agreement of a sort was finally reached at UNCLOS III.18 Many members of the international community took the linkage of the acceptance of a 12-mile limit together with the establishment of an Exclusive Economic Zone regime into account and held that a 12-mile territorial sea now formed part of general, customary, international law, but it has yet to be replaced formally by a new rule. It is no longer possible to state that there is any specific width of territorial waters presently sanctioned by a general rule of international law. It is interesting to note the demise of the three-mile limit by recording the state of ‘Territorial Sea’ claims on 1 January 1983 (See Table 5.1). Universal extension of the territorial sea from three to 12 miles reduced the high seas by an area of 3 million square miles, while 116 straits had been removed from free high seas and placed under the national sovereignty of the bordering states.19 The author emphasises the absolute importance placed by all British Institutions and Departments of State on the most rigid adherence to the Law of the Sea as perceived or interpreted at all times by the various judicial and executive organs. But at the same time we are led to realise that the clash between the opposing viewpoints and the differing scenarios envisaged or mooted by the various departments ultimately proved irreconcilable. Interception, diversion or arrest The restrictive immigration policy of the Palestine government as laid down in the 1939 White Paper20 resulted in the immediate intensification of IJI by sea. The practical difficulties encountered by the British Britain's naval and political reaction to the illegal immigration of jews to palestine, 1945-1948s 100
  • Table 5.1 ‘Territorial sea’ claims situation on 1 January 1983 Distance in nautical miles No. of states 3 24 4 2 6 4 12 77 15 1 20 1 30 2 35 1 50 4 70 1 200 14 Source: K.Booth, Law, Force and Diplomacy at Sea (George Allen & Unwin, London, 1985, pp. 217–18). authorities when trying to intercept these illegal vessels produced an intense discussion between departments and individuals within the Civil Service, the various Ministries and their Legal Advisers, the Service Chiefs, the Admiralty, the Board of Trade, the Ministry of Shipping, the Lord Chancellor21 and the Cabinet.22 This section describes the dilemma which even before the outbreak of the Second World War had induced a lively controversy between exponents of different viewpoints and interests. It conveys the sometimes rather dubious moral integrity and want of probity prevailing in the higher echelons of the Civil Service. It will also give an idea of the guarded, often timid, non- committed language of high officials and officers, who quite frequently declined to accept responsibility for decisions which sometimes had to be unpleasant or even unsavoury. Here the author also intends to show that some British Civil Servants in various departments of state were keen and zealous in their desire to implement established policies, although it had been the ministers, that is, elected politicians, who were responsible for decisions. Here we describe the varying influences and rifts within an establishment which, soon after cessation of hostilities and resumption of IJI, influenced the debate about the choice between visit and interception on the high seas or in territorial waters. J.E.M.Carvell of the Foreign Office wrote a letter to the Colonial Office on the subject of the Hilda,23 enclosing the draft of a new Regulation prepared by the Colonial Office’s legal adviser. The letter also suggested that such a new regulation could be made under the 1937 Palestine (Defence) Order-in-Council.24 According to Downey the Colonial Office’s legal Adviser thought that it would be safer to issue an emergency regulation rather than an ordinance. The legal issues involved 101
  • J.E.M.Carvell also wrote to the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs: ‘There has always been clandestine immigration into Palestine, but it did not assume the dimensions of a large-scale organised traffic until after the publication of the White Paper in July 1939’.25 Desperate to restrict the IJI traffic, realising that owing to humanitarian considerations, deportation was not in practice available, Carvell proposed the infliction of penalties on the owners, the masters and the crews of the ships engaging in the traffic, but found that action taken by the High Commissioner under the 1931 Palestine (Defence) Order-in- Council had proved ineffective. This Order-in-Council did give the High Commissioner power to detain the passengers, master and crew for a period not exceeding one year. However, it did not give him the power to penalise the owners of the ship by confiscating it or holding it as security for a heavy fine. On behalf of the Foreign Office, Carvell, therefore, forwarded two proposals for amending the law. The first and less drastic proposal originated in the Colonial Office itself and envisaged an amendment to the Immigration Ordinance which would have the effect of extending to a ship, which is present within territorial waters against its will and to its master, the penalties at present applicable to ships voluntarily coming into territorial waters. The second proposal suggested the addition of a new penalty—confiscation outright of the ship if under 1,000 tons, or if over 1,000 tons, detention until a fine of £1 0,000 was paid. Under these proposal the penalties would have been enforceable in the ordinary courts of Palestine. The second and more drastic proposal had been put forward by the High Commissioner of Palestine, who obviously had no confidence that the Colonial Office’s proposal could succeed. Under the High Commissioner’s proposal a new emergency regulation under the Palestine (Defence) Orders-in-Council would have been issued. This course would have transferred the function of determining whether or not a person is a prohibited immigrant and whether or not a vessel is being used for the purpose of bringing prohibited immigrants into Palestine entirely from the courts to the High Commissioner, who could have arbitrarily detained the master and crew, confiscated the vessel and applied the other penalties proposed by the Foreign Office. Carvell also commented that the Colonial Office’s proposals involved a trial in the courts and would be uncertain of success, while choice of the High Commissioner’s option would be a public advertisement of the High Commissioner’s lack of confidence in the Palestine judiciary and prosecution. Furthermore, Carvell practically accused the Colonial Office and the Palestine government of lack of competence, in not having done all that they could and ought to have done to mend the defects of existent immigration legislation by less objectionable means. In particular, they have failed to enact a clause casting upon a person suspected of being an intended illegal immigrant the onus of proving that in fact he is not.26 Carvell then put on record his and his Department’s opinion: ‘Either of the expedients offends against international law. Every nation has a general right that its ships shall sail on the high seas unmolested by the ships of other powers’.27 He was also adamant that Britain's naval and political reaction to the illegal immigration of jews to palestine, 1945-1948s 102
  • the enactment of a regulation as proposed by the Colonial Office or by the Palestine High Commission, ‘amounts in practice to an attempt to exercise territorial jurisdiction over the vessels of foreign states on the high seas’.28 According to Carvell this would have been so, irrespective of whether the carrying out of the powers conferred by the regulation had been entrusted to the local courts or to the High Commissioner. The Colonial Secretary Malcolm MacDonald was consequently unwilling to authorise enactment of either or both of the proposed legislative enactments without the Foreign Secretary’s concurrence. Foreign Office Counsellor Patrick Dean’s comments on the proposals, voiced on behalf of the Foreign Office legal advisers were devastating: From the legal point of view this is a fantastic suggestion. It seems that the High Commissioner, although the facts as to this illegal immigration are perfectly well-known to everybody, has so little confidence in the Palestine judiciary or in the efficiency of the prosecution, that he proposes to exercise his powers without resorting to the necessity of producing any evidence at all. Dean recorded his astonishment that Britain should create an entirely new offence by statute and at the same time show such a deplorable lack of confidence as ‘to remove the whole matter from the cognisance of the courts and put it into the hands of an unfettered executive authority’.29 Patrick Dean clearly believed that the proposed Regulations were objectionable [both] from the point of view of international law in that it in practice operates so as to give the High Commissioner power to deal with vessels on the high seas outside territorial waters and from the point of view of constitutional law in that the whole matter is removed from the Courts and put in the hands of an unfettered executive authority. Dean’s conclusions followed. He believed that they seemed sensible, and he himself considered, ‘they would have been wrong, but they would have worked’.30 However, Colonial Secretary MacDonald was not willing to approve the proposed Defence Regulations unless the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs gave his assurance that he was prepared to accept the consequences of international complications arising. The Secretary of State was not prepared to do so. Colonial Secretary Malcolm MacDonald as well as the Palestine High Commissioner were clearly unhappy about Viscount Halifax’s refusal to contemplate taking the issue out of the Courts’ competence and on 14 February 1940 Halifax asked the Foreign Secretary to reconsider: I am sorry that you do not feel able to approve the proposed new regulation the matter is of such great importance that I feel justified in asking you to reconsider this decision. I fully appreciate the legal objections but the considerations of policy appear to me to be overwhelming, and the risk of trouble with foreign The legal issues involved 103
  • governments very remote I earnestly hope that you will feel able, in the light of this letter and memorandum, to agree to the issue of the High Commissioner’s new regulation Yours ever etc.31 Fortunately for Britain’s reputation of always adhering strictly to the Law, the High Commissioner’s proposal to dispense in the case of illegal immigration with the safeguards of the courts were rejected. Sticking at all times to strict legal court procedures did cause the authorities an immense amount of trouble and ultimately made very little difference to the outcome of the confrontation. On 24 August 1939 Acting Councillor A.W.Randall of the Foreign Office wrote a letter to Assistant Secretary H.F.Downie of the Colonial Office32 reiterating measures for stopping illegal immigration to Palestine as discussed at a meeting which took place at the Colonial Office. At this meeting the Colonial Office’s legal adviser, Sir Grattan Bushe, suggested the possibility of taking action outside territorial waters against ships engaged in the traffic in illegal immigrants. The meeting had assumed that action could only be taken as a result of agreements concluded with the governments of countries to which the ships concerned belong. According to Randall’s letter, the Foreign Office deprecated agreements permitting action in enforcing local (that is, Palestinian municipal) law against foreign vessels on the high seas, as in their opinion Britain had more to lose than to gain by such agreements. The Foreign Office feared a strengthening of existing tendencies by several foreign countries to assert claims to territorial waters more than three miles in extent, and in this respect they mentioned the special interest theory put forward by the Norwegian fisheries issue.33 Norway enacted a Royal Decree on 12 July 1935 delimiting its territorial waters— called Skjaergaard—(literally meaning rock rampart) lying adjacent to its coastline, a configuration containing innumerable islands, isles, rocks and reefs.34 The United Kingdom challenged this Norwegian Decree and submitted the dispute to the International Court of Justice, who upheld the Norwegian Decree. The UK’s attempt to use the Norwegian Decree as a precedent for increasing the width of the Territorial sea was therefore not useful at all.35 There was a further difficulty foreseen by the Foreign Office. Supposing they successfully negotiated such agreements with the main countries concerned, say Panama, Greece and Romania, who could stop the ships concerned from being transferred at once to another flag? In his letter to Downie, Randall suggested that use could be made of precedents existing in the case of the liquor traffic and the slave trade and he stated that the Foreign Office was quite prepared to try and negotiate initially with, say the Panamanian, Greek and Romanian governments. Randall realised that it would be a long and difficult business to negotiate such agreements, especially as Britain could offer no inducements in return. But there was a proviso to the Foreign Office’s offer—if, and that was a big IF, the Admiralty had no objection. The Admiralty did, in fact, object. With the tacit approval of the Admiralty, the Navy had been arresting IJI vessels 16 miles from the shore, and secondly the Colonial Office had revealed that the Palestine Attorney General made formal admission in each prosecution that arrest took place outside territorial waters (this admission was needed to avoid bringing commanding officers of HM ships themselves into the witness box). These two reasons sufficed to make nonsense of the Britain's naval and political reaction to the illegal immigration of jews to palestine, 1945-1948s 104
  • ethical principles which had been previously expressed by the Admiralty. The Admiralty eventually also rejected ‘self-preservation’ as a justification for arrest on the high seas.36 However, it occurred to Randall that use could be made of a development of the doctrine of ‘Hot Pursuit’,37 and in this respect Acting Councillor Randall proposed to make use of a US argument submitted by them to the 1929 Geneva Conference for the Codification of International Law. At the time the United States argued that a vessel may be committing an offence by means of its boats or crew, even while itself remaining outside territorial waters, and that the theory of Hot Pursuit may apply.38 Randall wrote that the boats which land the immigrants usually belong to and are operated from the steamers engaged in the traffic, and the doctrine of Hot Pursuit might, therefore, be used as justification for action against the steamers themselves. However, the boats did not always or even usually belong to the steamers, a fact that Downie was quick to point out in a margin remark. An enclosure to Randall’s letter, signed C.H.Fone, a Staff Officer in the Foreign Office, quotes extensively from multilateral treaties covering the right of search and so on, outside territorial waters as well as from bilateral treaties concluded with diverse countries. Arguments made in the enclosure to Randall’s letter39 were based on a 1925 Geneva Convention40 regarding the supervision of the international trade in arms and ammunition, which laid down certain rights of Visit and Inspection. However, the 1925 Geneva Arms Trade Convention was not yet in force in 1939.41 By that time it must have been clear to Randall and his colleagues that advocating the seizure of vessels outside the territorial limits of Palestine could not be justified by international law. Randall’s memorandum quoted Professor Basset Moore: ‘No nation can exercise a right of visitation and search upon the common and unappropriated parts of the sea, save only on the belligerent claim. The right of search is a strictly belligerent right.’42 W.Carter of the Mercantile Marine Department at the Board of Trade poured cold water over Randall’s proposal to search for the agreement of the main nations conniving in the illegal immigration trade. He stated that the Board of Trade could not agree to the proposal that powers to search and arrest ships should be requested over vessels 50 or even 60 miles from the coast. Carter believed that any agreement or understanding reached on the subject, even if it were ensuring the most careful safeguarding of the three- mile limit of territorial waters, would weaken that principle to a much greater extent than the US and Finnish liquor arrangements. Carter conceded that there was a case for exceptional action in the matter of the illegal immigration to Palestine, but he expressed the fear that acceptance of Randall’s proposals would make it much harder for Britain to refuse claims for similar extensions, which ‘any foreign countries might put forward in the future, when claiming such extensions were necessary for their urgent and important purposes’.43 In conclusion Carter revealed what was probably the main reason for the Board of Trade’s objection to the Foreign Office’s scheme: The Board of Trade was at the time engaged in negotiations regarding the utilisation of neutral Greece’s merchant ships for Britain’s wartime shipping needs, and they felt it would not be desirable to make the Greek shipping industry unwilling to co-operate with Britain. In view of Carter’s arguments, but especially of the Board of Trade’s anxieties regarding the possible loss of the goodwill of the Greek ship owners, Randall conceded The legal issues involved 105
  • temporary defeat and asked for the Colonial Office’s agreement not to send the proposed telegrams to Athens and Panama.44 The fight against IJI continued throughout the war. However, the debate about the merits of interception on the high seas as opposed to arrest within territorial waters abated due to wartime conditions. It was resumed after cessation of hostilities, when the continued restrictions on Jewish immigration to Palestine led to a progressive increase in the number of clandestine ships trying to break the blockade and attempting to land illegal immigrants. The Commander-in-Chief Mediterranean discussed the question of illegal immigration with the High Commissioner of Palestine and after balancing the practical difficulties of waiting with interception of IJI ships until they enter territorial waters against the advantages to be gained from interception on the high seas he asked for authority to arrest three categories of ships on the high seas: 1 ships having no identifiable master and crew; 2 ships of no recognisable flag (that is, carrying the Zionist flag, which before creation of the State of Israel was not recognised);45 and 3 ships of an ex-enemy flag, that is, Italian, Romanian and Bulgarian. The Commander-in-Chief Mediterranean, Admiral A.U.Willis, asked for approval to inform the Foreign Office and the Colonial Office that the Admiralty considered that the time had come to give him discretion ‘to arrest on the high seas and also to divert such ships direct to Cyprus’.46 G.C.B.Dodds for Military Branch I summed up the amendments as suggested by the Colonial and Foreign Offices in their replies and in turn submitted a draft minute. Dodd wished to insert a section about international law which had been submitted by the Foreign Office, but he proposed to exclude any reference to the possibility of diversion to Cyprus, because in his opinion, if the Royal Navy was justified in arresting the ship, presumably they were also justified in taking her to whatever port they wished.47 It took nearly eight weeks before proposals for a paper dealing with this approved final version of the proposals contained in C.P.(46) 434, which suggested that officers commanding His Majesty’s ships should be authorised to arrest on the high seas certain specified categories of vessels suspected of carrying illegal Jewish immigrants to Palestine and given discretion to divert to Cyprus any such ship, were agreed and deemed fit to be laid for discussion before the Cabinet. The Rt. Hon. Viscount Hall of Cynon Valley, First Lord of the Admiralty said in Cabinet: ‘This proposal (C.P. (46) 434) had been made by the Commander-in-Chief, Mediterranean, after discussion with the High Commissioner for Palestine’, and he emphasised that, ‘there had been consultation with the Foreign Office and the Colonial Office’.48 He then proposed to modify his memorandum by making it an additional instruction to the Commander-in-Chief that only in exceptional circumstances might he arrest or stop a ship flying a foreign flag outside territorial waters if her impending arrival had not been made known to the Admiralty 48 hours or more beforehand. Britain's naval and political reaction to the illegal immigration of jews to palestine, 1945-1948s 106
  • At a Cabinet meeting the First Lord of the Admiralty stated that he wished to modify his memorandum, which meant that his proposals had to go back for rephrasing. The First Sea Lord, Admiral Sir John H.D.Cunningham, argued at the same meeting that as faster and heavier ships were now being used for the transport of illegal immigrants to Palestine it was desirable that His Majesty’s ships should have more sea room for interception than was available within territorial waters. The period of 48 hours would give the Admiralty time to consider in any particular case whether interception would give rise to trouble.49 The First Sea Lord was no doubt correct in saying that HM ships needed more sea room to intercept the faster and heavier ships which were already being used for the transport of illegal immigrants to Palestine (for example, the ex Royal Canadian Navy 16-knot corvettes Balboa (Haganah) and Beauharnais (Wedgwood), but this discounted the legal position, which necessarily had to remain a matter reserved for the comment of the Lord Chancellor. The Lord Chancellor said that he was not satisfied that the proposal C.P. (46) 434 could be justified in international law. He observed that Great Britain was seeking to rely on the principles of international law in other fields (he clearly had the Corfu Channel Incident and the dispute with Albania in mind).50 The question of the three-mile territorial waters and the principle of freedom of navigation in narrow straits appear to be unrelated, but whilst the case against Albania for mining an international strait was in progress,51 absolute adherence to the letter of international law was deemed to be necessary.52 W.A.Jowitt, the Lord Chancellor, was also most concerned with American sensitivity in connection with the enforcement of prohibition that might be held to imply an extension of the three-mile limit of territorial waters in the US attempt to assert rights inconsistent with international law’s general principles. The Lord Chancellor stated that Great Britain had always looked critically at any action by another government to intercept vessels on the high seas, and in this respect he singled out the United States in connection with the enforcement of prohibition, that might have been held to imply an extension of the three- mile limit of territorial waters.53 The Lord Chancellor thus felt that the legal implications of the proposal before Cabinet should be more closely examined before it was approved. Cabinet duly invited the Lord Chancellor to consult the legal advisers of the Foreign Office and the Admiralty and then to submit to Cabinet his considered view on the legal implications of the proposals.54 In a note duly submitted to Cabinet for their next meeting,55 the Lord Chancellor reported that after consultations with the legal adviser of the Foreign Office and representatives of the Admiralty, ‘he was satisfied that this proposal C.P. (46) 434 could not be justified in International Law’. Paragraph (2) of the Lord Chancellor’s note to Cabinet (C.P. (46) 463) included the following: Those who asserted the existence of the right (of a state to search and arrest vessels on the high seas) have generally given way the right of visit and search is a belligerent right, not to be exercised in time of peace The legal issues involved 107
  • except by virtue of some treaty if it could be shown that a particular ship carrying immigrants was loaded with arms and ammunition, we might attempt to justify our action before an international court on the ground that the importation of the arms and ammunition would lead to civil war. The Secretary of State for the Colonies then said that in view of the Lord Chancellor’s legal opinion he did not wish to proceed with the proposals in his memorandum C.P. (46) 434 which he had earlier put before Cabinet. There was further discussion in Cabinet and agreement was reached that the proposed action should not be taken if it was open to question under international law. Under the circumstances Cabinet decided that illegal immigrant ships should not under any circumstances be arrested on the high seas. The Cabinet minutes, therefore, concluded on 19 December 1946: The Cabinet took note that the First Lord of the Admiralty would not proceed with the proposals submitted in C.P. (46) 434 for arresting on the high seas certain specified categories of vessels suspected of carrying illegal immigrants to Palestine.56 The dangers arising from the Cabinet’s decision were realised by all participants in the original deliberations and they believed that they were justified in re-opening the matter. Admiral U.A.Willis, Commander-in-Chief, Mediterranean Station, put the problem succinctly in a simple mathematical computation included in an appreciation laid before their Lordships of the Admiralty: Commanding Officers experienced at boarding operations consider ‘a mile per knot’ is necessary to give boarding parties a reasonable chance of gaining control the distance covered by ‘quarry’ during the operation of forming up, ranging alongside a zigzagging ship to put in the boarders, including a feint or two to draw the empty bottles and other missiles, needs to be as many miles as its speed, e.g. a 12 knot ‘illegal’ requires 12 miles.57 The Under Secretary of Staff at the Admiralty, A.J.Le Maitre, reopened the arguments on this crucial issue58 immediately following the Lord Chancellor’s destruction of the arguments for arrest and diversion of ships on the high seas, which was based on his interpretation of international law. Le Maitre stated that under current international law Great Britain would actually lay herself wide open to action in an international court, if any of HM vessels stopped ships on the high seas, even if they were not wearing a recognised flag. That sort of action was a relic of the time when such a ship could be presumed to be a pirate and, therefore, outside international law. Following Le Maitre’s line of argument one may realise that he was well aware of the dubious legality of using a right designed to stop pirate ships in order to intercept ships which were definitely not pirates, only in order to prevent them from performing an act which, while not in contravention of international law, was contrary only to the municipal law of Palestine (and which did not operate outside Palestinian waters). Britain's naval and political reaction to the illegal immigration of jews to palestine, 1945-1948s 108
  • As we shall see, the ‘arms and ammunition’ loophole indicated by the Lord Chancellor was identified even before the Cabinet meeting by the indefatigable Le Maitre. He also had some other interesting ideas on how to overcome the Lord Chancellor’s squeamishness about observance of international law. Le Maitre pointed to the Lord Chancellor’s offered loophole of ‘self-preservation’ in the case of a particular ship when ‘loaded’ with arms and ammunition and he mentioned that he discussed such a hypothetical case with the Lord Chancellor, who in turn pointed out that this does not include a ship which is suspected of having a few machine-guns on board for the purpose of resisting arrest. The ship would have to be a veritable ‘floating arsenal’ and Le Maitre was quite aware that none of the ships so far intercepted by the RN fulfilled the Lord Chancellor’s definition. In a letter to the First Lord,59 Le Maitre conceded the truth in the implication, that while Great Britain was engaged in defending her rights of innocent passage in the matter of the Corfu Channel, she would have been ill-advised to court the accusation that while she pleaded international usage for her own ends, she would consider herself free to flout it when it told against her. Le Maitre also believed that the Americans would at once resurrect the I’m Alone case, in which they themselves had to pay a large amount of compensation to Canada, the ship’s flag state, for the sinking of a rum-runner outside US territorial waters.60 The I’m Alone case was considered by Le Maitre to be extremely significant, because the United States had taken steps to acquire the agreement of Canada and other countries that she could investigate ships within one hour’s steaming distance of the territorial waters limit, a precaution that Great Britain had omitted to take in the case of Palestine waters. In paragraph (II) of his ‘mitigations’ Le Maitre eventually came to the point and suggested how this impasse could be overcome. He claimed that in informal discussions the Lord Chancellor had said that he would see no objection to attempts being made to ‘persuade’ illegal immigrant ships to go voluntarily to Cyprus (thereby getting over the difficulty of arresting them within the narrow maritime belt) but he had also said that there should be no practical difficulty about taking certain liberties within the actual three-mile limit off the coast of Palestine. This suggestion had been made by a clearly sympathetic Lord Chancellor, although it obviously did not appear in the Lord Chancellor’s paper (C.P. (46) 463). Le Maitre continued: The full-blooded breach of international usage involved in arresting and diversion on the high seas could not be recommended [but] the Lord Chancellor thought there should be no practical difficulty about taking certain liberties with the actual three mile limit off the coast of Palestine. He begged the readers of his letter to realise that it was ‘hardly likely that the master of the illegal immigrant ship would be able to prove whether he was stopped just outside or just inside territorial limits’,61 and he suggested orders be given by the Admiralty to the Commander-in-Chief that for this purpose the precise definition of the three-mile limit might be extended. It was clearly thought that an IJI ship’s master would be unlikely to know whether he had been stopped just outside or just inside territorial waters and that, The legal issues involved 109
  • whilst the Government could clearly not give an official ruling in this sense, there would be no harm in telling the Commander-in-Chief that the precise definition of the three-mile limit for this purpose might be extended to cover the distance in which stoppage of the ship was a seamanlike operation.62 This view had been put privately to the Commander-in-Chief Mediterranean by the Vice Chief of Naval Staff and had become the basis for the Royal Navy’s subsequent campaign against the illegal immigrants. Commander-in-Chief Admiral Sir Algernon Usborne Willis received a personal and secret letter from the Vice Chief of Naval Staff saying that the highest authority advising HM government (the Lord Chancellor) had expressed the above opinion and that there would thus be no practical difficulties about taking the suggested liberties with the actual three-mile limit. This letter in fact arrived shortly after the Cabinet decision, based on the Lord Chancellor’s ruling, rejecting authorisation to board and seize IJI ships on the high seas had been communicated to the Commander-in-Chief Mediterranean. These letters were followed by a secret high-level memorandum dealing with the control of the Royal Navy’s confrontation with IJI vessels.63 Admiral Willis admitted that he had already jumped the gun and instructed Commodore Palestine (DeSalis) and the commanding officers of ships engaged in the Palestine Patrol to this effect, and on receipt of the Vice Chief of Naval Staff’s letter he confirmed by a personal and secret letter to the former that some latitude in the matter would be allowed. Admiral Willis also wrote: In the same letter I instructed the Commodore Palestine that nothing was to be put in written orders on this point and in a further personal letter directed that if boarding took place outside three miles, the exact position should not be mentioned in signals or in the reports of proceedings rendered by ships taking part in interceptions. I also indicated to the Commodore Palestine that inexactitude in the positions on charts and in reports might be expected and would be justified in the special circumstances.64 Admiral Willis was aware that DeSalis, Commodore Palestine, had been pressed to produce naval witnesses at hearings to testify to the facts about boarding and seizure as to time, position and so forth. In Admiral Willis’ view this was most undesirable because it exposes them to cross examination about exact ‘positions’ and perhaps on political questions. I have therefore directed the Commodore, Palestine to inform the Palestine Government that I will not, for the present, allow Naval Officers to attend local civil courts.65 The effect of failing to gain control of an illegal ship was considered to be rather academic, when commanders on the spot, who were responsible for conducting operations in the Mediterranean, like Admiral Willis, had to consider the grave risk of Britain's naval and political reaction to the illegal immigration of jews to palestine, 1945-1948s 110
  • some of the illegal immigrants getting ashore and into the hinterland, or even making for Tel-Aviv, thus defeating HM government’s policy. Consequently Admiral Willis’ instructions to Commodore Palestine and through him to the Palestine Patrol were that, an illegal ship is in no circumstances to be allowed to reach Tel Aviv and to ensure this, boarding the necessary number of miles from the shore is authorised. It will be seen that this distance might have to be as much as 12–15 miles for a fast ship.66 When considering the further elaborations submitted by Admiral Willis it becomes plain, that Cabinet decisions, even when supported by the legal decision of the Lord Chancellor, who in turn had based his opinion on advice rendered by the affected Ministries’ learned legal advisers, could and were occasionally over-ridden for the convenience of theatre commanders, the Colonial Office and the Palestine government. Admiral Willis wrote: The efforts to gloss over (for the purpose of court proceedings) the fact that some boardings have taken place outside the three-mile limit have proved abortive in consequence, the ships will have to be returned to their owners, which is very unfortunate.67 A possible way out worth investigating was to, examine the law to see whether a reasonable case cannot be made for regarding the act of seizure rather than the act of boarding as the act to be related to territorial waters The act of seizure or acquiring control is in the circumstances of these operations much more ‘elastic’ than the act of boarding and there is much more scope for stretching the ‘time and position’ to suit the requirements of the three-mile limit.68 A further advantage foreseen by Admiral Willis was the fact that the moment of gaining physical control of an illegal ship was not as apparent to people on shore as was the act of boarding. And Willis concluded with the suggestion that, ‘an examination should be conducted into the possibility in law of treating the act of seizure rather than the act of boarding as the deed to be related to territorial waters.69 Furthermore, Admiral Willis proposed that if this suggestion came to nothing, it would be better to give up trying to secure by court proceedings confiscation of ships and punishment of crews in cases where boarding has taken place outside territorial waters rather than advertise the fact this has been done and thus prejudice our position in Maritime law.70 The Head of MI promptly sent a brief to the Vice Chief of Naval Staff, summing up Admiral Willis’ intention to operate by sending a boarding party to go on board ‘at any place required on the high seas, justified by the right of verification of flag or “enquetre”, assuming a possible legal case could be made out’.71 The legal issues involved 111
  • According to Willis, the boarding party would remain on board, the Master would remain in control of the ship and on arrival in territorial waters the boarding party would seize the ship and assume control. The Head of MI disagreed on practical and legal grounds. To justify the proposed procedure, [the boarding party] must be restricted in size and character; e.g. something like one officer, one clerk and a couple of guards. Would such a party remaining on board have any chance of survival, or would they be of much assistance in carrying out the seizure at a later stage?72 The Head of MI continued by stating that misuse of a flag would not be an offence against international law justifying arrest and, furthermore, if the proposed system were tried under whatever legal argument, it would not carry any conviction to the world at large. John Beith, an assistant legal adviser at the FO, wrote a long letter to J.D. Higham of the Colonial Office reiterating all the arguments against boarding and seizure outside territorial waters, making the following final point: The Chief Legal Adviser pointed out that one of the strange features about your letter reference 76021/47 of May 1947 was that it showed that foreign vessels carrying illegal immigrants were in fact being seized outside the three-mile limit of Palestine,73 although Ministers have twice turned down proposals to authorise such action.74 A distinctly weary and exasperated sounding G.C.B.Dodds, Principal, Admiralty Branch I. replied resignedly to Beith and tried to close the correspondence on the Territorial Waters v. High Seas, Foreign Office v. Colonial Office controversy: My dear John, May you be forgiven for the last paragraph of your letter E.4219/48/31 of the 7th November about the relation between territorial waters and arrest at sea I do not think you can really get away with the view that the Foreign Office have not been informed that ships are, in fact, being boarded outside territorial waters this was common knowledge between us and the whole purpose of the correspondence was to regularise the position. I trust that this complicated matter will not have to be pursued further in view of the imminence of our departure from Palestine.75 It was Le Maitre again, who wanted to make quite sure the First Lord understood the motive for the Admiralty’s submission of paper C.P. (46) 434, and which was finally aborted by the Lord Chancellor and the Cabinet. Therefore, the following day, he sent a letter to the First Lord76 which said that it had been prepared primarily to assist the Colonial Office and the High Commissioner in preventing IJI ships from making Palestine waters at all and secondarily to assist the Commander-in-Chief Mediterranean in his difficulties in stopping a determined ship within territorial waters limits. Le Maitre Britain's naval and political reaction to the illegal immigration of jews to palestine, 1945-1948s 112
  • continued by writing that the Admiralty was always aware that to arrest ships on the high seas was contrary to international usage (note that Le Maitre used the expression ‘international usage’, not ‘international law’), but that they had consulted the best published opinion in international law which considered the absence of a recognisable flag to form a justifiable plea. The proviso concerning permission to stop ships wearing enemy flags was considered by Le Maitre to cease having validity after the signing of peace treaties. Le Maitre then assured the First Lord that the Admiralty accepted the Lord Chancellor’s decided opinion that the absence of a recognised flag had no validity in modern times and that they no longer wished to press this matter. The letter concluded with the assurance, which he hoped the First Lord would pass to the Cabinet, that the Admiralty would take no action which might have been regarded as contrary to international usage. There ensued a lively correspondence and high-level consultations between the Colonial Office, the Foreign Office, the Admiralty, MI5, the Commander-in-Chief Mediterranean, the Under Secretary, the Admiralty, the High Commissioner for Palestine, the Secretary of State for the Colonies, Great Britain’s Minister in Tegucicalpa, Honduras, the Assistant Under Secretary of State for the Colonies, the First Sea Lord, Admiral Sir John Cunningham and P.N.N.Synnott (Assistant Secretary, Admiralty)77 on the subject ‘Interception and Diversion, High Seas or Territorial Waters’. J.D.Higham of the Colonial Office suggested that countries whose flags had been falsely assumed by illegal immigrant ships might be asked to agree to the interception of ships wearing their colours in order that their identity could be verified and any abuse of flag checked.78 Higham was of course aware that the Cabinet had turned down the idea of intercepting illegal immigrant ships on the high seas, but he felt he had to act, as the High Commissioner had again returned to the charge, asking for reconsideration of this decision. But unless new and very weighty reasons could be advanced, there was little chance of inducing the Cabinet to modify their previous opinion. Higham wrote to Beith that the Colonial Office would have to tell the High Commissioner that they could do nothing, at least at present. Higham then told Beith that British requirements would best be met if the Honduran and other governments could be approached once it was known that a ship wearing their flag was on its way to Palestine, with a request that they would agree to the interception of the ship on the high seas by the Royal Navy and to her arrest if the Navy found confirmatory evidence. Dodds wrote to the Director of Operations Division requesting comment on an enclosed copy of letter from the Colonial Office to the Foreign Office.79 Dodds reiterated that the Cabinet was not prepared to allow arrest on the high seas of the three classes of ships referred to in the Admiralty’s recent paper. If, however, the governments of Honduras and Panama (whose ships were the main offenders) were prepared to agree in given cases, there would appear to be no political or legal objection. In the meantime the Foreign Office were trying out the suggestion of approaching the Honduran government for permission to arrest their ships, in this particular case the Ulua, on the high seas. The Honduran government had no objection indeed to the arrest of the Ulua on the high seas but their reason was that the ship was not entitled to fly their flag and had in fact been sold to the Weston Trading Company of New York and her registry The legal issues involved 113
  • had been cancelled on 21 November 1946.80 Dodds considered that this was not satisfactory from the Admiralty point of view, since the Ulua might well in fact have been an American-owned ship and there was no way of finding out for certain without doing precisely what the Cabinet declined to approve,81 namely boarding on the high seas. Dodd’s Department MI therefore informed the Foreign Office and the Colonial Office that this was not a very good test case and that it would be better to await an opportunity where there was no doubt of the nationality of the ship and where the state concerned had agreed to her arrest. Furthermore, Dodds asked the Commander-in-Chief Mediterranean for confirmation, whether interception on the high seas of a ship known to be on its way to Palestine with illegal immigrants, and where the flag state had agreed to interception, would be an advantage to him.82 The Foreign Office soon raised their very own doubts about the feasibility of asking countries whose flag was being worn by illegal immigrant ships to agree to their interception on the high seas by the Royal Navy, and to their arrest if the Navy found confirmatory evidence.83 Beith wrote that the Foreign Office legal adviser agreed that international law would cover such a procedure, since the flag state would have agreed to the British action and could not, therefore, complain about it. He was, however, somewhat doubtful whether the proposed action would yield useful results since: 1 it might take the Foreign Office some time to secure the concurrence of the government concerned; and 2 the vessel concerned might not stick to the original flag under which she left her port of departure. If, however, she changed her flag, it might well be for an unrecognised flag such as the Zionist emblem, and the RN should presumably then be justified in intercepting her in the same way. There followed a suggestion that this new idea might be given a trial and Beith proposed to do so with the next ship that was known to be on the way. Now came a neat bit of buck-passing from the Foreign Office to the Colonial Office: ‘Will you let us have the name and registry of your first candidate?’ But the buck did not stay long with the Colonial Office. J.D.Higham wrote the next day to Chadwick84 enclosing correspondence showing that agreement of the Honduran government in the interception of the Ulua had been sought, but that unfortunately it appeared that the Ulua’s Honduran registry had been cancelled in November. It had therefore not proved possible to intercept the vessel and divert her to Cyprus, since both the Admiralty and the Foreign Office held that Britain must have a castiron case before putting a new procedure into operation. Beith then told Chadwick that it was a matter of prime importance that the Colonial Office should have the most authentic information about the countries of registry of suspect ships as soon as possible and he asked Chadwick to ensure that his representatives abroad be so instructed and advised to notify him immediately of any change of registry. The flurry of activity created by the Ulua interception had subsided by the end of February 1947 and important practical lessons had been learned about the implications of flag state rights. The conflicting information received from the Honduran government about the Ulua’s ownership and registration could be considered to be a typical state of Britain's naval and political reaction to the illegal immigration of jews to palestine, 1945-1948s 114
  • affairs, to be expected from ships engaged in dubious activities and flagged for convenience by sometimes venal officials of Central American states.85 Le Maitre, who as Under Secretary of State USS played an important role in Naval Intelligence, wrote a well-reasoned exposé about the Foreign and Colonial Offices proposal to ask ‘one or all of the governments likely to be involved for a general approval to arrest on the high seas any ship of such a government if she is suspected of being engaged in the illegal immigrant traffic.86 The USS suggested that the Foreign and Colonial Office proposals called for great caution and warned of the dangers inherent in the suggested policy, even if the flag state raised no objection. Le Maitre quoted Lord Stowell,87 a great authority on international law, about interference with the fundamental principle of the freedom of the seas: In places where no local authority exists (e.g. on the high seas) where the subjects of all states meet upon a footing of entire equality and independence, no one state, or any of its subjects, has a right to assume or exercise authority over the servants of another.88 Higgins and Colombos, in The International Law of the Sea argue and elaborate in the paragraph headed ‘Prohibition of Interference on the High Sea’, that the principle of the freedom of the sea entails as a necessary corollary that all nations have an equal right to the uninterrupted use of the high seas for their navigation. Lord Stowell expressed this fundamental principle as follows: ‘In places where no local authority exists, where the subjects of all States meet upon a footing of entire equality and independence, no one authority, or any of its subjects has a right to assume or exercise authority over the subject of another.’ Le Maitre continues to quote Lord Stowell: ‘No nation can exercise a right of visitation and search upon the common and unappropriated parts of the sea, save only the belligerent claim.’ This statement of a famous English judge of the Court of Admiralty embodies a doctrine of universal acceptance, namely, that a merchant ship flying the flag of a recognised State is immune from all interference on the high seas by the ships of any other than her own State. The right of visit and search is a war right; it can only be exercised in time of peace by virtue of an express stipulation in an international treaty 89 In his memorandum Le Maitre had warned against ad hoc arrangements arrived at by hurried telegrams, which in his opinion could never be a substitute for formal treaties and also that especially Great Britain, as a seafaring nation, could not adopt policies which might encourage other nations ‘to play fast and loose with these fundamentals of International Law’.90 The main point that emerged from Le Maitre’s memorandum was the axiom that maritime law was largely invented by the maritime powers and was to their advantage and that the Admiralty should oppose the Foreign and Colonial Office proposals on principle, unless the Foreign Office contemplated the conclusion of formal treaties with most maritime nations to enforce the municipal laws of Palestine (or the Palestine Defence Emergency Regulations for that matter), which he considered to be a very unlikely scenario indeed. Following approval of Le Maitre’s memorandum by the heads of Admiralty, Department USS sent letters summing up its contents to J.M.Martin at the Colonial The legal issues involved 115
  • Office with a copy to R.E.G.Howe at the Foreign Office.91 Both officials responded in considerable detail, Martin in a letter to Le Maitre92 and Howe in a letter to Martin.93 In his letter Martin disagreed with Le Maitre’s arguments and justified his own standpoint by quoting the Foreign Office legal adviser’s contradictory opinion that the interception of illegal immigrant ships on the high seas, with the agreement of the flag states concerned, would be covered under international law. Martin wished to put it on record that the Admiralty’s original proposals to the Cabinet applied with still greater force at the time the letter was written. He mentioned the Palestine Mandatory government High Commissioner’s reports, that every arrival of an illegal immigrant ship throws the Jewish community into a state of exceptional turmoil. Martin did not claim that the arrival of the Ulua on 28 February 1947 was the direct cause of the outrages of 1 March,94 but in his mind there was no doubt that the terrorists had been glad to seize an opportunity of this kind as an immediate excuse for this operation. The Jewish population, Martin felt, were so strongly in favour of immigration that they were ready to condone terrorism when it appeared to be connected with the arrival of a fresh group of refugees. Martin continued by writing about the Jewish practice of applying writs of habeas corpus,95 to try and prevent the deportation of immigrants to Cyprus. So far these attempts had been unsuccessful96, however, considerable inconvenience had been caused by having to keep the immigrants on board ship within territorial waters pending hearing of the application which followed arrival of the Lohita and the Ulua.97 In the case of the Lohita counsel for the petitioner had argued that there ‘was illegal detention on the high seas and illegal detention in Cyprus. The ships he said were “floating prisons”’.98 These arguments were rejected by the court who held that there was ‘not sufficient evidence as that they [the deportees] would suffer any more restraint than the restriction of liberty incidental to a ship’.99 The court’s opinion contradicted published press accounts of how deportees on the trips to Cyprus were in fact kept in wire cages under armed guard. According to Martin the fact that proceedings before the court were being taken also did not help to lessen the tension in Palestine. Martin felt that the question was of great importance and urgency and an early expression of the Admiralty’s views was, therefore, sought by his Secretary of State.100 Finally Martin proposed that the legal aspect should be submitted to the Lord Chancellor before reaching a final decision.101 Howe reacted to the copy of Le Maitre’s letter of 7 March on the subject ‘Interception of Illegal Immigrant Vessels with the Consent of the Flag State’ by writing to J.M.Martin at the Colonial Office.102 In his letter Howe referred to the Foreign Office’s legal adviser W.E.Beckett, who had advised as follows: If you arrest, say, a Honduran ship on the high seas, then prima facie Honduras has a legitimate claim against you. If, however, she has consented to you so doing, then she can make no complaint and it is really quite immaterial whether her consent takes the shape of a formal treaty or any other shape. Britain's naval and political reaction to the illegal immigration of jews to palestine, 1945-1948s 116
  • Le Maitre commented promptly on the Foreign Office legal adviser’s opinion about international law, agreement of flag states and interception on the high seas. He wrote a draft letter to the Colonial Office, the slightly sarcastic first paragraph of which read: As will be seen from the Foreign Office letter dated the First of April (a suitable date for interfering with International Maritime Law), the Foreign Office Legal Adviser thinks that treaty or no treaty, it is quite sufficient to obtain permission of the Flag State during a ship’s voyage to justify interception on the High Seas.103 The Colonial Office was clearly very unhappy about the Admiralty’s reluctance to open the door to developments in international maritime law which the Admiralty felt could work to Great Britain’s disadvantage. Sir C.J. Jeffries who was deputy to Sir Thomas Lloyd, the Permanent Under Secretary of State for the Colonies at the time, therefore, wrote to Sir John G. Lang, Permanent Secretary at the Admiralty, reiterating the reasons why the Colonial Office wished to divert IJI ships to Cyprus as set out in Martin’s letter to Le Maitre of 7 March 1947. In his letter Jeffries stressed the importance of avoiding the incidents which accompanied the arrival of ships in Haifa and which he illustrated by mentioning the sabotage of the Haifa refineries within an hour of the berthing of the San Filipo on 30/31 March. Jeffries then came to the main point and identified the immediate problem which caused the Colonial Office serious concern: There is a strong probability that a large Honduran ship, the President Warfield [Exodus 1947], with accommodation for several thousand, will be sent to Palestine in the near future. The arrival of large numbers at Haifa—numbers certainly beyond the capacity of the transports used for the Cyprus haul—would create a most difficult situation, particularly if it were necessary to disembark these people and hold them in temporary detention in Palestine.104 Jeffries then mentioned his Secretary of State’s hopes, that the Admiralty would reconsider the view that interception and diversion could only be undertaken within the territorial waters of Palestine and that the Admiralty would feel able to agree that his Majesty’s ships should be instructed to intercept, even on the high seas, those illegal immigrant ships whose flag state had agreed to interception, or whose registration certificate had been withdrawn at Britain’s request. Jeffries felt that in view of the Lord Chancellor’s opinions on this subject as expressed in C.P.(46) 463,105 neither Admiralty, nor Foreign or Colonial Offices should proceed without consulting him further. Colonial Office would, of course, see no objection to such a consultation, but he emphasised the necessity for a quick decision, since the President Warfield was reported already to have left Philadelphia. Either the Admiralty or the Colonial Office should, in Jeffries opinion, take the matter up with the Lord Chancellor at a very early date. The argument about the interception of IJI ships on the high seas was taken to Cabinet Minister level when A.Creech Jones, the Secretary of State for the Colonies, decided to The legal issues involved 117
  • write to Sir John H.D.Cunningham,106 the First Sea Lord, asking him to refer to Jeffries’ letter to Lang of 5 April on the subject of diversion of certain illegal immigrant ships. The Honduran government, wrote Creech Jones, has no objection to interception on the high seas of its ships if engaged in this traffic. He therefore begged the First Sea Lord to consider most seriously whether instructions could not at once be issued to Commander- in-Chief Mediterranean, to intercept and divert if practicable the Guardian, a Honduran ship with 2,400 Jews on board. The recent sabotage of Ocean Vigour and Empire Rival had, as Creech Jones understood, reduced the carrying capacity of the transports on the Haifa-Cyprus haul to 1,500 and Creech Jones was concerned that if it became necessary to land a substantial number of illegal immigrants for temporary detention in Athlit camp, there would be the greatest danger of serious disturbances in Palestine. He wrote that only the most urgent and dramatic measures could avoid this possibility. It is interesting to note that throughout the debate, Admiralty policy, as usual, remained hostile to the Colonial Office proposals, which culminated on 10 April 1947 in a request that the Admiralty order an attempt to divert the Honduran vessel Guardian to Famagusta. The Colonial Office had stated that the Honduras government would not object to a change in the general policy to one which would allow HM ships to intercept and divert on the high seas illegal immigrant ships whose flag state had agreed to interception, or whose registration certificate had been withdrawn. The Admiralty was always opposed, they were adamant that such arrests constituted fundamental breaches of international law which would need a formal treaty with the state concerned to make it legal. In this context it is worth mentioning that Admiralty message 101825 addressed to Commander-in-Chief Mediterranean reiterated existing procedures of attempting peaceful diversion as early as possible. This policy had not produced any results, the important exception was the agreed and peaceful diversion of the Pan York and the Pan Crescent to Famagusta in January 1948. At the beginning of April 1947 the unflinching opposition of the Admiralty to interception of illegal immigrant ships on the high seas began to waver. There were no really new arguments on this point and the Admiralty still pointed to the very high line about international law at sea which Great Britain had recently taken in the Corfu case. As the Head of MI, P.N.N.Synnott wrote in paragraph (3) of a draft letter: But I must be permitted to say that, looking at the recent developments on this question after a long interval, there is a logical weakness in the attitude of the Admiralty who, having in December proposed to the Cabinet the major illegality, are now opposing, on grounds of high principle, the minor illegality.107 Synnott was not convinced that there was even a minor illegality, and in paragraph (4) of the memorandum he wrote that according to the Foreign Office the only state entitled to complain would be the flag state. Finally Synnott stated that, ‘if one State voluntarily allows another State police powers over its property, then the act of arrest by the police State is not in fact illegal’.108 Britain's naval and political reaction to the illegal immigration of jews to palestine, 1945-1948s 118
  • Finally and significantly, it appeared from the memorandum that Synnott had been informed by the Colonial Office that if the Lord Chancellor and the other Ministers concerned agreed, they see no reason why the question should be laid before Cabinet at all. The Admiralty also were habitually opposed to renewed consultations with the Lord Chancellor as to the legality of coercion on the high seas. In April 1947, however, the First Sea Lord and the Permanent Secretary decided that the Admiralty must abandon their opposition to approaching the Lord Chancellor, but that, ‘Admiralty would make clear their view that short term advantages of Colonial Office expedient are not justified in the light of long term results’.109 The First Lord had no objection to Synnott’s draft letter to Jeffries and on 10 April 1947 signified his agreement with the text, provided the purport of the ultimate paragraph of the USS minute of 2 April had been incorporated. He did not object to the issue being referred once more for the Lord Chancellor’s opinion, prior to an approach to the Cabinet to reverse their earlier decision. The First Lord did not concede that there had in fact been any change of attitude since CP (46) 434, in which it had been proposed that permission to board illegal immigration ships should be confined to ships wearing the flags of ex-enemy states, with which Great Britain, in spite of armistices was still technically at war, and ships who wore no recognisable flag and did not carry a master or other person in authority. These were supposed to be outside the law. But the First Lord felt that the new proposals went much further, they sought to legalise the boarding of ships with which Great Britain was at peace. Admiralty clearly feared that the Lord Chancellor’s blessing to the proposed Colonial and Foreign Office expedient would result in having the ground cut from under their feet by such an opinion and that we can no longer oppose matter being taken back to Cabinet for reconsideration Admiralty may be even forced to associate themselves to some extent with Colonial Office expedient.110 The P.S. was well aware that the Lord Chancellor’s pronouncement on the legal issues was very likely going to be the deciding factor and he, therefore, in the signal to the Admiralty,111 asked for approval to agree and start consultations with him. It was finally decided to refer to the Lord Chancellor the Colonial Office proposal that HM ships should be authorised to arrest on the high seas ships whose flag state had agreed to interception or whose registration certificate had been withdrawn following a British request. J.G.Lang communicated the decision to Sir C.J.Jeffries112 but making the Admiralty’s objections, apprehension and reservations abundantly clear in the 11 numbered paragraphs of his letter. Lang made a clear distinction between the practical operation of carrying out arrest and diversion to Cyprus, which he felt was purely one of several optional naval operations. The decision whether such an operation should be undertaken would have to be left to the senior commanders of ships boarding. Lang also put on record that the reasons given in Le Maitre’s letter of 7 March for the Admiralty’s opposition to a policy of interception on the high seas still applied. In his letter to Jeffries, Lang further added the consideration that HM government had recently taken a very high line about international law at sea in the Corfu mining case, The legal issues involved 119
  • and again that the principal critics of the British Palestine policy, the United States, were very sensitive about this aspect of international law from their experience in the I’m Alone case. Lang also begged Jeffries to consider that there was no contradiction between the Admiralty’s present attitude and that which they took in CP 434 before the Cabinet. He wrote inter alia: Proposals in CP 434 dealt with the arrest on the high seas of ships that had no status and no protector, and so could not claim the benefits of international law. These proposals, therefore, we thought could be justified as legal, but the Lord Chancellor ruled that they were illegal. Your present proposals we think to be prima facie illegal, even though the flag state may accept the illegality.113 On behalf of the Admiralty, J.G.Lang noted from Howe’s letter of April that the Foreign Office was prepared to accept agreement on the part of the flag state, in lieu of a formal treaty, to condone this illegality. Admiralty recorded their unhappiness about this. Lang agreed, however, with the Foreign Office view that ‘only the flag state, and not the national state to which the actual owners may belong, would have the right to complain’ but in this case it was not so much complaints by individual states that he was afraid of, ‘as the breach of law from the long term point of view’. Lang then summed up his letter by restating that the Admiralty did not believe that any short-term advantage that might be gained by the expedient advocated by the Colonial and Foreign Offices would be justified in the light of what the Admiralty considered to be its potential long-term results. However, subject to the reservations outlined in Lang’s letter, Admiralty agreed on 15 April 1947 that the Lord Chancellor should be consulted about the legality of the policy proposed by the Colonial and Foreign Offices. As the Admiralty was the department responsible for laying the original proposals for interception and diversion of IJI ships before the Cabinet, J.G.Lang had, therefore, decided to cut the Gordian knot. Lang proposed that the relevant documents be laid before the Lord Chancellor and also proposed that representatives of the Foreign Office, the Colonial Office and the Admiralty would attend before the Lord Chancellor. Whenever possible the British authorities attempted to identify master and crews of the IJI vessels with a view to prosecution. The Mossad le’Aliyah Bet, therefore, tried for security reasons to mix members of the crew with the immigrants. In some cases crew were hidden in secret compartments, where they were not discovered when the ship was detained.114 When the coast was clear these cleaners would sing an agreed tune whereupon the hidden crew would emerge from their hiding places, mingle with the cleaners and go ashore without being challenged.115 There was nearly always the practical difficulty of prosecuting masters and crew, as they nearly always claimed that their vessel did not enter the territorial waters of Palestine until ordered to do so by British forces. In fact British prosecutors were fortunate that neither legal counsel engaged by the Jewish Agency nor solicitors representing the illegal immigrants employed the argument that the IJI vessels were forced to enter territorial waters of Palestine by the tactics of the Royal Navy. Reasonable judges would probably not have accepted the wording of section 9, Para. 105 of the 1945 Defence Regulations, which stated, that any prohibited immigrant found on deck of a ship within Palestinian territorial waters, irrespective of whether such a vessel had Britain's naval and political reaction to the illegal immigration of jews to palestine, 1945-1948s 120
  • entered territorial waters of its own free will or had been forced to do so, would be considered as having broken the law and thus deserving the prescribed penalty. The same section also declared that any vessel, on whose deck was found a prohibited immigrant, and provided such an immigrant’s presence had been known to the owner, the agent or the master of said vessel, would be confiscated by the government upon the Chief Prosecutor’s application to the District Court. The British prosecutor’s task was made easier, when lawyers and solicitors representing the immigrants or the Jewish Agency failed to attack the Defence Regulations in general and restricted themselves to attacking perceived weaknesses in the regulations, for example, the authorities’ omission in not attaching lists of names to the deportation orders. Precedents and ethics v. expediency For a long time it has been an established rule to abide by former precedents. When the same points come up in litigation, one legal precedent creates another, they soon accumulate and are assumed to constitute case law. Learned Legal Advisers and Researchers of the various departments were, therefore, engaged to find precedents of incidents in the past, which might be applicable to an alteration or at least to differing interpretations of maritime law to suit the new circumstances. Mentioning such an allegedly applicable precedent, J.E.M.Carvell wrote a letter to the Colonial Office on the subject of the IJI vessel Hilda which on 23 January 1940 had landed 677 illegal immigrants on the coast of Palestine. H.F.Downie of the Colonial Office replied116 that his department’s legal adviser had considered the case of Croft v Dunphy,117 to which Carvell had referred in his last letter, and that the adviser was not satisfied that the precedent was applicable. One of the other precedents mentioned in a Foreign Office memorandum118 was the case of the Maltese cutter Lara which had been intercepted and arrested on 27 October 1871 on a charge of smuggling tobacco into Sicily. The Lara was transhipping her cargo into boats while herself remaining on the high sea. The Queen’s Advocate, Sir Travers Twiss, advised that HM government could not properly object to the Italian government exercising power over a British vessel, because more than half the crew of the Lara were stated to have been Italian subjects. This condition, where more than half the members of an IJI vessel’s crew had been subjects of Palestine, had never yet applied. The memorandum then recorded the case of the American ship Catalpa which sent her boats to the shores of Western Australia to assist in the escape of convicts, while herself remaining outside territorial waters. The British law officers of the time ruled that no distinction could be made between the Catalpa and her boats because the crew of the vessel had violated British territory in furtherance of a conspiracy to release persons who were under legal restraint. It was, in their opinion, therefore, legal to pursue the vessel, stop her and even fire into her if necessary for an arrest, anywhere on the high seas. The memoranda continued and mentioned the cases of the British sealing schooners Ariel, Willie McGowan and Rosie Olsen which were seized by a Russian cruiser at distances between 30 and 40 miles from the nearest land. These vessels were not followed out of the territorial waters but were taken in the open sea. The British law officers, who were asked by the owners to object to seizure, ruled that seizure was The legal issues involved 121
  • justified only if pursuit of the vessels was ‘“hot” and “continuous”’ from the time of the offence to the time of the arrest. The law officers used the illustration of the surprise of a burglar ‘inflagrante delicto within a house, and the pursuit and capture of him in the street’ to define the principle of ‘hot pursuit’. To sum up the memorandum succinctly: It is an axiom of international maritime law that such action (i.e. seizure on the high seas and subsequent confiscation in time of peace of the private vessels of a friendly nation) is only admissible in the case of piracy or in pursuance of special international agreement. This principle has been universally admitted by jurists with this single exception (suspicion of piracy) no nation has in time of peace, any authority to detain the ships of another upon the high seas on any pretext whatever, outside the territorial jurisdiction. Disregarding all the precedents which were unfavourable to his own opinion119, Randall seized eagerly in his letter on the precedent of the British Colombian sealing schooner Araunah, which in 1888 was considered by HM government to have brought herself constructively within territorial waters by carrying on operations between the schooner and the land by means of boats. She was deemed to have fished within Russian waters without a licence and that, in Lord Salisbury’s view, warranted the Araunah’s seizure and confiscation. Downie’s reply to Randall120 was full of the ifs and buts which mirrored the differences in attitudes of the Foreign and Colonial Offices, both in the late 1930s and in the post-war period. Downie mentioned that, according to Colonial Office information, illegal steamers customarily unloaded their passengers into small boats, in most cases from the steamer itself. These boats were sometimes sent from the Palestine coast, as far away as 40–50 miles from land. Downie’s information was certainly incorrect and in 1939 neither the illegal ships themselves nor the reception organisations on shore were sophisticated enough to organise combined landings, which would have involved numbers of fast motorboats and a range of communication equipment, which just did not exist at the time.121 Downie then posed a number of questions. He wished to know whether it was feasible to negotiate with Panama, Greece, Romania and so on, for an extension of the territorial waters to 60 miles. Furthermore Downie wanted to know whether a steamer could be deemed to have committed an offence if boats are sent out to it from the coast of Palestine. Furthermore, Downie queried Randall’s ‘hot pursuit’ doctrine in the case of a steamer committing an offence through the involvement of small boats in a landing operation, without itself entering territorial waters. Downie correctly assumed that if unloading took place 50 miles away, and if pursuit could only begin after the boats had entered territorial waters, then the steamer which obviously would have made itself scarce as soon as unloading was completed, would have such a long start as to make it impossible to be arrested by Palestine Police motor launches, whose range and speed were rather limited. Downie ended his letter by stating the obvious, that an extension of the territorial waters to 50 or 60 miles would be too large for Palestine Police motor boats to patrol and Britain's naval and political reaction to the illegal immigration of jews to palestine, 1945-1948s 122
  • would require commitment of a naval force. But at the same time he also realised that in the autumn of 1939, with the war clouds gathering over Europe, there was very little chance that the navy with her world-wide commitments could spare vessels for such an engagement. He promised to go into the entire question with the Palestine government. Randall was not prepared to allow the matter to drop and he drafted telegrams to Sir M.Palairet, HM Minister in Athens and to Mr Adam, HM Minister in Panama.122 He also wrote to George Dunn, an Assistant Secretary at the Admiralty123 and to W.T.Turner, a Principal at the Board of Trade124 asking for comments. He enclosed copies of the proposed telegrams and asked whether they concurred. The draft telegrams did not contain any new arguments, but Randall made sure there was an assurance that any agreement to be concluded with Greece or Panama would contain a clause safeguarding the principle of territorial waters. Randall asked HM’s ministers in Athens and Panama to emphasise that ‘agreement would be purely a temporary measure to meet particular danger and would in no way affect the general principle of limits of territorial waters’. A letter sent by Randall to Stephen Luke at the Admiralty,125 showed that the Foreign Office was very well aware of the weakness in quoting the liquor traffic agreement with the United States as a precedent for an agreement for the right to take action up to as far as 60 miles from the Palestine coast. (The liquor trade agreement with the United States stipulated a limit of one hour’s sailing of the vessel suspected of committing an offence, but 60 miles would normally be around five hours journey for the average illegal immigration vessel.) Foreign Office mandarins had frequently applied their considerable ingenuity to finding applicable precedents. J.E.Cable of the Foreign Office had read an American book The Alabama Claim,126 and it occurred to him that the Alabama case might possibly provide some useful arguments for British representations to foreign countries on the subject of Jewish illegal immigration.127 He duly addressed a memorandum on the subject to W.F.J.Evans of the Foreign Office’s legal department and to its North American Department. Cable found that, HMG at the time declined to take action on the following grounds: a That there was no provision in British law enabling action to be taken in such cases. b That the American authorities were unable to supply proof, and were merely asking us [Britain] to act on suspicion.128 Both these arguments were employed by the US, French and other governments in rejecting Britain’s request for action against ships involved in the illegal immigration traffic, or against persons soliciting funds for this traffic. Mr Cable reasoned that if the arguments were applicable to the Alabama and her fellow raiders, then they must apply even more to the IJI problem. However, Cable made the readers of his memo aware that HMG had subsequently admitted, that their original contentions had been incorrect. Another interesting instance quoted by Cable for possible use in representations to the Americans in order to try and prevent the activities of Ben Hecht129 and his associates, was an amendment to the neutrality law to prevent US citizens from aiding the Canadian rebels of 1838. Even the solicitor’s office of HM Customs and Excise Board became involved in the High Seas v. Territorial Waters argument. Their customs solicitor quoted the case of Attorney General v. Schiers in 1835 (that was going back a bit far!) and opined that there The legal issues involved 123
  • were no grounds for forfeiture on account of an act committed outside the three-mile limit. He further stated that, statutes should be so interpreted and applied as not to be inconsistent with the comity130 of nations or the established rules of international law in the light of this rule they were of opinion that they involved no claim to jurisdiction over foreign vessels outside territorial Under the circumstances the Customs and Excise Board could not take action otherwise than in accordance with the law officers’ opinion quoted above. On 25 April 1947 the Lord Chancellor gave his opinion that the proposal to arrest ships whose flag state had agreed to interception would not be open to objection on the ground of illegality, but he also agreed that the second part of the proposal, namely to authorise the arrest of ships whose registration certificate had been withdrawn at Britain’s request, ought not to be pursued.132 At the same time the Lord Chancellor made it very clear that his opinion was one of law only and not of policy, which still awaited a formal decision. In a memorandum the First Lord had asked whether he had the Prime Minister’s permission to authorise the arrest on the high seas of illegal immigrant ships, whose flag state had agreed to interception. Copies of the memorandum were sent to Jowitt, Alexander, Bevin and Creech Jones. In view of the Lord Chancellor’s ruling on the legal position the Prime Minister’s assent was only a formality. As predicted by P.N.N.Synnott, this time round the matter was not even considered by Cabinet. The arguments and discussions about interception on the high seas versus arrest within the three-mile limit which raged at the time,133 turned out to have been fairly irrelevant, as the Lord Chancellor’s arbitration and ruling were largely disregarded and proved without much practical influence on the issue. The Acting Attorney General of Palestine also kept pressing the Colonial Office for extension of the immigration laws and quoted learnedly from editions of Oppenheim’s International Law.134 He thus found that: The use of force by a littoral state upon a foreign merchantman outside its maritime belt but intending to enter it with the view to injuring the littoral state or its territory or nationals would certainly be excusable as a necessary act of self preservation because otherwise the acting state would have to suffer, or have to continue to suffer, a violation against herself.135 No authorities were quoted by Oppenheim for these propositions. Two precedents were then adduced by Synnott, the Virginius136 and the steamer Caroline.137 In both these cases the right to seizure on the high seas as acts of self- preservation in the face of imminent invasion were not pursued or disputed by the British or by the Americans. In the case of the Virginius the Attorney General argued that, in his opinion: Spain no doubt has the right to capture a vessel with an American register and carrying the American flag found on her own waters, assisting the insurrection in Cuba but she has no right to capture such a vessel on high Britain's naval and political reaction to the illegal immigration of jews to palestine, 1945-1948s 124
  • seas on an apprehension that she was on the way to assist the insurrection.138 Due to a legal oversight the Virginius was a ship without a country, because the owners had committed perjury to obtain American registration. The vessel had been carrying insurgent troops and arms to Cuba and was flying openly both the American and insurgent Cuban flags, thus the Virginius fully qualified for the name of ‘outlaw’ that the Spanish applied to it.139 Under the circumstances this incident could not be considered a useful precedent to use as an argument for Britain’s quest for interception of IJI vessels on the high seas. In the case of the Caroline too, the Americans, who assumed themselves to be the wronged party, conceded that, ‘there was no choice of means—invasion was imminent and there was no time for deliberation’.140 The Caroline was cast adrift by the British and lost while going over Niagara Falls. These nineteenth-century precedents seemed applicable and at the time it was not unreasonable to suppose that the possible landing of thousands of illegal Jewish immigrants constituted an immediate threat to the precarious peace of the community of Palestine. Following intervention by the Colonial Office, P.N.N.Synnott wrote on 3 June 1947 to J.D.Higham, rejecting the Attorney General’s arguments. According to Synnott the existing Palestine municipal law should not merely not be extended as proposed by the Colonial Office and by the government of Palestine, it should be cancelled, ‘and so should the present practice’.141 It was clear to Synnott that as a result the entire existing British effort against the illegal immigration by sea would have been nullified.142 In summing up it can be stated that Britain had considered all possible and some improbable precedents and methods by which Illegal Jewish Immigration might be stopped, preferable but not exclusively by interpreting international law on the diversion and detention of vessels on high seas. It has been shown that influential elements in the Admiralty were in favour of reviving ancient maritime rights claimed by Britain when she was strong and belligerent, but modified by ‘international developments, principally during the 18th and 19th century, at the instance of influential victims like the French and influential neutrals like the Americans’.143 Synnott had considered it to be very doubtful whether it was in Britain’s interest to try and change the doctrine of the freedom of the seas, when she was no longer strong and belligerent but peaceful and extremely weak. Synnott also reasoned that it was highly important to adhere very literally to the existing doctrine when, for instance, it came to such things as laying minefields and that making selective changes would make it impossible to face the challenge of the potential threat posed to Britain’s immunities by an unscrupulous power without any sense of international law (as the Soviet Union was in 1948). Captain R.D.Watson of HMS Chequers (D1) had submitted a presentation suggesting that the policy adopted, whatever the status or intentions of the intercepted vessel may have been, was not in accordance with international law and nor had it been in accord with the true interests of the British Commonwealth.144 He stated the Commander-in- Chief Mediterranean’s opinion that international law recognised the right of sovereign The legal issues involved 125
  • states to take action for their self-preservation and to support this opinion he quoted the following paragraph from W.E.Hall’s A Treatise on International Law, which appeared under the heading ‘Permissible Action in Non-Territorial Waters’: If acts of the foregoing kind are allowed, a fortiori [with stronger reason] acts are also permitted which constitute less direct infringements of the sovereignty and independence of foreign states. A country the peace of which is threatened by persons on board vessels sailing under the flag of another state may in an emergency search and capture such vessels and arrest the persons on board, notwithstanding that as a general rule there is no right of visiting and seizing vessels of a friendly power in time of peace upon the seas. That the act is somewhat less violent a breach of ordinary rule than the acts hitherto mentioned does not however render laxity of conduct permissible, or exonerate a state if the grounds of its conduct are insufficient. As in other cases the danger must be serious and imminent, and the prevention through the agency of the state whose rights are disregarded must be impossible. A slight note of pique is detectable in G.C.B.Dodds of Military Branch I’s accompanying notes: Captain Watson does the Government’s legal advisers less than justice when he implies that they failed to consider the possibility of self-defence as a justification for arresting immigrant ships M Branch propose to prepare in slow time[?] an analysis of the discussions which took place on this subject.145 The Vice Chief of Naval Staff was in full sympathy with Captain Watson’s views on the exercise of maritime rights and he agreed with a preceding minute written by P.N.N.Synnott that International Law had always been ‘most unsatisfactory and in most cases you will find that its use or abuse depends on expediency this is no time to indulge in selective changes.’146 Rear Admiral M.M.Denny thought that Captain Watson’s submission was ‘a thoughtful examination of the situation that has resulted from the method adopted for the blockade by Britain of Illegal Jewish Immigrant sea traffic’. Rear Admiral Denny, Flag Officer Destroyers Mediterranean, supported Captain Watson’s contention that boarding on the high seas would have been—on principle— within British rights, and that failure to do so established an unwelcome precedent in the exercise of maritime rights. Denny’s memorandum, written against the background of the diversion and detention of SS Pan York and Pan Crescent (New Year 1948) revealed this officer’s understanding of the political limitations, and compares with the necessarily more frustrated gung-ho attitude of destroyer Commanders like Captain Watson: The very delicate state of world opinion on the Illegal Jewish Immigrant problem in the past is well understood, and in the event it would have Britain's naval and political reaction to the illegal immigration of jews to palestine, 1945-1948s 126
  • been most inopportune to take a stand on the matter of boarding vessels and the arrest of persons on the High Seas from the limited aspect of the education of our future Naval advisors and leaders it would be of value if in due course an official examination of the case could be promulgated to the Navy.147 It is clear that in the case of the fight against the Illegal Jewish Immigration into Palestine Britain was hoist by their own petard: the contradiction between a sincere attempt to adhere to the minutiae of international law as practised habitually during the period when she was a naval superpower and the political and economic limitations of the post-war period had proved insoluble. Judicial base for the fight against illegal Jewish immigration The new Colonial Secretary A.Creech Jones (appointed 7 October 1946) proved slightly more sympathetic to Jewish immigration to Palestine than his predecessors H.MacDonald and Oliver Stanley. He was certainly aware of the dangers inherent in interning a large number of immigrants in a camp in Athlit. On 13 November 1945, Creech Jones asked all Arab states to acquiesce in continued Jewish immigration after expiry of the White Paper quota at the rate of 1,500 immigrants a month, and he was encouraged when no state individually, nor the Arab League collectively, rejected the proposals outright. On 23 January 1946, Creech Jones wrote to Foreign Secretary Bevin expressing concern that a most difficult situation of considerable gravity had arisen in Palestine owing to the lack of a quota. In paragraph 10 of his minute Creech Jones wrote: There is some doubt whether the present position is legal. It is legal to prescribe a quota, but, when there is no quota, Jews are entitled to enter Palestine unless the Commissioner for Migration in his discretion refuses to grant a certificate. The Palestine Law Officers advise (and the advice is confirmed by our Law Officers here) that, if mandamus148 proceedings were instituted, the Courts would probably hold that the Commissioner’s discretion must be exercised personally by him on the merits of each case and not in rigid conformity with the directions of some other authority. There are indications that such proceedings are contemplated and might be successful. The difficulty, could of course, be met by an alteration of the law.149 Creech Jones further wrote that as Cabinet had decided on 1 January 1946 on prescription of a quota, and as Attlee had approved postponement of action, he was sending a copy of his minute to the Prime Minister. We will see that Creech Jones’ suggestions to allocate a quota were carried out, but the last part of his proposal, the alteration of the law, eventually resulted in the complete collapse of HM government’s immigration policy. Throughout its confrontation with the Zionists on the issue of immigration Britain made strenuous efforts to persuade foreign governments to ensure that persons wishing to leave the country were in possession of a valid visa of final destination for somewhere The legal issues involved 127
  • else. The governments concerned quite generally denied that they had an obligation to institute exit visas merely in order to comply with Britain’s wishes. Most governments involved proved generally unsympathetic and unhelpful in the face of Britain’s plight. Mr Beith of the British Foreign Office realised how difficult it was to point to any international obligation which required governments to look into the validity of the visa of final destination of travellers leaving their country, as he considered this a matter for the internal regulations of each country.150 However, Mr Beith felt, that since the 1914– 18 war, travel control had become increasingly strict and in 1947 almost all countries had a system of exit permits, which meant that the visa of destination of a traveller leaving the country was relatively carefully scrutinised. In Beith’s opinion Britain was, therefore, justified in asking the governments concerned to pay particular attention to the scrutiny of visas of destination of Jews leaving the country. In his minute he wrote: I fear that the legal basis for our representations in this sense is likely to be increasingly questioned and Eastern Department [of the Foreign Office] would therefore be grateful for any legal arguments with which to support our case.151 Following adoption by the Swedish Foreign Ministry of the line (during the case of the Ulua alias Haim Arlosoroff), that they had no obligation to check on destination visas of Jews leaving their country, and of the French Ministry of the Interior having taken a similar line for some time, Beith requested the opinion of Mr W.V.J.Evans, the Foreign Office’s legal adviser. Evans expressed his opinion that in general there was no rule of international law which would require a state to concern itself with the destination of persons leaving its territory in order to prevent illegal immigration into foreign countries. There was, however, ‘a duty on every state under international law to exercise due diligence to prevent persons within its territory from committing acts injurious to foreign states’.152 In support Evans quoted Oppenheim153 on this point. Legal Counsel though, as usual, adopted an ‘on the one hand, but on the other hand’ attitude. He opined that this duty ‘to prevent persons etc’ does not extend to all injurious acts which a private person might commit against a foreign state and, ‘in practice it appears to have been limited to the prevention of such subversive activities as involve violence. Illegal immigration is not usually accompanied by violence’.154 Evans consequently ruled that, a state would not normally be considered justified in prohibiting a person, particularly a foreigner, from leaving its territory unless such person were under some obligation, or had committed some offence, necessitating his detention.155 Mr Evans, however, did not completely turn down Beith’s plea for help. He furnished the following reasons for the argument that exceptional circumstances did exist, which may give rise to foreign states adopting measures to prevent illegal immigration into Palestine: Britain's naval and political reaction to the illegal immigration of jews to palestine, 1945-1948s 128
  • 1 Illegal immigration promoted civil strife amongst the population of Palestine and gave rise to disturbances which caused loss of life and injury to persons and property. 2 It was on such a scale as to cause very serious embarrassment to the Government of Palestine. 3 It interfered with the fulfilment by HMG of its international obligations in respect of Palestine. 4 It was a concerted movement largely organised in states outside Palestine, and therefore could be most effectively discouraged by measures in those states. 5 Ships carrying illegal immigrants were frequently armed. The element of violence was definitely present, argued Evans, and he therefore suggested that the increased travel controls asked of those states were not so burdensome as to be out of proportion with the injury caused. Under the circumstances Britain was justified, in his opinion, in continuing to press her requests. These arguments did not improve Britain’s case and the will to support Britain’s struggle was nearly non-existent in countries such as Sweden and France. Following the case of the Merica (alias Lanegev), intercepted on 24 December 1947, in which the French had permitted the embarkation of Jews with Cuban visas which had not been verified, the indefatigable John Higham continued looking for angles and arguments which would not only represent to the French government how embarrassing IJI was to HMG, but would also make it clear to the French that Britain found ‘a strange inconsistency in their failure to take action in support of a Government with whom they seek an alliance’.156 Higham suggested that the following two additional arguments might also prove effective: 1 That the number of illegal immigrants who embarked in France and who subsequently arrived in Palestine would be deducted from the French quota. 2 That the International Safety at Sea Convention might furnish sufficient legal grounds for demanding from countries concerned that they prevent the sailing of unseaworthy and ill-found vessels. Mr Beith consulted Major Chadwick of MI5, G.C.B.Dodds of the Admiralty and R.S.F.Edwards of the Ministry of War Transport and then replied to Mr Higham’s three points in what he understood to be an inverse ratio of importance.157 1 The French authorities had already gone back on the suggestion ‘ put forward by Mr Bousquet, that the number of Jewish illegal immigrants proved to have reached Palestine through France should be deducted from the transit quota authorised by the French Government.’ 2 Invoking the International Safety at Sea Convention. Mr Beith wrote, inter alia: ‘Our experience of the laxity and independence of French local officials suggests that, even if a case could be proved under this Convention against a particular ship, we could not rely upon the local authorities to prevent departure.’158 3 Beith had already discussed with Sir A.Rumbold, ‘the suggestion that we should raise the illegal immigration point with the French Government in our negotiations for a treaty of alliance’,159 (the Treaty of Dunkerque was just then being negotiated), but he had learned that there was little chance of doing so before conclusion of the alliance, The legal issues involved 129
  • ‘but there should be a general clause in the treaty which would permit us to take up the matter immediately after signature’.160 The Foreign Office, therefore, agreed to the Colonial Office suggestions, but at the same time realistically held out very little hope for successfully changing the French obscurantist attitude. Mr Beith had suggested that the question of the IJI vessels’ safety at sea should be put forward as the most promising and most important argument. How relevant were the International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea, 1929, and the concomitant International Convention respecting Load Lines, 1930, both of which prescribed certain minimum requirements regarding the construction, equipment and loading of ships with the object of promoting safety of life at sea, to Britain’s objective of preventing the embarkation of illegal Jewish immigrants from foreign ports? In December 1939, J.E.M.Carvell had written to Turner at the Ministry of Shipping, asking for his Ministry’s opinion about the applicability of the International Safety Convention to vessels engaged in the illegal immigration traffic to Palestine.161 The Ministry of Shipping replied after some delay and even at this early stage poured cold water from every conceivable angle on the proposals to use the provisions of the International Safety Convention on ships entering and clearing Romanian, Greek and Bulgarian ports. In his reply C.H.Boyd reminded Carvell how improbable it was that ships in ‘this undesirable trade’ either are ‘new ships’ within the meaning of the Convention or go ‘further than 200 miles from land’.162 Mr Boyd believed that further let- outs would seem possible as most IJI vessels could claim to be ‘existing ships’ on ‘short internal voyages’ or employed in the carriage of unberthed passengers in special trades, for example, the pilgrim trade. Boyd stated that even if all the above drawbacks were claimed, the vessels had still to comply with Article 13,163 and that Article 12 (5d)164 might also be used to support Britain’s right to ask for action. Finally Boyd expressed the opinion that while these countries should, of course, take action to prevent ships from sailing which did not comply, he quite realistically pointed out that this depends entirely of course, upon the sanctions provided by their legislation for enforcing compliance with safety regulations There is, I am afraid, no machinery for forcing the signatories to the Convention to fulfil their obligation under it, but there would certainly be no harm and might be some good in trying to get these countries to act on it.165 C.H.Boyd must have been a great expert on the 1929 Convention on Safety of Life at Sea. After all in 1929 he was one of the Conference’s original negotiators and he was a signatory on behalf of Great Britain. France (and Sweden, but also Bulgaria, Romania and Greece, but not Turkey, whose hands were bound through the Montreux treaty on the Straits) had ratified both conventions. The conventions applied to ships belonging to such states and imposed obligations on contracting states to ensure that ships belonging to them satisfy the requirements. Britain could have insisted on their fulfilment, but the conventions did not impose similar obligations on foreign ships in contracting states’ ports. The 1929 Convention stated inter alia: ‘Whenever a defect is discovered which affects the safety of a ship or the efficiency of its life-saving equipment it shall be subject to Britain's naval and political reaction to the illegal immigration of jews to palestine, 1945-1948s 130
  • a survey.’ By article 10 of the same convention each contracting state was bound, ‘to take measures to apply and enforce the principle of the above Regulation, and to secure that, from the point of view of the safety of life, the ship is fit for the service for which it is intended’.166 However, there was an important caveat: the convention did not impose obligations regarding foreign ships. States who had ratified the convention were extended only a limited right of control to ensure that foreign ships complied with the convention, but there was no obligation to prevent foreign ships from putting to sea, should they fail to comply with the convention. The same principle, of a limited right of control only, also applied to the 1930 Convention. Mr Evans, therefore, had come to the conclusion that Britain could insist that states bound by the conventions should ensure that the requirements of the conventions were satisfied, but only by their own ships: ‘As far as foreign ships are concerned, we can insist on the due observance by such states and territories of Article 10 of the Convention’.167 He also realised that such a step would be of ‘very limited application and we can ask them to exercise their right of control’,168 and went on to mention the Board of Trade’s powers to ‘detain in any United Kingdom port any foreign or British ship which was unsafe, having regard to the service for which she was intended’,169 and he continued, not very helpfully: ‘It is probable that many foreign states have similar provisions in their laws, and we might ask such states to make use of these provisions in respect of unseaworthy immigrant ships.’170 The safety of unseaworthy IJI ships was not purely a British attempt to cause administrative difficulties to the organisers of embarkations. By the spring of 1947 the Commander-in-Chief Mediterranean Afloat had become increasingly concerned about the Royal Navy being blamed for possible loss of life during boarding of overloaded IJI vessels.171 (See Appendix III for passenger/ton ratios.) The legal issues affecting Britain may be summed up neatly by quoting from its attitude during the Codification Conference at The Hague in 1930. Britain, the United States and many others, stated bluntly: ‘there is no jurisdiction outside the 3-mile limit’. Britain’s strict adherence to the restriction of sovereignty to the three-mile zone was reconfirmed, when the British government was asked at the occasion of the 1930 Codification Conference to reply to a questionnaire, in which states were asked to answer, inter alia, the following questions: Does the State claim to exercise rights outside the territorial waters subject to its sovereignty? If so, what precisely are those rights? On what are they founded? Does the State admit any claim by any foreign State to exercise such rights outside the territorial waters subject to the sovereignty of the latter State?172 To which the British delegate replied, No claim is made by HM Government in Great Britain to exercise rights over the high seas outside the belt of territorial waters The question is The legal issues involved 131
  • understood to relate only to claims to exercise rights over the waters of the high seas [that is, not to fisheries]. Summing up the judicial base for the fight against the Illegal Jewish Immigration as described here: the British authorities believed that action against ships which wore no recognised flag was justified, as such ships enjoyed no protection in international law. A ship with no identifiable master and crew failed to fulfil the requirement of international law with regards to vessels, since these include the carrying of proper ships’ papers with a muster roll showing who the master and crew were. In the final instance, arrests of IJI ships were carried out on the grounds of expediency, namely that none of the flag states involved was in a strong enough position to complain. Arrest outside territorial waters eventually became the subject of an appeal to the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council173 against the judge-ment of the Palestinian Courts who had ruled that the Admiralty had not been acting illegally, on the grounds that arrest on the high seas was fully justified by the right of self-defence. By the time the judgement was given the British Mandate in Palestine had come to an end and as far as the Illegal Jewish Immigration into Palestine was concerned, the Privy Council’s ruling had become an irrelevancy, but the Lord Chancellor had made it clear that the decision of the Privy Council could not be said by any means to be the last word in inter-national law on this subject, which could only be given by some form of international tribunal such as the International Court of Justice. The Lord Chancellor had made it plain that for his part he disagreed with the Privy Council.174 In the case of the Asya, a well-publicised test case, the Jewish respondents used the following legislative and legal documents in their appeals to District Courts, the Supreme Court of Palestine and the Privy Council: Foreign Jurisdiction Act, 1890, sections 1, 11, 14 and 16. The Jewish lawyers representing the Zionists contended that the High Commissioner had no power to legislate in respect of the territorial waters of Palestine and based their contention on the claim that neither the Court of Appeal nor the District Court had any jurisdiction in any part of such waters. In support of this contention they relied (inter alia) on Sections 1 and 14 of the Foreign Jurisdiction Act, 1890, on the Preamble to the Palestine Order in Council, 1922, on Section 2 of the Palestine (Amendment) Order in Council, 1939, and on Articles 4 and 6 of the Mandate for Palestine. The British Courts in turn contended (successfully) that the power to legislate had been vested in the High Commissioner, and that the District Court as well as the Court of Appeal do have jurisdiction within the territorial waters of Palestine. The Mandate for Palestine, Articles 1, 4 and 6. The Zionists argued that the Immigration Ordinance and the amending Defence Regulations were void as being repugnant and inconsistent with the Palestine Mandate and in particular with Articles 4 and 6 thereof. Britain's naval and political reaction to the illegal immigration of jews to palestine, 1945-1948s 132
  • The Palestine Order-in-Council, 1922 (S.R. & O. 1922, No. 1282) as amended by the Palestine (Amendment) Order-in-Council, 1923 (S. R. & O. 1923, No. 619), Section 3, Preamble and Sections 1 and 17 (1) (a), (b) and (c). The Zionists also relied on Section 17 (1) (c) of the Palestine Order-in-Council 1922 as amended by Section 3 of the Palestine (Amendment) Order-in-Council, 1923. Thereupon the British judges replied that this issue was not justiciable in the courts. Moreover, the said articles did not prevent the enactment of an ordinance such as the Immigration Ordinance for the regulation of Immigration, and that the Immigration Ordinance had not been shown to be inconsistent with the Mandate in any respect. The Palestine (Defence) Order-in-Council, 1937 (S.R. & O. 1937, No. 225), Sections 2, 6, 8 and 12. The Palestine (Amendment) Order-in-Council, 1939 (S. R. & O. 1939, No. 603), section 2. The Immigration Ordinance, 1941, Sections 5 and 12. The British Courts ruled that under Section 12 of the Immigration Ordinance, 1941 as amended by Regulation 107 of the Defence Emergency Regulations, 1945, illegal ships which were deemed to have abetted unlawful immigration were subject to forfeiture. The relevant amendment of those regulations was claimed by the courts to have been laid down by Regulation 11 of the Defence (Emergency) (Amendment) Regulations, 1946. The above regulations were considered to be conferred on the High Commissioner by Sections 2 and 6 of the Palestine (Defence) Order-inCouncil, 1937. To support forfeiture of illegal ships the British courts relied on the provisions of Section 12, sub-section 3 (i) (b) and sub-section 3 (iii) of the amended Immigration Ordinance of 1941. The Interpretation Ordinance, 1945, definition of Palestine. The Defence (Emergency) Regulations, 1945, Part IX, Regulations 102 to 107. The Defence (Emergency) (Amendment) Regulations, 1946, Regulation 11. The British Courts ruled that nothing in the Foreign Jurisdiction Act, the Mandate or any other provision on which the Zionists relied was inconsistent with the High Commissioner’s rights to legislation or jurisdiction. The British courts submitted that the High Commissioner’s above-mentioned powers and rights derived from the Royal Prerogative and on this ground also they were made valid and effective. None of the above-mentioned contentions and appeals of the Jewish-Zionist lawyers had ever been successful in a Palestinian Court or in the Privy Council. The British The legal issues involved 133
  • judges always submitted that the judgments of the Palestinian Courts should be upheld and any appeals dismissed. The following (and other reasons) were put forward: 1 Because the government and Courts of Palestine have executive, legislative and judicial jurisdiction in respect of the territorial waters of Palestine. 2 Because the Immigration Ordinance, 1941 and the relevant amendments are valid and effective. 3 Because the facts proved any illegal ship was forfeit to the Government of Palestine by virtue of Section 12 of the amended Immigration Ordinance, 1941. 4 Because the judgments of the District Court and of the Supreme Court sitting as a Court of Appeal are right.175 The American Jurist General Hallek wrote poetically in the mid-nineteenth century, when the capability of ordnance had changed, about the three-mile limit of the territorial sea: Far as the souvereign can defend his sway Extends his empire over the waterway The shot sent thundering to the liquid plain Assigns the limit of his just domain Britain's naval and political reaction to the illegal immigration of jews to palestine, 1945-1948s 134
  • 6 Detention in Palestine—the deportation of illegal Jewish immigrants to Cyprus and their detention/imprisonment The legal base constructed by Britain1 With the outbreak of the Second World War the British White Paper anti-immigration policy2 was considered insufficient as the legal basis for the British and Palestine governments’ anti-immigration policies. Soon after the outbreak of hostilities these regulations were, therefore, complemented by the Defence Regulations (Prohibition of Entry) 1940 and augmented in Supplement No. 2 to the Palestine Gazette, Extraordinary No. 1062 of 9 December 1940 (9 December 1940 was the date the IJI of the SS Atlantic were deported to Mauritius). This Extraordinary Supplement to the Palestine Gazette authorised the High Commissioner for Palestine to order the deportation to any of the areas under the control of His Majesty, of any prohibited immigrant who transgressed the entry regulations or who attempted to enter Palestine. It laid down that anybody so detained should be deemed to be in lawful custody, provided, and the Zionists made much of this provision, that his name or the detainees’ names appeared on a list to be attached to the High Commissioner’s order. This document was fiercely attacked by the Jewish Agency as contradicting, in their opinion, both the letter and spirit of paragraph 4 of the League of Nation’s Mandate. The legal status of the deported immigrants was far from clear; in most sections of the Extraordinary Supplement they were called ‘detainees’ (‘detainees’ are held before a legal decision has been made), in other sections they were called ‘internees’ (‘internees’ are held after a legal decision on their detention). Illegal immigration was renewed very soon after the end of the war and the government of Palestine issued new emergency regulations which dealt at considerable length with the definitions of ‘Prohibited Immigrants’.3 In Section 107 the Defence Regulations 1945 also provided quite sweepingly that, ‘if in any proceedings under these Regulations it is shown that there were prohibited immigrants on board any vessel, the owner, agent or master of such vessel shall be presumed to have had knowledge of that fact’. The need to assume powers to make deportation orders was recognised as early as September 1945 and was comprehensively covered in Section 112 of the Defence (Emergency) Regulations 1945. Thus Section 112 gave the High Commissioner powers to require any person to leave and remain out of Palestine; it also directed that anyone against whom a deportation order has been made should be kept in custody whilst awaiting deportation. Furthermore it directed that,
  • the master of a ship about to call at any port or place outside Palestine shall receive a person against whom a Deportation Order has been made on board the ship and afford him a passage to that port or place, and proper accommodation and maintenance during the passage. During 1946 His Majesty’s Government became so frustrated with the apparent lack of success in their confrontation with the IJI that they decided to make a statement announcing conveyance to Cyprus ‘or elsewhere’ of immigrants arriving illegally in Palestine.4 The decision by Cabinet on distribution and timing of the announcement was absolutely typical of the priorities given to the audiences it was intended to address. Great care was taken to issue the statement simultaneously on 13 August 1946 at 00.30 BST through the Rt. Hon. Herbert Stanley Morrison, Lord President of the Council from 10 Downing Street, to the United Kingdom Peace Conference in Paris as well as to Washington, Cairo, Baghdad, Beirut and Jedda.5 The House of Commons was conveniently in recess and the statement could not be challenged, although Morrison was Leader of the House of Commons. The announcement began by reiterating what a consistent friend of the Jewish people Britain has always been: No country in the world has been a better or more consistent friend of the Jewish people than Britain. Wherever the Jews were persecuted the voice of Britain was lifted in protest and, wherever possible, action was taken to mitigate their lot altogether 200,000 refugees—most of them Jews6— landed in Britain.7 The announcement continued about Britain’s record of assistance to the Jews, but then gave an account of the killing, wounding and kidnapping of British soldiers, civil servants and ordinary citizens in outrages ‘more worthy of Nazis than of the Jewish victims of Nazis’. This was followed by a couple of paragraphs about British sympathy for Jewish suffering and the patience, forbearance and humanity shown by allowing illegal immigrants to land and of the iniquities of herding displaced Jews into over-crowded and unseaworthy ships with insufficient food and in conditions of the utmost privation and squalor. The announcement eventually came to the point it was supposed to make: [T]he continuance of this traffic at the present time is likely to have an adverse effect on the hope of a general settlement in Palestine HMG can no longer tolerate this attempt to force their hand in framing a new policy for Palestine. Accordingly immigrants arriving illegally will henceforward be conveyed to Cyprus or elsewhere and housed in camps until a decision can be taken as to their future. In announcing these decisions, HMG wish to make it clear that, while they cannot tolerate this attempt by a minority of Zionist extremists to exploit the sufferings of unfortunate people in order to create a situation prejudicial to a just settlement they are deeply sensible of the sufferings undergone by the Jewish community. Britain's naval and political reaction to the illegal immigration of jews to palestine, 1945-1948s 136
  • The announcement was full of expressions of sympathy for the suffering of the refugees and replete with complaints about the lack of gratitude shown by the Jewish Agency and the Yishuv, what was totally lacking, however, was any indication of the legal base for the decision. Harsher definitions had been used in the 13 August 1940 declaration announcing the wartime deportations—with expressions like ‘deportation’ and ‘detention’ in Mauritius to the end of the war, with the additional declaration, clearly intended to discourage the others ‘that even then they will not be allowed to enter Palestine’. Contrasting with this uncompromising language the 13 August 1946 announcement used expressions like ‘to be conveyed’ to Cyprus and ‘to be housed’ in camps. The reality was different, and the Cyprus regime was in fact much more severe than the Mauritius administration. The Zionists used any ambiguity or apparent contradiction in the various Regulations to challenge the legality of the deportations to Cyprus. Section 112 Part 10 of the 1945 Defence Regulations, for instance, laid down ‘proper accommodation and maintenance during the passage’, while the 1940 Defence Regulations demanded that potential immigrants be ‘detained’ while being conveyed. The fact is that there was never a satisfactory explanation of status: the detainees were neither prisoners-of-war, nor were they criminals, and they were not suspected of terrorism. Regulations controlling forfeiture of the IJI ships were not neglected. If any vessel is found in territorial waters of Palestine, whether it came into those waters voluntarily or not, having on board, to the knowledge of the owner, agent or master of such vessel, any prohibited immigrant, a District Court shall, on the application of the Attorney General, declare it to be forfeited to the Government.8 A large number of intercepted IJI vessels were eventually moored at the rear of the outer Haifa port breakwater, the so-called ‘Rotten Row’, but the British government did not succeed in selling any of these largely derelict ships. The two largest vessels, Pan York (Kibbutz Galujot) and Pan Crescent (Atzmauth) were not confiscated, as they did not attempt to disembark immigrants and agreed to sail straight for Famagusta. The logistics of disembarking the some 15,000 refugees who had arrived in the two ‘Pans’, from the vessels while anchored at sea were considered formidable, they were, therefore tied to the piers in the port of Famagusta for unloading only and then moved for semi-permanent moorings to Boghaz Bay, 15 miles from Famagusta. They were there until 16–18 May 1948, when they were moved back to Famagusta and subsequently sailed to Haifa. These two ships were expected to be released after abrogation of the Mandate and assist the Jewish Agency in clearing the Cyprus camps of internees. However, as we shall see, evacuation of the camps eventually proved controversial. Great Britain objected to the immigration of men of military age into Palestine which on 15 May 1948 had become Israel and submitted a resolution to this effect to the Security Council. The Resolution was duly adopted and became part of a truce supervision regime. Before issuing the announcement about the planned deportations to Cyprus, the British government made quite sure that the detention of illegal immigrants in Cyprus could not be challenged on legal grounds. In Supplement No. 2 to the Cyprus Gazette No. 3255 of 13 August 1946, a law was issued to make provision for the detention of certain persons Detention in Palestine—the deportation of illegal Jewish immigrants 137
  • in certain cases. The law was to be cited as ‘The Detention (Illegal Immigrants) Law, 1946’ and was signed by Mr C.C.Woolley, the Governor and Commander-in-Chief of the Colony of Cyprus. In this law an ‘illegal immigrant’ was defined to be a person who intends to enter Palestine contrary to the Palestine Immigration Ordinance 1941 ‘or any Ordinance amending or substituted for the same’. It gave the Governor the power to order that such illegal immigrants should be detained in such place in the colony as may be specified and there was also a provision which allowed that the illegal immigrant may be removed by force if necessary from the vessel in which he was brought to the colony. The Pan York and Pan Crescent, however had not been brought to Famagusta, they were accompanied by RN vessels. Sections 15 and 16 of the Detention (Illegal Immigrants) Law 1946 were, therefore, amended by Cyprus Governor Winster on 2 January 1948 (but with retroactive effect to 1 January 1948 the day the Pan immigrants disembarked.9 The amendment consisted of inserting the words ‘or accompanied’ immediately after the word ‘brought’ in sub-sections (1), line 2 and (3), line 3. It was hoped that such an amendment would prevent the successful submission of habeas corpus writs by the Jews. In the original 1946 law there was also a paragraph which stated inter alia: ‘Any illegal immigrant detained in pursuance of this Law shall be deemed to be in lawful custody and shall be detained in accordance with such instructions as may be issued or approved, from time to time, by the Governor.’ This passus was retained in 1948. The Cyprus government also published an official announcement to allay the apprehensions of the Greek-Cypriot population, which had become suspicious and feared that the demographic-ethnic composition of the population would be upset if the detainees were allowed to remain in Cyprus. In order to help the British Government under the present abnormal circumstances a law has been promulgated permitting the Governor to detain in Cyprus Jewish refugees from Europe who are attempting to enter Palestine illegally. The intention is to direct to Cyprus a number of such persons and to supply them here with temporary accommodation, until more permanent housing can be found somewhere else. The law is only temporary, but it will be upheld for as long as it may be necessary to hold illegal immigrants in Cyprus. The detainees will be under military control from the moment of arrival until arrangements can be made for them to leave the colony. None of them will be allowed to become residents of Cyprus.10 The Detention (Illegal Immigrants) Law, 1946, as published on 13 August 1946 had to be amended already one week later in order to give legal sanction to the use of firearms when the detained immigrants tried to storm a gate in Camp 55 during a visit by Palestinian journalists, who had been clumsily prohibited at the last moment. This law was dated retroactively to come into force on 13 August.11 Further supplementary legislation had to be issued by Cyprus Governor C.C.Woolley on 5 December 1946 to overcome the legal difficulty arising from failure to present a list of immigrants’ names signed by the Commander of Armed Forces in Cyprus with the counter-signature of the Acting Colonial Secretary. The failure was the result of ‘disembarkation difficulties’. Britain's naval and political reaction to the illegal immigration of jews to palestine, 1945-1948s 138
  • As late as 17 September 1948, long after proclamation of the State of Israel but before the final closure of the Cyprus camps, the Statute Laws of Cyprus were still amended to remove doubts with regards to persons detained under the Detention (Illegal Immigrants) Laws 1946 and 1948.12 Neither the Jewish Agency who disposed of excellent legal counsel, nor other Jewish organisations or individuals challenged the legality of the Cyprus detention camps throughout the entire period from commencement of the deportations in August 1946 until about five months after establishment of Israel—a period of over two years. The first tentative legal steps taken by the Jews to undermine the legal base for the deportations commenced about one month after the first immigrants were deported to Cyprus and thus detained outside the borders of Palestine. There was a suggestion to initiate proceedings against the Governor of Cyprus and to base a writ on a British law called ‘Offences against Persons, 1861’,13 according to which anybody can take any British official to court, who committed a crime anywhere in the world. The proposal was based on the claim that the immigrants detained in Cyprus had never transgressed against any of the island’s laws. Perhaps it was fortunate for Britain that this suggestion was never put into practice.14 Legal proceedings before a Palestine court commenced on 31 October 1946 with a habeas corpus application on behalf of Walter Frankenstein, one of the San Dimetrio immigrants. W.Frankenstein’s brother, a Rishon-Le-Zion dentist, engaged top lawyers to demand from the Chief Secretary to the Government of Palestine, the Commander of British forces in Palestine and Transjordan and five further officers to respond, why the applicant’s brother was not allowed to stay in Palestine. Frankenstein’s solicitor claimed that collective deportation of all San Dimitrio’s passengers was illegal, that an individual deportation order should have been issued for each would-be immigrant, that a solicitor should be allowed to board the ship to speak to the immigrants and that Walter Frankenstein be allowed to land to attend the hearings. The Court claimed that it had proved impossible to locate Frankenstein on the deportation ship and the ship sailed to Cyprus on 2 November 1946.15 The habeas corpus writ16 was turned down, but failure to produce the respondent could have led to a successful claim for Contempt of Court, had the Jewish lawyers persevered. The first serious attempts by the Jewish Agency, immigrants’ relatives and their solicitors to test whether the relevant legislation was lawful were made only in August 1948.17 Further actions followed in October and December 1948 but were countered by an amendment to the Detention, (Illegal Immigrants) Law, 1946, which provided that every person who on 15 May 1948 was detained should be deemed to have always been lawfully detained and that no action, prosecution or legal proceeding should be entertained by any court in respect thereof.18 The following amendment had been formulated and published to enable the continuation of holding the (illegal) immigrants legally in Cyprus, after proclamation of the State of Israel. (It should be noted, that with proclamation of the State of Israel, the immigration of Jews into Palestine had become legal.) The Statute Law of Cyprus No.29 of 1948 A Law to remove doubts with regard to persons detained under the Detention (Illegal Immigrants) Laws 1946 and 1948. Detention in Palestine—the deportation of illegal Jewish immigrants 139
  • Whereas it is desirable that the matter of the detention of persons detained under the Detention (Illegal Immigrants) Laws 1946 and 1948, should be placed beyond doubt: Be it, therefore enacted by His Excellency the Governor and Commander-in-Chief of the Colony of Cyprus as follows: This Law may be cited as the Illegal Immigrants Detention (Removal of Doubt), Law, 1948, and shall be read in conjunction with the Detention (Illegal Immigrants) Laws, 1946 and 1948 (hereinafter referred to as the ‘principal Law’), and the principal Law and this Law shall be construed as one. For the removal of doubts it is hereby declared that every person who has been detained in a place established for the detention of persons under the principal Law, has been lawfully detained under the provisions of that Law, and any person detained in such a place at the commencement of this Law is lawfully detained under the principal Law.19 This so-called ‘Removal of Doubts’ Law had been signed 16 September 1948 by H.G.Richards, Acting Colonial Secretary. The amendment lacked basic justification, because a ‘detainee’ cannot be an ‘illegal immigrant’ as defined in the Law, because his entry into Palestine would not have been contrary to Palestine Immigration Ordinances in August/September 1948, those Ordinances having been revoked by Israel. It was a very strong measure indeed to legislate litigants out of court through enactment of such an amending law, in order to maintain the position that no Jews of military age should be allowed to leave Cyprus for what had meanwhile become Israel. Listing all the details of the tactics adopted during the continuous legal struggles waged by the Jews in the case of nearly every IJI ship intercepted would exceed the framework and scope of this book. It must suffice to record some details of the judicial battles which raged over some of the ships, for example, the Lohita, the Asya, the Pan York, the Pan Crescent and others, to give an idea of the bitter confrontations which took place in and out of court. Nearly each and every case was thus pursued through the courts and then, more often than not, became subject to appeals to the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council, which acted as the final appeals court for Palestine. Jewish legal counsel never succeeded in overturning deportation or detention decisions. They did, however, succeed in harassing the British legal system, causing delays and concerns. In turn this demanded from Britain constant legal vigilance and updating of legislation to avoid being ambushed by failing to anticipate some hitherto unexpected twist or angle. In the case of the Lohita (Knesset Jisrael, intercepted 26 November 1946) an application was made before the Supreme Court in Jerusalem by the Jewish Community Council, asking Henry Gurney, the Chief Secretary to the Palestine government, the General Officer Commanding, General MacMillan, the Military Commandant Haifa, Mr Grey, the Deputy Inspector General of Police, the Senior Naval Officer Levant and the captains of Ocean Vigour and Empire Heywood to show cause why the Lohita immigrants should not be released or allowed to stay in Palestine. This time the Jewish solicitors produced a list containing the names of 1,941 illegal immigrants out of a total of 3,845 who arrived on board the Lohita. The court duly called on the defendants to Britain's naval and political reaction to the illegal immigration of jews to palestine, 1945-1948s 140
  • show cause and the Attorney General argued the case for the government. In this particular instance the Jewish lawyers did not argue the rules of international law, they claimed that the particular deportation order was defective: It was not permissible to imprison the illegal immigrants and deport them from Palestine, because the order for their arrest had not been issued by a legal authority and it was not permissible to hold the illegal immigrants in prison ships, because these ships had not been defined as prisons in a special order signed by the High Commissioner, as demanded by Law. Furthermore, as soon as the ships leave Palestine territorial waters, while wearing the British flag, they become British territory, are governed by British Law and this Law does not forbid the entry of Jews into Palestine.20 The claimants demanded that the immigrants should be held at a place of legal detention within the borders of Palestine until the outcome of the case should become known, and this was agreed by Senior Judge Sir William FitzGerald. When the case came up for trial before Sir William FitzGerald and the High Court Judges Edwards and Shaw (27 November 1946), it was submitted that the government had exceeded its powers in ordering the deportation. The Palestine government was represented by Treasury Solicitor Griffin and KC Heenan. The witnesses, mainly Major Davies of the Royal Hussars and Government Chief Secretary Gurney were interrogated mainly about three questions: had the deportation order for the Lohita been issued before the vessel entered the territorial waters of Palestine? Were the names of the illegal immigrants known to the government of Palestine when they issued their deportation order and what was the quality and type of the deportation ships? The Jewish lawyers claimed that the High Commissioner had no right to order the imprisonment of immigrants in prison ships, his right was restricted to retain such immigrants in legal custody in Palestine. On 29 November 1946 Senior Judge Sir William Fitzgerald read out his judgement and rejected the request for an order nisi.21 In his reasoning, Sir William stated that the deportation order was issued at 2.30 p.m., while the vessel had already entered Haifa harbour at 1.30 p.m. He further argued that the deportation order had been correctly based on Section 112 of the Defence (Emergency) Regulations 1945.22 He also rejected the claim that the deportation ships served as prisons. In his judgement Sir William stated, ‘There is no doubt at all that this Court would have become involved immediately, if proof had been supplied that the freedom of the deportees had been taken from them during transfer to the deportation ships.’ The planned appeal to His Majesty in Council in London had to be abandoned as the deportation ships sailed only half an hour after the court ruling. Another well-known incident which is of interest to students of the legal background to the interception and boarding of ships carrying illegal immigrants to Palestine is the case of the Asya (Tel-Hai) which was intercepted on 27 March 1946 by HMS Chequers (Captain J.H.Ruck-Keene, OBE, DSC, RN) in 32:13N–32:45E some 100 miles south- west of Jaffo. The ship had 733 Polish Jews on board who had no passports or valid travel documents entitling them to land in Palestine. In addition the Asya carried no passenger list and had no proper ship’s papers. When first sighted the Asya was flying no Detention in Palestine—the deportation of illegal Jewish immigrants 141
  • flag but later hoisted a Turkish flag. When hailed by the destroyer and asked her destination she made no reply. A boarding party was sent from the Chequers and when it arrived the Turkish flag was hauled down and the Zionist flag was hoisted. Charts on the ship had on them a course with fixes from La Ciotat Bay in France to a point north of Tel-Aviv. Passengers were put ashore and sent to a clearance camp at Athlit near Haifa, where a warrant of detention was signed by the immigration officer. On 18 April 1946, the Attorney General for Palestine applied to the District Court of Haifa for an order confirming the forfeiture of the vessel to the Government of Palestine under Section 12 of the Immigration Ordinance, 1941, on the ground that on the 27th March 1946, 733 persons were on board the vessel within the territorial waters of Palestine in circumstances in which the master, owner or agent of the vessel was deemed to have abetted the unlawful immigration of those persons.23 On 14 June the trial judge in the District Court made an order confirming the forfeiture. From this order an appeal was preferred to the Supreme Court consisting of Sir William FitzGerald, Mr Justice Edwards and Mr Justice Shaw. The court proceedings following interception of the Asya (Tel-Hai), the various appeals and court rulings, were considered by the Jewish counsel and by the British judges to be very significant legal precedents, going beyond the importance of a decision as to whether the nearly valueless Asya should be forfeited or returned to her owners. The appellant’s counsel based his arguments in the first place on the terms of the Mandate and especially its provision that ‘no Ordinance shall be promulgated which shall be in any way repugnant to or inconsistent with the provisions of the Mandate’, but their Lordships ruled that nothing was more important to the peace and good government of the country than the ordinances dealing with immigration and they wrote in their judgement: If the terms of the Mandate required the Mandatory Power to facilitate Jewish immigration into Palestine under any conditions and at any cost to other interests, the contention might be maintainable. But the Mandate does not do so. On the contrary the facilitation of Jewish immigration is expressly made subject to the term that the Administration shall ensure that the rights and position of other sections of the population are not prejudiced and to the further term that the immigration shall be under suitable conditions.24 Their Lordships also repudiated the doctrine which had been called ‘The Freedom of the Open Sea’, under which the appellants alleged that the Asya, whatever her mission, was entitled to sail the open sea off the coast of Palestine, and they said that they could not assent to the proposition that any such right, unqualified by place or circumstance, was established by international law. In the words of Lord William: ‘The freedom of the open sea, whatever those words may connote, is a freedom of ships which fly and are entitled Britain's naval and political reaction to the illegal immigration of jews to palestine, 1945-1948s 142
  • to fly the flag of a state which is within the comity of nations. The Asya did not satisfy these elementary conditions.’25 Their Lordships accepted the following passage as a valid statement of the law: ‘In the interest of order on the open sea a vessel not sailing under the maritime flag of a state enjoys no protection whatever, for the freedom of navigation on the open sea is freedom for such vessels only as sail under the flag of a State.’26 The appellants had failed to refer their lordships to any textbook or authority which may have suggested that forfeiture of the Asya was not essential for the purpose of preventing the unlawful invasion of the territory of Palestine, nor had they proved that confiscation of the vessel was contrary to any established principle of international law. Their lordships were of the opinion that, ‘this appeal must be dismissed and they will humbly advise His Majesty accordingly. The appellant [Naim, the owner of the motor vessel Asya], must pay the respondent’s costs of the appeal.’ G.C.B.Dodds of the Admiralty had been passed copy of Privy Council Appeal No. 36 of 1947 relating to the arrest on the high seas of the motor vessel Asya with considerable delay. Dodds dissented and commented on behalf of the Head of Military Branch stating that the Privy Council’s ruling contradicted an earlier Lord Chancellor’s opinion.27 In this minute Dodds reminded the recipients of his communication that the Lord Chancellor’s department had indicated that in fact the Noble Lord Jowitt disagreed with it. Anyhow, the British Mandate had ended on 15 May 1948, so the Admiralty was no longer faced with a difficult but practical problem and was more interested in preserving the absolute freedom of the seas. According to the Admiralty, the Privy Council ruling could not by any means be said to be the last word on this subject in international law, and Dodds suggested referral to some form of international tribunal such as the International Court of Justice. However, the Admiralty did not wish to press the matter any further but they felt they had to give notice that the Privy Council’s judgement in the case of the Asya would be a very relevant precedent indeed, should anyone ever desire in the future to justify such actions. It is remarkable that during the entire period of confrontation between the Royal Navy and the IJI vessels Britain always took the greatest care in providing unimpeachable legal back-up to detention or forfeiture of such vessels. Detention of the Pan Crescent and Pan York for instance, who sailed by agreement directly to Famagusta, was backed immediately on arrival with Cyprus Governor Winster’s signature under Section 3 of The Detention Order (Detention Illegal Immigration Ships) Law 194828: I, the Governor do hereby order that the ship Pan Crescent accompanied29 to Cyprus on the 1st January, 1948, by H.M.S.Mauritius and certified to be an illegal immigrants ship by Rear Admiral Richard Victor Symonds-Taylor, (the Naval Authority), Officer in Charge of the Escort, under certificate dated 2nd January, 1948, shall be detained in the territorial waters of the Colony. Copies of this order shall be posted up in not less than two conspicuous places on the above-mentioned ship with translated copies in the Jewish language. Made this 2nd day of January, 1948. Detention in Palestine—the deportation of illegal Jewish immigrants 143
  • A new softer approach was introduced due to the compromise achieved in negotiations with these two ships. This new attitude also became noticeable from a letter sent to the Captain of the Pan Crescent. Mr Percival wrote: It is not the intention to arrest any of these persons [members of the crews] for the part they have played to date in the mission of the Pan Crescent on the contrary every effort will be made by the appropriate authorities to repatriate them.30 The colonial government of Cyprus was never enthusiastic about what it saw as the dumping onto their island of Jewish immigrants, unwanted in Palestine. Captain R.D.Watson of HMS Chequers reported: ‘I received the impression that the situation was aggravated by the fact that the Cyprus Govt thought that the Palestine Govt had “pulled a fast one” on them over the PAN ships.’31 Indeed the Governor of Cyprus sent many letters and telegrams to A. Creech Jones protesting vehemently and sometimes in quite undiplomatic language about not having been informed about the nearly 16,000 illegals being disembarked in Famagusta: I am surprised to find that while Navy was consulted I was not I did not know that it is within the province of a Commander-in-Chief to issue orders for action in such matters inside a Colony and to direct a subordinate officer to ‘inform’—not consult—Civil Government of decisions already arrived at I am prepared to accept no instructions on this or any other matter save those which are conveyed to me by yourself.32 Or, on another occasion: The only person who can convene a meeting in Government House is myself I had not heard one word from the Navy and I knew literally nothing I wrote to you last year about Admiral Willis’ cavalier behaviour. The timing of various signals which I have seen shows that they were aware of what was going forward and making their plans and giving instructions long before any news whatever reached me.33 Secretary of State for the Colonies Creech Jones tried to soothe Lord Winster’s wounded feelings by sending his profuse apologies in addition to those of his Mediterranean department. There seemed to be more than discourtesy about the failure to inform the governor, and it appears that there had been insufficient consultation with the Cyprus government about a lot of other matters as well.34 The War Office was unrepentant. Lieutenant General Sir Frank Simpson wrote to the Secretary of State for the Colonies: Dear Lloyd— 1 I have seen two telegrams from Lord Winster to the Secretary of State for the Colonies which take exception in very round terms to the recent decision, made by the Britain's naval and political reaction to the illegal immigration of jews to palestine, 1945-1948s 144
  • Commander-in-Chief Middle East Land Forces, in conjunction with the Commander- in-Chief Mediterranean, to direct the Pan York and the Pan Crescent direct to Famagusta, and the manner in which this decision was taken. 2 As regards the decision itself I am confident that you will agree that the action taken by the Commander-in-Chief was very wise. (The decision to accompany the Pans to Famagusta had after all been made by the Commander-in-Chief MELF in conjunction with the C-in-C Med). The arrival of 16,000 illegal immigrants in Haifa, and their subsequent trans-shipment to Cyprus, would surely have been a very serious aggravation to the uneasy situation in Palestine. From the point of view of the Government of Palestine and of the military authorities it seems more than fortunate that this aggravation was avoided. 3 In regard to the manner in which the decision was made I cannot feel that the Commanders-in-Chief were in any way at fault. The transportation of Jews to the camps in Cyprus is, after all, an Army responsibility in conjunction with the Royal Navy.35 Generally, it can be stated that there was never any chance that the Jews could gain even a partial victory in their legal struggle against deportation, detention in Cyprus and forfeiture of their vessels. However, the author must agree with David Shaari, an acknowledged expert on the Cyprus camps, that more could have been done by the Zionists to exhaust all possibilities of legal harassment before accepting unfavourable judgements. The British were certainly highly sensitive to the public relations effect which a more sustained legal campaign by the Zionists could have caused. Regarding the Cyprus camps themselves and their running, the British authorities emerge with considerable credit, although no less than four distinct authorities were involved in their administration, the Colonial Office in London, the Mandatory government in Palestine, the ME British army HQ in Cairo and the Government of Cyprus. Inevitably there was friction, administrative differences and varying attitudes. Sir Godfrey Collins of the Indian Civil Service was appointed in September 1947 ‘Commissioner for the Jewish Camps’ Cyprus with the brief to liaise between the different British authorities, the Joint and so on. Sir Godfrey’s humane and polite manner was generally greatly appreciated,36 although it was equally true that, ‘the Cypriot Government views with disfavour the raising of the Jewish population to a trifle more than that of Nicosia, the island’s largest town’.37 The monthly costs amounting to approximately £95,000 for maintaining the approximately 15,00038 illegal immigrants in the Cyprus camps (approximately £6 per month per head) were charged to the government of Palestine.39 The AJDC provided additional food and comfort at the rate of 30 shillings per head per month.40 Palestine High Commissioner Cunningham wrote: Furthermore, Palestine budget is already over burdened by the cost entailed in respect of deportations up to the present. It is now faced in addition with considerable losses)which cannot yet be determined accurately) due to the imposition of martial law.41 The total costs for maintenance of the camps amounted to £5,185,000.42 The decision to charge this amount to the government of Palestine43 was criticised by Arab sympathisers Detention in Palestine—the deportation of illegal Jewish immigrants 145
  • in parliament, who objected to the apparent contribution demanded from Arab taxpayers. This arrangement, however, was considered fair and therefore allowed to stand, as the Jewish Yishuv paid 75–80 per cent of Palestine’s taxes, but some British papers claimed incorrectly that the illegal immigrants were ‘maintained in detention at the British taxpayer’s charge’.44 HQ ME forces, however, was responsible for the costs of the military guards. The situation regarding the cost of maintenance of the President Warfield Jews was entirely different. In a meeting at the Treasury between Russell- Edmonds, J.W.L.Iwimy, Hampshire and others it had been agreed, ‘that in equity and following the principle that the Palestine Government pay for the cost of stopping illegal immigration, the whole cost of the maintenance of the Exodus Jews in Germany should be borne by that Government’.45 The Palestine government disagreed, pointing out that they ‘had objected to the removal of the Jews in question to Germany, although if they had been removed to Cyprus that Government would have been liable to pay for their maintenance there’. In effect the meeting agreed that ‘they are, in effect “a chip of the Cyprus block”’,46 The Jews having refused to apply for International Refugee Organisation (IRO) maintenance, this was therefore, in fact, being borne as follows: a the cost of staff and administration by the Foreign Office in sterling; b the cost of imported food and other commodities, half by the US Government and half by the Foreign Office. The relationship between the British authorities administering the Cyprus camps and the Jewish officials assisting and administering the detainees was generally excellent.47 Moshe Leov confirmed that he was not aware of the existence of any formal document which would have outlined the obligations of the British authorities vis-à-vis the detainees. He also stated that he never had to support any demand or complaint against the British authorities about any eventual fault, negligence or the non-supply of any material or service by calling on a British obligation to conform to a legal requirement. According to Leov the absence of such a judicial document never bothered him and he never felt that he should have to raise this matter, because relations with the British authorities were always normal and decent and sometimes even accompanied by expressions of a friendly, warm and sympathetic attitude towards the illegal immigrants- refugees. The attitude of the British press towards the illegal immigrants detained in Cyprus, however, differed widely between the various publications. Under the heading ‘Seaside Camps for Jewish Queue-Jumpers’ the Illustrated London News described the Cyprus Camp as ‘resembling a seaside holiday camp’ and printed photos of ‘Jewish children dancing a traditional dance in the Cyprus sunshine’ as well as ‘Jewish illegal immigrants dancing a national dance in the sunshine.’48 The place-name Belsen for the German camp was banned by the censor due to its association with the Nazi death camp and the camps were called Pöppen-dorf and Am Stau, (changed October 1947 to Sengwarden and Emden). However, the designation ‘Bergenbelsen’, given to the Hohne camp by its inmates, was not entirely inappropriate, being only one and a half miles from the notorious Nazi death camp of the infamous name and reputation. At the other end of the empathy scale was London’s other great illustrated weekly, the Picture Post which printed photographs captioned ‘The woman who wonders if her wanderings will ever end’ and ‘Under the guns of HMS Ajax’.49 Robertson of the Picture Britain's naval and political reaction to the illegal immigration of jews to palestine, 1945-1948s 146
  • Post wrote that the debarkations in Cyprus had been left to local army officers and Colonial Office representatives, and he was highly critical of their attitude towards the refugees: There can be few organisations with a more rigid hierarchy or more wholly circumscribed authority than the Army and the Colonial Office ostrich-like and meaningless secrecy orders almost calculated to cause friction dim red-taped mental process etc.50 A total of 52,221 illegal immigrants from 39 IJI ships were detained in Cyprus for varying periods between 13 August 1946 and 10 February 1949. There were five camps near the village of Caraolos close to the Mediterranean coast, four camps near Xylotimbou and two camps near Dhekelia. Nearly 2,500 marriages and 2,200 births took place in the Cyprus detention camps.51 (The term ‘concentration camps’ occasionally used by the Hebrew press in Palestine when referring to the detention camps is historically inaccurate) because, the deportees in Cyprus were not in a constant state of anxiety, no one threatened them physically, and they were in no doubt as to their future as free people the Cyprus camps were an unfortunate, unplanned historical occurrence, whose existence and purpose coalesced.52 By November 1947 the Official Committee on Palestine (D.O. (47) 23rd Meeting) had been invited to consider and report on the policy to be pursued in respect of illegal immigration and on the arrangements for disposing of the illegal immigrants detained in Cyprus. Arrangements, including shipping, were already being made for the transport of the latter, including the 4,500 Exodus Jews, to Palestine.53 With hindsight it seems that the panics caused in Whitehall, Washington and Jerusalem by the Pan York and Pan Crescent embarkations had been unnecessary, but deportations to Cyprus ceased finally only on 15 May 1948, when the State of Israel was established. However, not all the detainees were released at this time. Agreements and undertakings regarding the evacuation of the Cyprus detainees were broken in May 1948 by the following Colonial Office telegram: ‘In view of adoption by Security Council of UK Resolution [Security Council Truce Resolution of 29 May 1948] please hold up transfer of immigrants to Palestine.’54 Lord Winster replied, pointing out that this instruction breached an agreement made with the Jews: ‘It will be contrary to published statements and spirit of agreement with Jews over PAN ships; it will be represented as breach of agreement and possibly contrasted with our honouring of treaties with Arab States.’55 The Governor of Cyprus sent a telegram to the Secretary of State for the Colonies indicating his estimate of the probable reaction of local inhabitants and Jewish immigrants: a local population: ‘Genuine profound irritation traditional Cypriot anti-Jewish feelings British reputation would suffer considerably. If Jews were to break out from camps, brawls with local population might result.’ Detention in Palestine—the deportation of illegal Jewish immigrants 147
  • b Jewish immigrants: ‘it may be very difficult to control any large-scale disturbances and attempts to escape would increase “PAN” ship captains would almost certainly obey orders of Israel government.’56 An acrimonious confrontation between Jewish Agency, the Colonial and Foreign Offices and the Admiralty developed in the first half of June. It involved the release of military- age detainees and the disposition of the Pans. On 28 May, Berl Locker of the Jewish Agency urged that the Royal Navy should provide protection for the Pans, in view of constant Egyptian air attacks and the ban on the use of Haifa for immigration. In reply Locker was told that it was unlikely, and practically out of the question, that Great Britain could consider action which would mean bringing military reinforcements to the Jews and forcing the Egyptians to admit them.57 On 16 and 18 May the Pan York and the Pan Crescent were moved under supervision of two British destroyers 15 miles south, from Boghaz to Famagusta, but the difficulties over registration prevented loading. The Jewish captains soon complained through their agents about wholesale looting by men of the South Wales Borderers, who formed the ships’ guards. The allegations were denied, and the captains of HM guardships in turn claimed that nightly dropping of depth charges by destroyers to discourage saboteurs had damaged their ships.58 On 28 May, the masters of both ships declared that their ships were infested with rats and that they had been instructed to proceed to Haifa for deratisation. They were (initially) dissuaded from sailing,59 ‘but having had no guards on board proceeded to Haifa Bay contrary to British instructions’.60 The Pans duly arrived in Haifa enclave waters on 18 June 1948 and the Commander- in-Chief Mediterranean Section reported to the Admiralty61 that the Jews apparently did not wish to start clearing the IJI camps. He suggested that the Jewish intention might well be to force clearing the camps in British Bottoms, which would obviously have produced very strong Arab reactions. He suggested that the Pans should not be allowed to sail from the territorial waters of the Haifa Enclave. He further suggested that they should be prevented from getting fuel from any source and be arrested at the first indication that they intended to leave Haifa without firm guarantees that they were going to the IJI camps. Their fuel should be rationed, even if they honoured their agreement and started embarkation. On the same day COMPAL also reported to the Commander-in-Chief Mediterranean Section, the Foreign Office and the Colonial Office,62 recording their concern about Pan York’s and Pan Crescent’s unauthorised departure from Famagusta and their anchoring in Haifa Bay. Some of their observations and suggestions were as follows: a vessels made their passage on sludge (having been refused fuel in Famagusta). b Passive resistance was offered by Pan York to visit of boarding Officer who was obstructed in his duties aboard Master accordingly removed under arrest c Vehement representations by Owners Solicitor and Agents who claimed Haifa now port of Registry.63 (Great Britain was anxious for the owners of the Pans to apply for Panamanian re-registration.64 At this stage the CO was most anxious ‘to avoid any action which might be construed internationally as tantamount to immediate recognition of Jewish State.65 Britain's naval and political reaction to the illegal immigration of jews to palestine, 1945-1948s 148
  • d In view of the Pans’ suspicious movements, C-in-C Med directed ships to remain berthed in Haifa Bay. e Unless ships break out from Haifa, there being no guard aboard, this should immobilise them until British withdrawal when they come under supervision of Truce Commissioners. The Commander-in-Chief Mediterranean Section further stated that action was endorsed by the General Officer Commanding and fully within power delegated to COMPAL, but he also realised that the position was both politically and logistically weak. He was also aware of the possibility that questions might be asked in parliament about the forcible detention of the vessels. There was no doubt that all interested Jewish parties keenly resented the reception accorded the Pans at Haifa (nominal detention and refusal to restore facilities normally accorded to merchant shipping at Haifa) and apparently treated these strained relations as justification to repudiate any remnant of the undertaking entered into regarding evacuation of Cyprus camps. The immediate ‘Pan’ crisis abated when HMS Chequers supplied each Pan with 80 tons of fuel (on repayment) for a trip to Haifa and back. The abstract of an ‘Intelligence Summary on Embarkation of Jews of Non-Military Age to Palestine’66 revealed the ‘hostile’ attitude of Jewish authorities and the detainees. The summary report painted a dismal picture of lists supplied by the Jewish authorities containing large numbers of detainees of military age who were consequently rejected from the lists. This led to stoning incidents, use of force by the escorts and injuries. A large number of highly organised escapes from the camps was recorded, while some rejected detainees swam out to the Pans. There was an organised operation by detainees of the Caraolos Camps which resulted in lights being smashed round the perimeter wire for a distance of two miles sentries were given orders to fire.67 The detainees from Xylotymbou sub-camp set on fire two Nissen huts and broke fittings in every hut. A well-constructed escape tunnel with electric light was discovered at Karaolos sub-camp.68 The mood in the camps had definitely changed. All privileges which involved the use of military personnel, for example, bathing parties, escorts to meet friends, and so forth, were cancelled and, ‘the possibility of hunger strikes or other trouble cannot be ruled out’.69 A fairly outspoken letter from the Governor of Cyprus, Lord Winster, to his Departmental superior, the Secretary of State for the Colonies, is extant, stating that the Cyprus government would be only too glad to see the backs of the Jewish internees. He complained that they imposed a considerable task of civil administration, raised the cost of living, locked up troops for guard duties, constituted a constant threat to the political tranquillity of the island and involved Great Britain in considerable expense. Lord Winster’s interpretation of the UN Mediator’s resolution was that it only stipulated that while ‘no fighting personnel could be introduced into Palestine or any Arab country during the truce’,70 the resolution did not prohibit immigration nor ban inclusion of men of military age in such immigration. Lord Winster went on to describe a proposed speech by Sir Alexander Cadogan as ‘a re-hash of ancient history with little relevance to the “men of military age” problem.’71 Detention in Palestine—the deportation of illegal Jewish immigrants 149
  • Lord Winster was critical because in his proposed speech Sir Alexander Cadogan wished to say: ‘Were we, during the truce, to allow these men (of military age) to pour into Palestine?’72 The answer, according to the Governor of Cyprus, should have been that it was none of our business and he stated: The continued detention of these Jews is an act of inhumanity and with the termination of the Mandate and the withdrawal of our troops from Palestine our responsibility to keep the Jews in Cyprus is terminated. Our responsibility to the Arabs for stopping Jews above a certain quota emigrating to Palestine terminated with the end of the Mandate.73 Regarding the total evacuation of the Cyprus camps, Lord Winster clearly accepted the Zionist viewpoint, (but his opinions on some other issues were not necessarily identical to the Jewish views, that Great Britain should regard abrogation of the Mandate as having absolved her from ‘grave responsibilities and undertakings in regard to persons and policies in Palestine’.74 Britain could, therefore, no longer remain involved in the responsibility for preventing the Jews in the Cyprus camps from entering Palestine. Lord Winster consistently accepted the Jewish viewpoint regarding release of all the detainees and he advised the Colonial Office to this effect. He did, however, reply by sending a long and detailed telegram to the Colonial Office.75 However, Lord Winster reacted angrily when passed the Jewish press release No. 6 of 27 August 1948, which claimed that the food situation in the Cyprus detention camps was consistently deteriorating, calling the Israeli press release, A tissue of lies and misrepresentation and part of propaganda to secure removal of ban on release of men of military age. Standard of food, which has been excellent throughout as is proved by high standard of health among detainees and vital statistics remains completely unchanged and includes bread, flour, tinned fish, cheese, fresh and tinned vegetables and fruit, macaroni, margarine, oatmeal, ground nuts, tea, coffee, cocoa, high quality tinned meat as supplied to British troops supplemented by Kosher meat and limited supplies of eggs for women and children.76 But he admitted that the number of rations had been cut by 5 per cent. His telegram went on to state that, ‘administration of camps remains unchanged on humane lines which has earned admiration of all types of visitors’. We may contrast some of the official British statements on the clearance of the Cyprus detention camps with Foreign and Colonial Office statements made after abandonment of the Mandate. For instance on 12 December 1947 the Foreign Secretary had stated that, ‘Between now and the withdrawal we do expect to clear Cyprus. We must do that. We cannot have illegal immigrants on British territory after that time.’ And in answer to a Parliamentary question on 12 May 1948, the Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for the Colonies had said, ‘It has already been made clear that these persons must be removed from British territory before the final withdrawal from Britain's naval and political reaction to the illegal immigration of jews to palestine, 1945-1948s 150
  • Palestine. The precise arrangements to be made after termination of the Mandate are now under discussion and I am not at present in a position to make a further statement.’77 A lengthy statement by the Government of Cyprus to the local press, also issued on 12 May, stated inter alia: As soon as and whenever the Jewish Agency can arrange transport all illegal immigrants will be free to leave the island It is the wish of the Cyprus Government that the camps should be cleared as expedi-tiously as possible The principal concern of His Majesty’s Government is the clearance of the camps and not the destination of the Jews. The statements on release of the detainees, made before abandonment of the Palestine Mandate, differed considerably from later communications between the Foreign Office, the Colonial Office and the Government of Cyprus, as can be seen from perusal of correspondence, cables and minutes on the subject. The Colonial Office, ‘complied with the Foreign Office desire strongly supported by Mr. Bevin personally, that the Jewish males of military age should continue to be held in Cyprus’.78 While the Foreign Office preferred not to become too involved with the details and stated that it did ‘not wish to be consulted about the terms provided that the present policy to continue to hold persons of military age is maintained’.79 The Colonial Office was the authority which had to deal with the minutiae of laws, rules, instructions and statements but they frequently revealed an ill-concealed hostility towards the fact of Israel’s existence.80 The Governor of Cyprus’ opinion was quite clear: Are we to be saddled with these Jews indefinitely? They were brought here while we were responsible for Palestine as part of an endeavour to keep the peace and promote a settlement we no longer have responsibility in such matters.81 But military-age detainees continued to be held in the Cyprus camps. On 6 December 1948 the MP for Nelson, Sidney Silverman, asked Mr Mayhew, MP for Norfolk South and Parlimentary Under Secretary of State for the Foreign Office, the following question on behalf of the Cyprus detainees: Can my Hon. Friend say whether these people were not originally detained under the exercise, or purported exercise, of the Mandatory Power’s duties with regard to immigration to Palestine, and, since that jurisdiction has come to an end by Act of this House, on what legal or constitutional basis are these people now deprived of their liberty? Mayhew evaded the question by replying, ‘I shall need notice on that legal point.’ Thereupon the Hon. Norman Smith, MP for Nottingham South, asked Mayhew to bear in mind that the State of Israel was obnoxious and odious to most British working men. The House of Commons then turned its attention to debate the important and urgent issues of an additional ration of tea for old-age pensioners and milk cards for children during the forthcoming school holidays. Detention in Palestine—the deportation of illegal Jewish immigrants 151
  • The contentious British struggle against Illegal Jewish Immigration came to its formal conclusion on 18 January 1949 with a statement by Ernest Bevin, the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs: The more favourable situation that has now arisen, Armistice negotiation between Egypt and Israel had begun in Rhodes, has permitted us to send a message to the Acting Mediator announcing that we are now prepared to allow these men of military age to leave as soon as the Jews provide transport for them. Foreign Secretary Bevin’s decision may have been influenced by a case pending in the High Court of Cyprus, whose outcome could have become potentially serious for Britain. The legal procedures initiated by the Jews were only begun in September 1948, after proclamation of the State of Israel and after the new state had abrogated the entire British Immigration Legislation.82 The would-be clandestine immigrant Arjeh Zizimsky, Controller of the Joint Secretariat of the Caraolos camps, had applied to the District Court of Famagusta and pleaded that the detainees were held in what amounted to illegal detention.83 It was only following this plea that the Cyprus Government published the so-called (Removal of Doubt Law 1948), applicable to persons who had been lawfully detained under the provisions of the above-mentioned Law, is lawfully detained under, what the Cyprus authorities were pleased to call: according to the Detention (Illegal Immigration) Laws 1946–8. The question then arose: Does the above Law accord a legal base to the detention of would-be illegal immigrants, although all the British Immigration Laws referring to Palestine had been abrogated and annulled by the State of Israel? It was decided to test this question and a plea was consequently entered to the High Court of Cyprus in the name of Rudolf Shmuel, an immigrant who had been detained when the Susannah (Shabtai Lushinsky) had been boarded, some refugees had been arrested on shore, and her passengers had been detained since 15 March 1947 in the Cyprus camps.84 The Jewish Lawyer Lawrence Weston represented the above-mentioned illegal immigrant and pleaded: a) The Law, which confirms the legality of the detention of the illegal immigrants in Cyprus makes no mention regarding the duration of their detention. Palestine and her Immigration Laws have ceased to exist and there is no longer any legal base for the detention of the illegal immigrants. b). The legal requirements of the legislation in force at the time of their detention had not been adhered to. For instance there is no document signed by the officer in charge of the guards, which details the names of all the immigrants. The prosecutor acting on behalf of the Cyprus Government responded, that admittedly there had been defects in the implementation of the Law, but the Removal of Doubt Legislation had been specifically designed to remove any doubt regarding the legality of the immigrants’ detention. In his judgement dated 8 October 1948 Judge Jackson therefore decided to reject the demand for a habeas corpus order in the matter of Rudolf Shmuel’s detention.85 At the beginning of December 1948 Lawyer Lawrence Weston appealed again to the High Court for an immigrant’s release from detention, this time on behalf of Mordechai Britain's naval and political reaction to the illegal immigration of jews to palestine, 1945-1948s 152
  • Herling, who in turn represented 5,163 would-be immigrants detained in Kessilotimbou camp.86 Morris Leov, the AJDC Representative in Cyprus, had declared under oath to the court that immigration to Palestine was by then totally free and Laurence Weston consequently pleaded that Britain was holding the immigrants only due to her own interpretation of the truce agreement and not by reference to the invalid immigration regulations. Weston, therefore, gave formal notice that when the court found in their favour, the immigrants would be entitled to compensation for wrongful arrest. Final clearance of the Cyprus camps was thus authorised 247 days after the end of the British Mandate of Palestine. A quote from Winston Churchill’s speech in the Commons on 26 January 1948 is cited here as a suitable conclusion to this chapter and as a fitting epitaph: All this is due not only to mental inertia or lack of grips on the part of the Ministers concerned, but also, I am afraid, to the very strong and direct streak of bias and prejudice on the part of the Foreign Secretary. Detention in Palestine—the deportation of illegal Jewish immigrants 153
  • 7 The rules of engagement adopted by the adversaries During the period of the Palestine Patrol covered in this book there were no formal rules of engagement comparable to those promulgated for instance during the Falklands War. The conduct of the naval patrols and of the reinforced Marine Section of the Palestine Police directed towards the boarding and arrest of the IJI vessels was mainly carried out by homing in from contacts made by air patrols. A naval officer had been appointed as Naval Liason Officer (NLO) to MILPAL, intelligence was received from Cairo and from Northern Mediterranean ports. Naval operation orders (Tableland) and RAF operation orders (Sunbeam) were both written in the combined operations room at Alexandria. The Palestine Patrol nearly always experienced difficulties through the scarcity of reliable intelligence and the post-war shortage of communication ratings in the ships keeping watch. Illegal ships were kept under observation to the three-mile limit and then stopped by approved methods of signals. Marine police launches reinforced by naval personnel were initially used in the final boarding and arrest. IJI ships were dealt in as humane a manner as possible1 and international law was being observed. Changes and improvement had to be introduced in June 1946, when the passive submission hitherto practiced by the Jewish immigrants went to a distinct phase of a reluctant submission. The Commander-in-Chief Mediterranean decided to set up a Naval Operations Headquarters in the 1st British Infantry Headquarters at the Stella Maris convent adjacent to Mount Carmel lighthouse while the Naval Officer in Charge (NOIC) Haifa was directed to pass intelligence and operate the destroyer patrols. General direction was passed to the Senior Naval Officer (Afloat) (Haifa). This saved a cruiser which hitherto had to be permanently stationed at Haifa port and it also avoided the real sabotage risk. The Staff Officer Operations to the Senior Naval Officer (Afloat) thus became NOIC Haifa. During this phase it was realised that the British destroyers were compelled to board ship-to-ship with both ships underway, with the Jewish ships proceeding at high speed and on a very erratic course. There was the very real danger of destroyers sustaining serious damage and stronger constructed fleet minesweepers with better manoeuvreability than the destroyers were introduced to act as boarding ships, although this type of vessel soon proved unsuitable, when the speed and size of the illegal ships increased. By August 1946 a complete change in the mood of the immigrants was demonstrated and the days of unopposed boardings were obviously over. Pitched battles took place and every conceivable implement was being used by the would-be immigrants to avoid arrest. New tactics were devised by the Royal Navy and special training and equipment were introduced to avoid the need to resort to firearms or sustaining unnecessary damage to HM ships. Flag Officer, Destroyers, Malta took over control of six-day boarding courses,
  • training officers and ratings in hand-to-hand fighting, he also initiated courses at the Diving School at Manoel Island to train teams from each ship in shallow-water diving techniques to counter the threat from underwater saboteurs. Regular boarding meetings for the exchange of experiences were attended by the staff of Flag Officer, Destroyers, Malta and all the commanding officers of ships recently returned from the coast of Palestine. Special departments like SASO and the Mechanical Engineering Department (MED), Malta, were called in to liaise with the Armament Warfare School at Porton to modifiy existing equipment to meet the special boarding requirements. Strict rules controlled the work of the special committee and all experiments carried out to develop means of stopping an illegal vessel before boarding had to fulfil the following four requirements: 1 they must be easy to manufacture; 2 they must not endanger the lives of illegal passengers; 3 they must not be a potential source of danger to HM ships; 4 they must be capable of deployment within the three-mile limit; (that meant that they had to produce effect quickly.) Special orders were issued to pay attention to smartness in the appearance of the boarding parties who had to turn out in white No. 5 jumpers tucked into No. 3 trousers, white steel helmets, webbing and gaiters blancoed white and so forth. A Commodore (DeSalis) with his operational headquarters ashore at Haifa was appointed in October 1946 to meet local security problems and to maintain a better continuity in the operational command of the Palestine Patrol. The increasingly rigid conditions imposed by the Jewish opposition had forced, in the course of time, the evolution of boarding operations from the original few hands and a whaler’s crew to a specialised form of general quarters with every officer and man in the ship personally implicated and taking an active part. The subsequent ‘Paramount Rules’ as laid down by the Tactical and Staff Duties Division of the Naval Staff are here briefly summarised: a OUTSIDE TERRITORIAL WATERS vessels may be boarded on the high seas, in agreement with the Master of the ship, for the purpose of establishing their nationality only. b INSIDE TERRITORIAL WATERS any vessel believed to be carrying illegal immigrants may be ordered to stop and subsequently searched. If the suspicions are substantiated, the vessel may be arrested and brought into port. Force may be used but must be avoided whenever possible. c USE OF FORCE: Use of small arms. Subject to the overriding principle that the minimum of force should always be used, firing in self defence is legitimate. Use of ship armament. It was abundantly clear from the start that if HM ships main or close-range armament were used against an overcrowded and unseaworthy illegal vessel the cost in human life might be disastrous. Firing into an illegal vessel could not, therefore, be contemplated, except in the unlikely event of the vessel herself employing such armament in an offensive manner, or of the security of the boarding ship being threatened by counterboarding parties. The policy therefore is one of being prepared to meet only these contingencies.2 Detention The rules of engagement adopted by the adversaries 155
  • There were many more rules dealing with defence at anchor, interception,3 training of boarding parties, weapons and equipment, boarding tactics, forming a plan and so on. Special emphasis in the Admiralty was placed on psychological tactics. Commanding Officers were exhorted to employ the time from the interception to the moment of boarding in an endeavour to break down the morale of the immigrants, to work them into a more reasonable frame of mind, and to undermine the authority of their leaders.4 There were several different Jewish organisations which were all, in sometimes quite different ways, promoting and supporting clandestine illegal immigration to Palestine. ‘The Rules of Engagement’ of these groupings necessarily differed radically from each others’ ground rules and also varied in time and place. Mossad guidelines for their clandestine work in Europe and North America remained fairly static, changing over periods of time in scale and intensity, mainly due to the financial contingencies and the relative pressure of immigrants on the facilities in the countries of embarkation. 1 Clandestine acquisition of vessels under post-war market condition. 2 Employing captains and crews for illegal and dangerous tasks. 3 Repairing the vessels and their preparation for accommodation of the immigrants. 4 Equipping the ships with food and water. 5 Concentration of the immigrants in the camps, preparation of the immigrants and their training for immigration. 6 Maintenance of radio communications between the European stations, Palestine and the ships at sea. 7 Establishment and maintenance of continuous and secret relations with authorities and organisations in the countries of transit and embarkation. 8 Management of a financial network, transfer of moneys from country to country without conventional banking institutions. 9 It was an iron rule established by Ben Gurion himself, that consignments of illegal arms for the Haganah and illegal immigrants must be carried in separate Mossad vessels. Ben Gurion was not always a convinced instigator or supporter of rule 9. In October 1945 he sent a telegram to Moshe Sneh demanding in paras. 2, 3 and 12 an ‘Aliyah Gimel’ (illegal immigration by force of arms), resistance to the police at sea and on land with machine guns, grenades and pistols, to be carried out by the Armée Juive, the Jewish resistance organisation in France. There was no enthusiasm for the Aliyah Gimel project, neither in the ranks of the Jewish Brigade based in Western Europe nor among the people that Ben Gurion invited to lead the organisation. Even the keenest activists like Moshe Sneh and Israel Galili pointed out the political and logistic difficulties and only 36 lukewarm members of the Armée Juive volunteered. The involvement of the Royal Navy in support of the Palestine Police from the beginning of 1946 put paid to the idea of Aliyah Gimel.5 Decisions on the extent of passive or active resistance to boarding and arrest were liable to change from time to time and from vessel to vessel. These decisions depended to a great extent on the composition of the immigrant passengers onboard (children, pregnant women, or organised groups of tough, trained young pioneers and so on). Resistance also depended on the expected British reaction, internment in Atlit (Palestine), deportation to Cyprus or refoulement, availability of deportation ships and in the final Britain's naval and political reaction to the illegal immigration of jews to palestine, 1945-1948s 156
  • resort on the attitude of the individual Palmach and Mossad escorts and commanders. The escorts had realised early on that it was not lack of food, water, or beatings by marines and sailors and the application of water jets that would force the escorts to order abandonment of the shipboard struggle, it was the teargas inserted into the confined holds of the vessels that endangered children and babies lives, which nearly always led to surrender.6 The Mossad, whose members normally commanded the IJI vessels, was based mainly on Ben Gurion’s and Shertok’s Mapai. They preferably abhorred violent confrontations which could have endangered the lives of immigrants, and were usually much more concerned with the political effects of decisions involving departure dates, planned landings and extent of resistance to be offered. Ben Gurion clearly forsaw the expected war with the Arabs and his [Mapai], therefore, generally tried to select such immigrants as would be most useful in the coming struggle, in preference to old and disabled passengers. The Palmach and its naval branch, the Palyam, who supplied the young escorts and radio operators, frequently reacted violently to British actions and demanded armed confrontations with the British in Palestine, Cyprus, at sea and in Europe. Projects for some of their most provocative actions were thwarted through last-minute interventions at the highest levels.7 Jewish Agency negotiations with the US State Department, the British UN delegation and others forced abandonment of the Pan Crescent/Pan York operation and the peaceful and agreed diversion of these ships to Cyprus. In another instance secret information on planned sabotage of British warships was betrayed to the Haifa CID branch of the Palestine Police.8 The version that Captain J.H.Ruck Keene of HMS Chequers solely through his intuition correctly indicated the oiling wharf and the wreck from which the attackers could operate the dynamo exploder is obviously a myth.9 A stage in relations between Palmach and Haganah had been reached, where the zero hour for limpet-mine attacks in Haifa harbour was deliberately brought forward to allow attacks to proceed without interference or betrayal. In addition there were the activities of the revisionist youth movement Betar, unofficially affiliated to the dissident IZL. Approximately half of the IJI ships landing between 1933–9 had been organised and despatched by the revisionists, but in the 1945–8 period they only managed to send out one vessel successfully, the Abril/Ben Hecht. The dissidents refused to accept the Jewish Agency’s authority and rejected the Mossad’s and their affiliates’ guidelines of conducting the repatriation of the Jewish people secretly as a smuggling operation. They openly disagreed with the official Jewish authorities denial to assume public responsibility for the clandestine immigration activities. There was obviously an immense difference beween such a programme and the activities of the Haganah.10 In spite of the intensity of their disagreement with the revisionists, the Haganah eventually assisted with the refitting of the Abril and its representatives in Europe co-operated in the despatch of the refugee passengers. Their second ship, the Vrissi, was blown up in an Italian port (Commander Crabb? The Haganah? We will probably never know) and the third and last, the Altalena, carrying immigrants and arms, was shelled and set on fire by Zahal gunners, while trying to unload arms on a Tel Aviv beach. The diversity of participating organisations, and the changing circumstances necessarily led to a large variety in the Zionists’ Rules of Engagement or Paramount Rules. Detention The rules of engagement adopted by the adversaries 157
  • Figure 1 Luggage belonging to illegal immigrants from the Susanna who came ashore on the beach near Nitzanim. Notice the soldiers of the 6th Airborne Division in the background (source: Picture Archive of the Palmach). Britain's naval and political reaction to the illegal immigration of jews to palestine, 1945-1948s 158
  • Figure 2 Tank-loading space of LST 3016 before the embarkation of survivors from MS Athinai for Famagusta (source: D.Allum, HMS Providence). Figure 3 Tank-loading space of LST 3016 after disembarkation of Athinai survivors, following Jewish ‘sabotage’ (source: D.Allum, HMS Providence). Detention The rules of engagement adopted by the adversaries 159
  • Figure 4 ‘Welfare Wand’—two tear- gas canisters attached to the end of a nail-studded broom-handle. The weapon was invented by the gunnery officer of HMS Mermaid for use during the boarding of illegal immigrant ships (source: Gwyn Parry, HMS Mermaid). Britain's naval and political reaction to the illegal immigration of jews to palestine, 1945-1948s 160
  • Figure 5 The ‘Irini’, crammed with more than 1,000 Albanian refugees heading from Velipoja, near Scutari, towards Bari in May 1997, bears a strong resemblance to the overloaded Jewish illegal immigrant ships (source: Press Association). Detention The rules of engagement adopted by the adversaries 161
  • Figure 6 Sirius (Dalin), the first IJI ship despatched after the end of the Second World War, being blessed before its launch by Monsignore Cav. Vescovo Gustavo Bianchi, Bishop of Monopoli, and Arcivescovo Pietro Boetto d.C.d. Gesu, August 1945 (source: Picture Archive of the Palmach; photographer Enrico Levi; names identified by archivista Luigi Alfonso). Figure 7 Launch of the Sirius (Dalin), Monopoli, near Bari, 28 August 1945 (source: Picture Archive of the Palmach). Britain's naval and political reaction to the illegal immigration of jews to palestine, 1945-1948s 162
  • Figure 8 Sirius (Dalin) dressed overall for sea trials, 1945 (source: Sangermani shipyard). Figure 9 The Paducah off the Turkish coast. A good example of the confusion that can surround the names of illegal immigration ships: she was renamed the Geulah (Redemption) by her purchasers, while her Mossad Detention The rules of engagement adopted by the adversaries 163
  • codename was Hamalach (Sailor); some sources, however, refer to her as the Biarritz, after the port where she was refitted (source: Eddie Barrett, HMS Chaplet). Figure 10 The San Dimitrio (Latrun) heading into Haifa harbour. Note the passengers on the starboard rail trying to compensate for the heavy list (source: D.Allum, HMS Providence). Britain's naval and political reaction to the illegal immigration of jews to palestine, 1945-1948s 164
  • Detention The rules of engagement adopted by the adversaries 165
  • Figure 11 The San Felipe (Moledet/Patria), carrying 1,568 illegal immigrants, being towed into Haifa harbour, 29 March 1947, with a list of 35° (source: D.Allum, HMS Providence). Figure 12 The San Felipe (Moledet/Patria), carrying 1,568 illegal immigrants, being docked in Haifa harbour, 29 March 1947 (source: Picture Archive of the Palmach). Britain's naval and political reaction to the illegal immigration of jews to palestine, 1945-1948s 166
  • Figure 13 The Naval General Service Medal with ‘Palestine Clasp’ (so- called ‘Bevin Star’) awarded for the RN forces who served in Palestine waters between 1945–8. This particular example was awarded to the late Geoff Morter, Chief Gunner and Boarding Party Trainer on board HMS Chevron (source: Freddy Liebreich). Detention The rules of engagement adopted by the adversaries 167
  • Figure 14 Abbruziana (Jerusalem Besieged). 12 February 1948 (source: Eddie Barrett, HMS Chaplet). Figure 15 Wreck of the illegal immigrant vessel Athinai (Rafiah) visited by divers in 1998. Picture taken Britain's naval and political reaction to the illegal immigration of jews to palestine, 1945-1948s 168
  • during filming of Amos Karmeli’s film, Regaim shel Hessed o Gehinom (Moments of Grace or Hell) (source: Picture Archive of the Palmach, photographer Omri Ben-Eliyahu). Detention The rules of engagement adopted by the adversaries 169
  • Figure 16 An antique chart of Sirina showing sites relating to the sinking of the Athinai (Rafiah) (source: National Geographical Institute). Figure 17 Remains of the controversial radio transmitter, recovered from the wreck of the Athinai (Rafiah) in 1998 and now kept at the Israel Maritime College in Michmoret (source: F.Liebreich, 2004; photo taken with permission of Omri Ben Eliyahu, director of the Israel Maritime College in Michmoret). Britain's naval and political reaction to the illegal immigration of jews to palestine, 1945-1948s 170
  • Figure 18 Immigrants from the Fede II (Arba Hiruyot/Four Freedoms) being transhipped for deportation to Cyprus, 6 September 1946 (source: Picture Achive of the Palmach). Figure 19 One of the passengers giving birth on board the Fede II (Arba Detention The rules of engagement adopted by the adversaries 171
  • Hiruyot/Four Freedoms). Mother and daughter were transhipped and deported to Cyprus on 6 September 1946 along with the rest of the cargo of illegal immigrants (source: Picture Archive of the Palmach). Figure 20 Illegal Jewish immigrants from Algeria. In May 1947 it took the combined efforts of HMS Whitesand Bay, Peacock, Talibont and Skipjack to intercept the Earl of Zetland II (Annal) and tranship its passengers to Cyprus for internment. Note the bare feet (source: Picture Archive of the Palmach). Britain's naval and political reaction to the illegal immigration of jews to palestine, 1945-1948s 172
  • Figure 21 Former US coastguard icebreaker Northland (Medinat Hajehudim/Jewish State) intercepted by HMS Charity on 2 October 1947. The Northland/Medinat Hajehudim was later renamed Zefonit, later Elat (Aleph 16) Israeli ‘battleship’ with an enormous wooden mock front gun (source: Picture Archive of the Palmach). Detention The rules of engagement adopted by the adversaries 173
  • Figure 22 Scene on board the Maria Christina (Lo Tafchidunu/You Will not Scare Us), intercepted by HMS Chequers, Volage, Verulam and Bigbury Bay in December 1947. Her passengers ended up interned in Britain's naval and political reaction to the illegal immigration of jews to palestine, 1945-1948s 174
  • Cyprus (source: Picture Archive of the Palmach). Figure 23 Anatomy of a boarding, 1: HMS Childers (R91) CH class destroyer, one of two Royal Navy destroyers being used to box in the Bruna (Yod Daled Halalei Gesher Haziv) in preparation for boarding, 28 July 1947 (source: Picture Archive of the Palmach). Detention The rules of engagement adopted by the adversaries 175
  • Figure 24 Anatomy of a boarding, 2: Passengers and crew are driven below decks by tear gas. Unidentified IJI ship and British destroyer (source: Picture Archive of the Palmach). Britain's naval and political reaction to the illegal immigration of jews to palestine, 1945-1948s 176
  • Figure 25 Anatomy of a boarding, 3: A ketch anchor is fired across an IJI ship from HMS Childers (source: Picture Archive of the Palmach). Figure 26 Anatomy of a boarding, 4: Boarding parties from HMS Talybont keep the decks of the Heleni (Gabriela) clear with fire hoses as they Detention The rules of engagement adopted by the adversaries 177
  • prepare to board (source: Davies, Picture Archive of the Palmach). Figure 27 Anatomy of a boarding, 5; The battle is over—Galata (Shear Yashuv) under the control of a boarding party (source: Wallis, Picture Archive of the Palmach). Britain's naval and political reaction to the illegal immigration of jews to palestine, 1945-1948s 178
  • Figure 28 Anatomy of a boarding, 6: Exodus 1947, Palmach, Hannah Szenesh, Eliahu Golomb and Haviru Reik on ‘Rotten Row’, Haifa breakwater, where many IJI ships ended up after being boarded. In the background the Empire Concrete, waiting to take on illegal immigrants for deportation (source: Picture Archive of the Palmach). Detention The rules of engagement adopted by the adversaries 179
  • 8 The British forces engaged in anti- immigration patrols and the confronting Jewish adversaries It must be noted that not all RN ships detailed in Appendix I were engaged simultaneously in the Palestine Patrol,1 Britain’s long-running naval embargo operation against the Palestine coast. The Admiralty resented the drain on their resources and were never enthusiastic about helping to combat illegal immigration: In the first place, I think we must write off as impossible any idea of invoking help from the Navy. They were reluctant enough to lend temporary assistance in 1939 during peace-time and in present conditions in the Eastern Mediterranean, I do not think we could possible approach the Admiralty for help in combating illegal immigration.2 A signal from the Admiralty sent in 1934 and in force until 1939 had given orders that the Royal Navy was not to intercept immigration vessels on their way to Palestine.3 The navy was still assisting the Palestine government within the limits of restrictions on fuel and time, until diverted to matters of higher priority as the European crisis deepened in late summer 1939. It was hardly surprising that with the outbreak of war the sparse naval assistance which hitherto sporadically assisted the civil authorities became unavailable. Substituting for the non-availability of naval assistance was the strengthening of the Palestine coastguard system and the introduction by the Palestine government of a patrol system operated by fast, armed motor launches. The value of this patrol was nullified by secret orders4 against firing into illegal immigrant ships in order to enforce the orders of the Patrol.5 These orders resulted from an incident in May 1939 in which two illegal immigrants were killed by fire from a patrol launch,6 an encounter which led to uncomfortable repercussions in parliament.7 Illegal immigrant ships soon realised that they could call the Patrol’s bluff when ordered to put back towards the open sea. Political consideration forbade the use of excessive force, while the Marine Police’s patrol launches proved inadequate to the task. On 1 September 1939 the Palestine Police launch Lorna fired her Lewis gun at the illegal immigration ship Tiger Hill, claiming self- defence against an attempt by the Tiger Hill to ram and sink the Lorna.8 The skippers’ reports of the two incidents are very unreliable—in the case of the Aghios Nicolaos it was the launch’s Lewis gun and not the skipper’s pistol which resulted in the casualties, and the Tiger Hill had both anchors down when she allegedly tried to ram the police launch.9 Until 14 May 1948 one cruiser and a C-Class destroyer were normally stationed as a first line of defence and as back-up and control ships further west. In 1946, however, there were two flotillas in the Mediterranean and the system adopted at the time was to
  • send a force of six destroyers and two minesweepers from either flotilla to the eastern Mediterranean for a six-week tour of patrol duty. In fact operational requirements were met for most of the period during which Britain tried to uphold its blockade of the Palestine coast against landings of Illegal Jewish ships by stationing on average three destroyers, one frigate and three minesweepers near the Palestine coasts,10 backed by a cruiser stationed further west, co-ordinating the naval operations. The strength of the Palestine Patrol squadron fluctuated with the intensity of the Jewish attempts in breaking the blockade and with the general deployment of British naval units, that is, the passage of vessels from the Far East or Red Sea through the Mediterranean, return of units to Britain for decommissioning and so an. In addition two Landing Craft Infantry (LCI) units based at Haifa also assisted and three Motor Fishing Vessels (MFV), seven launches and a Landing Craft Tank (LCT) for harbour patrol duty were despatched from Malta. This force was further supported in the western Mediterranean by additional frigates. RAF 38 Squadron based at Ein Shemer in Palestine, equipped with Lancaster aircraft, and RAF 113 Squadron based at Aquir in Palestine, equipped with Halifax aircraft, carried out searches. They were augmented by Spitfires from RAF 208 Squadron which carried out afternoon reconnaissance flights and sweeps out to 30 miles from the coast. Patrols by twin-engined Warwick reconnaissance aircraft, but out to a greater depth, would have been more helpful in giving warning of shipping likely to reach the coast during the dark hours. The Navy depended on RAF aircraft to spot the ships, but the RAF too was over-extended and with its March 1947 complement, ‘could send up planes on only half the days of each month. The RAF, therefore, could no longer guarantee efficient coverage of the approaches.’11 D.L.Matheson of the Colonial Office and J.G.S.Beith of the Foreign Office had concurred in a suggestion that US journalists and others should be taken on IJI patrol flights. Air Ministry London disagreed. The Assistant Chief of Staff believed it could bring undesirable attention to the units concerned in Palestine.12 The Air Ministry was not too keen for the extra publicity it would have brought the RAF in connection with the illegal immigration problem. The instructions given to HQ Mediterranean/Middle East were ambiguous: A blunt refusal may well cause suspicion about what goes on these flights we therefore agree that you may give permission but suggest that it should be limited or refused as much as possible where good reasons can be given for doing this on practical grounds we assume of course that you will confirm with the High Commissioner that he has no objection.13 An idea of the scope and significance of RAF involvement (operation Tableland) may be gained from the following figures: Out of 20 illegal ships that arrived after 17 March 1946, 17 were first seen by RAF planes. Times spent in the air varied with the intensity of illegal immigration activities between 241 flying hours (March 1947) and 25½ flying hours (July 1947). The period between the RAF sighting an IJI ship and arrival of a RN vessel could be as long as ten hours.14 The prospect of having to deal with faster and heavier blockade runners inevitably led to increases in the naval forces deployed in enforcing the blockade. The Admiralty The British forces engaged in anti-immigration patrols and the confronting Jewish adversaries 181
  • considered for instance that interception in July 1947 of the President Warfield (Exodus 1947) required a superior force, consisting of the cruiser Ajax, four C-Class destroyers and a frigate. The British naval force running the anti-immigration blockade of Palestine peaked in December 1947, when the cruisers Mauritius and Phoebe, together with the destroyers Chequers, Chivalrous and Volage as well as the frigates Cardigan Bay and Whitesand Bay deployed in the Aegean, preparing to board the Pan York and Pan Crescent emerging from the Black Sea while carrying between them 15,260 immigrants. Naval operations were directed by Senior Naval Officer (Afloat) Haifa, Commodore (Captain DeSalis), and Naval Officer in Charge, Haifa from Naval Headquarters set up in the First Infantry Division’s headquarters at Mount Carmel Lighthouse (Stella Maris), while Intelligence was centred at military headquarters, Jerusalem. There never was the least likelihood of an attempt at an attack by an IJI ship on a British warship being made on the high seas. For obvious humanitarian and political reasons it was never feasible to use the British warships’ main or close-range armaments against the overcrowded and unseaworthy illegal vessels.15 A policy of ‘sink on sight’ would have been repugnant to the British Navy. Firing into an illegal vessel, except in self-defence, could have led to a disastrous cost in human life and was never seriously contemplated, although there were officers like Captain A.F. DeSalis who stated forcefully, ‘tell your Jews to stop it [the illegal immigration] otherwise I shall give orders that future illegal ships are to be torpedoed and we shall not bother to rescue the criminals’.16 It may be noted that Captain DeSalis was reputed to have been violently anti-Semitic, whether the fact that he was also Catholic is relevant is a moot point.17 Anti-Jewish sentiment18 was particularly pronounced in the case of the Roman Catholic Church in England as elsewhere19 and rubbed off on English Catholic officials in Palestine,20 who were generally hostile to Zionism. In DeSalis’ mitigation it must be said that he made the remarks quoted above in the aftermath of the King David Hotel and Goldsmith Officers’ Club bombings. But DeSalis must have known that no British destroyer captain would torpedo a ship filled with immigrants. On the other hand, on 18 July 1947, during the Exodus 1947 affair, there was a Palmach plan to attack an anchored British cruiser or destroyer with a home-made 800- metre-range electrical torpedo ‘Karish’ (Shark). Jig’al Alon-Feikovitz (Commander of the Palmach, nom-deguerre ‘Jiftah’) was present on the beach, but at practically the last minute the action was cancelled by David Ben Gurion himself, because he was concerned over the political repercussions should a destroyer sink.21 Weapons used by boarding parties trying to gain control when attempting to arrest ships of dubious registration were initially restricted to small arms, pistols, ‘Lanchester’ sub-machineguns, rifles and entrenching tool helves. Firing over the heads of the immigrants was strongly deprecated by the army authorities, although the sound of ‘Lanchester’ fire is very impressive and seemed to have an intimidating effect on truculent adversaries. However, Lanchester carbines proved unsuitable weapons for men expected to gain the day by unarmed combat. The limitations placed on the use of firearms as offensive weapons led to the introduction of a very effective two-foot cosh. Experiments carried out at the Royal Marine Training Centre in Ghain Tuffieha (Malta)22 resulted in optimisation of this close- Britain's naval and political reaction to the illegal immigration of jews to palestine, 1945-1948s 182
  • combat weapon: it was made from a tapered length of ash with the hand-grip end being thinnest, an eight-ounce lead balancing weight in the hand grip and a ½-inch-wide and ¼- inch-thick steel ring encircling the thick end. A cod-line lanyard securing the baton to wrist or shoulder was found useful when both hands were needed to facilitate boarding. Lead-weighted wire stonachies23 were other, possibly lethal, boarding weapons. Officers were not supposed to carry batons, and there is a report of an officer carrying a cutlass for boarding!24 Tear gas was extensively used,25 it was very effective in confined spaces such as wheelhouses, but of limited use on open decks. Application proved problematical; the first tear-gas weapon used was the Generator, Lachrymatory No.II. The Mk II gas generators cost five shillings for 1½ minutes of smoke.26 These gas generators were often thrown back or kicked overboard by the defending Jews, until the fuses were modified from ten to five and later to three seconds.27 The boarding parties then used the glass bulb No. 67 grenade, but unfortunately the liquid in the grenade could cause severe burns on faces and limbs of the immigrants and even permanent blindness, consequently its use had to be banned on humanitarian grounds. Marines and navy then used the explosive No. 92 grenade, which could not be thrown back but caused injuries on explosion. The boarding parties then experimented with the No. 91 smoke grenade, which was well- spoken off, since it used to produce a powerful emission of smoke, without further harm to people in the vicinity, but the type 91 had the drawback of not generating adequate quantities of tear smoke quickly enough and not becoming hot enough to prevent it being thrown back.28 The supply of these grenades, however was not usually adequate. Other tear-gas weapons used were the hand-held aerosol sprayers resembling a pistol and emitting a cloud of tear gas and the so-called ‘welfare wand’, a 3½-foot-long wand or brush-handle studded with nails and with two No. 91 grenades wired to its end.29 The ‘minimax sprayer’, resembling a fire extinguisher fitted with a long rubber hose, was also used, but the ‘riot gun’, firing a smoke grenade to a distance of 40 feet, proved lethal and had to be withdrawn. Chinese Crackers, resembling oversize fireworks, used during arrests of IJI ships from April 1947 onwards were successful, as they caused alarm among the defenders and hindered ship handling. There was a requirement for a light ‘Zulu’-type armshield of three-ply wood, and this had been produced for trial to protect ratings, not in the boarding party, but those employed working hoses or wires on the forecastle of the boarding ship. The most unorthodox weapon must surely have been the box of stones kept on the deck of HMS Euryalus.30 Sentries on deck guarding against swimming limpet-mine placers were supposed to throw rocks at any suspicious piece of flotsam (empty boxes or other debris) before opening fire. Boarding-party officers expected that fire-hoses would prove the most effective means of clearing the decks of intercepted IJI ships. Action station practice with hoses connected to the ship’s fire mains on their gun-decks quickly confirmed that the pressure required from the pumps below needed to be increased considerably to be effective, but sufficient pressure could not be obtained and only token jets were produced.31 Radar Mechanic Knight recalls an immigrant on the Anal taking off his shirt to rub himself down under HMS Peacock’s jet.32 Trailer pumps producing two jets at 120 lb./sq.in. were embarked from June 1947 on all warships involved in the Palestine Patrol and supplemented the less powerful ships’ hoses supplied with sea water by the fire mains. The British forces engaged in anti-immigration patrols and the confronting Jewish adversaries 183
  • The exercises given to navy men at the Royal Marine base of Ghain Tuffieha, Malta, were not without hazard.33 Tear-gas-filled trenches had to be traversed, first with but then without gas masks and formidable obstacles had to be overcome.34 Special equipment on HM ships included special wood ‘boarding ramps’, fitted to some minesweepers and frigates and ‘grappling irons’ to secure the boarding ship to their adversary. These grappling irons were sometimes secured by dropping the bower anchor onto the deck of the immigrant ship or by firing a kedge anchor from a depth-charge thrower.35 A wire netting cage was rigged in the form of an awning along the destroyers’ or frigates’ forecastles and was often also fitted in the form of awning curtains at the sides to protect the boarders from bombardment with missiles, but gaps had to be left to allow the boarding party to cross. As much fendering as feasible was used on the side on which the boarding was planned to take place to reduce damage to HM ships.36 A favourite weapon of the Jewish immigrants was corned beef tins—a very handy weapon in close combat. The meat was removed, the four sides of the tin would be cut, opened out into the shape of a fan and thrown, as one would a boomerang, resulting in jagged wounds on contact.37 Experiments to immobilise IJI ships by fouling their screws with entangling chains or cables with attached snag lines were not successful in producing a quick enough effect. But all the above-mentioned weapons and the special equipment had to be weighed against the constraining factor, that a vessel travelling at 12 knots would run aground in less than 15 minutes after entering the three-mile limit and that owing to shoals a destroyer could not safely pursue for the last five minutes.38 The most effective defensive weapons used to prevent illegal immigrants from evading capture and swimming ashore were 1¼ pound charges activated by detonators and short lengths of Bickford fuse to explode underwater. They were also used in large quantities as weapons against those trying to place limpet-mines and to deter underwater saboteurs; as many as 40 had been used on occasions by one ship in a single night.39 The issue of a Naval General Service Medal with a campaign ribbon and the inscription ‘Palestine 45/48’ on the clasp and the holder’s full name and rank inscribed on the rim, was a small indication of the efforts made by the Senior Service in combating IJI into Palestine and how seriously the blockading Palestine Patrol was taken. (See Figure 13). Transhipment of intercepted illegal immigrants to Cyprus, and within the permitted monthly quotas, the return of internees to Palestine, were assisted by troop transporters based on 7,000-ton Second World War ‘Liberty’ ships40 Empire Rival (sabotaged by Haganah swimmers/limpetmines, 22 August 1946 and again in Hamburg, September 1947), Empire Heywood, Ocean Vigour (sabotaged 2 April 1947 in Cyprus) and Runnymede Park, as well as by the converted 1,100-ton Castle Class corvettes, the exrescue ships41 Empire Lifeguard (sabotaged 3 April 1947 en route to Alexandria), Empire Shelter, Empire Rest and Empire Comfort (sabotaged 23 July 1947 while carrying Cyprus detainees to Palestine). Once the decision to deport detainees who arrived off the coast of Palestine had been taken, it was the provision of shipping for the transfer of arrested Jewish illegal immigrants to Cyprus which created one of the most intractable problems for the British and Palestinian authorities. The problem was exacerbated by the periodic attacks by Jewish saboteurs on the ships engaged in these operations and by the need to arrange for Britain's naval and political reaction to the illegal immigration of jews to palestine, 1945-1948s 184
  • the orderly transfer to Palestine of Cyprus camp residents, whose turn to return to Haifa within the monthly quota had arrived. In January 1947 the Commander-in-Chief, GHQ Middle East Land Forces wrote to the Ministry of Defence42 on the topic ‘Provision of Shipping for Transfer of Jewish Illegal Immigrants to Cyprus’. General Headquarters was very con-cerned about the increased commitments due to a possible delay in transhipping illegal immigrants from Haifa to Cyprus. In the letter, they reviewed shipping requirements since early September 1946 which had been covered by the allocation of the two Liberty-type cargo vessels Empire Rival and Empire Heywood with a rated capacity each of 800 passengers. At the same time the Principal Sea Transport Officer also retained the Ocean Vigour with a capacity of 800 detainees to replace the sabotaged Empire Rival and subsequently to replace the Empire Heywood which was held in Suez and had been reserved for operation ‘Malvolio’ (the transfer of Jewish dissident detainees from Eritrea to Kenya). This operation was supposed to be carried out on around 22 February 1947, but in any case as soon as the political situation allowed. The Commanders-in-Chief were most concerned that the four excorvettes allocated by the Ministry of Defence43 were not going to be able to convey more than 320 immigrants each, and basing their calculations on Jewish arrivals during the months July-November 1946 they estimated the average number of arrivals at any time at about 1,300. But immigrants arrived in batches as follows: 20 July 2,700; 13/14 August 3,250; and 26 November 4,000. This created serious overcrowding, leading to a shortage of available lifesaving appliances, thus resulting in serious risk to life and health, particularly in view of large numbers of children and pregnant women. The letter quoted the Commander-in-Chief Mediterranean: ‘Larger and faster ships are already being used for illegal traffic and attempts to concert arrival of two or more at a time is a definite problem. List of suspect ships is increasing’, and he recommended that the requirements for shipping capacity should be raised from 1,600 to at least 2,000. Further difficulties arose from the fact that the three ocean-going cargo ships then engaged in carriage of illegal immigrants from Palestine to Cyprus were unsuitable for the winter months, since they could not berth alongside at Famagusta for disembarkation. This was the main reason for their substitution with the four Empire corvettes. The corvettes in turn had only daytime accommodation and difficulties arose when embarked passengers had to be kept for longer than the normal 16-hour Haifa-Cyprus journey at sea, in territorial waters, to await the outcome of legal proceedings instituted by Jewish authorities or individuals against deportations. Just in case something were to go terribly wrong during a transhipment, GHQ MELF concluded their letter to the Ministry of Defence with the warning that they considered the over-crowding, shortage of life-saving appliances and so on, no longer acceptable, ‘in view of situation likely to develop in Palestine (in case of casualties due to overcrowding). At approximately the same time Ministry of Transport sent a note to the Chiefs of Staff Committee, headed ‘Transport of Illegal Immigrants from Palestine to Cyprus’44 in which they advised that they had been informed by the Commander-in-Chief Mediterranean that three of the four Empire corvettes needed special fittings to be installed locally and would not be ready until mid-February, and the fourth was delayed at Malta with engine trouble. As mentioned above the persistent nightmare was the fear The British forces engaged in anti-immigration patrols and the confronting Jewish adversaries 185
  • that the Zionists would attempt to create a problem by concerting the arrival of two or more ships at a time, while illegal immigrants could not be held back in or near Haifa awaiting transfer to Cyprus. The Commander-in-Chief Mediterranean, therefore, wished to retain all three ocean-going cargo ships until the corvettes were ready, when they might consider releasing one of these ships. But the Ministry of Transport on their part considered that this would create a serious situation for them, as these three valuable cargo ships should be returned to trade as soon as possible, and one had already been sold in January 1944 to a private shipping company, which was pressing for the release of its property. The Department of Transport asked the Ministry of Defence to appreciate that Britain’s current need for essential supplies and services (and dollar earnings) made it impossible to justify allocation of valuable commercial ships to operations where they were only intermittently employed. The Ministry of Defence was, therefore pressed that: 1 Commanders-in-Chief, Middle East, should be invited to devise means of dealing with the problem caused by the simultaneous arrival of large numbers of illegal immigrants without retaining these three valuable cargo ships. 2 One fitted cargo ship should be released immediately the first two corvettes are ready, and the other two by the end of March. To strengthen their case the Department of Transport enclosed a copy of a telegram from C-in-C Mediterranean dated 15 January 1947 to the Department of Sea Transport which quoted COMPAL’s signals 01125 and 12118. These signals stated that the most important factor was no longer shipping capable of direct discharge to shore at Famagusta, but avoidance of holding illegals in or near Haifa while awaiting transfer to Cyprus. This telegram poured cold water on proposals to utilise some of the intercepted ex- illegal ships held in Haifa port by stating that only two so far captured could be made seaworthy and even that would take five months. C-in-C Mediterranean considered it essential to retain all three Empire Rival-type transports until the first four corvettes were ready and then, depending on traffic, ‘consideration will be given to the release of one Empire type transport’. Concerns about the situation onboard the deportation ships and about the morale of escorting troops and crews were soon added to the general imbroglio about capacities and loss of potential currency earnings. British troops guarding the immigrants had also been confined on the transports over three weeks and the morale of the troops was reported as being no more than ‘satisfactory’, but the same could not be said about the merchant seamen and caterers who had caused considerable difficulty. In January 1947 the crew of Ocean Vigour had already complained about conditions of employment on their ship,45 including the constant threat of attack by Jewish saboteurs, and requested to be paid off before termination of their agreement. D.R.Murray, of the British Port Said Consulate’s Shipping Office, consequently went onboard the Ocean Vigour to investigate the crew’s complaints about conditions on board while carrying illegal immigrants. Mr Murray duly reported that he had interviewed all 34 members of the crew (10 officers, 11 British and 13 foreign seamen) and 15 of them were not prepared to sail on the ship if the vessel continued to carry illegal immigrants. In a phone call Lieutanant Commander B.F. Parkinson, RNR, assured the Shipping Vice Consul at Port Said that unless a definite date for release of the ship could be given by the Britain's naval and political reaction to the illegal immigration of jews to palestine, 1945-1948s 186
  • middle of February, those seamen not prepared to carry out their agreement would be released and replaced with a locally engaged relief crew. Ocean Vigour did sail for Malvolio but she was soon returned to her duties as a deportation vessel. Unsurprisingly her crew troubles were not over. During the August 1947 attempt at refoulement of the President Warfield immigrants, the departure of the Ocean Vigour from Port de Bouc, where she was moored pending a decision on disembarkation or onward conveyance of her passengers, was rendered urgent by a renewed crew crisis situation on board ship. The transports carrying immigrants forcibly removed from the President Warfield were moored at this port and officers and men of the Ocean Vigour’s crew, which could not be replaced in time, threatened to walk off, which would have resulted in the ship being immobilised.46 The articles of some transports had expired and if the Ocean Vigour had not sailed when she did, a new crew would have had to be sent out. As shown by the example of the Ocean Vigour, the constant friction between the civilian crews of the deportation ships, who were unprepared to submit to the hazards and privations of operating what were virtual prison ships with barbed wire enclosures, and the military or naval authorities accustomed to armed force discipline, constituted a continuous irritant. In the final analysis the overtaxing of British shipping resources, both naval and civilian, and not least the expenditure of the Royal Navy’s Mediterranean fuel allocation47 resulting from the transhipment and refoulement programmes, proved very important factors in the abandonment of refoulement, the failure of the British boarding policy and the abandonment of Britain’s fight against the illegal Jewish immigration. In a society such as the pre-independence Yishuv, which attached enormous importance to both the written and spoken word, the selection of suitable names (for the illegal ships) was fraught with meaning.48 Shaul Avigur, the Head of the Mossad, alone, but after consulting a special committee, chose the names for the ships. Neither the Mossad agents, nor the Palmachniks escorting the vessels or the illegal immigrants were allowed a say in the matter. The escorts of the Lohita which sailed in November 1946 wanted to name their ship Hameri Haivri (The Hebrew Rebellion) as an expression of activist spirit when the Haganah’s armed struggle against the British had effectively ceased to exist. The vessel was eventually named Knesset Israel (Jewish Community). A similar debate arose when the President Warfield (Exodus 1947) set sail. The immigrants wanted to rename her the Mordechai Anielewicz to honour the leader of the 1944 Warsaw ghetto uprising. The issue was resolved by a peremptory order from Palestine: ‘Your name is to be Exodus 1947.’49 The censored ships’ names were symbols that were considered inappropriate to the limited action fought against the British, which was never allowed to develop into full-scale war. From mid-January 1948 the Mossad re-named illegal immigrant ships after events in the War of Independence then being fought in Palestine. Others commemorated founders and early leaders of the Zionist movement, leaders of the Yishuv, English friends of the Zionist Movement, and Palestinian Jewish paratroopers who had fallen in Europe during the Second World War.50 It must also be realised that crews of investigating RAF aircraft and intercepting ships tended to be confused by the Jews. Some of the ruses used were sending false signals, giving incorrect information about the actual vessels, flying flags of diverse nationalities, altering parts of the ship’s superstructure and battening down the crowds of illegal immigrants in an endeavour to simulate an innocuous tramp steamer or cargo boat. The British forces engaged in anti-immigration patrols and the confronting Jewish adversaries 187
  • However, most searchers were not deceived. Ascertaining data on IJI shipping has proved a complicated task, due to the wide variation of figures given in the diverse sources. Contemporary newspapers and intelligence reports mentioned names of ships not listed in this chapter, but many of these reports erred due to the frequent name changes of the blockade-running vessels. One and the same ship could be reported under a different name as hiding in a port, loading visa-less immigrants in another port or reported as passing certain control points like the Bosphorus, but it may in fact have been the same ship. In addition to the original name, which could have been changed frequently during an old ship’s chequered career, there would usually also be one or more cryptographic names under which the ship might have been known to the Mossad and in most cases a different Hebrew name, probably allocated just before or during the journey and commemorating some personality or event. Confusion between ships’ names and identities (and certainly in the spelling of their names and recording of tonnages) occurred at all levels and cannot be excluded. In the first post-war year of illegal immigration the tempo of transport did not reach the quota of 1,500 certificates which the British government had decided to allocate even after the period fixed in the 1939 White Book. This hesitant start to illegal immigration permitted the government to deduct the number of intercepted immigrants from the total number fixed for the monthly quota and in this way to blunt the political sting inherent in the restriction. It was not only that, but the costs of transporting the illegal immigrants exceeded the costs that would have been incurred, had the entire monthly quota been utilised for legal immigration. This consideration was in addition to the miserable travelling conditions and the hazards to the lives of the immigrants connected with the clandestine journeys. Under these conditions there seemed to be very little justification52 in continuing with the work of the Mossad le-Aliyah. In fact the Mossad at the time completed at its own expense, albeit in a different manner, the quota of immigration certificates (1,500) which the government allocated every month for legal Jewish immigration. Costs defrayed by the Jewish Agency were variable, for instance 1,685 immigrants who arrived on seven ships from Italy with 1,685 people on board cost P£ [Palestine Pounds] 143,000 or an average of P£85 per person, while two ships from Greece with 251 people on board cost P£19,235 or an average of P£76 per person. Thus the immigration expenses from Italy and Greece amounted to L£162,735 (pounds sterling) or US$649,000 when calculated on the exchange rate at the time of US$4=L£1. But Shaul Meirov (nom de guerre Ben Yehuda) cabled in May 1946 to Palestine, that he can now get one Palestine Pound, equivalent to one Pound Sterling, for between nine or ten-and-a-half [Swiss] francs, a process the Mossad called ‘creating’ money, taking advantage of the differences in currency exchange rates and clever market trading. This increased the amount of money very considerably [between 30 and 100 per cent.] Dollars were collected in America, were laundered by transfer to Switzerland and paid into Swiss bank accounts. These dollars were then exchanged for Swiss francs at the official rate of 4.28 francs per dollar, but the black market value of the dollar and the value of the pound sterling were much lower, for example the dollar was worth only 1.5 francs, a third of its official value. It was then possible to buy back dollars at a low rate. Every dollar received from foreign countries went through three or four such conversions! For instance for 6,370 Jewish refugees conveyed by the Mossad, the JDC paid US$637,000. In October Britain's naval and political reaction to the illegal immigration of jews to palestine, 1945-1948s 188
  • 1946 there was a Mossad proposal to bring 19,500 immigrants to Palestine and this was based on $2,000,000 from the JDC, US$500,000 from the Jewish Agency and US$3,000,000 from moneys ‘created’ by the above-mentioned currency conversions or speculations.51 Jewish Agency claims of immigrants landed and dispersed in Palestine were unwise, as the figures were subsequently knocked off the ‘back-load’ quota of 1,500 for the next month. One of the main sources of finance used to be the AJDC and their directors told the illegal immigration activists that as they saw no need for an activity which did not lead to an effective alleviation in the immigrants’ situation, they wished to cease the financial contribution they had made hitherto for each immigrant carried on Mossad ships.53 The Mossad there-fore considered its first priority to be an increase in the rate of illegal immigration until its ships could exceed the quota of certificates, thereby forcing the British government to review its decision regarding the restrictions placed on Jewish immigration to Palestine. This became possible with the purchase of the two ex-Royal Canadian Navy corvettes Beauharnais (Josiah Wedgwood) and Balboa (Haganah). The mood and behaviour of the illegal immigrants passed through four distinct phases, depending on the instructions of the organisations which directed the traffic.54 Phase 1 November 1945-May 1946—Passive submission. Phase 2 June 1946-August 1946—Reluctant submission. Phase 3 August 1946-May 1948—Energetic resistance, from time to time, but not invariable, using every means except firearms.55 In the case of the Pan York and the Pan Crescent, with more than 15,000 immigrants, a compromise was reached between the Jewish Agency and the British authorities. The two sides agreed that the ships would sail directly to Famagusta in Cyprus and not resist internment when they landed on New Year’s Day 1948. As the naval force engaged in the confrontation was stood down, it was revealed that 7 cruisers, 17 destroyers, 8 frigates and 6 minesweepers had taken part in the operation since it began. Between 27 and 30 June 1948 the Palestine Patrol vessels were finally called on to prove their worth by use as an implied threat during completion of the process of British withdrawal from Palestine. The Union Jack was hauled down and General Officer Commanding Lieutenant General G.H.A.MacMillan embarked in HMS Phoebe while Seafires circled overhead at Haifa. The defiant presence of the warships managed to veil the impotence of the fleet. As the last British High Commissioner, General Alan Cunningham, and his staff embarked and the last troops were withdrawn, the Mandate given up and Palestine abandoned, the major British naval demonstration, consisting of the frigate Veryan Bay, the destroyers Verulam, Venus and Volage, the cruiser Phoebe and the carrier Triumph, was meant at last to alleviate the bitterness felt. At the time it seemed appropriate to ‘cock a snook’ at the triumphant Zionists. The show of force implicit in the presence of such a powerful fleet thus softened the shock of abandoning the commitments so solemnly undertaken and disengaging from an embarrassing entanglement, although there was also another, apparently eagerly anticipated scenario: HMS Phoebe, Veryan Bay, Venus and Verulam had been conveniently anchored in Haifa Bay outside the main breakwater and had been provided with detailed bombardment The British forces engaged in anti-immigration patrols and the confronting Jewish adversaries 189
  • orders for their main armaments and 40-mm guns, to counter any interference with the evacuation of the last army units.56 As it happened, the handover to Israeli sovereignty went smoothly, but the presence of such a large force close by gave Britain some vital insurance against the unexpected. Documenting accurately the incidents as well as the vessels involved in Britain’s fight against IJI was not easy, as the details had to be compiled from a variety of primary and secondary British, Jewish, US and other sources. The documents consulted showed that a relatively large force of the Royal Navy, applying the Senior Service’s traditional skill, initiative and enthusiasm, equipped with arsenals of conventional and unconventional weapons and equipment had engaged the IJI vessels. The proportionality of self-defence as well as the Royal Navy’s unwritten Rules of Engagement excluded the use of the ships’ primary armaments. They had faced a fleet of miscellaneous vessels, crewed by a mixture of mercenary non-Jewish seamen and ideologically committed young Jewish men and women and had to concede eventually that short of sinking ships they were powerless to stop the traffic. Their adversaries, the Jewish escorts, were mostly volunteers from left-wing Kibbutz youth movements, who often had a struggle to ensure passenger discipline, in addition to the task of navigating strange, frequently dilapidated and always over-crowded vessels. It has been considered necessary to attach appendices listing the RN and IJI vessels involved. The greatest care has been taken in compiling lists of the vessels engaged by the two protagonists, the Royal Navy and the Zionists, but when dealing with such a wealth of data, it was not possible to exclude errors entirely. Differences in the details of ships displacements, numbers of immigrants carried, and so on, were often identified by perusing a variety of sources. To avoid giving space to the very large number of endnotes which would have been necessary to correctly attribute the largely immaterial details of every ship, it is suggested the sources given in the bibliography and in the appendices be consulted. Britain's naval and political reaction to the illegal immigration of jews to palestine, 1945-1948s 190
  • 9 The physical confrontation Interception and diversion policies in theory and practice The operations to confront, intercept and divert vessels suspected of being engaged in attempts to land illegal immigrants on the coast of Palestine, foundered on the contradiction between the two main British partners to the conflict: the Mandatory government of Palestine, controlled by the Colonial Office, and the Royal Navy under the Commander-in-Chief Mediterranean, who was under the overall command of the Admiralty, but in whose opinion the entire problem should not have been allowed to become a matter to be handled by the Navy, but should have remained a question to be resolved by the Palestine police. This contradiction became abundantly clear from perusal of correspondence between the High Commissioner for Palestine, Lieutenant General Sir Alan Cunningham, Admiral Sir Algernon U.Willis, Commander-in-Chief Mediterranean Station, G.H.Hall, His Majesty’s Principal Secretary of State for the Colonies and others. On 5 August 1946, the British Cabinet decided to stop detaining illegal immigrants in Palestine and to hold them in Cyprus. On 12 August 1946, the British government declared its firm resolve to put an end to illegal immigration and the High Commissioner for Palestine announced operation ‘Igloo’, the deportations to Cyprus. Violent reactions from the Jewish authorities were expected and difficulties of actioning the new guidelines were foreseen. A signal from MILPAL (Lieutenant General Evelyn Barker) to General Gale of 1 Division also copied to General Cassels of 6 Airborne Division and Colonel Campbell of 31 Infantry Brigade informed about the delayed date of the first diversion of immigrants to Cyprus1 due to outstanding preparations. Lieutenant General E.H.Barker2 warned these unit commanders: Reliable information forecasts that when transhipping starts large crowds will converge on the harbour from settlements outside as well as from HAIFA itself. If curfew imposed armed parties will accompany the crowds. This will necessitate a curfew over a larger area than HAIFA only and the prevention of movement towards HAIFA from outside. Attempts will also probably be made on a large scale to break curfew in HAIFA. Plans should be made and in preparation and you can discuss with Bde Comdrs. Top secret guidelines and rules to govern the control and interception of IJI vessels were issued on 24 September 1946 by MILPAL, the headquarters of British troops in Palestine and Transjordan.3
  • COMPAL Haifa and Air HQ Levant were immediately to be informed on receipt of information that a ship suspected of carrying IJI was approaching the coast of Palestine. Intensive air reconnaissance and naval patrolling was then to be initiated and codeword ‘Doctor’ issued. Control was to be from the joint Army-Navy-RAF Operations Room in the King David Hotel, Jerusalem.4 Efforts were to be made to communicate with the ship’s master while the ship was still outside the three-mile limit, attempting to make him admit to the carriage of IJI and accede to an order to take his ship to Cyprus. In case this request was refused the ship was to be shadowed until it reached the territorial waters of Palestine, whereupon the Royal Navy was expected to attempt to arrest the ship by sending a naval boarding party aboard. Even during the early pre-Second World War stages of the confrontation between IJI vessels and Palestine police launches as well as units of the Royal Navy, the Admiralty was somewhat uncomfortable about such an operation and suggested that a police-style interception could be more effective in preventing the traffic.5 This reluctance continued unabated after the end of hostilities and with the resumption of the illegal traffic. Captain T.A.K.Maunsell, who attended the meeting together with Commander F.G.H.Oliphant and G.C.B.Dodds on behalf of the navy commented on memorandum C.C.(46)17 by the Commander-in-Chief Middle East dated 11 February 1946, The fleet destroyers of the Navy were not suited to operate within territorial waters. They could intercept ships on the high seas and question their identity, but the real answer was a fleet of small craft based in Palestine. These could not be manned by naval personnel, owing to the extreme shortage of manpower, but could be made available to the Palestine Government if they could find police to man them. Fast Harbour Defence Motor Launches were available in Alexandria and six more in addition to the three already in commission with the Port and Marine Division of the Palestine Police were estimated to be sufficient to patrol the coast. The manpower commitment at a crew of 15 with maintenance and based personnel might be 120 men.6 Mr Trafford Smith of the Colonial Office proposed deferring this matter to the High Commissioner who naturally preferred interception by the Royal Navy to the Palestine police. Another suggestion raised at the meeting was to involve the Italian and Greek navies. Captain Maunsell doubted the efficacy of the Italian navy and thought that the Greek navy could do nothing to help for lack of ships and in any case, ‘requests for assistance would have to come from the Foreign Office’. The only positive outcome of the meeting was to ensure that Palestinian-Jewish military units in Europe were to be redeployed and run down to prevent their assistance being readily available for illegal immigration. The Colonial Office representative at the meeting was instructed to prepare minutes and a paper for the Commanders-in-Chief, but these documents were to be circulated first to Admiralty, War Office, Control Office, Foreign Office, Colonial Office, Cabinet Office, Air Ministry, and so on, for concurrence. In 1946 Commander-in-Chief Mediterranean station became very insistent that the originally well-supported Admiralty contention should be revived, which demanded that the motor-launch organisation of the Palestine Police should be built up to a strength at which it would be able to undertake the off-shore patrol, at the time maintained by the Mediterranean Fleet.7 However Mr Trafford Smith of the CO and indeed G.H. Hall the Secretary of State for the Colonies agreed that there were considerable practical difficulties involved in the proposal and minuted, ‘I share your hope that a settlement of Britain's naval and political reaction to the illegal immigration of jews to palestine, 1945-1948s 192
  • major policy will be reached within reasonable time, with a resultant decline in the proportions of the illegal immigrant traffic.’8 Admiral Willis informed Sir Alan Cunningham, High Commissioner for Palestine, that the naval off-shore patrols for the prevention of Illegal Jewish Immigration seem likely to persist for an indefinite period. Admiral Willis expressed his concern about the need to maintain continuously a force varying from four to six destroyers based at Haifa, which represented a considerable drain on the resources of the Mediterranean Fleet (normally a force of 14 destroyers). Admiral Willis then came to the point and wrote: Ships such as destroyers are not suitable for employment in territorial waters, their proper function in the interception of ships suspected of carrying illegal immigrants is the searching for and examination of ships on the high seas. Inshore patrolling and arrest of ships after entry into territorial waters should more properly and economically be undertaken by police launches acting under the authority of the Palestine Government. I would be grateful, therefore, if consideration could be given to building up the Motor Launch organisation of the Palestine Police, so that the inshore patrols mentioned above can be maintained at the necessary strength, and eventually the destroyers relieved of some of their present burden. This would of course have to be a long term project, but I consider that provided suitable craft were built or purchased, and terms of service were made such as to attract ex-Naval Officers and men, an efficient organisation could be built up in a relatively short space of time. If Your Excellency agrees in principle with the proposal, I shall be happy to forward details of suitable craft with the scale of personnel and maintenance services considered necessary.9 The High Commisioner wrote letters of reply to Admiral Willis, and to G.H.Hall, rejecting the proposal for the Palestine Police to take over the in-shore patrols. To Admiral Willis he wrote inter alia: I am very appreciative of the debt which this Government owes to the Mediterranean Fleet for the continued performance of this difficult and hazardous task. Nevertheless after careful consideration of the proposal in your letter I have found myself unable to agree that it would be practicable to adopt it.10 To his superior, the Rt Hon. G.H.Hall MP, the High Commissioner was more explicit and following the usual courtesies he wrote: Normal police motor launches would not provide an adequate alternative. Illegal immigrant ships will not stop unless forced to do so and it is impossible for small size launches to effect this without opening fire. As you will appreciate it is most undesirable to have recourse to weapons for this purpose, if it can possibly be avoided. Moreover it is practically The physical confrontation: interception and diversion policies in theory and practice 193
  • impossible for an inspection party from a launch to board ships of the size now being used for illegal immigration. Nor have launches the speed, endurance and capacity for dealing with such craft which, as you know, include a number of converted corvettes. These considerations lead me to the conclusion that in order to enable this Government to take over the off-shore patrol work now so efficiently performed by the Royal Navy it would be necessary to acquire craft of considerable size with correspondingly large crews. To establish a fleet arm of this kind would be an extremely difficult task which I should be extremely reluctant to undertake at a time when the resources of this administration are already under severe strain. It would also be a considerable time before the new force could be trained to a sufficient standard to enable it to take over its duties.11 Admiral Willis himself withdrew his proposals due to the larger and faster IJI ships introduced and to the adoption of the retranshipment (refoulement) policy by Britain, which led to stronger resistance to boarding. He wrote: ‘I entirely agree that the inshore patrol work and boarding is quite beyond the unaided scope of the Palestine Marine Police Force, even if reinforced, and I will therefore, of course, continue to provide the requisite naval force for these operations.’12 Admiral Willis not only admitted the impossibility of the suggested task, he also sent four Fleet minesweepers to reinforce the Palestine Patrol. In many respects these vessels were considered more suitable than destroyers or frigates for boarding. He also despatched some motor fishing vessels to Palestine for harbour patrol work. J.D.Higham was as lukewarm as before to the proposals for more P.P. launches.13 Thus on 18 November 1946, Higham minuted:14 I spoke to Colonel Grey (Inspector General of the Palestine Police) today and told him the present position on this file (75015/67), he said he would raise the matter with the First Sea Lord if the Admiralty had really no alternative craft to offer, Palestine would have to place orders. He was most reluctant to buy HDMLs even at £3,000 each.13 It must have been the high cost in addition to Admiral Willis’ change of tack which gave the project the final push into total oblivion.15 So, interception was to be left to the Royal Navy. Upon successful completion of boarding, the IJI ship was supposed to be escorted or towed to Haifa for transhipment to Cyprus, but transhipment was expected to take place, if at all possible, outside Haifa harbour. Alternatively the IJI ship could be brought into the harbour while transhipment took place, but the need to ensure law and order was emphasised. Section 5 of Instruction 81 was emphatic about one principle: ‘Under no circumstances will IJI be landed, except on medical grounds, or when specially authorised by MILPAL, the General Staff of HQ British Troops in Palestine and Transjordan.’ The instructions then continued and described the possible contingencies of illegal ships beaching themselves or sailing to undesirable beaching places. Tel Aviv port received special mention as a most undesirable beaching place due to the possible Britain's naval and political reaction to the illegal immigration of jews to palestine, 1945-1948s 194
  • interference by Jewish illegal organisations. The difficulty of predicting a precise beaching place was acknowledged. Units and authorities were informed that as shown by experience, the following were the most likely beaches for the landing of IJI.16 Nahariya, MR 158268 The Andarta (Hanna Szenesh) ran ashore here on 27 December 1945. Athlit, MR 144234 Unknown caique (believed to be the Ile de la Rose, renamed Amiram Shohet), landed IJI. here on 15/16 August 1946. S’doth Yam, MR 140211 IJI landed from Ideros August 1946. (It had never been made clear, whether Isle de la Rose and Ideros(e) were in fact one and the same vessel.) Shefayim, MR 132180 Approximately 200 immigrants landed from the Dimitrios (Berl Katznelson) on 25 November 1945 Nethanya, MR 135192 Tel Aviv No details known. The Asya (Tel-Hai), Kismet Adalir (Wingate) and Fede II (Arba Hiruyot (Four Freedoms)) had been trying to land in Tel Aviv. Ashcalon, MR 107119 The Aghios Andreas (Haviva Reik) was arrested near Kibbutz Nitzanim off Ashcalon on 9 June 1946. Later experience has shown the area of Caesarea, four miles north of Hadera, as an additional likely landing point for IJI, with effect from 28 September 1947 a coast watching party was therefore added at this point. Already from August 1939 coastguard stations such as Al Jura, MR 107119; Sidna Ali, MR 131177; Kefar Vitkin, MR 137198 and Givath Olga, MR 138205, and so on, were provided at approximately ten-mile intervals from each other.17 These stations had to commence their coastal watch in conjunction with the Palestine police, immediately the codeword ‘Doctor’ had been issued. They were expected to direct the police and the military without delay by wireless, radio telephone or land-line to the anticipated landing points. It was agreed that the Air Operations Room at the King David Hotel in Jerusalem was to be linked directly by a W/T link with COMPAL HAIFA, while direct contact was to be maintained between the Air Operations Room in Jerusalem and Naval Operations Room Haifa. Intercept watches on the frequencies of the patrolling destroyers were also kept at Air Operations Room, while permanent manning by RN and ‘G’ (Operations) officers or a ‘G’ Branch Duty Officer was also indicated. Results of air reconnaissance and radar plots were to be passed through the Air Operations Room to COMPAL HAIFA, while the Naval Liaison Officer was also expected to pass any similar relevant information to the same base. The responsibility for arresting IJI who had landed or swam ashore from a beached illegal ship was placed squarely on the Palestine police.18 Sector troops cordoning off the area were only expected to render assistance. The thoroughness characteristic of the measures to be adopted for the interception and transhipment of IJI by British military and Palestinian government authorities may also be seen from various later instructions circulated. Of particular significance appear Secret Instruction No. 5 (revised) dated 27 October 1947 issued by Lieutenant Colonel J.H.M. Hackett, A/Comd. 3 Para Brigade on the General Staff of the 6th Airborne Division,19 which outlines the action which would be taken by the army in the event of a Jewish illegal immigration landing from the sea in The physical confrontation: interception and diversion policies in theory and practice 195
  • the north sector of Palestine. The northern limit was Ras-an-Naqura (Rosh Hanikra on the Lebanese border, MR 160277). Responsibility for prevention of dispersion and escape of the IJI was vested onto 3 Para Brigade, but their responsibility excluded the mouth of the river Quishon; the southern limit was Minat Abu Zabura, MR 137201, which was to become the responsibility of 1 Para Brigade and included the mouth of the Quishon river. (Maps Palestine 1:100,000, sheets 2 and 4). Similar instructions also existed for the central and southern sectors of the Palestine coast. HQ 6 Airborne Division clearly anticipated several days advance warning when a Jewish illegal immigrant ship was on its way to Palestine, allowing air reconnaissance patrols to be sent out in search of the ship. The Royal Navy was expected to make contact immediately the ship was sighted and was supposed to shadow the ship until she entered Palestinian territorial waters. Efforts were made to persuade the ship’s captain to accede to a request to alter course to Cyprus. Code word ‘Taffy’ was issued by HQ Palestine and passed to brigades and Royal Artillery who then warned any troops stationed at vantage points on the coast and who had established Observation Posts at Nahariya (MR 158268), Athlit (MR 144234), S’doth Yam (MR 140211) and at the coastguard station Givat Olga (MR 138205). It was planned that three sections of Royal Engineers would be put at 2 hours notice to move and were to be placed under the command of Para Brigades 1 and 3. One Field ambulance section was allocated to each of the above Para Brigades and one similar section to the Royal Artillery, while one searchlight came under the command of each Para Brigade. HQ 6th Airborne Division issued the additional codeword ‘Mae West’, as soon as the Royal Navy was informed of the illegal ship’s estimated time of arrival at a point off the North Palestine coast, which for this purpose was divided into five sectors as shown in Table 9.1. It was doubtful whether the Royal Artillery, who held the two southern sectors, would be capable of taking on two additional sectors, therefore it had been suggested on 24 September 1947 that the ‘Pidog’ sectors be recast to allow inclusion of the added commitment generated by the coast between Hadera and Tantoura (Tur). It was mooted that Caesarea should Table 9.1 Sector divisions of the Palestine Coast for patrol purposes Sector Boundaries Formation responsible 1 Incl. Tantura MR 142223 Excl. Athlit Castle MR 144234 Royal Artillery Haifa Brigade 2 Incl. Athlit Castle Excl. Tel as Samakh MR 146247 Haifa Brigade 3 Incl. Tel as Samakh Excl. Haifa harbour MR 149248 Haifa Brigade 4 Incl. River Quishon MR 153247 Incl. Acre MR 156258 Galilee Brigade 5 Excl. Acre Galilee Brigade Britain's naval and political reaction to the illegal immigration of jews to palestine, 1945-1948s 196
  • Incl. Ras el Naqura MR 160277 constitute the centre boundary between the two proposed additional sectors. Para brigades were expected to dispose of adequate troops to deal with any beaching within their sector of the coast. The instructions also contained a warning that a developing situation might inevitably result in ‘Mae West’ being retarded. However, it was never allowed to be advanced. One company had to be earmarked to intercept illegal landings in each sector, whilst each sector had to be placed on immediate notice from ‘Mae West’ minus 60. At ‘Mae West’ minus 60 minutes codeword ‘Pidog’ was issued and in addition to the measures initiated on receipt of ‘Doctor’ additional precautionary measures were also to be put into effect. Codeword ‘Pidog’ followed by the number of the sector (Pidog 1, Pidog 2 and so on) denoted the illegal ship was off this particular sector. The platoon concerned was expected to proceed to a point from which it was best placed to reach the likely landing place while the remaining company was to be brought to immediate notice to move. On receipt of the further codeword ‘Jackal’ the platoon supported by the company was then supposed to proceed and try to stop the landing, with the platoon discouraging the landing and the remaining company protecting the platoon from interference by hostile elements on land. Brigades were supposed to try and stop the movement of Jews towards the areas affected. To allow for the difficult approach in Sector 4, CRA was expected to provide a ‘Z’ craft20 with an interception party aboard to take up station in Acre Bay, as soon as codeword ‘Pidog’ was first issued. Codewords ‘Jackal’ and ‘Pidog’ as well as ‘Pidog Off’, on successful boarding or final beaching of the illegal ship, were to be issued by Tactical Division Headquarters and Royal Naval Operations Staff, both located at the Stella Maris convent adjacent to Mount Carmel lighthouse. The character and shape of any military operation predicted in the instructions depended on the outcome of any action taken by the Royal Navy as soon as the illegal ship entered territorial waters. As soon as the ship was brought under control she was usually escorted and if necessary towed into Haifa port where transhipment operations were supposed to take place on the normal lines and in conformity with existing instructions.21 Coast watching parties and mobile reserves were stood down as soon as the ship entered port. There followed paragraphs of instructions highlighting the various phases of military operations to be taken in the event that the Royal Navy should prove unable to gain control of the illegal ship in time to prevent its beaching. Phase 1 was described as beaching of the ship followed or preceded by arrival of the first troops and cordoning off of the affected area. The ‘immediate action’ troops were to be supported during daylight hours on a command radio network communicating with air operations by aircraft circling in the vicinity. By night the troops could expect assistance by HM ships which were used to indicate the position of the illegal ship by their searchlights. A vertical searchlight exposed for more than one minute was expected to be depressed slowly at least six times on the anticipated beaching position, as soon as it became obvious that the illegal ship was making for the shore. Even outside Palestine territorial waters the position of the ship was to be indicated continuously by a vertically exposed search-light beam. British troops were to prevent escape of any IJI by day or by night, but they were also to prevent interference by members of the Jewish community. The physical confrontation: interception and diversion policies in theory and practice 197
  • Adherence to the normal principles defined for internal security operations was laid down for Phase 1. Only an extreme emergency threatening the safety of a soldier’s life in the execution of his duty allowed the extreme resort to open fire. But RN personnel had to go in groups of six and be armed when they went ashore in Haifa. The instruction was, ‘If you see a man with a gun and not in uniform—shoot him. We will find out afterwards who he was and, if needs be, we will apologise.’22 But normally, if fire was to be opened, it was to be only by order of an officer, who before giving the order had to warn all concerned by all possible means at his disposal that he was going to open fire. In the event of a beaching operation we are under instruction to arrest as many of the IJI as possible using the minimum of force necessary to achieve this object. Technically this should be a Police operation but is obviously completely outside their scope.23 Phase 2 was to be carried out as a Brigade operation. A senior officer of the Royal Engineers together with representatives from the Royal Navy, the Port and Marine Police Division and Liaison Officer, HQ 6 Airborne Division (normally GSO 2(Air) were required to assemble at proclamation ‘Mae West’ at Stella Maris on Mount Carmel, and would prepare a joint service plan for the disembarkation and evacuation of the IJI from the beach to Haifa Port. The evacuation had to avoid loss of life and could take a seaward or landward form. Phase 3 laid down the navy’s responsibility for evacuation to seaward, with all available craft to be at the disposal of the Royal Navy 30 minutes after issue of ‘Mae West’. All immigrants evacuated to Haifa port were to be embarked on transports or hulks prepared and earmarked as accommodation. HQ Royal Artillery were authorised to issue orders for the transhipment assisted by the port authorities, following a joint Royal Navy-Royal Artillery plan. Evacuation by land was to be a military operation assisted by the police. There followed instructions to provide groups of strong volunteer swimmers to be allocated to each brigade for life-saving. Explicit instructions existed, covering concentration of the IJI on the beach in batches not exceeding 500 persons and their subsequent move from the initial pens to provisional transit camps and from there to Haifa port. Police assistance was deemed essential in the imposition of a curfew at very short notice, while the district police concerned were expected to provide interpreters, screeners and female searchers. Inter-service communication with brigades were to be set on listening watch on main and alternative frequencies at ‘Mae West’ minus three hours and the changing position of the ships was to be given in latitude and in relation to their distance from Haifa on receipt of the codeword ‘Swordfish’. Security of communications was considered vital, at least to the point when the ship was boarded at sea and considered to be fully under RN control. Neither estimated times of arrival nor other relevant details were supposed to reach the Jewish community through service leakages. The only exception under which breaches in the security of communications were permissible was when the ship appeared likely to beach itself and information had to be passed en claire to save time. Britain's naval and political reaction to the illegal immigration of jews to palestine, 1945-1948s 198
  • The various tasks or locations involved with interception and transhipment, responsibilities for the supply of material and so on, as well as the troop, police or port employee strengths for each task or location, from the supply of launches and divers over the victualling of the Empire ships to the supply of female body-searchers and interpreters, the erection of mobile canteens and latrines, and so forth, were meticulously listed, timed (for example, H minus 60, 90 or 120 minutes) and allocated.24 Information marked ‘Top Secret’ covering a conference which took place at HQ 6 AB Div on 1 October 1947 and was chaired by Major General H.C.Stockwell, as well as reports from other sources highlighted the problems the British military authorities expected to encounter during transhipment operations to take place in Haifa. This conference25 dealt with a time-span from about 1–12 October 1947. However, the problems encountered as well as the suggested methods of action, proposed counter- measures and the difficulties anticipated were typical of the situation on and off the Palestine coast during the latter part of 1947 and throughout the first six months of 1948, up to the final abandonment of the Mandate. It was disclosed that two Jewish illegal ships, the Northlands, 1,273 tons,26 and the Paducah, 1,085 tons,27 were due to arrive off the coast of Palestine anytime after last light on 2 October 1947, although it was considered possible that their arrival might be delayed for one or two days. At the time the two ships were sailing together and it was considered possible that they might arrive together or singly. Reliable reports put the number of passengers on board in the vicinity of 4,000. The total available capacity for transhipment to Cyprus was only 800 (two Empire vessels, but 1,200 on 7 October 1947, when it was hoped that a third Empire would become available). Relating the number of IJI expected on these two ships to transport capacity it became clear that the period likely to be taken in transhipping all the Northland and Paducah immigrants to Cyprus would be about ten days, during which time the army would be saddled with the job of administering and provisioning the immigrants in Haifa port. This had obviously to be regarded as a major military commitment, especially in view of the other ongoing internal security duties and the distinct possibility of further arrivals of IJI during this period. A difficult situation had arisen for the authorities from the Mossad’s decision to transform its operation into an operation involving larger and faster ships and thereby larger numbers of refugees, flooding the British camps in Palestine and then the camps in Cyprus. The challenge created by the urgent need to process the large number of immigrants carried by the Northland and Paducah led the emergency conference convened at HQ 6 AB DIV to adopt decisions which were then improved and perfected for subsequent attempts by illegal ships to evade the blockade of the coast. Detailed guidelines were laid down, proposing methods of transhipment for would-be immigrants removed from illegal ships detained by the Royal Navy and arriving in Haifa port. The ships were to be berthed on the west side of the cargo jetty, while the Empire type transports28 were to be berthed on the opposite side of the cargo jetty. Four hundred persons were to be transhipped from each overcrowded immigrant ship to the Empire transports to reduce congestion. The possibility of towing illegal ships to Cyprus was considered and it was decided to accept certain risks and under favourable conditions try to tow illegal ships to Cyprus The physical confrontation: interception and diversion policies in theory and practice 199
  • with their IJI still onboard, provided acceptance of these risks was warranted by the technical possibilities. Otherwise the following phases were to be actioned: 1 Disembarkation of all the immigrants from the illegal ship. 2 The ship to be technically inspected and searched, all passengers to be searched on the jetty. 3 A combined military and naval escort force to be embarked. 4 The immigrants to be re-embarked, but to allow more thorough searching, their luggage was to be loaded onto another vessel. Extremely thorough searches of intercepted Jewish IJI ships were considered to be essential. One of the reasons was the garnering of intelligence to facilitate the fight against the entire organisation of future attempts to organise illegal immigration, the other reason was the prevention of attempts to smuggle in arms, explosives or other subversive material. Each IJI vessel had been provided with a slick (cache, concealed compartment) for hiding the crews after the ship’s arrest. Defence plans against boarding were always co- ordinated with Haganah members from Eretz Israel who had been posted abroad. Pending evacuation, Haifa subdistrict were to be responsible for the maintenance of the immigrants and security within the port, including the supply of water and rations to the immigrants. Security was delegated to CRA and 3 Para Brigade. Holding of IJI in the port for days on end and the possibility of an Arab reaction29 were felt to present a security problem in Haifa town. Imposition of a curfew on that part of the town adjacent to the docks was believed to be necessary to ensure smooth working of transhipments. Additional paragraphs dealt with sanitation, rations, guards for the transit camps, documentation and so on,30 and to the need for considering, if necessary, an eventual evacuation by land to Athlit Refugee Detention Camp.31 This was suggested by 6 Airborne Division, the unit most directly involved, as a last, but in any case only a temporary resort. A signal marked ‘Top Secret’ originating from 6 Airborne Division to MILPAL, dated 5 April 1947 stated inter alia, ‘COMPAL consider it impracticable and unacceptable to hold illegal ships with passengers on board in harbour here.’ (Probably due to the usual overcrowding, the generally unsanitary conditions and problems of security and provisioning.) It therefore proposed: We might as last resort hold half empty illegal ships in ACRE BAY for up to 48 hours but COMPAL point out that weather conditions may make this hazardous. Only alternative appears to be transfer of portion of illegal immigrants to ATHLIT for holding until shipping available. With numbers involved we will need at least 2,000 capacity of camp. This allowing for danger of second ship. Therefore request ATHLIT camp to be evacuated soonest and made available for illegal immigrants en route for CYPRUS for one month or until large type ‘Empire’ type ship becomes available.32 Britain's naval and political reaction to the illegal immigration of jews to palestine, 1945-1948s 200
  • A signal dated 7 October 1946, sent from MILPAL to 6 Airborne Division in reply to the above HQ signal, made it very clear that the possibility of holding any surplus, which could not be adequately handled, in Athlit clearance camp was not permitted: Under no circumstances will illegal immigrants be landed Palestine. Absolute maximum must be made of present shipping. Surplus illegal immigrants will either be held in ship in which they arrive or transferred to one of the previous illegal ships already in Haifa harbour or Acre Bay. Risk due to bad weather must be accepted. Above policy agreed Government of Palestine.33 The draconian and inflexible instruction ‘under no circumstances will immigrants be landed’ proved a public relations disaster and provided ammunition for Zionist and American anti-British propaganda. It had to be ameliorated very soon to allow evacuation to the shore whenever, in the opinion of the senior officer on board, ‘life would be otherwise endangered, or loss of limb, or permanent damage to the body would result’.34 It thus became permissible to evacuate women in a very advanced state of pregnancy, sick people and battle casualties. Landed sick immigrants had to be guarded both in transit and while in hospital by civil police, evacuated ‘battle’ casualties were to be guarded both in transit and in hospital by military guards. Arrest of the Guardian (Theodor Herzl) Two typical attempts out of the very many embarkations have included some dramatic incidents on their journeys and attempted landings. They are the incidents experienced by the Guardian (Theodor Herzl) and the Athinai (Rafiah). Their stories will be narrated at some length in this chapter. Description of these incidents may serve as two typical, parallel case studies of what could and often did go wrong during such journeys and interceptions, and why even many well-laid British or Zionist plans often went awry. It would exceed the scope of this book to comprehensively analyse and describe each and every interception. The President Warfield incident has already been the subject of a surfeit of books,35 films and television programmes and many books and articles have been written about the Paducah (Geulah) and many other IJI ships. A description of only two dramatic incidents out of so many in the confrontation between RN ships and IJI vessels will serve to illustrate the contrasting British and Jewish attitudes and perceptions of the actual happenings. The Guardian had been intercepted, boarded and towed to Haifa amid unprecedented scenes of violence and bloodshed. A chapter of this book reports on the reasons for this untypical use of force by the navy and the violent Jewish reaction. The Athinai in turn sank six feet from shore when she struck a rock while sheltering in a bay on the Dodecanese island of Sirina (Aghios Ioannis), but preceding Secret Service and British Military Administration (BMA) reports from Greece were to a large extent based on supposition and guesswork. The subsequent rescue of the survivors by HMS Chevron and Providence and HHMS Themistocles and Aegean led to acrimonious debates and mutual accusations. Both incidents produced moments of superb seamanship as well as incidents The physical confrontation: interception and diversion policies in theory and practice 201
  • of incompetence. Commodore Palestine, Rear Admiral Destroyers Malta, Commander- in-Chief Mediterranean and Their Lordships of the Admiralty gave their full subsequent support and backing to their subordinate Commanding Officers of the Ships Boarding, although a case could be made for fuller investigations and perhaps even courts martial. Commodore DeSalis was not beyond some buck-passing in respect of communication failures for which he should ultimately have been held responsible, while most reports submitted by ships’ Commanding Officers were factually correct and revealed the RN officers customary dash, skill and sense of duty. Official British reports are silent about the background to the rather excessive level of violence which was involved in the encounter between the IJI vessel Guardian (Theodor Herzl) and HMS Cheviot, Haydon, Charity, Espiegle, Cardigan Bay and St Brides Bay. We have to go back to 12 March 1947 when the Susannah (Shabtai Luzinsky) was found unloading illegal (unauthorised) immigrants at Nitzanim about five kilometres north of Ashkalon. Admiralty sources admitted that RAF crews were not fully trained in recognition work and that the navy had not maintained their patrol south of Jaffa. Consequently a considerable number of immigrants from the Susannah had got ashore. The frigate St Brides Bay stood by and lowered ship’s boats, allegedly to help the passengers, but in fact to assist in rounding them up,36 one whaler capsized in the surf and one officer and two ratings from St Brides Bay drowned. These incidentally were the only naval fatalities of the fight against the illegal immigration. The St Brides Bay crew were naturally very upset and from testimonies of surviving RN personnel one may learn that in consequence the St Brides Bay boarding party over-reacted when on 13 April 1947 she intercepted in position 203° Carmel Light a ship suspected of being the Guardian, an over-reaction which led to injuries and deaths.37 On the naval side the entire Guardian operation was dogged by a fair amount of incompetence but also by some very good seamanship in atrocious weather. The Commander-in-Chief Mediterranean signalled to the Admiralty: For the information of Their Lordships: The standard of seamanship displayed by the Commanding Officers of HM ships Pelican, Cardigan Bay, Cheviot, Haydon and St Brides Bay when going alongside illegal immigrant ships, often in bad weather, continues to be of a high order.38 Nevertheless, according to a report by the Commander of HMS Haydon, the high casualty rate resulting from the interception incidents seemed temporarily to have depressed the commanding officer of the St Brides Bay.39 There were communication difficulties between the ships and between ships and shore. Questions were subsequently asked by the Admiralty in London and the communication failures were explained by the director of the signal division by, 1 Seasickness of signalmen. 2 A faulty Codex machine 3 Encryption errors at the Haifa base (Commodore Palestine DeSalis), whose staff apparently had used the code for the preceding day. Britain's naval and political reaction to the illegal immigration of jews to palestine, 1945-1948s 202
  • Director Signals also made remarks about the choice between Plain Language signals (PL) and code, and about the Jewish ‘Y’ organisation, which was able to monitor navy signals.40 Commodore DeSalis wrote that, ‘The signal mistakes should have been spotted by any non-seasick coding staff.’ Furthermore he stated that every one of the last 24 intercepts had caused communication problems. Ships’ Commanders’ reports revealed a far from ideal state of affairs in the signals departments: • Commodore Palestine’s signals were ‘indecipherable’. • Settings for the preceding day had been used by mistake. • Many signals had to be transmitted by light. • Some signals had to be recorded and retransmitted. • Coding machines were reported unreliable. • Two of Haydon’s five telegraphists were seasick. • One telegraphist was with the boarding party. • Conditions in the Wire Telegraph (WT) room were uncomfortable due to the roll of the ship. • The petty officer telegraphist who did all the coding suffered from sleep deprivation. • A large number of signals had to be made, because Guardian was intercepted within ten miles of the Palestine coast.41 In the case of the Athinai shipwreck the failure to encode signal light messages sent by the destroyers had caused an unnecessary violent British-Jewish confrontation. What were these signals sent during the Guardian interception, not decoded in time, delayed, not received, and so on. Here are abbreviated versions of some of them: St Brides Bay: Jews on deck, flying Zionist flag. (13 April, 21.38 hrs) St Brides Bay: Crowds of Jews singing. Have warned vessel I shall have to board when he (sic) enters territorial waters. Have asked for leader, still waiting for him to appear. (13 April, 21.50 hrs) COMPAL: Board immediately. (13 April, 22.06 hrs) (This was an unusual order to give to a single ship, as the Haydon was still about 6 miles away.) St Brides Bay: Jews singing gustily appear to have missiles for my reception. (13 April, 22.21 hrs) St Brides Bay: Going alongside again to get rest of party over. Boarding party meeting with considerable resistance. (13 April, 22.39 hrs) St Brides Bay: Boarding party going over. (13 April, 22.47 hrs) St Brides Bay to COMPAL: Considerable opposition on forecastle. Bridge under control. Have found it necessary to fire over heads. (13 April, 22.50 hrs) Haydon: Two full boarding parties now on board. Considerable opposition. (13 April 23.00 hrs) St Brides Bay to COMPAL: Control is being achieved. Remaining Jews being driven below. Own and Haydon’s boarding party in complete control of bridge and wheelhouse. Ship is stopped. (13 April, 23.07 hrs) COMPAL to Haydon: Get your boarding party on board in support of St Brides The physical confrontation: interception and diversion policies in theory and practice 203
  • Bay with all despatch. (13 April, 23.10 hrs) Haydon to COMPAL: St Brides Bay is preparing to tow Guardian to Haifa. (13 April, 23.15 hrs)) Haydon to COMPAL: Tow is now secured. Guardian wheel jammed hard to starboard, boarding party trying to rectify it. (13 April, 23.37 hrs) COMPAL: Highly desirable to delay arrival in Haifa (the deportation ships had been held in Port Said and were not yet available). (14 April, 00.03 hrs) Haydon: St Brides Bay has parted tow and she is collecting 5-inch wire from HMS Phoebe. (14 April, 00.35 hrs) Haydon: Have placed doctor on board illegal to attend two wounded passengers. (14 April, 01.05 hrs) COMPAL: Are there any casualties on either side and was smoke used? (14 April, 01.05 hrs) St Brides Bay to Charity: Doctor on board Guardian would like to transfer patients suffering from gunshot wounds and likely to die, to you. (14 April, 01.20 hrs) Haydon: Charity [who had joined the fray meanwhile], returning [Haifa] with 20 wounded on board. (14 April, 02.45 hrs) [Also for fuel.] COMPAL to Haydon: Endeavour to get ship out of sight of Tel Aviv before daylight. [COMPAL was concerned not to board within sight of Tel Aviv.] (14 April 03.20 hrs) Haydon to St Brides Bay: There are 16 Jewish casualties 5 of whom are serious. One dead. Most injuries from gunshot wounds. (14 April, 12.40 hrs) Haydon to COMPAL (restricted): In face of intense and sustained resistance by bottle throwing, St Brides Bay’s boarding officer ordered shots to be fired over the heads of passengers on two occasions. He is unable to explain how any passengers were hit. Firing occurred before I had closed Guardian and immediately after my boarding party went on board. I ordered firing to cease at once. (14 April, 12.40 hrs) COMPAL to Haydon: Must have information whether any was wounded by small arms fire. (14 April, 13.00 hrs) COMPAL to Haydon and St Brides Bay: 1) Was tear smoke used? 2) Under what circumstances were small arms used? 3) Were there any British casualties? 4) Are there any casualties on board? (14 April, 13.30 hrs) Haydon to COMPAL: Regret delay due to decoding difficulties. Most casualties appear to be gunshot wounds. (14 April, 13.41 hrs). Haydon to COMPAL: My Typex machine appears to be defective. St Brides Bay is coding and transmitting my replies. (14 April, 15.55 hrs) COMPAL to Haydon and St Brides Bay: Signal forthwith circumstances under which shooting to hit became necessary and who gave the order. Details of weapons used unable to keep C-in-C Med fully informed with information so far received. (14 April, 18.55 hrs) Britain's naval and political reaction to the illegal immigration of jews to palestine, 1945-1948s 204
  • St Brides Bay to COMPAL: In face of intense and sustained opposition by bottles thrown St Brides Bay boarding party officer ordered shots to be fired over the heads of passengers on two occasions. He is unable to explain how two passengers were hit. Firing occurred before I had closed Guardian and immediately after my boarding party were put on board. I ordered all fire to cease at once British casualties two officers, one police sergeant and three ratings wounded by bottles. (14 April, 18.25 hrs) Haydon to COMPAL: Orders were given by the following boarding officers to open fire with Lanchester and revolver over the heads of an organised anti- boarding party some hundred strong: Lt Camp, S/L Arnot, S/L Woolcott and Gunner Rea. At no time was order given to fire to hit. The officers concerned can give no adequate explanation for the casualties. Several smoke shells were fired from both ships (from riot guns) but are not considered to have caused casualties (15 April 01.06 hrs).42 When St Brides Bay, towing the Guardian, approached Haifa harbour there arose a potentially hazardous situation. R.A.Ewing DSC, the Captain of HMS Cheviot reported: 1 On approaching the anchorage at 05.15 on the 15th I signalled to St Brides Bay ‘Leave yourself enough sea room so that you can head into the sea if the [civilian harbour] tug is not ready.’ He did not do so, because the tug did in fact appear at about 05.25. 2 There appeared to be a considerable delay in slipping the tow onboard Guardian during which time the tug was standing by. 3 There was a lot of interference on 124.02 m/cs. and it was almost impossible to get any signals through on this frequency. 4 Tug had Guardian in tow by 05.45 but the tow parted about 06.15. 5 I immediately closed Guardian and ordered Octavia to prepare a long tow. 6 I closed and was ready to pass a tow when Guardian was about 13 cables off the breakwater light this proved to be impracticable. I thought the Guardian was about to go ashore. 7 At 06.35 one tug got another line over, which parted almost immediately. 8 At 06.40 Octavia closed and passed her tow which she did most efficiently and quickly. Meanwhile the tugs were asked to hold Guardian to windward. 9 HMS Espiegle was asked to close and prepare to take in tow if Octavia’s tow parted. Commander Ewing concluded that ships towing should, if at all possible, tow the ship into the harbour mouth. He thought that HMS St Brides Bay did not do this on account of a fear that he would get into difficulties when he slipped the tow, as his stern would then become anchored by this heavy five-inch wire, a very real possibility which might have led him into a dangerous situation. Lieutenant Commander T.C.U.Fanshawe, Commanding Officer of HMS Octavia, added his report on the dangerous situation, caused by failure of both harbour tugs’ towropes (owing to the ineptness of the harbour tugs—Proceedings, April 1947) and by the premature abandonment of her towrope by St Brides Bay: At 06.30 the Guardian was drifting rapidly onto a lee shore, Octavia was ordered by Cheviot to be prepared to pass a tow if the tugs could not manage to do so. This operation was made more difficult by a large swell, numbers of small boats getting in the way and two or three mooring buoys in the most unfortunate positions, but it was successfully completed by 07.14 hrs. Octavia The physical confrontation: interception and diversion policies in theory and practice 205
  • went dead slow ahead to take the strain on her 8-inch manila rope, steaming well up to windward before attempting to turn for the harbour entrance. The Guardian was towed well into the lee of the main breakwater before handing over at 08.50 to the second tug, but in fact the second tug did not succeed even then in passing her towrope properly and the Guardian was finally taken alongside by the original tug which was still secured alongside the star-board side. The Cheviot and the Octavia saved an ugly situation when the Guardian with 2,622 immigrants and the naval boarding parties onboard were within a few hundred feet of grounding on a lee shore in a half gale (wind force 7). DeSalis congratulated Octavia in particular for passing the tow in about three minutes. The reports by the Commanding Officers of the ships boarding deserve comment. Lieutenant Commander R.A.St C.Sproul Bolton, Commanding Officer of St Brides Bay, wrote to Commodore Palestine (DeSalis), Rear Admiral Destroyers, and so on, on 15 April: I closed her starboard and over the loudhailer asked the leader to identify himself so that I could speak to him. I said that I commanded a British warship and that it was my duty, under International Law, to arrest the ship should she enter the territorial waters of Palestine. Please think over the sense of my message, as if you persist in attempting to land in Palestine, I, much against my will, may have to use force to impose International Law. It is my duty to prevent illegal landings in Palestine. All persons attempting to land illegally in Palestine are sent to Cyprus. I suggest therefore that in order to save yourself considerable trouble you go voluntarily to Cyprus with me.43 However, G.C.B.Dodds, a principal of Admiralty Branch I, disagreed with Lieutenant Commander Sproul Bolton’s citation of international law and wrote for Head of M: The statement in paragraph 3 of the Report of Proceedings of the Commanding Officer of HMS St Brides Bay that it was his duty under international law to arrest the Guardian is, of course incorrect. Unfortunately these illegal immigrant carriers commit no offence in international law. The whole trouble is that we can proceed against them only in municipal law.44 The following points highlight some relevant details from the report submitted by St Brides Bay’s Commanding Officer: On being illuminated she was instantly recognised as the Guardian, although her nameboard showed her as the Haganah ship Theodor Herzl. Her decks were crowded with Jews she was flying a Zionist flag on her foremast (flying an unrecognised flag could have given the British warships a valid reason for boarding, within international law): Britain's naval and political reaction to the illegal immigration of jews to palestine, 1945-1948s 206
  • I saw that the boats were manned by toughs armed with clubs and bottles, and that there was a tough crowd assembled forward. The ‘sheep’ of the party were stationed aft On the bridge a dozen well-dressed civilians were seen and these were thought to be the leaders, but they took no notice whatsoever of my speeches. This action was repeated three times over the loud hailer and the leader was asked to identify himself so that I could speak to him. I said that I commanded a British warship and that it was my duty, under International Law, to arrest the Ship, should she enter the territorial waters of Palestine and that if this were the case I requested that there should be no resistance to boarding. I stated that should there be resistance, it would be my painful duty to use force, and if necessary smoke, to protect my boarding party. This speech was repeated in French and German and I again asked for the leader so that I could be sure that what I had said had been understood the St Brides Bay Executive Officer, John Basil Cardew as well as Sergeant Bailey45 of the Palestine Police added to my remarks. I reminded Senior Boarding Officer Sub-Lieutenant Thomas William Varville to use the minimum force consistent with gaining control. At 22.44 the bridge was taken but was being assaulted by Jews from forward the after well deck was cleared except for a few toughs wearing respirators, who pelted the ship with bottles I was forced to get clear and manoeuvred to close once more HMS Haydon went alongside and boarded while circling round I heard the sound of several shots in Guardian. At 23.05 I was alongside Guardian again and was able to render very effective assistance with hoses and smoke generators Hearing more shots, I shouted over to stop shooting, repeating this several times. The actual boarding appeared to have been fearlessly and methodically carried out, though it is not yet known why it was necessary to have had to use firearms the thugs were fairly easily identified and were mostly equipped with respirators. Weapons appeared to be clubs, bottles and tins, of which there was a plentiful supply. The Jews were quite proficient in fielding the [teargas] generators and returning them to sender. The effects were felt even in the St Brides Bay engine room. One Jew was seen by British constable L.S.Lewis, No. 3952, to be armed with a revolver. The ship appeared to have no Master or proper crew. The Commanding Officer of HMS Haydon, Commander J.Mowlam, mentioned further points of interest not included in the official narrative, in which this operation differed from most of those that had gone before: 1 Guardian had escaped detection until she was a few miles from Tel Aviv. In Mowlam’s opinion the long period of ‘softening up’ before boarding which was customary in most previous cases and which used to have the effect on the immigrants to weaken their will to resist and at the same time had allowed tension and excitement in the boarding party to relax had been omitted through Commodore DeSalis’ order to board immediately. The physical confrontation: interception and diversion policies in theory and practice 207
  • 2 In this case the immigrants were thwarted when they may well have considered success was theirs and the boarding party precipitated into action while still keyed up. The result was very fierce and prolonged resistance on the part of the immigrants and a lack of steadiness in the boarding party. 3 Sergeant Bailey of the Palestine Police, who had gone over in the first party ordered the aerials to be cut with a short burst of fire which was done. A further burst was ordered by the Senior Boarding Officer to keep the Jews back until the remainder of the party with fresh supplies of smoke arrived. The effect of such action on uninformed and isolated individuals of the boarding party would tend to make them think that general fire had broken out and served to rouse fanaticism in the immigrants. Subsequent orders were given by various officers of the boarding party to fire controlled volleys over the heads of the resistors. In the confusion these volleys undoubtedly became a little wild and the general effect was to make the whole party ‘trigger happy’.46 Regarding the communication difficulties and in order to speed up and simplify communications Mowlam submitted several suggestions for consideration: 1 Fleet Code and Plain Language should be permitted unless it is vital; 2 sufficient experience has now been gained to include in Haifa that information should not leak out. Confidential Memoranda a fairly comprehensive sitrep guide consisting of numbered or lettered subheadings requiring only an affirmative, negative or numerical answer. This would ensure that no generally required information is missed. An additional secret report by Lieutenant Commander Sproul Bolton stated that, Sergeant Bailey of the Palestine Police, who had gone over in the first party ordered the aerials to be cut with a short burst of fire which was done. A further burst was ordered by the Senior Boarding Officer to keep the Jews back until the remainder of the party with fresh supplies of smoke arrived the party then ran out of smoke generators and it was no longer possible to keep the Jews from crowding directly beneath the bridge there might also have been an attack from the rear and the Senior Boarding Officer ordered a burst of Lanchester fire over the heads of the Jews. It is my opinion, therefore, that the Boarding Officers were justified in giving the orders to fire over the heads of the rioters. It is thought that injuries to the Jews may have been caused in self-defence or inaccurate fire in the heat of the moment.47 The following claim was made on page 6 of the official Report of Proceedings, April 1947, Commander-in-Chief Mediterranean Submission dated 16 May 1947: The Jews resisted more strongly than in any ship so far encountered, and control of the ship was only gained after over two hours fighting, during which the boarding parties were forced to use firearms, and two Jews were unfortunately killed and several others wounded. Firearms had Britain's naval and political reaction to the illegal immigration of jews to palestine, 1945-1948s 208
  • previously been brandished by the Jews, but it is not certain whether they used them, as at least one Jew was shot in the act of taking aim at one of the Boarding Party. A peculiar feature of the incident is that wounded Jews afterwards most positively asserted in hospital that they had not been shot by sailors, but by other immigrants. This claim of Jewish immigrants having fired on Jewish immigrants does not sound very convincing, but at the time it seemed to have been accepted by the enquiry which followed. Commodore DeSalis summed up: The operation was difficult due to the need for sudden and forcible arrest, arising out of the proximity of the ship to Tel Aviv. This made a simultaneous boarding by two ships impossible. This lack of support probably had more to do with the use of firearms than any other factor. There was no time for the psychological effect of friendly and reasonable speech to have its effect. The nearest point to disaster in the whole operation came at last, when the Guardian entering harbour in tow of the harbour tugs broke away in the half gale that was then blowing, and was in danger of grounding in Acre Bay in a heavy surf.48 The reasons given by Commodore DeSalis are no doubt at least partially correct but they do not give the full answer to the reason for the bungled boarding, the high casualty rate on the Guardian and the hair-raising tow. It was a fact that the St Brides Bay crew were still smarting from the casualties their ship suffered in March during the attempt to arrest the Susannah immigrants in the surf, the boarding parties were psyched up from the marine boarding courses they attended in Ghain Tuffeiha and Police Sergeant Bailey’s instruction to cut the Guardian’s aerials with machine-gun fire does not appear to have been conducive to calming the opposing parties. Unfortunately the operation, which went very smoothly and without hitch, was marred by a breakdown in communications between Commodore Palestine and Haydon. The four coded signals received from Commodore Palestine were corrupt, and repetitions had to be asked for, in addition two of these signals were slow in transit. Their priorities were Important, Emergency, Immediate and Immediate in that order. This threw a heavy strain on my keen W/T staff(the senior telegraphist, after the Petty Officer Telegraphist, completed training last December) and it is not surprising that some of my sitreps were hung up in transmission. Very regrettably two of these sitreps had coding errors, and had to be repeated, but in one case the repeat was not asked for until five hours after the signal had been cleared from Haydon. The result was I received signals from Commodore Palestine in some cases too late to take action on them, and Commodore Palestine was starved of information on which to base his preparation for the reception of the illegal immigrants. A detailed report on communications is enclosed.49 The confusion during boarding of Guardian (13–15 April 1947) and Aghia Orietta (23 May 1947) is explicable and some of the total shambles is perhaps excusable by seasickness and sleep deprivation of inexperienced signalmen, but it was mainly caused The physical confrontation: interception and diversion policies in theory and practice 209
  • by lack of address to signals, signals arriving with lack of any priority designation at all, thus causing them to be side-tracked in HMS Haydon’s W/T office. Some signals were marked ‘priority’, some in turn had been classified ‘emergency’ and others had been designated ‘immediately’. Receipts, repeats, requests to change plugboard ‘B’ to plugboard ‘A’, were made, signal codes were changed from code to P/L (Plain Language) or to V/S (Visual Signalling). Many signals had to be transferred, received and passed from one ship to another and back to Commodore Palestine, while ‘groups’ of signalling letters went astray, had to be repeated or had to be re-counted and re-sent. And did Haydon have to send one of her three W/T operators across with their boarding party? In addition, in the case of the Guardian the coast was quite near, with a half-gale blowing onto a lee coast, which also caused a profusion of signals. The international press had become restive and demanded information. Towing the Guardian included the failure of tow ropes. Problems with the competence of the civilian harbour tugs also played a role. It is amazing that any meaningful communication became eventually possible and it was fortunate that the commanders of ships boarding were extremely experienced seamen. The buck-passing between Commodore Palestine DeSalis and the Commanding Officer of HMS Haydon followed the pattern of the reports exchanged during the earlier Guardian interception. DeSalis claimed that although Haifa GOC had made some errors, these had been of a sort which could have been picked up by an efficient receiving staff. DeSalis was ready to accept that, ‘the signalling from Haifa was extremely bad and must be held responsible for the majority of delays’, but he pointed out that the danger of this statement was that a Commanding Officer believed that all was well with the communications department, while clearly this was not so.50 The communication breakdown during the Guardian and Aghia Orietta boardings had eventually reached the Director of the RN Signal Division, Captain Gilbert Rudley Waymouth CBE, who commented: 1 The Communication breakdown on these occasions was unfortunate but as it was primarily due to (a) sea-sickness, (b) a faulty Typex [Codex] machine and (c) encryption errors at the base, DSD has no remarks to offer except that Typex machines had generally proved reliable. 2 It is obvious that much traffic has to be encrypted to avoid subsequent legal repercussions. Orders concerning the principles to be adopted can only be given by Commanders-in-Chief Mediterranean. 3 In order to assist the Commanding Officers concerned on whether P/L or code must be used, DSD presumes they are kept informed of any intelligence we may obtain, concerning any Jewish ‘Y’ organisation. 4 DSD considers it worth while raising the point with C-in-C Med. who has not himself remarked on the communication problem.51 Some commanding officers of ships boarding had earlier complained about the inefficient water jets emitted by the hull and fire-main systems, and compared them unfavourably to that delivered by the portable diesel pump carried on board. On receipt of a complaint regarding a similar experience made by Haydon during the Aghia Orietta boarding, the Director of Naval Construction claimed that the Haydon’s firemain system must have been defective52 but as Haydon was to be placed in Reserve Category A it was proposed Britain's naval and political reaction to the illegal immigration of jews to palestine, 1945-1948s 210
  • that a fire-fighting equipment trial and test will be carried out if and when the ship was brought forward for service. The Navy’s Director of Communication and Training summed up: ‘A further example of the falling standard in training and maintenance, this time under operational conditions.’53 Shipwreck of Athinai (Rafiah) and rescue of the survivors The rescue of the Athinai refugees, stranded on the island of Sirina, by the Royal Navy and the Royal Air Force, was a fine example of the highest, selfless traditions and seamanship of the services, who succoured their supposed enemies, the Jewish would-be immigrants of the Athinai, at considerable risk to their own ships, aircraft and their servicemen. Several British sailors were mentioned in despatches for behaviour over and above the line of duty, although quite unusually these mentions were never recorded or gazetted.54 The political aspect of the Athinai affair had been incompetently handled while British Intelligence proved inadequate. The Athinai shipwreck, has been included in this chapter, in order to further illustrate the point made about the differences between the British version of events and the testimonies of Jewish ex-Mossad members. It is an account of the voyage and shipwreck of the MV Athinai alias Rafiah (change of SS to MV because of the change from the ship’s original steam propulsion to a 200 HP Deutz Diesel). The Athinai, built in 1898, had been laid up from 1925 to 1939 in Piraeus harbour from which she was finally removed as an obstruction to shipping. In 1939 she sank from unrepaired leaks outside the harbour while on tow55 (not from the effects of bombing as stated in some narratives). When under water she was bought for scrap by a certain Emanuel Dimitrios (Konstandi) Stefanidi who in turn sold her with permit No. 39684/8230 to Georgios T.Fatsis & Co., ship owners of Piraeus for 300 gold sovereigns (40 million drachmae). Cost of repairs and installation of the Deutz Diesel engine cost Fatsis an additional 300 sovereigns. She was then resold by Fatsis for 7,000 gold sovereigns to the Caribbean Atlantic Ship Corporation of Panama, which if true, was not a bad profit margin at all. The actual purchasing agent was a red-headed Jew called Harilaos Horty or Benjamin Jerushalmi, who was reported to be forming a group for illegal immigration activities (he was a Turkish Jew).56 The organiser in Yugoslavia was Jachiel Leibovitz (Leibele), a Mossad representative in Bakar, Yugoslavia.57 The British files58 report that the Athinai and the Anna alias Lohita (Knesset Israel) would embark Jews from Yugoslavia, the immigrants of the Athinai would be transferred to the Lohita which would sail for Palestine. The crew of the Lohita would then be landed on Sirina, to be picked up by a tug and returned to Piraeus via Crete. Two wireless sets were reported to have been set up on Sirina island and/or on Trianissia. On 25 October, the Athinai went aground at the entrance to the Levkas canal (MR W 8360). Refloated, she sailed to Patras which she left on 26 October. Report Gen/102/SR 23 states that this grounding made her late for her rendezvous with the Lohita. Sir Charles Norton of the British Embassy in Athens in his report also supported the theory about the alleged wireless station on Sirina: ‘It seems likely that in view of the The physical confrontation: interception and diversion policies in theory and practice 211
  • Lohita capture [26 November 1946], she went to Sirina in order to obtain fresh instructions through a secret wireless station there.’59 On 8 December BBC news of the shipwreck reached Rhodes and the Greek Corvette Themistocles was despatched to Sirina carrying relief supplies and a group of 20 policemen60 to search the island for the transmitter and bring back the crew as well as the lessee with his family and some shepherds. It was remarkable that two letters, one in Greek and one in Hebrew, dated 26 November, were found with the Athinais’s Captain, Vassilios Exarchopoulos. The letters mentioned a bonus of five sovereigns to be paid to the crew when the Athinai, ‘was wrecked on the island on the way to our destination’. The letters had been addressed to Harilaos Horty (Benjamin Jerushalmi) and Grigorios (the British suspected that Grigorios was Fatsis) and were signed by Jachiel Leibovitch. But the vessel only sank on 7 December! The British, therefore, concluded, that it proved that the Jewish organisers had planned the wreck in advance and that it seemed most unlikely that Sirina was a spontaneous choice made on 7 December. Some of the British investigators (especially the Divisional Signalling Officer, Dodecanese District) pointed out the following objections to Captain Exarchopoulos’ testimony:61 1 That the Levkas canal incident does not very well fit the description ‘wrecked on an island’.62 2 That the phrase ‘on behalf of our children’ implied that the Jewish immigrants were on board when the accident occurred (the Jewish immigrants were not yet on board during the Levkas grounding, they embarked later, in Bakar).63 According to British sources, the Athinai left Bakar on 26 November, called at Stampalia (Astypalea) on 6 December (this had been confirmed by Divisional Signalling Officer, Dodecanese) and left on 7 December at dawn. The weather deteriorated and the captain wanted to return to Stampalia, but the Jewish Ship’s Committee forced him to put into a bay in Sirina which was marked on the ship’s chart. During manoeuvres to get out of the bay the ship struck broadside on the rocky side of the bay and sank within 40 minutes. None of the crew appeared to know whether the wireless was salvaged or when the SOS was sent. The British intelligence reports mentioned some unexplained features: 1 Exarchopoulos claimed he had never heard of Sirina, but intelligence also claimed that it seemed most unlikely that he was unaware of plans for taking the Lohitas’s crew to this island for transhipment. Indeed not according to A.Lichowsky, who wrote that the Athinai was to rendezvous with the Heleni (Gabriela) at Kamila island—just a rock due north of the eastern tip of Crete. The crew was to train a new crew of immigrants for the last two days of the journey and the Heleni was to return the Greek crew of the Athinai to Piraeus.64 2 The Greek and British investigators believed that the boarding of the Athinai (if it ever took place) may have been arranged to absolve the owner and crew from being liable to legal proceedings for breach of Greek law No. 1746 of 22 May 1939.65 A precedent for the use of Sirina for the transhipment of refugees was quoted by British intelligence—the authorities in Stampalia had been informed that two caiques, one large and one small, had put into Sirina in August 1946 and stayed a few days. Britain's naval and political reaction to the illegal immigration of jews to palestine, 1945-1948s 212
  • 3 The son of the lessee of Sirina island, Theodore Metaxotus [Barbayanni] stated that no wireless could have been on Sirina without his knowledge. An exhaustive search by a 20-man police contingent brought by HHMS Themistocles failed to reveal any wireless66 and British Intelligence opined that if the Athinai’s wireless operator had rescued the ship’s wireless set and called for help from shore, there would have been little point in subsequently throwing the set into the sea. They were wrong, as has been revealed by Lichowsky. 4 Furthermore, the British claimed [ADM 1/20776] that the course which the Athinai pursued in the Adriatic resembled that of the Lohita too closely to be merely coincidental.67 According to the British reports the lessee of Sirina was a Jewish surgeon from Athens68 who was liaising by radio between illegal ships, a rather unlikely candidate for leasing an uninhabited island to breed sheep.69 Mention must also be made of reports to their Lordships at the Admiralty by A.F.DeSalis, Commodore Palestine,70 Lieutenant Commander C.A.H.Owen the CO of HMS Stevenstone (Stevenstone escorted LST 3016 to Famagusta) and Admiral Sir Algernon Usborne Willis, Commander-in-Chief Mediterranean Fleet.71 Admiral Willis’ report also contained the report by the Commanding Officer of HMS Stevenstone as an enclosure.72 This enclosure described the allegedly bad behaviour on passage of the immigrants and ugly scenes, which necessitated the use of tear gas, when the rescued passengers refused to leave the LST which brought them to Cyprus. The Athinai incident is only one of the cases where we must agree with the historian, Major General Edmunds, when he said to Admiral Godfrey: ‘The only evidence that was one hundred percent reliable was an entry in a ship’s log filled in by signal boys who had no personal interest in the result of their acts or words.’73 Parts of the rescue ships’ commanding officers’ reports apparently exaggerated the weather conditions, although the weather was still very bad when the RAF dropped supplies, and the planes did a wonderful job.74 For the sake of objectivity Lieutenant Commander Owen’s report has been compared here with comments made by a Mossad member of the Athinai’s crew. Owen had complained about the behaviour on board the tank-landing ship. He claimed ‘unchivalrous behaviour’, ‘trouble at sea from a hatchet-faced ringleader’, ‘600 cups smashed against the bulkhead, blankets soaked in dishwater and trodden savagely into the deck’, ‘thugs barring the way to a Naval Guard going below to use a little manly persuasion’ and so on, forcing the navy to use tear gas and to open fire with a revolver. The Jews were called unco-operative, treacherous, destructive, unreasonable, untrustworthy and ruthless, they in turn called the Royal Navy ‘dirty fascists’ and finally Owen accused the Jews of ‘biting the hand that fed them’.75 Contrast the above with statements made by Athinai’s radio operator A. Lichowsky: The Petty Officer waded foolishly into the crowd about 15 feet from the door of the LST hold. He apparently noticed my hand signals to block his retreat and took a shot directly at me. A woman who accidentally raised her hand took the bullet. This was not a warning shot, or a ricochet, it was directed into the crowd in panic.76 The physical confrontation: interception and diversion policies in theory and practice 213
  • Regarding the ‘unchivalrous’ behaviour of the survivors, the Mossad representative wrote, ‘To expect death camp survivors to behave like prep school graduates is at the peak of insensitivity and stupidity.’77 Lichowsky’s fax then covered Lieutenant Commander Owen’s description of the use of tear gas: An act of cruelty befitting the Nazi SS, whoever gave that order should be tried To seal a chamber with 800 survivors of Nazi death camps, and gas them, should be unthinkable for a British officer. The initial panic was beyond description some big guys lifted me high, and I was able to knock the thing to the floor, where we covered it with a container and tried to smother it with lots of blankets seepage from under the covers made conditions in the hold unbearable. Had more gas escaped we would have had fatalities. As it was everyone endured for more than 30 minutes, in spite of a lot of crying and screaming. There can be no possible justification for this atrocity. These people had a right to protest they were lied to by the captain of one of the destroyers, who promised them they were being taken to Palestine and freedom. A little patience and reasonable communications would have ended the protest after a while.78 The British reports placed a lot of emphasis on the wireless messages from Sirina and from the Athinai. Who called for help? How did the Jewish Agency and through her the BBC learn of the shipwreck? The significance of this question becomes clear when we consider the efforts made by the British and Greek authorities in sending such strong units of Greek police and British Military Police to Sirina at the time of the rescue and their efforts to comb the island for a transmitter, even before the evacuation began. Avraham Lichowsky recalled the wireless coverage of the Athinai’s last voyage and her shipwreck: The Rafiah [Athinai] carried a single military Ducati short wave receiver, a transmitter built from junkyard parts (out of discarded radios, amplifiers and telephone receivers), a Morse key supplied by Dr Fry and two automobile batteries. The antenna was a stranded L type. The transmitter consisted of a crystal oscillator stage (6V vacuum tube) and a power amplifier. One of the batteries was lost and the other cracked when Lichowsky tried to throw them across a widening gap to a ledge on a cliff as the ship was sinking. There was very little power left and it proved impossible to transmit. Overnight Lichowsky modified the transmitter to use only the low power oscillator stage and he estimated that he had only about ten to twenty minutes of receiving or transmitting time left as the ship was sinking and all hands were ashore the W/T operator was able to rip down a portion of the antenna, ripped the Ducati receiver off the cabin wall, succeeded in unbolting the receiver from its shelf and freed the batteries outside his cabin. There was no time to unscrew the Morse key from the table. Lichowsky commandeered one of the shepherds’ caves as Britain's naval and political reaction to the illegal immigration of jews to palestine, 1945-1948s 214
  • his ‘laboratory’, and was able next morning to send a plain language ‘SOS DE NER Sirina’ three times. NER was Lichowsky’s personal call sign and he expected any Mossad operator to recognise it. The time chosen for the transmission coincided with a scheduled communication between Mossad HQ in Tel Aviv and the Rome satellite. Both were supposed to scan the frequency for traffic. They both responded immediately with long R’s to indicate they were reading.79 The Mossad operators suspected that Captain Vassilios Exarchopoulos, who they considered was treacherous and cowardly, had deliberately manoeuvred his vessel into a position of no recovery, leading to the sinking.80 Two days later a British Destroyer and a minesweeper showed up, lowered boats and landed policemen from Rhodes to search the island for the transmitter. The Mossad operator sneaked to the water’s edge and pulled on a rope that loosed a rock slide including all the salvaged radio equipment, which, ‘is probably still lying twenty fathoms or so below the water at the foot of the cliff’.81 Once on the British Destroyers the immigrants were assured by British naval officers that due to their hardships they would be taken to Palestine directly and released. Lichowsky, who was a trained Morse operator, stayed on deck most of the time reading the VS blinkers from the command destroyer to the others, he thus intercepted the order to proceed to Famagusta. In consequence the immigrant leadership decided to refuse disembarkation in Cyprus.82 This then, was the reason for the sabotage to the LST’s blankets and teacups and so on, and for the resistance to disembarkation. Other not inconsiderable contradictions between the British and Mossad versions of the evacuation are notable. ‘The Greek sailors landed from the Greek destroyers were completely useless, they never gave any assistance in the evacuation.’83 Contrasting with: The Greek destroyer (which had entered the southern bay, just short of the sunken Rafiah) [Athinai] daringly passed a light bridge to the cliff, and with great skill took our seriously wounded immigrants on board [the Greeks] never searched or interrogated anyone. It was a magnificent humanitarian action, executed with great seamanship.84 This leaves an unresolved question. Who brought the 15-man British Military police contingent from Rhodes to Sirina? The late A.Lichowsky was adamant: the British ships. But Lieutenant Commander Bush of HMS Chevron had been ordered by Commodore Palestine, ‘to proceed at best speed to Sirina’ and there was no mention of picking up military policemen at Rhodes. A BMA caique had also been detached from Rhodes, but she was buffeted badly and sustained some damage: The physical confrontation: interception and diversion policies in theory and practice 215
  • The crew [of the BMA caique] were highly excited and it was not surprising that they refused to come out again [after evacuating eighty survivors] considerable efforts were made by Lt Leslie to get the caique to make further trips, but the crew would not finally by taking charge himself the caique was again pressed into service.85 Lieutenant Commander Bush had written to the Officer-in-Charge, British Military Authority, Rhodes to thank him for his caique’s support,86 but Bush did not report the unauthorised presence of some Greek ladies on board the caique,87 which could have explained the pusillanimous behaviour of the BMA caique’s crew. Rescue of the Athinai refugees had a typical bureaucratic sequel. On 6 January 1947 the Commander-in-Chief Mediterranean Section sent the following signal to First Lord, First Sea Lord, Mr Beith of the Foreign Office and Mr Higham of the Colonial Office, plus 28 copies (!) to various addressees: I have had the cost of the rescue and transfer of shipwrecked Jews ex Athinai computed and the total sum works out at £4,430–185–1d I hope this information may be useful in case it is possible eventually to recover this sum or at any rate clear it from Navy estimates. Beith of the Foreign Office minuted 17 January 1947: ‘I doubt whether Admiralty will ever recover this money from the CO.’ And then, tongue very much in cheek, he added: ‘Perhaps they might put in a bill to the Jewish Agency?’88 British experiences while boarding of IJI ships Experiences during the boarding of San Miguel (Hamaapil Haalmoni) and Ulua (Haim Arlosoroff) increased the Commander-in-Chief Mediterranean Afloat’s apprehension of his ships eventually capsizing one of the overloaded and unstable IJI ships.89 Another IJI vessel, the San Dimitrio, was shadowed by HMS Chivalrous and Providence on 30 October 1946 ten miles from Beirut, rolling heavily and halting occasionally at a list of 20 to 30 degrees. She was so unstable and so overcrowded that she was able twice to roll over to the same angle on the oppposite side simply by moving passengers from one side of the ship to the other. The San Dimitrio could not be towed owing to her unstable state90 and was extremely lucky to reach port in this state, (see Figure 10 showing the San Dimitrio’s list). Her sister ship, the San Felipe, was listing 35° when she was intercepted (see Figure 11). The Commander-in-Chief Mediterranean was concerned about the world-wide reaction to a possibly heavy loss of life and he feared that blame would inevitably be attached to the Navy. The Commander-in-Chief Mediterranean Afloat recommended that a statement should be made by the government to the effect that, ‘if illegal immigrant ships in the normal overloaded and unstable state evade and resist boarding a disaster is only too likely to occur and to place the responsibility on the organisers of this traffic’.91 After discussions with the First Sea Lord, the First Lord had decided to draw attention to the danger of boarding unseaworthy ships through the time-honoured expedient of an Britain's naval and political reaction to the illegal immigration of jews to palestine, 1945-1948s 216
  • inspired question and answer in the House of Commons. Being careful, the Director of the Foreign Office’s Operations Division, when asked to concur with the draft parliamentary question and proposed answer, wanted paragraph 5 amended, as he thought it might be inferred from the text that Britain would be happy as long as seaworthy vessels were being used. Consequently John Dugdale rose on 13 November 1946 to make a statement concerning the condition of the vessels in which attempts were being made to convey illegal immigrants to Palestine and to try and deny His Majesty’s Government’s responsibility for any serious accidents that might occur. He stated, ‘Indeed responsibility must rest on those who endanger the lives of the people whom they persuade to embark on these extremely hazardous journeys.’92 Dugdale, however, did not have it all his own way and he was closely interrogated through supplementary questions about the financial support, the ports from which the ships sailed, under which flag, the charterers, the victuallers, and so forth, of the IJI. He proved evasive or just poorly briefed, especially when pressed by W.Churchill, who questioned how it was possible that HM ships approached another ship at very close quarters (like Providence and Octavia when boarding the San Dimitrio) and were not able to discern the flag which that ship was flying. G.C.B.Dodds for the Admiralty’s Department of Military Intelligence (MI) commented that the proposed additional statement would add nothing material to Dugdale’s statement in the Commons on 13 November 1946, or to the further answer given 20 November 1946 to Sir Wavell Wakefield, MP for St Marylebone’s, further parliamentary question (regarding over-crowding of IJI ships). MI were inclined to feel that ‘the point has now been made sufficiently clear and that if an accident were to occur in the future and there were any tendency to blame the Royal Navy we could point to those statements and convincingly disclaim responsibility’.93 Dodds also made the point that by March 1947 the Americans were much more implicated than before in the organisation of the IJI and in the light of Foreign Secretary Bevin’s recent dig at them, the most that the Commander-in-Chief Mediterranean’s proposed statement would do, was to, ‘stir up trouble between Britain and America they [the British] would become very heavily involved in a major debate’.94 The Head of Military Intelligence further considered that at this stage no statement would act as a deterrent, all it would do would be to, ‘square our own yard arm [reconcile] in case there is trouble.’ According to Mr Dodds the organisers of the traffic were, ‘not children but malicious gangsters and have no doubt absorbed the point that we have tried to make’. Le Maitre of Admiralty Department USS feared that the proposed statement would infallibly decoy Britain into dangerous parliamentary and possibly diplomatic shoals. The Commander-in-Chief Mediterranean’s message 051145, together with the various departmental comments, eventually reached Lord Hall, the First Lord, for a ruling on behalf of the Cabinet. Lord Hall agreed to the comments and opined that by that time the British authorities had realised that their boarding and refoulement policies were doomed. Accommodation in the Cyprus camps for the 16,000 illegals embarking in the Pans could not be readied in time and the Palestine High Commissioner Sir Alan Cunningham proposed the rather drastic step of letting in 16,000 in one lump. This would have constituted a U-turn on quotas and a defeat of long-standing policy. Sir Alan’s chief The physical confrontation: interception and diversion policies in theory and practice 217
  • consideration was apparently, [A] further statement now would in any event not be advantageous from the point of view of producing any deterrent effect on the organisers of the traffic. In addition, some of the ships being used, even they are still crowded, are, I believe not so unseaworthy as the general run hitherto as I have said, I think it would be preferable not to make the question the subject of a special announcement.95 Lord Hall thus felt that Foreign Office and Colonial Office were right and that it would not be suitable to make a further statement especially directed to this particular aspect of IJI. MI, therefore, replied to the Commander-in-Chief Mediterranean Afloat’s original message after having secured the backing of the First Lord, supported by Colonial Office, Foreign Office, Under Secretary Staff, Admiralty, and so on. He stated that a fresh statement would not act as a deterrent and might stir up trouble between Britain and the United States. It is interesting to follow the accelerated path that an important communication affecting IJI, like message 051145, took through channels in March 1947. It wound its tortuous way from C-in-C Med Afloat via Admiralty Departments MI and USS over both the Foreign and Colonial Offices, then via several other officials to the First Lord, back to MI and then to the originator. The entire process took only eight days and it shows not only the importance assumed by IJI at that stage, but also the timidity of the British civil servants, who when pressed for some kind of action often seemed to search for reasons to justify inaction. The British deportation policy often resulted in fierce, though not unexpected, reactions from the Jewish population of Palestine. But decisions to return IJI to Europe were causing even greater resentment, and MILPAL warned formations on many occasions to take precautions. On (date coded) May 1947 MILPAL sent the following top secret signal to 1 Inf Div, 3 Inf Div, 6th Airborne Division and 8 Infantry Brigade: HMG is considering possibility of returning to Italy or France illegal immigrants on ANNAL96 [alternative spelling ANAL] now in Haifa. You will realise possibility of sharp local reaction if this policy is implemented. Immediately on learning through your local Military Commander that decision to return these illegal immigrants to Europe has been taken you should take all necessary precautions in conjunction with Military and Police Authorities.97 On another occasion MILPAL sent a top secret signal to HQ Mideast Brig Mcnab, GOC 1 Div, GOC 6 Airborne Division, Command 31 Brigade and Command South Palestine District containing an appreciation of the likely reaction of Jews (and Arabs) to curtailment of immigration and deportation of IJI from Palestine and their detention in Cyprus. MILPAL asserted that, Question of immigration vital one to all Zionists and represents actually and symbolically the life and death of Zionism for them. So long as Jews continue to come into Palestine other issues such as self-government and even land sales restrictions can be shelved. Curtailment of immigration will therefore be most serious blow and it will be made more serious still by deportation of those already in Palestine. The removal of Jews from Britain's naval and political reaction to the illegal immigration of jews to palestine, 1945-1948s 218
  • Eretz Israel, no matter what crime he has committed, is considered by all as the worst thing government can do. For those religiously inclined it is morally wicked and for those who have substituted Zionism for Judaism it is as bad on political grounds general effect will be to cast JEWISH Community into state of despair which may lead to acts of desperation. Haganah have always declared that they will fight on this issue.98 The signal further suggested that measures should be taken to show that there was no possibility of divergence between HMG and the government of Palestine, it further proposed that a statement should be issued announcing that deportees would only be held in Cyprus pending a political decision and solution. Furthermore, the conviction should be created amongst the Jews, that the British troops would be prepared to take stern measures and act in considerable strength and that an announcement be made that the whole question had not been decided by deputation but was still open to political solution. The problem was that the measures proposed were of course addressed to the wrong audience. Military officers, even of the highest rank, may traditionally not become involved in essentially political statements as suggested in the above signal. There followed a warning to expect organised crowd tactics, especially in case the military court were to pronounce capital sentences in the forthcoming trial of Jewish terrorists,99 with attempts to break cordons and release immigrants, the use of firearms and the immigrants themselves trying to give maximum trouble. With the gradual final evacuation of the armed forces in anticipation of the end of the Mandate there was a rundown of the British military presence in Palestine and units of 6 Airborne Division left for Europe. Transhipment arrangements for Illegal Jewish Immigrants were exposed to increasing pressure and it was decided to devolve these operations to the Royal Navy. The cruiser HMS Phoebe was in Haifa from 4–10 December 1947, and this opportunity was taken to hold a conference between the Senior British Naval Officer, Middle East, Commodore Palestine and the local army authorities to discuss taking over the army’s duties with regard to transferring immigrants from IJI ships to the Cyprus Transports.100 A full-scale demonstration of a transhipment operation was staged at the time on the IJI ship Ideros which had been moored behind a breakwater since September 1946, the so-called ‘Rotten Row’. The physical confrontation: interception and diversion policies in theory and practice 219
  • 10 Refoulement1 and abandonment of the boarding policy Refoulement was a euphemism for the forceful return of Jewish Illegal Immigrants to their country of embarkation. From the French—to drive back, force back, press back or suppression of desire. It is indeed a British official characteristic to disguise or euphemise uncomfortable or unEnglish and possibly unconstitutional measures by using foreign— usually French—labels.2 This book, and especially this chapter, shows Britain’s practical, doctrinal and theoretical difficulties, the inter-departmental doubts and disagreements over the application of the concept of refoulement for returning refugees to their ports of embarkation. In the earlier stages of Britain’s fight against the Illegal Jewish Immigration to Palestine, the Colonial Office was still convinced that there would be insuperable difficulties in ‘deporting the immigrants to their countries of origin’.3 Countries would be, unwilling to accept people whose nationality was indeterminable and who had probably entered and left those countries without travel documents or frontier check. It is not practicable to return to the Warsaw ghetto a Jew, who might have wandered over half Europe before succeeding in embarking for Palestine.4 W.V.J.Evans, a legal adviser at the Foreign Office, wrote a minute to the Department’s library for advice on refoulement. Initially Evans repeated the suggestion that persons illegally entering Palestine should be returned to the country from whence they came, irrespective of whether they were nationals of that country. Evans then recorded the assertion that every state was obliged ‘to receive its own nationals expelled from other states.5 Moreover Evans also stated that in his opinion it was generally recognised that, ‘any illegals crossing a land frontier, whatever their nationality, may at the time be returned across the frontier to the state from which they came’.6 Evans thought it was also clear that immigrants who had landed illegally from a ship could be put back on board, but he had been unable to find any authority that the refoulement principle could be extended beyond this and that a state might be entitled to return persons who have illegally entered its territory by sea to the state whence they came, and that the latter state was obliged to accept them back. In the last paragraphs of his minute Evans asked the library to make a search into the question and send him a note on the views of such authorities as can be found on the matter. At the same time Evans requested a brief note on the extent of the French law of refoulement. The library carried
  • out their researches, in fact in their search for useful precedents they went back as far as the nineteenth century, and their Mr Grey replied one week later, ensuring that J.G.S.Beith and J.E.Cable, both FO, and J.D.Higham of the CO also received copies. Based on the above research, Evans’ minute quoted from confidential paper No. 7660 of 1901 which contained a number of reports from HM representatives abroad, respecting the laws of foreign countries and relating to the expulsion of aliens. However, these reports treated the matter almost entirely from the point of view of the internal practice of states concerning the expulsion of unwanted persons from their territories and barely touched upon the obligation of states to receive persons expelled from other countries. Belgium and Germany had limited the expellee’s choice in which frontier he wished to cross, but only the French report mentioned Refoulement. Vous ne devez pas perdre de vue que le plupart des Puissances refoulent impitoyablement tous les expulsés autre que leurs nationaux, et qu’il y a nécessité absolue de ne diriger que tout à fait eceptionnellement les étrangers soumis pays d’origine.7 The Minister of Justice prescribed precautions to be taken, ‘afin d’éviter le refoulement dont le pays d’exportation serait tenté d’user envers l’expulsé’.8 From these reports Evans drew the conclusion that it was recognised not only that unwanted immigrants could be pushed across a land frontier, but also that they could even be pushed back into a state which was itself attempting to expel them. But unfortunately it was not clear whether this was regarded simply as a right of a sovereign state to exclude unwanted aliens—and that such a right might conflict with a similar right of a neighbouring state. Mr Grey, the researching librarian, feared that this could result in a game of ‘human shuttlecock’ in which neither player would be obliged to give way, thus creating two conflicting obligations, the requirement of one state to receive an unwanted person with a corresponding obligation of reception on the part of the state from which the unwanted immigrant came. The terms of the US Immigration Laws in turn appeared to draw a distinction between ‘refoulement’ and ‘expulsion’ by providing that all Aliens brought to this country in violation of law shall be immediately sent back to the country whence they respectively came on the vessels bringing them unless in the opinion of the Secretary of State immediate deportation is not practicable or proper.9 From the text of the Act of February 1917, Evans concluded that there was an obligation on the state from whence the unwanted immigrant came to receive him back and if there was such an undeniable obligation, then Mr Evans saw no logical reason why the refoulee should not be returned to the state from whence he came by any convenient means. English law on the matter provided that an alien who is deported shall be sent to the country of which he is a national or from which he came. Unfortunately Evans found no guidance as to how his actual destination or the country whence he came was to be determined. Evans found that an indeterminate game of ‘human shuttlecock’ was not a Refoulement and abandonment of the boarding policy 221
  • solution acceptable in international law. Logically and morally, since the authorities were inconclusive, he was of the opinion that Britain would be, justified in taking a strong line as regards illegal immigrants into Palestine, and claiming that we have a right to return them to the countries whence they have come, and that those countries are obliged to accept them back irrespective of their nationality.10 The principal objection to the procedure of intercepting and boarding IJI ships and then deporting the immigrants to Cyprus was that it permitted the illegal immigrants eventually to succeed in their aim of entering Palestine and thus served as an encouragement to the traffic. As early as April 1946 it had been realised that, in most cases the sea journey to Palestine [was only] the concluding stage of a long trek which may have started anywhere in Central Europe [and would have involved] the crossing of frontiers by the use of forged papers etc., many of the persons concerned being stateless.11 The meeting was quite aware of this and consequently minuted: If therefore an attempt were made to return these shiploads of illegal immigrants to the countries from which the ships set out, strong objections would be raised by the governments concerned to the re- admission of persons who were not nationals of those countries and who in many cases originally gained entry to those countries by illegal means. The reversal of the whole process and the returning of individuals to their original points of departure in Central Europe is clearly administratively impracticable, even if it were possible politic-ally to face the storm of protest which would inevitably be aroused in the Jewish communities throughout the world (especially in the United States) and the serious disturbances to which such a course would undoubtedly give rise to in Palestine itself. Thus any attempt to put the illegal immigrant traffic into reverse in the case of intercepted immigrants must be regarded as out of the question.12 However, reviewing the situation after the conclusion of the President Warfield incident, which had had such detrimental effects on Britain’s world image, exceeding even the most pessimistic forecasts, it appeared to British policy-makers that it had become necessary to make a decision on the so-called refoulement of illegal immigration and agree to try and implement such a policy. It seemed to offer Britain’s last hope to retain a vestige of control over a traffic which had brought her Palestine policy close to oblivion. It had been recognised that the return of would-be immigrants would be embarrassing to any government concerned and it was expected that they, especially the Italians and the French, might claim that the majority of these refugees had come from Central Europe and had used Italy and other countries only as countries of transit on their way to a port of embarkation. The relevant Foreign Office departments believed that Italy was, Britain's naval and political reaction to the illegal immigration of jews to palestine, 1945-1948s 222
  • at present the country where there is the greatest illegal activity and also the Mediterranean country least able to resist our pressure. It is therefore most important to do everything possible to get the principle of refoulement established with Italy, with a view to extending it later to other countries.13 Commander Evershed of the Cabinet Office prepared a memorandum for circulation to the members of the Illegal Immigration Committee, carefully listing the advantages and disadvantages to be gained from refoulement.14 By returning the immigrants to their country of origin Britain would have been saved the trouble of finding accommodation for them. The danger of the Cyprus camps overflowing in a foreseeable future with all the attendant political and practical disadvantages and difficulties would have been removed, and the organisers of the traffic as well as the would-be immigrants themselves would have been discouraged. Refoulement to the country of embarkation would also have made the government concerned more cautious in allowing such embarkations to take place. Commander Evershed saw the chief disadvantages of refoulement as placing a very considerable burden upon the navy. In the case of the President Warfield it had meant tying down three to four of HM ships for nearly two months for escort duties, the organisation of patrols off ports where the President Warfield lay, the disruption of naval programmes and the expenditure of a very considerable part of the total Mediterranean fuel allowance for the year. It was also considered that publication of details of a planned refoulement, which was after all considered ‘normal international practice’ by Britain, would cause considerable excitement in Palestine. Publication of passages in the Palestinian press dealing with refoulement was, therefore, prohibited by the censor.15 HM government had incurred considerable odium over the President Warfield incident, especially in the United States. Evershed consequently considered the possibilities of refoulement under three distinct geographical headings, France, Italy and the communist Balkan States. The French on their part had made their attitude abundantly clear: By refusing to allow illegal immigrants to be forcibly disembarked at their ports and by making it clear that the reception of returned immigrants by train from Germany could not be regarded as a precedent, they have made any question of future refoulement to France very difficult, if not impracticable.16 In the case of Italy, Evershed considered that the weapon of refoulement might perhaps be a strong inducement for the Italian government to ensure that would-be immigrants were not allowed to embark and that Britain might be able to persuade the Italian government to accept the return of a shipload of immigrants, ‘and it is no doubt not impossible that a forcible disembarkation might be accepted at an Italian port’.17 Regarding the communist Balkan States, Evershed somewhat optimistically opined, ‘It is by no means impossible that the states concerned would accept back any illegal immigrants who had embarked there.’ Refoulement and abandonment of the boarding policy 223
  • Evershed continued by listing the political possibilities of refoulement, which in spite of his optimistic remarks were not considered very great, but he also minuted: ‘It is open to question whether HM Government would be prepared to send back behind the iron curtain human beings, Jews or otherwise, of whose action the Communist authorities were known to disapprove strongly.’18 The Foreign Office was not as sanguine as Evershed about the chances of Refoulement to Romania or Bulgaria: ‘Bucharest telegram no. 1055 (E9149) makes it clear that we have no chance of securing Roumanian agreement to Refoulement, while Sofia telegram no. 1247 (E9200) excludes any hope of Bulgarian consent.’19 Evershed was aware that the organisers of the illegal immigration were arranging to use big ships with capacities of 7,000–8,000 each, in place of the small ships they had hitherto been using and he realised that if this were so, refoulement of a complete shipload would be impossible. He also suggested the provision of a special allowance of fuel oil, in order that the navy’s other duties would not be embarrassed if a policy of refoulement were to be pursued, requiring that a number of warships would be con- stantly employed for shadowing suspect ships, escorting transports, and so on.20 An Official Committee on Palestine, constituted in the autumn 1947, had inherited the work of the Committee on Illegal Immigration which was officially dissolved on 30 October. The new committee duly met on 15 October to review the situation and report to ministers. The Under Secretary of State for the Colonies and officials from the Foreign and Colonial Offices were present and the main point of the meeting’s agenda was where to intern illegal immigrants and whether the strain on the Cyprus camps could be reduced by allocating the entire legal monthly quota to them. The meeting did not go specifically into the question of refoulement, but J.G.S.Beith of the Foreign Office nevertheless wrote a minute briefly outlining the position. Beith quotes the Foreign Office as not surprisingly having ruled out the possibility of sending a further batch of illegal immigrants to Germany: ‘Such action cannot be taken without the full agreement of the Government of the country to which the Jews are being returned [and] that all the necessary steps, including the use of force, should be taken to disembark the Jews.’21 After the experience of the President Warfield it was quite clear to Beith that this ruled out France. For political reasons Beith also excluded communist Bulgaria and Romania as candidates for refoulement. This left only Italy, but Sir V.Mallet of Britain’s embassy in Rome put paid even to that unreasonable and faint hope in a telegram to the Foreign Office: In our view they would not (repeat not) agree to allow ships carrying such Jews to be brought into an Italian port let alone to using force to get them to disembark . In the present case (the Rafaeluccia [Kadimah], intercepted 16 11 1947) we are on even weaker ground because we cannot yet prove irrefutably to the Italians that the Jews in question embarked in Italy.22 Britain's naval and political reaction to the illegal immigration of jews to palestine, 1945-1948s 224
  • In spite of this warning, Beith quite unrealistically stated that Britain should press the Italian government very strongly to take parties of illegal Jewish immigrants back, provided Britain had, ‘clear proof either by shadowing or by incontrovertible evidence from the shore of the place of embarkation’. However, he made the consequences of failure crystal clear: If we do decide to adopt this policy we shall clearly have to push it hard as nothing would be more damaging than representations which we failed to press: failure of such representations would encourage the traffic and annoy the Italians without corresponding advantage. On the other hand, strong representations would lead to a serious controversy with the Italian Government, who would obviously resent having to take the Jews back. By then, the customary Italian reluctance to agree to take illegal immigrants back had been greatly increased by the French refusal to force the President Warfield passengers to disembark. Once again, Beith set out the pros and cons of refoulement: On the positive side Britain would have been hard pressed by illegal immigration during the last months of the mandate, at the time the Cyprus camps were already filled to capacity and the return of a few shiploads of Jews to Italy would have been a great practical help to Britain and a strong deterrent to the traffic. On the other hand, Britain was doing her best to improve her relations with Italy (vide the Sforza visit) and by insisting on refoulement she would have risked a serious incident by raising a bone of contention without effective result. Finally, in an NB, Beith stated: Pros: We are likely to be hard pressed by illegal immigration during the last months of our mandate. The Cyprus camps may well be filled to capacity and the return of one or two thousand Jews to Italy would be a great practical help as well as a strong deterrent to the traffic. Cons: At a moment when we are doing our best to improve our relations with Italy (vide the Sforza visit), we would risk a serious incident with Italy. The Italian Government are almost certain to refuse our request, and, if they maintained this refusal, it is agreed that we could not carry through the policy. We should, therefore, have raised a bone of contention without effective result. As we are not prepared to take such action elsewhere we should appear to be discriminating against the Italians. N.B. It is almost impossible to secure incontrovertible evidence of embarkation without shadowing by HM ships, the adoption of a policy of ‘Refoulement’ would greatly increase the strain on the resources of the Mediterranean fleet.23 Trafford Smith of the Colonial Office and in October 1947 Chairman of the Illegal Immigration Committee wrote: Refoulement and abandonment of the boarding policy 225
  • Turning now to the High Commissioner’s views on the expedients referred to in the outward telegram, it seems to me that his first paragraph may be based on the assumption, derived from recent Cyprus telegrams, that accommodation will not be ready in Cyprus for more than about half the expected 16,000 if they arrive during the next few weeks. Working on this assumption, the High Commissioner proposes the rather drastic step of letting in 16,000 straight away in one lump, his chief consideration being apparently that that would serve the Jews right. From the Colonial Office point of view, I doubt very much whether we can favour this as sudden cessation of the Cyprus quota, might provoke serious trouble there, even though Cyprus would be spared the arrival of the 16,000. What is more important, I cannot think that a sudden decision to let in a flood of 16,000 sometime during the next few weeks would appear to the world in general, and in particular to the Arabs, as anything but a capitulation in favour of Jews, notwithstanding any announcement that might be made as regards mortgaging of quotas for the eleven odd months which would be necessary. The whole situation, as usual, bristles with difficulty. For my part, I think it can only be handled on the original basis proposed, i.e. to take this 16,000 from the two immediately threatening ships to Cyprus (if necessary straining every nerve and using every possible expedient to fit them into available accommodation there) and then to use the quota-mortgaging expedient, if we must, only in respect of subsequent arrivals, which we must hope will not amount to a total of more than, say, 3 of 4 months’ quota at the outside. In any case, we of course hope, against hope that by the time that situation arose we should know more clearly where we are as a result of UNO and be in a position to take more profitable decisions If you have any views, or wish to discuss in any way before then, Higham and I would be glad to hear from you. Yours sincerely Trafford Smith P.S. As regards accommodation in Cyprus. We have of course already asked them to do everything possible. The Wednesday meeting gives us an excuse to send a further indication of the extreme urgency of the revision of the remaining accommodation. We shall try to get an answer giving the latest position before the meeting.24 Needless to say, Sir Alan’s proposed expedient was rejected, notwithstanding any announcement that might have been made as regards mortgaging of quotas. By that time the British authorities had realised that their boarding and refoulement policies were doomed. Accommodation in the Cyprus camps for the 16,000 illegals embarking in the Pans could not be readied in time and the Palestine High Commissioner Sir Alan Cunningham proposed the rather drastic step of letting in 16,000 in one lump. This would have constituted a U-turn on quotas and a defeat of long-standing policy. Sir Alan’s chief consideration was apparently, ‘That would serve the Jews right.’25 Trafford Smith of the Colonial Office wrote that, ‘A sudden decision to let in a flood of 16,000 sometime during the next few weeks would appear to the world in general, and in particular to the Arabs, as anything but a capitulation in favour of the Jews 26 Britain's naval and political reaction to the illegal immigration of jews to palestine, 1945-1948s 226
  • Needless to say, Sir Alan’s proposed expedient was rejected, notwithstanding any announcement that might have been made as regards mortgaging of quotas. The Zionists and in particular the World Jewish Congress (WJC)27 made great play of Britain’s apparent inconsistency in applying the principle of refoulement to the President Warfield’s passengers but not to those arriving in later ships.28 J.E.Cable of the Foreign Office advised Mr Mayhew how to explain to Mr Easterman of the WJC the reasons for sending to Cyprus the 1,100 Jewish illegal immigrants who reached Palestine on board these two ships. Cable’s memo to his boss Mayhew states two reasons for this step: 1 We did not know (and still do not know) their point of embarkation.29 2 Even if we had known where to send them, we lacked ships to carry out this operation. The departure of the three ships carrying the President Warfield’s passengers had deprived the Government of Palestine of the only ships large enough to undertake a voyage of more than 24 hours duration. It was impossible to obtain other ships in time, since any ships used for carrying Jewish illegal immigrants must be specially fitted in order to guard against sabotage, a process which takes approximately six weeks.30 Cable suggested that only the first reason, which was conclusive in itself, should be given to the WJC, as the second reason might encourage foreign governments, to whose countries Britain might in future wish to return illegal immigrants, to quibble over the evidence of their embarkation. The second reason would have, in Cable’s opinion, assisted the organisers of IJI to frustrate Britain’s policy and was thus liable to assist the organisers of the traffic. Communications such as these memoranda by Beith and Cable signified a categorical ‘No’ by the Foreign Office to any refoulement and practically destroyed the case for the forced return of illegal immigrants to their country of embarkation.31 The military aspect of the boarding of the President Warfield was closely examined by the Commander-in-Chief Mediterranean Afloat and revealed a considerable advance in resistance technique on the part of the Jews. It was realised that British boarding tactics had probably reached the possible limits of development, with the Jewish opposition tending to predominate. Captain Watson of HMS Chequers considered that, ‘the odds against a successful boarding are lengthening and we were in fact, very lucky to capture the President Warfield as we did’.32 Charity and Chieftain were extensively damaged during boarding of the sturdily built President Warfield and became non-operational pending extensive repairs. The Commander-in-Chief Mediterranean, Admiral Willis wrote that, ‘The possibility of a much heavier rate of casualties cannot be envisaged with equanimity.’ The Commander-in-Chief Mediterranean Afloat clearly feared that the navy might in the future be confronted with an even more difficult ship than the President Warfield which he summed up as follows in a telegram to the Admiralty: The top deck (height 40ft) and the promenade deck (height 32 ft) were crowded with singing women and children. Access to the lower promenade deck was obstructed with Carley floats and barbed wire. The forewell deck and the poop were wired-in and fitted with awnings and side curtains obstructing boarders. The Jews used fireworks, smokebombs, missiles, oil fuel jets and steam jets as counter boarding Refoulement and abandonment of the boarding policy 227
  • devices and released rafts on to destroyers.33 When the wheelhouse had been captured the Jews used a secondary steering operated from aft. Boarding was made more difficult by a six inch rubbing strake at an average six feet above water. The President Warfield also had a speed of 13 knots which necessitated destroyers for boarding, as smaller HM ships had insufficient excess speed.34 The point he was making was that none of the following factors which contributed to the ultimate success of the President Warfield boarding might obtain on future occasions: 1 Two very experienced destroyer C.O.s were present and went alongside first, it was possible to study Warfield’s layout in time to make detailed arrangements to board at her highest decks by building boarding ramps at each destroyer’s bridge level (33 feet). 2 Surprise was effected by boarding among the women and children (on the top and promenade decks). But for this, boarding would not have been successful. 3 Sea and swell conditions were such that Commanding Officers doubted the possibility of getting boarders across. Although only a few men at a time got on board they were able to concentrate at the wheelhouse until in sufficient force to attack. Ship was boarded 20 times in all between 02.42 and 05.30 and Commanding Officers consider that had she not been very strongly constructed she would have been holed and sunk.35 Anti-boarding measures36 adopted by the President Warfield included missiles, ranging from skid rafts and lifeboats dropped on the destroyers’ decks to 12-foot iron scaffolding poles, buckets, crow bars, nuts, bolts and whole cases of food. Distress and smoke signals in large canisters were ignited and thrown on board the destroyers. Tear smoke grenades similar to the British type 91 were thrown on board ships. Oil fuel and steam system jets had been installed and used. Attempts were made by the Jews to fire the oil by throwing over sea boots filled with oily waste and ignited. Suitcases filled with burning wood shavings were dropped onto destroyers’ decks.37 The Commander-in-Chief was aware that 200 Jewish casualties, including three dead, were sustained by the Jews during the boarding, while the British casualties totalled only four hospital cases and that the major problem had been more a matter of overcoming physical obstructions rather than of dealing with weapons. In a telegram sent to Admiralty, Commander-in-Chief Malta, and copied to First Lord, First Sealord Vice Chief of Naval Staff, and so on, the Commander-in-Chief Mediterranean Afloat pondered whether it was sound policy, to go to extreme length in order to achieve the object in such cases especially in view of the fact that the whole Palestine question is now before UNO and the effect on world opinion of heavy casualties to Jews Referring to Jewish ingenuity and strength by refraining from boarding, although distasteful and damaging to prestige, does not necessarily mean that an illegal ship gets through. It will sometimes be possible by persuasion and menacing gestures to shepherd a ship to Haifa where she can be arrested with less difficulty in the harbour.38 Britain's naval and political reaction to the illegal immigration of jews to palestine, 1945-1948s 228
  • It was realised that effectively overcoming external obstructions such as steel beams sticking well out from the ship’s side, a very obvious development of the opposition to boarding under way, would be impractical and the only result of trying would be break- up of HM ships. In his telegram, Commander-in-Chief Mediterranean Afloat reported that his current instructions to COMPAL and the Palestine Patrol remained as before—to go all out to overcome resistance and seize the ships. The Northlands and Paducah were reported to be on the way to Palestine, but in a Top Secret Draft Signal the First Sea Lord was trying to reassure Commander-in-Chief Mediterranean that the Northland was still held at Bayonne, so that even if Paducah should succeed in picking up immigrants and reach Palestine, he was fairly sure that the two vessels were not going to confront the Palestine Patrol simultaneously. Furthermore the First Sealord reassured C-in-C Med, ‘Apart from these vessels, there is no prospect of illegal immigrant ships presenting difficulties similar to that of the President Warfield.’39 The First Sealord’s assurance was given at the same time as the two supposedly ‘unboardable’ Pan vessels were already being prepared for their journeys. Furthermore he informed C-in-C Med that, [the] matter is still under consideration inter-departmentally here. In all the circumstances, we do not think we can do more than give warning that it may become necessary to put into effect such discretion if the problem does become serious, rather then authorise it now.40 In his telegram he re-emphasised that his current instructions remained as before—to go all out to overcome resistance and seize the ship. But the First Sealord agreed that Admiralty could do no more than give warning that if the problem were to become serious, it might be necessary to allow discretion to the commanders on the spot, whether or not to board. The decision authorising discretion on the decision to board future IJI ships was no doubt influenced by reports like P.N.N.Synnott’s appreciation ‘Possible Resistance by Illegal Immigrants’.41 Synnott recorded that in Bayonne Paducah and Northlands took on a supply of barbed wire. He also mentioned Foreign Office reports of ‘powder’ in the possession of a member of the crew of Northlands. After writing about the customary means of resistance like tear gas, fireworks, hosepipes, physical violence and modifications to the ship’s structure, Synnott mentioned that IJI organisers had begun to use young fiery US volunteer crews and he suggested that individuals might draw a gun in the heat of the moment and that the occasional use of firearms could, therefore, no longer be excluded. Synnott’s conclusion was, however, that, the resistance shown will depend not on the preparations previously made for it so much as on the organisers estimate at the last moment of the advantages, either local and immediate (e.g. in giving the ship a chance to escape and beach herself) or long-term and political (e.g. in providing material to use against Britain in world opinion) to be gained by resisting.42 Refoulement and abandonment of the boarding policy 229
  • Synnott was quite correct in predicting that the question of resistance to be encountered would be determined not by the ship’s crew or passengers and thus could not be answered in advance and in London, but only in Palestine, by the Maritime Section of the Jewish Agency and probably separately for each individual case. He warned that resistance might be light or token where Cyprus was thought to be the eventual destination, and vigorous where refoulement was feared.43 Synnott emphasised the likelihood that the Zionists would probably weigh the following facts in coming to a decision: 1 Whether the ship was seen to take on passengers. Synnott noted the anomaly, that ‘the more diligent we are in checking the early movements of illegal ships, the more likely we are to run into heightened violence later’. 2 The number of transports in Haifa. Availability of carrying space would obviously be weighed by the Jewish Agency. 3 British pronouncements. For example, reaffirmation of refoulement would stiffen resistance. 4 The capacity of the ship for resistance. For example, speed, difficulty of boarding. Under the circumstances C-in-C Med felt he was justified in reluctantly, ‘giving the Senior Officer present discretion to hold off, if in his opinion the operation is likely to entail appreciable casualties and serious damage to ships, or a failure which would have a worse effect than no boarding at all’.44 Detailed description of the Pan Crescent and her sister ship the Pan York had been signalled by Childers and indicated that the Pans would be extremely difficult to board underway. Her large tonnage and high freeboard together with the fact that several of her 15-foot long steel cargo derricks could be secured on board horizontally, and were considered to be such formidable obstacles that together with extensive steam pipes round the upper deck these features may well have rendered her to be in the unboardable category.45 The telegram ended with a plea requesting the Admiralty’s support for this modification of policy before warning the Palestine High Commissioner and the army. The Commander-in-Chief Mediterranean was well aware of the very grave objections to allowing illegal immigrants to get ashore in Palestine and the difficulties of rounding them up and subsequently sending them to Cyprus. However, it had been agreed with the Admiralty and the War Office, in conjunction with the naval and military authorities, to ascertain the full implications of deciding not to undertake a boarding operation. The Head of the Military Branch asked in particular whether, the Navy considers that it would be possible to shepherd the ship in such a way that it beached itself in one of the areas where it would be possible for the Army to concentrate sufficient forces to form an adequate cordon. In your report you will no doubt state whether you consider that the effect in Palestine of the failure of the boarding operation would be more adverse than that of a failure to attempt to board at all.46 The Commander-in-Chief Mediterranean could not and did not wait for the cumbersome decision-making process involved in arguments within the Illegal Immigration Committee, consultations with the High Commissioner for Palestine, Commodore Palestine, COMPAL, Cabinet, and so forth, and issued instructions to the commanding officers of the Palestine Patrol vessels, which went far in outlining the Britain's naval and political reaction to the illegal immigration of jews to palestine, 1945-1948s 230
  • limits of the endeavours to be made in the future for boarding. He trusted that the Admiralty was going to endorse his instructions and he was not disappointed, but his instructions commenced quite correctly by reiterating that he expected,’ [the] Senior Officer and other Commanding Officers present at a boarding to accept considerable risks in boarding and getting control of any illegal immigrant ship’.47 He continued by assuring his officers that they would always receive his full support if damage to HM ships and casualties were incurred, however great. However, he instructed the Senior Officer Boarding Ships to report to Commodore Palestine and himself (if time permitted—an all-important proviso), when an illegal ship was of such a size and fitted with anti-boarding devices to an extent creating real doubt whether she could be boarded at all or only by incurring unacceptable damage and casualties. At this point came the crucial ‘discretion’ clause: Commodore Palestine then has discretion to decide whether the boarding is to be attempted or not, but if there is time for him to consult the C-in-C Med, he may withhold his decision temporarily in order to signal his opinion to the C-in-C and receive the latter’s indication of the course to be taken.48 Should no instructions be received from the Commander-in Chief Mediterranean due to signal lag or other causes, the Commodore Palestine will signal his own instructions to the Senior Officer boarding ships in good time for him to act upon them. Allowing for signal lag occurring between the Commander-in-Chief Mediterranean and the intercepting vessels, Commodore Palestine was expected to signal his own instructions to the Senior Officer Boarding Ships in good time to act upon them. And then vitally: If time did not permit consulting either Commodore Palestine or C-in-C Med, but subject always to over-riding orders from these two officers, the Senior Officer Boarding Ships has discretion to hold off from boarding a ship when he considers the risks too great. If it is decided to hold off, every endeavour must be made by ‘persuasion’ to get the ship to proceed to Haifa or at any rate to delay her beaching, so as to give the army as much time as possible to make arrangements for meeting the illegal immigrants ashore. If beaching cannot be prevented it is better that a ship should do so at a point where, due to shoal water, she is as far as possible from the shore rather than close to it.49 There is less chance of a Jewish reception party being at the spot. When a boarding is contemplated Commodore Palestine is to keep the Commander in Chief Mediterranean and the Senior Officer boarding ships fully informed of any particular factors regarding readiness of the army to receive illegal immigrants on the beaches, as this consideration may greatly effect whether or not to attempt boarding. If the illegal does beach every effort must be made to hamper the disembarkation by gaining possession of the ship herself and her boats. Refoulement and abandonment of the boarding policy 231
  • The practicability of laying a ship alongside a deep draught ship after she has beached should be considered. It will of course be vital to keep the army informed of each move and where the ship is likely to beach. In coming to this decision, the serious problem presented to the army by an illegal immigrant ship getting past the Palestine patrol, the loss of prestige to the Navy and the encouragement given to the Jews in general and the organisers of the traffic in particular, must be kept in mind. Commanding Officers must not therefore be lightly diverted from the object unless the ‘illegal’ is unboardable due to obstructions or the risks very great.49 Regarding the ‘persuasion’ it may be opportune to mention here an additional signal from the Commander-in-Chief Mediterranean to the Admiralty, sent in response to the High Commissioner’s comment in his telegram No. 1787 to the Colonial Office: Navy will make every effort to board whenever possible. While on present information they do not expect to be faced with a boarding operation more difficult than that of the President Warfield they do not wish to be taken as confident that they can repeat their success in that case; If for any reason boarding proves impossible, or further attempt to board is considered inadvisable, it will not (repeat not) be possible to shepherd the ship as to force her to beach at any selected place; Beaching is an obvious hazardous operation. Ship of the draught of the President Warfield would run aground 400 yards from the shore over 90 per cent of Palestine coast, and would be wrecked there. Rescue operation would be most difficult. These hazards would presumably be appreciated by the master of vessel and experience suggests that persuasion with support of Jewish Agency may be well worth trying, to effect diversion to Haifa; If a large ship were deliberately beached and wrecked, we should be confronted with a serious situation and there is no plan we can make in advance to deal with it effectively. With reference to last sentence of paragraph 3 of your telegram, facts would not be known in Palestine. Local press does not pay much attention to them.50 The signal sent to Commander-in-Chief Malta also quoted some technical advice about hampering disembarkation, the practicability of laying a ship alongside a deep draught ship, gaining possession of the IJI ship and communications with the army. This was followed by an exhortation to keep in mind the serious problem presented to the army by an illegal immigrant ship getting past the Palestine Patrol, the loss of prestige to the navy and, last but not least, the encouragement given to the Jews in general and to the organisers of the traffic in particular. The Admiralty considered that the instructions issued by the Commander-in-Chief Mediterranean were ‘admirable’ and that the best way of resolving the problem was ‘to Britain's naval and political reaction to the illegal immigration of jews to palestine, 1945-1948s 232
  • approve the instructions as they stand’. In addition the committee observed that by, ‘approving these instructions they will give discretion to the Commander-in-Chief to decide not only whether boarding is possible, but also to decide when the damage and casualties involved would be unacceptable’.51 The Committee noted that all RN officers would continue to accept a ‘considerable risk’ and in view of the ‘High Sense of Duty of the Royal Navy’ they recommended that the desired discretion should be accorded as soon as possible. The agreement over the telephone by the members of the Illegal Immigration Committee was sought (the urgency was explained by referring to the suspect IJI ship Pan Crescent, which was considered to be in the category of unboardable ships and was on her way to the Black Sea to pick up illegal immigrants). The chairman of the Illegal Immigration Committee was asked to bring the decision to the notice of the ministerial committee. It will, however, be seen that the Commander-in-Chief Mediterranean’s instructions to the captains of the ships boarding took little account of Brigadier Dove’s previously expressed poor opinion of allowing IJI ships to beach, as recorded inter alia in his letter addressed 7 August 1947 to P.N.N.Synnott. Dove feared that a high proportion of illegal immigrants might succeed in their object, which was to enter Palestine outside the legal quota. The gist of his letter was that: It may not be possible to give the Army accurate and timely warning where along the coast of Palestine ships are to attempt a landing. This lack of warning would mean that insufficient troops would be assembled in the required area in time to be effective in rounding up the disembarking Jews. It will be realised that a shipload of even half the size of the President Warfield would require a large number of troops to deal with it. Certain areas of the Palestinian sea board are difficult to get at by road—particularly in the South. Haganah is well aware of this and will certainly steer the ships for the best spot tactically from their point of view. If the Jewish illegal immigrants chose a populated area of the coast on which to land, such as Tel Aviv, there will be a great danger of our troops becoming embroiled not only with the would-be immigrants but with the inhabitants. This would inevitable lead to confusion during which many of the illegal immigrants would escape, and might also lead to serious casualties amongst the Jews. Wherever the ships land we would have to accept the likelihood of a brush with the Palmach.52 The Cabinet Illegal Immigration Committee held its 14th Meeting in Room ‘A’ of the Cabinet Office on Friday 22 August 1947. Those present included Mr Trafford Smith, Colonial Office, (In the Chair); Mr P.N.N.Synnott and Captain T.A.K.Maunsell, Admiralty; Mr J.G.S. Beith, Foreign Office; Brigadier A.J.H.Dove, War Office, representing the Director of Military Operations; Colonel T.A.Robertson and Mr J.Robertson, MI5. Commander W.Evershed, RN and Mr J.D.Higham CO from the Refoulement and abandonment of the boarding policy 233
  • Committee’s Secretariat also attended, as well as representatives from Home Office, Ministry of Transport and others. The Committee had before them Notes from earlier L.I.P.(47) meetings presented by the Ministry of Transport (I.I.P. (47) 59, a note presented by the Colonial Office I.I.P. (47) 61 and a note presented by the Ministry of Transport, I.I.P. (47) 65. It would exceed the scope of this book to enter into all the details of the I.I.P. Committee’s Shipping Panel, Working Party activities etc. The most topical explanations were those submitted to the Committee by Mr Synnot and by Brigadier Dove, and brief statements of their presentation shall therefore be included:— Mr Synnot explained that the Admiralty were also seriously concerned about the damage to the ships. but that they recognised that decision not to board ships was one which must be referred to Ministers for approval, and that the First Sea Lord had therefore informed the Commander-in-Chief accordingly. Brigadier Dove said that although he had not been able to consult Commander-in-Chief, Middle East Land Forces, he thought there would be considerable difficulties in arranging for immigrants who got ashore to be rounded up by the Army. In certain areas it might be possible, if the Army were given sufficient warning and if the Navy could arrange to shepherd the ship in such a way that it beached itself in one of these areas.53 The Colonial Office appeared to be exceedingly preoccupied with the entire problem of the discretion not to board IJI ships, which it had been proposed should be accorded to RN Commanders. The Palestine High Commissioner, Sir Alan Cunningham, who discussed the problem at the Colonial Office while he was in London, stated that he saw no objection to the problem being remitted for discussion between the authorities concerned in Palestine. Fitzgerald of the Colonial Office suggested to G.C.B.Dodds of the Admiralty (both these officials were members of the Illegal Immigration Committee), that the Colonial Office should send a telegram to the High Commission, outlining the reasoning for the new policy of restraint.54 Dodds made some quite significant amendments to the draft of the telegram to be sent by the Colonial Office to the High Commissioner. He suggested in the sentence ‘that in future cases all out boarding may lead to heavy loss of life on both sides’ the words ‘all out boarding’ be substituted with ‘attempts to board’. He also proposed that the passus ‘while Admiralty do not consider that there is justification for asking that’ be substituted with ‘Admiralty consider that discretion should be granted’. Dodds also suggested deleting the entire sentence, They have given warning that if the Navy is faced with the prospect of having to stop a number of large fast ships under circumstances where the immigrants would be likely to put up strong resistance, it may be necessary to seek authority to grant such discretion.55 The version of the telegram which was revised by Dodds on behalf of the Admiralty’s Military Branch was thus much more positive about the discretion to be accorded to the Britain's naval and political reaction to the illegal immigration of jews to palestine, 1945-1948s 234
  • senior officers of ships detailed to board and was sent by the board to J.D.Higham of the Colonial Office for transmission to Palestine. The War Office in turn also fully appreciated the difficulties confronting the Royal Navy in carrying out arrests in view of the larger ships which were being used by the Haganah and their improved methods of combating the boarding parties, but they were clearly very unhappy about allowing the ships to beach and only then arresting the passengers.56 The War Office considered that arrest at sea and thereafter the escorting of these ships into Haifa was the only method which gave a reasonable assurance that the illegal immigrants would, in fact, be arrested. If the navy could guarantee shepherding the ship to a prearranged spot, the operation would have a reasonable chance of success, but Brigadier Dove felt that it would not always be practicable, for the following reasons: 1 It may not be possible to give the Army accurate and timely warning where along the coast of Palestine ships are to attempt a landing. 2 This lack of warning would mean that insufficient troops would be assembled in the required area in time to be effective in rounding up the disembarking Jews 3 Certain areas of the Palestine sea board are difficult to get at by road Haganah is well aware of this and will certainly steer the ships for the best spot tactically from their point of view. 4 If the Jewish illegal immigrants chose a populated area of the coast on which to land, such as Tel Aviv, there will be a great danger of our troops becoming embroiled not only with the would-be immigrants but with the inhabitants many of the illegal immigrants would escape there was the possibility of serious casualties amongst the Jews. 5 Wherever the ships land we would have to accept the likelihood of a brush with the Palmach.57 Documentary evidence reveals that neither the leaders of the Mossad (code name Arnon), Shaul Avigur-Meirov (Arzi, Orr or Ben Yehuda), Moshe Auerbach (nom-de-guerre Agami or Morris) in Bucharest, Venia Hadari (Pomeranz) in Paris, Ehud Avriel (Itaj) in Prague, Pino Ginsburg (Pinchas Berg) in Geneva (Ginsburg was also Mossad Treasurer), nor the Jewish Agency Executive in Palestine (Ben Gurion, Golda Meirson, Shertok/Sharett (Ben Kedem) nor Weizmann, Goldmann and Wise in the United States and Britain, were aware of the British decision to allow discretion whether or not to board, to the commanders of the RN ships. The Pan Crescent and the Pan York (also designated the Big Ones, alias Achot—Sister and Chaver—Comrade), which were prepared in December 1947 in Constanza for sailing to Palestine, came definitely into the ‘practically unboardable’ category. For a considerable time the highest Zionist echelons would not make the decision whether they should fight and force their way to the shores of Palestine or agree to hand the ships to British crews who would take them to Cyprus. On the Jewish side there was thus for a considerable time a failure to reach agreement. On the one hand Sharett insisted that there should be no opposition to boarding, in other words no fight with the British at sea had been anticipated, but on the other hand there was the Mossad tradition not to surrender. Ever since resistance to interception commenced on the IJI vessels, the Palmach escort’s men and women used to receive contradictory messages from Palestine. The ‘Mossad for Illegal Immigration’ had nearly Refoulement and abandonment of the boarding policy 235
  • always been in favour of adopting a conciliatory attitude, while the Palmach headquarters usually demanded a much more active resistance.58 It had always been thus: In an established hierarchy the senior leadership favours moderation while the younger and more enthusiastic people lower down the scale favour conflict and abhor compromise generally, the leaders of the Mossad tried as far as possible to avoid violent confrontations while the young operatives demanded uncompromising opposition to the British.59 Until the beginning of August 1946, the Mossad was not disposed to sanction physical confrontation with British attempts to overpower the ships and they only organised passive resistance to the transfer of immigrants to the deportation ships moored in Haifa to protest against the immigrants’ transfer to Cyprus. The Palmach on the other hand devised comprehensive plans for resistance which included, fortifying the ships and resisting being overtaken at sea; organising the immigrants to oppose attempts on the part of the British soldiers [sailors] [only the cruisers carried sailors for boarding operations] to board the ships but to avoid the use of firearms.60 Palmach HQ also mooted the idea of attacking RN bases in Palestine and in Mediterranean ports, but this plan was vetoed by the Zionist authorities and Palmach attacks were limited to British vessels transporting immigrants from Haifa to Cyprus.61 It was usually the Palmach that pushed for more violent resistance, while the Mossad exerted a moderating influence. These two organisations did not usually see eye-to-eye on the objectives of illegal immigration: ‘The Mossad’s main concern was to bring Jews to Palestine the Palmach was more involved than the Mossad in the political implications of illegal immigration.’62 Most of the Mossad people had themselves immigrated from Europe and they were usually well-versed in the methods of conspiracy. They were also usually older than the Palmachniks, who were mostly Palestine-born and whose training was mostly military. The Mossad was a Mapai stronghold, while the Mapam ruled supreme in the Palmach. The ships’ commanders who were responsible for the passengers’ welfare and for their passage to Palestine were always members of Mossad, the Palmach escorts were responsible for organising resistance. There were thus two active generations in charge of IJI who both made their contributions, although liaison was not always easy or harmonious. Ben Gurion was suspicious of the Mapam-controlled Palmach and of their intentions in calling for an increase in the scope of resistance to the British. Being entirely consequent he dismantled the Palmach very soon after establishment of the state. In the case of the Pans it was Ben Gurion’s last minute signal which denied the Palmach crew members the freedom of choice to use force to prevent the British taking control of the ships. The expected naval confrontation between the Pans and the British did not take place: the British were informed by ‘friends’ in the US State Department that ‘sources’ in the Zionist Executive in New York had agreed that the immigrants would Britain's naval and political reaction to the illegal immigration of jews to palestine, 1945-1948s 236
  • offer no resistance and would agree to go directly to Cyprus. At the same time that contact had been made with the British, a signal arrived for Yossi Harel. It had been dictated by Ben-Gurion, Chairman of the Jewish Agency Directorate and read: If the enemy proposes that you go straight to Cyprus, you must reply before agreeing: ‘We are sailing to the Land of Israel which was promised by God to Israel and reaffirmed by the United Nations, but if you intend to interrupt our journey, we shall go to Cyprus, in the certainty that we shall soon reach our liberated country. Give us the course to Cyprus and we shall follow you.63 Pan Crescent’s Captain, Ike Aharonowitz, presented a paper for signature to British Captain Reynolds who boarded Ike’s ship to assume command. It stated, ‘On the 31st December 1947 at 15.00 hours at 34°06′ north and 31°22′ east a British crew headed by Captain Reynolds from HMS Phoebe boarded the Pan Crescent and took command of the ship.’ Reynold’s signature constituted an admission that the British had seized the ships on the high seas, outside the territorial waters of any country and with no legal justification in international maritime law. The fact that British warships had rounded up two ships flying the Panamanian flag on the high seas, boarded them and sailed them to Cyprus in an arbitrary manner resulted in high-level discussions and an exchange of letters between the High Commissioner of Cyprus, the British Ministry of Transport and the Admiralty.64 British captains from the cruisers HMS Phoebe and HMS Mauritius thus took the Pans over and sailed them to Cyprus. No-one was happy with this compromise, but it was doubtful whether anyone genuinely wanted to fight a naval war. During the remainder of the journey curiosity, politeness and mutual understanding between the British sailors, who boarded as ‘invited guests’ without their coshes and helmets (but carrying revolvers)65 and the ‘Mossad’ emissaries, between the hunters and the wanted Jewish ‘pirates’,66 very quickly replaced hostility and suspicion. A deal was struck and the Admiral commanding the British flotilla appointed an officer to procure notification and authorisation that the crew members would not be arrested and that they would even be issued documents allowing them to remain on the ship. The would-be immigrants disembarked in Famagusta and the Cyprus camps rapidly filled with the thousands of Jewish refugees who arrived on the Pans, but the confrontation between the IJI ships and the Royal Navy was practically over. J.D.Higham, a Principal at the Colonial Office, informed the Governor of Cyprus: ‘C-in- C Mediterranean reports that he has now decided, after discussion with Palestine Government, not to attempt diversion of future ships to Cyprus save in exceptional circumstances e.g. PAN ships.’67 The British determination to repress IJI had fatally weakened and the Zionists extracted every possible advantage from their successful Pans operation. The British had conceded. They had agreed that the Cyprus camps were only a stepping-stone to the inevitable entry of the IJI vessels’ passengers into Palestine, they no longer had the stomach for the fight, they did not wish to waste resources or spare the means for the struggle and they no longer had the will to continue impeding Jewish immigration. With the Pan episode the confrontation between the Illegal Jewish ships and the Royal Navy Refoulement and abandonment of the boarding policy 237
  • was practically over. The British had decided the Pans were unboardable. They were relieved because they were spared the dreaded violent clashes at sea and in Haifa. Anyhow, the fight had become pointless when it was realised and agreed that Cyprus was only a stepping-stone for the inevitable entry of the illegal vessels’ passengers into Palestine. Since the British still refused to permit immigration to Palestine, the Mossad sent more immigrant ships. The ships had instructions not to resist the Royal Navy by force. Six of these ships were seized and the passengers transferred to Cyprus, while two who arrived a few days after the establishment of the State of Israel made the journey unhindered. Had the Pans continued on a course towards Palestine, a naval decision not to board would have been inevitable. The cost of boarding operations had become exorbitant. The earlier President Warfield boarding had caused two destroyers to be laid up in dock for a very long time. One destroyer had to be repaired in Malta by a method deprecated when done by insurers in the case of two separate written-off cars—stitching together one ship’s bow with the stern of one of the destroyers damaged in the Corfu mining incident.68 Britain had to consider the cost of the operations themselves, the cost of the fuel expended by the Palestine Patrol and the loss of earnings resulting from the charter of scarce shipping resources for deportation ships. It was no longer feasible to order an opposed boarding of such magnitude. All the desperate proposals raised by special committees of high-ranking civil servants to prevent illegal immigration had proved abortive. It was impossible to practise Refoulement and return refugee ships to Eastern bloc communist or indeed any other countries, and it was not possible to repeat the catastrophic President Warfield (Exodus) public relations disaster and send passengers of IJI vessels to Germany. No country would have agreed to accept so many Jews. On the other hand a frontal battle at sea between a Royal Navy flotilla and banana or other boats loaded with refugees could have ended in terrible casualties and would have had inconceivable consequences for public opinion, even in Britain. Britain's naval and political reaction to the illegal immigration of jews to palestine, 1945-1948s 238
  • 11 Conclusion Conduct and effects of the British policy and the final failure of the blockade Historians writing about the incidents and background to the 1930s and 1940s confrontations on immigration between Britain and the Zionists frequently describe a heroic version of cloak and dagger derring-dos in war-torn Europe’s Alpine mountain passes and dingy ports as well as pitched battles at sea between rickety refugee vessels and powerful cruisers or destroyers. If Jewish, they tended to see only the sins of their British antagonists, if British, they tended to write about the iniquities of latter-day Jewish slavers who sent hapless refugees to sea in unseaworthy hulks. More often than not these writers would disregard the dilemmas which in the first place provoked these conflicts and clashes. Historiography of the immediate post-war period has now entered the academic phase and researchers have realised that it was the situation which contained the causes of the British-Zionist conflict, irrespective of what used to be attributed to the actors’ wickedness. The perspective of time elapsed has taught historians to sympathise with both parties, although it may need an even longer period of time for completely independent researchers to emerge and obtain such uncontroversial conclusions as only a long perspective can provide. The effort to establish who was responsible has not yet been abandoned, but no doubt the real villain of the Illegal Jewish Immigration drama was twentieth-century central and east European, but especially Nazi-German, anti-Semitism. Admiralty and Mossad guidelines, which today would be called The Rules of Engagement’ and at the time ‘The Paramount Rules’ were nearly always observed by the British forces. The Royal Navy always endeavoured to adhere to a semblance of legality and usually applied a minimum of force. New legislation and ordinances were, however, promulgated by the British authorities, whenever it was deemed necessary to remain within the framework of legality. To quote the Israeli historian Nahum Bogner: ‘We were exceedingly fortunate that our confrontation was with the British and not with the French or Americans, or God forbid with the Russians. They would have been brutal and would have liquidated the IJI in no time at all.’1 But their Jewish adversaries, mainly the young firebrands of Palmach and Palyam, were also nearly always reined in by the cooler heads at the Mossad and the Jewish Agency. The war against IJI was orchestrated by the heads of the Palestine desks in the Colonial and Foreign Offices, supported by representatives of the Admiralty, the War Office, the Secret Services and the legal advisers of each of these offices of state. Experts from the various departments sat on committees and evaluated information received from
  • diplomats, armed service officers and other sources, who reported developments of all aspects of IJI. These committees also received proposals for future action that might be taken and laid their recommendations before Cabinet, whose decisions then had to be carried out by the various executive agencies such as the Palestine Mandatory government and the British armed forces in the theatres of operation, that is, the army in Palestine and the Royal Navy and Royal Airforce in the Mediterranean. The initiative in the fight against IJI necessarily lay with the British, who disposed of adequate political and military means to run a well-organised campaign based on a well- tried administration and reliable information as well as reporting systems. Time seemed to favour the British, who evidently hoped for an amelioration of the situation in Europe, with DPs returning to their countries of origin or solving their personal problems by finding shelter in other countries.2 The British disposed of a well co-ordinated political and military organisation with a democratic tradition in decision-making, well-defined borders of competencies, efficient lines of communications and effective organs of supervision. In this respect the perusal of British documentation has been a rewarding work of detection, which has enabled this researcher to ascertain in many cases the precise moment which proposals for new steps in the confrontation between Britain and the Zionists were suggested, the manner in which such recommendations were recorded or minuted and passed from official to official, who in turn in many cases added their remarks and comments on the margins of documents, until a decision had been taken and was passed for action to the competent executive organs. All British officials and the officers and men of her armed forces had been and still are subject to democratic scrutiny, and truthful reporting was and still is habitually, albeit sometimes selectively, observed. Most reports were clear, concise and usually well- worded, but being only human many officials did not exactly volunteer in confessing mishaps. Like officials everywhere they were not beyond finding excuses for some of the inevitable failures and hitches. However, it must become clear even to the most unbiased observer, that Great Britain had made nearly all the mistakes and that the Zionists had derived most of the benefits from what can only be described as bungling and failures. This is not to say that all the Zionist actors were supermen, who notched up an unbroken record of successes, playing hard and fast with their British opponents. It therefore seems only fair to also recount at least one of the Haganah’s operational breakdowns, the relative failure of Operation ‘Nahshon’3 (the Wingate Night), the attempt by the Mossad to break the British blockade and force the landing of the IJI ships Asya (Tel Hai) and Kismet Adalia (Wingate) with heavy armed support from shore-based units of the Haganah. The operation was the first and only urban insurrection in an attempt to land immigrants. The original plan was for both ships to arrive together and thus increase the chances that at least one would escape attention and be able to disembark her passengers. Co-operation between the Mossad commands in France and Italy had failed and in addition the persons in charge had failed to provide effective communications between the two vessels. The Kismet was consequently intercepted two days before the Asya.4 The aims outlined in Haganah HQ Operational Order No. 1 had not been achieved, due to the non-arrival of the immigrant ships at their point of intended disembarkation. The planning itself had been meticulous, units had been allocated to blocking roads and communications, to intelligence, sheltering and dispersing of landed Britain's naval and political reaction to the illegal immigration of jews to palestine, 1945-1948s 240
  • illegal immigrants, and so on, but zero hour had to be postponed several times due to the non-arrival of the ships and there was an order (widely disregarded), prohibiting the premature opening of fire against British routine patrols. In the following engagement one Haganah girl soldier (Brachah Fuld) was killed, one soldier injured and 31 captured. Three Haganah officers, Moshe E., Amitaj K. and Jitzhak R., whose fault was found to be the aggressive opening of fire without orders, were court-martialled. Two of the conclusions drawn from some of the Haganah’s operational weaknesses revealed by the ‘Nahshon’ fiasco were: Gimel (g)—It is necessary to avoid duplication between the operational HQ and the naval HQ. This will ensure clearer intelligence appreciation. Dalet (d)—It is necessary to provide expert training for signal operators and runners and the planning of communications in urban environments must be improved by appointing special signallers and trained liaison officers.5 The clandestine, unauthorised immigration, which was renewed immediately after cessation of hostilities in the summer of 1945, lasted without interruption for nearly three years. A total of 65 ships carrying 70,000 immigrants departed from the ports of embarkation, of which only 13 small vessels evaded interception and arrest. Eight of these ships arrived at the coast of Palestine before December 1945 and landed relatively small numbers of immigrants, when the British were not yet properly prepared for their reception. The total number of unauthorised immigrants who were not arrested was 1,832, but it was enough to alert the British and enable them to introduce counter- measures. But it became clear that the British were more concerned with the thousands of immigrants who were intercepted and interned in Cyprus, thereby flooding the camps, than with those who evaded the blockading warships and managed to land undetected. It was always known that all the Cyprus internees would eventually reach Palestine and they, thereby, in effect, circumvented the restrictions laid down in the 1939 White Paper. However, IJI was certainly not a cost-effective approach. Regarding the pure numbers conveyed to Palestine it can be stated that up to introduction of the ‘large’ ships, the President Warfield, the Pan Crescent and the Pan York, the illegal immigrants practically acted like ‘queue jumpers’, as their numbers were deducted from the official quota. As a consequence, legal immigrants were, therefore, largely prevented from entering Palestine. From the Zionists’ point of view the Mossad’s decision to replace the ‘small’ ships used in 1945 with larger vessels and overload them with the greatest possible number of immigrants was without doubt correct and caused maximum embarrassment to the British authorities, who nevertheless, even under the most trying circumstances, mostly persevered in adopting a humane attitude towards the immigrants. Medical teams were sometimes sent from the destroyers to join the boarders, deal with the injured and arrange for the early evacuation of casualties to shore-based hospitals. Fairly typical of the humane attitude of the Royal Navy was the incident in the winter of 1947, when the Royal Navy was called for medical assistance by the IJI vessel Maria Giovanni, when a RN physician was summoned, boarded the vessel, effected a caesarean birth and then left.6 Conclusion 241
  • Nimrod Eshel, now happily retired, spoke on 23 April 2002 about a most amazing coincidence. He had been a Palmach escort on the IJI ship Maria Giovanni, when complications arose at the birth of a highly pregnant passenger. The ship’s medical team did not include a gynaecologist and there were no operating room facilities, but a Royal Navy destroyer in Cretan waters received the May-day call and rushed to the indicated position with a fully equipped and qualified surgical team, who duly performed a caesarean section, adding a healthy baby girl to the passenger list. Exactly 40 years later, Mr Eshel was the captain of an Israeli passenger liner, when he was told by a steward, that in celebration of her birthday anniversary a lady and her husband had joined one of the MV Bilu’s cruises. The couple was invited to join the captain’s table for dinner, and in conversation it was discovered, that this lady was indeed the baby delivered by a naval surgeon exactly 40 years previously. Another example of humanitarian behaviour by the British marines and sailors should also be mentioned at this point. A two-hour-old baby had died on the deportation ship Ocean Vigour, while the ship was crossing the Gulf of Biscaya on her way to Hamburg. The baby was given a military funeral at sea (in a tin box), with full ceremonial honours, colours being half-masted and the escorts closing the transport concerned as a mark of respect. All engines were stopped on fourteen British war and deportation ships and 1,000 marines and sailors fell in, lined up on the decks and presented arms. In his poem ‘The People and its Envoy’ the poet Natan Alterman asked whether the Yishuv was worthy of the sacrifice of the ma’apilim Alterman does not confine responsibility for the child’s death exclusively to the British: For we summoned him for this mission—I, you, all of you! Such an envoy obliges [us]! For the clear meaning of such an envoy is pondering And questioning whether the nation pursues to its limit A life of boundless and immmeasurable sacrifice, Setting its shoulder to the times and their yoke. Alterman concludes with a reference to the ongoing debate in the Yishuv at the time about resistance: The nation may recruit [the child-ma’apilim] for duty Only if it believes in its heart That is is worthy of staring them in the face At their funerals.7 Paradoxically, as it may seem, at the very moment when the British introduced deportations (refoulement), public participation in ha’apala operations virtually ceased. After August 1946 the ha’apala operations were waged almost exclusively by the ma’apilim themselves, together with a handful of people in the Yishuv. In the summer of Britain's naval and political reaction to the illegal immigration of jews to palestine, 1945-1948s 242
  • 1947 the Yishuv was wracked by a feeling of guilt toward the ma’apilim—‘our ma’apilim’ in newspaper headlines—who suffered in their ‘holy crusade’ in which the ‘valour of women’ came to light.8 As readers may also learn from perusal of the narrative reporting the shipwreck and rescue of passengers (pp. 219–25) that HM ships also came immediately to the assistance of vessels like the Athinai (Rafiah) and the San Philipo (Moledet)), when they broadcast appeals for help in emergencies. The Mossad was unable to succour the survivors of the Athinai and Moshe Shertok, therefore, asked the High Commissioner for Palestine to request help from the Royal Navy. The Royal Navy, which under normal circumstances remorselessly hunted the IJI ships, immediately came to the rescue of its ‘enemies’. In spite of atrocious weather the crews of the British destroyers transferred all the survivors from the uninhabited isle of Sirina to their vessels, ignoring danger to themselves and revealing in the process the Royal Navy’s tradition of selfless devotion. The tragedy was, that even after the rescue there were harrowing instances of resistance, when in spite of the ordeal of their shipwreck the survivors were still transferred to Cyprus. So gripped were some of the Yishuv’s leaders by the idea of British benevolence that they had a remarkably low threshold of expectation. A relatively small concrete instance of help like the Athinai rescue gave Jewish leaders like Ben-Zwi and Shertok occasion to thank Britain profusely. The fact that it was the detested immigration policy which had brought the Athinai passengers into their perilous predicament in the first place, had been ignored in their messages of thanks to High Commissioner, Royal Navy and Royal Air Force. In the winter of 1947–8 three British departments of state, the Colonial Office, the War Office and the Foreign Office, were divesting themselves of responsibility for Palestine. According to Elizabeth Monroe, these departments’ conflicting desiderata and their confusion were that, The first wanted to salve some of its handiwork from wreckage; the second wanted to extricate its men and material intact; the third to keep up the British position in the rest of the Arab world and so in their confusion at loss of the control they were accustomed to exercise, they took individual decisions and made individual statements that did not dovetail with other British acts and that did not act to a policy.9 The general behaviour of RN officers and ratings, and to a lesser degree of British army personnel, in their confrontations with the IJI, was nearly always fair and has been defined by most impartial observers as a mixture of firm determination and controlled toughness. Naval documents of the period, however, do not always reflect an unmitigated empathy of reporting officers with their Jewish antagonists, who were variously called ‘accessories to mass murder, rioters, thugs, migrants, hooligans, delinquents or colonisers with objectionable hygienic habits’. On the other hand naval ratings and officers were described as having been ‘stalwart with cheerful expresssions, very helpful, amused and pleased, with an almost professional air of travel agents, carrying, directing, helping’. The navy personnel’s gentlemanly behaviour was not always shared by the Palestine police, who were often unsympathetic towards the intercepted would-be immigrants, who frequently had to be coerced off their vessels.10 But there is little doubt that during the Conclusion 243
  • trying years 1946–8, even at a time when the struggle had reached its zenith, the British armed forces always endeavoured to avoid Jewish (and its own) casualties. Attitudes of British and Zionist adversaries to the milestones of the confrontation were worlds apart. If we consider the disembarkation of the President Warfield passengers in Hamburg: I congratulate you on the success of the disembarkation proceedings in Hamburg.11 Please convey an expression of my personal appreciation to all concerned and in particular to the officer commanding the escorts on board the three transports and the troops under his command.12 We may compare these congratulations with a typical letter from a Zionist supporter to Ernest Bevin: I never believed that this country, least of all a Labour Government, could actually carry out such a deed if you have not the imagination to realise what it means for a Jew to be forced back to the country where from 1933 on he and all he loved were subjected to increasing mental and physical persecution you are the last person to hold a position of responsibility.13 Appeasement of the Arabs in the Middle East proved a mistaken policy, as it had proved in the case of the British relations with the axis powers in Europe. It was essentially a policy of making concessions to one side at the expense of someone else, it failed because the appeased (the Arabs) failed to be satiated and because the people to be sacrificed (the Jews) fought back and refused to agree to remain the victims. We shall see that the Zionists’ decision to take all possible measures for an escalation of Illegal Jewish Immigration into Palestine proved to be one of the main factors, if not the main factor, that undermined British rule and eventually broke the British will to stay on in Palestine. One of the rocks against which the Mandatory foundered and which became a contributory factor to the British surrender of the Palestine Mandate were the US intrusions14 and interventions in the British Palestine policy,15 especially regarding immigration, and the undermining of British rule itself through the Mandatory government’s failure to contain the ‘terrorists’ and maintain law and order. But Illegal Jewish Immigration into Palestine proved to be one of the main factors, if not the main factor, that undermined British rule and eventually broke the British will to stay on in Palestine. The domestic importance of the Illegal Jewish Immigration did not cease with the independence—once the British Mandate had ended, the debate began (in Israel and in England)—‘Who drove out the British The Exodus affair and the hanging of the two British sergeants were juxta-posed as the contrasting methodologies of the rival Jewish camps.’16 This referring to the Palmach, which remained loyal and subordinate to the elected civilian leadership, and the dissidents, comprising the Irgun and the Stern Gang, who attacked the British). The question may well be asked: what were the factors which had caused the British to decide in 1947 to relinquish their control of Palestine and evacuate their forces? What was the importance of the illegal immigration in reaching Britain's naval and political reaction to the illegal immigration of jews to palestine, 1945-1948s 244
  • this decision? Most British and Jewish documents relating to these decisions have been released in the meantime and the historians have written their books and articles, but it is still not possible to state categorically that it was only, or mainly the pressure exerted by Illegal Jewish Immigration which brought about this decision. Teddy Kollek, the long- time mayor of Jerusalem, put the case for the reasons which decided Britain to abandon the Mandate in a nutshell when he wrote: In my opinion no single action, either political or military, by the dissident underground movements (IZL and LHI) had as much impact as the Illegal Immigration, on the decision of the British to relinquish Palestine. The world at large—including the British public—just could not stand by and watch concentration camp survivors arriving on illegal ships and then being returned to Germany by British troops.17 It can be stated without fear of contradiction, that the endless, and ultimately futile, Sisyphean task of struggling against the Illegal Jewish Immigration had a cumulative effect on the British will to continue to govern Palestine.18 In the end neither the problems created for Britain by the Illegal Jewish Immigration nor terrorist acts by the Jewish dissident organisations, for example, the destruction of the King David Hotel and the hanging of the two sergeants or other atrocities, were really the central issues affecting the decision—the trend to reduce Britain’s overseas engagements already existed and was based on the economic, strategic and imperial considerations resulting from her exhaustion through the years of war. The condition of the Royal Navy following soon after conclusion of the Second World War with her reduced capability and, therefore, her capacity and morale, could quite obviously not be maintained at their wartime high. The years 1946–7 had been traumatic ones for the Royal Navy. The rapid rundown after end of the Second World War had hit hard. The post-war naval manpower costing had been under detailed examination and already in 1947 it had been based on a vote of 147,000 for 1948/9, to be reduced thereafter to about 142,000 by the end of 1949.19 In 1947 Britain’s warships were manned by mixed crews made up from regular sailors, hostilities-only wartime conscripts, National Service men and a strong element of naval reservists. Many of these had not seen the British Isles since the war ended and most were keen to return to their families, homes and peacetime occupations. The warships were often undermanned and good morale could not always be taken for granted.20 The navy was under great pressure to release men to restore the civilian economy and the accelerated rundown of the navy brought home 3,758 men from the Mediterranean alone by 31 March 1948: Post-war demobilisation was causing acute shortages throughout the Navy, particularly in some skilled trades. The ‘Hunt’ Class destroyer HMS Stevenstone rejoined the patrol in January 1946 with no Electrical Artificers or Electrical Mechanics of leading rate and only 50 per cent of her complement of Leading Stokers. This was not untypical.21 Conclusion 245
  • To further aggravate these reductions the national service entry did not exceed 2,000 men for the entire navy. Only one cruiser and four destroyers were to remain operational in the home fleet, while home shore establishments and some air stations had to be reduced to care and maintenance. In an AGM Admiral Edelsten justified these measures with the ‘necessity to meet the disastrous financial situation of the country’. The rundown of the navy implied a partial immobilisation of home fleet ships by transferring ships to reserve and by reducing home shore establishments to permit drafts to the Mediterranean fleet. Not only was the British economy in a parlous state, but the colossal subsidies received through the Lend-Lease programme were very suddenly withdrawn. The urgent need to release manpower from the armed forces meant that large number of ships had to be laid up at short notice. The efficient continuance of the Palestine Patrol had become highly problematical. Not surprisingly this commitment had to be dropped. Britain’s fight against Jewish immigration and her efforts to liquidate the commitments generated by the Balfour Declaration were her ultimate alibi in the attempts to improve relations with the Arabs and were based on the priority given to the efforts to salvage the British position in the Middle East. On the Jewish side the contribution of illegal immigration to the Zionists’ struggle with Britain lay not only in achievement of the Jews declared or self-evident aims, it lay mainly in the unity the Illegal Jewish Immigration brought to a disparate Zionist front and in the closing of the Yishuv’s ranks around a positive aim, which had wide public acceptance—free and unrestricted immigration. In 2004 the illegal immigration issue is as relevant, if not more so, than it was then. Illegal immigration is a growing problem, because nowadays there is more hunger, more misery, more persecution and more unemployment, especially in Africa and in parts of the Middle East. We in Europe and North America may try and learn from the British- Jewish confrontation on immigration, but the solution might well be evasive and nearly impossible to achieve, even with violence and despite firmer or fairer immigration policies. Britain's naval and political reaction to the illegal immigration of jews to palestine, 1945-1948s 246
  • Appendix 1 List of RN and PP vessels engaged in the ‘Palestine Patrol’ Cruisers Name, [Class] Builder Launched Speed in knots PN Ajax, [Leander] Vickers Armstrong 1 March 1934 32.5 22 Euryalus, [Dido] Chatham DY 6 June 1939 33.0 42 Leander [Class Leader] Devonport 7 February 1945 32.5 75 Liverpool, [Southhampton] Fairfield Shipbuilding and Engineering 24 March 1934 32.3 11 Mauritius, [Fiji] Swan Hunter 19 July 1939 31.0 80 Newcastle [ex-Minotaur, renamed Ontario Vickers-Armstrong 23 January 1936 32.0 76 Orion, [Leander] Devonport DY 24 November 1931 32.5 85 Phoebe, [Dido] Fairfield Engineering 25 March 1939 32.0 43 Sirius, [Dido] Portsmouth DY 18 September 1940 32.2 82 Superb, [Tiger] Swan Hunter 31 August 1943 31.5 25 Destroyers Name Builder Launched Speed in knots PN Javelin or ‘J’ Class (1936 programme). These destroyers were the first to have single funnels. Designed for delivery of torpedo attack. Great speed was not of primary importance, but high order of acceleration was desirable. Jervisa Hawthorn Leslie 9 September 1938 33.8 F.00 Savage or ‘S’ Class (5th Emergency Flotilla). The scale of air attack in Norway and in France exceeded anything thought possible before the war. The overwhelming call for some form of defence against Stukas made provision of special gun mountings and ammunition imperative. Saumarez (L)b Hawthorn Leslie 20 November 1942 30.8 G.12 Shark Scott’s Shipbuilding 1 June 1943 32.2 G.03
  • Name Builder Launched Speed in knots PN Tumult or ‘T’ Class (6th Emergency Flotilla). This class had different bows, making them less wet forwards. Tri-axial twin Bofors guns replaced the pom-poms. Dutch-type optical instruments replaced the older ‘eye-shooting’ pom-poms with directors. Troubridge John Brown 23 September 1942 32.7 R.00 Valentine or ‘V’ Class (8th Emergency Flotilla) Venus Fairfield 23 February 1942 32.7 R.50 Verulam Fairfield 22 March 1942 32.7 R.28 Virago Swan Hunter 4 February 1942 30 R.75 Volage J.S.White 15 December 1942 30.2 R.41 ‘C’ Class, Chequers or ‘CH’ Group (12th Emergency Flotilla). All the ships in these groups completed their trials after the cessation of hostilities against Germany. The more recent ships of the CH group were of all-welded instead of rivetted construction.c Chaplet Thorneycroft 18 July 1944 32.0 R.52 Charity Thorneycroft 30 November 1944 31.0 R.29 Chequers (L)d Scotts 30 October 1944 32.22 R.61 Cheviot A.Steven 2 May 1944 32.21 R.90 Chevron A.Steven 23 May 1944 32.0 R.51 Chieftaine Scotts 26 February 1945 31.69 R.36 Childers Denny Bros. 27 February 1945 31.6 R.91 Chivalrous Denny Bros. 27 February 1945 31.61 R.21 Hunt Class Groups 3 and 4f Group 3 Albrighton Type Haydon Vickers-Armstrong 2 April 1942 24.5 L.75 Stevenstone J.S.White 23 November 1942 22.5 L.16 Talybontg J.S.White 3 February 1942 23.0 L.18 Group 4 Thorneycroft Type Brissenden Thorneycroft 15 September 1942 25.0 L.79 Notes a The Jervis was named after Admiral of the Fleet John Jervis, Earl St Vincent, victor of the battle of Cape St Vincent. b Named after Admiral James, Baron Saumarez, victor of the but of Gibraltar in 1801. c None of the ‘CH’ Group was used in the Second World War. d Chequers is the official country residence of the British Prime Minister. e 5 February 1947 HMS Chieftain damaged her port propeller when she struck the submerged wreck of SS Patria which had sunk in 1940 in Haifa harbour. f (The Hunt Class former escort destroyers, re-rated as anti-aircraft frigates in 1947, were named Appendix 1 248
  • after English or Welsh hunts, for example Brissenden was named after a hunt in Kent, Talybont was named after a hunt in Cardiganshire, and so forth. g The side of HMS Talybont’s hull was badly damaged while manoeuvring near to the main Haifa breakwater mole on 3 February 1947, when she struck the submerged wreck of the SS Patria. Frigates and A.A.Frigates Name Builder Launched Speed PN ‘Bay’ Class Frigates Cardigan Bay ex-Loch Laxford Henry Robb Leith 28 December 1944 19.5 K630 St Austell Bay ex-Loch Lydoch K634 St Brides Bay Harland and Wolf 16 January 1945 19.5 K600 Verian Bay Charles Hill and Sons 11 November 1944 19.5 K651 Whitsand Bay ex-Loch Lubnaig Harland and Wolf 16 December 1944 19.5 K633 Widemouth Bay ex-Loch Frisa Harland and Wolf 19 October 1944 19.5 K615 ‘Black Swan’ Class AA Frigates Mermaid W.Denny Brothers 11 March 1943 20.0 U.30 Peacock, Egret J.I.Thorneycroft 11 December 1943 ” U.96 Pelican,″ J.I.Thorneycroft 12 September 1938 ” L.86 ‘Algerine’ Class Minesweepers Espieglea Harland & Wolf 12 August 1942 16.5 J.216 Fierce Lobnitz and Co. 11 September 1945 ” J.453 Moon ex-Mimico Redfern Construct 2 September 1943 ” J.329 Octavia Redfern Construct. 31 December 1942 ” J.290 Providence Redfern Construct 27 October 1943 ” J.325 Rowenab Lobnitz and Co. 5 June 1944 ” J.384 Seabear Redfern Construct. 6 November 1943 ” J.333 Skipjack Redfern Construct. 7 March 1943 ” J.300 Stormcloud Lobnitz and Co. 28 December 1943 ” J.367 Truelove Redfern Construct 8 July 1943 ” J.303 Welfare Redfern Construct. 15 July 1943 ” J.356 ‘Isle’ Class Trawler Tocogay, Isles Class Cook, Welton & Gem. 7 February 1945 12.0 M81 Notes a The original Espiegle was a French Brigantine taken as a prize in 1793 b Rowena was a Saxon Princess, bride of Ivanhoe Appendix 1 249
  • The usual configuration of the Palestine Patrol was 4 destroyers or frigates in a patrol line with a fifth vessel as longstop and a cruiser far out to sea.1 From about June 1946 Palestine police sergeants embarked in HM destroyers to legalise arrest proceedings. The period of service of the ships in the Palestine Patrol varied, but normally it was in weeks rather than months. Few ships did more than about 8–10 weeks on this duty, and then returned to their flotilla.2 In addition there were the launches of the Palestine Police Port and Marine Section whose main duty was ‘the prevention and detection of illegal immigration by sea’— assisting the Department of Migration. The coastal patrol vessels were stationed at Haifa and maintained continued patrols from the Lebanon to the Egyptian borders.3 The section disposed of seven armed, in-shore anti-immmigration launches, the flotilla flagship Sindbad had been blown up at sea by a Haganah saboteur (8 August 1939) and was replaced by the Moreta with a top speed of 27 knots. The other launches were: 4 ex-Special Boat Services 72 foot HDML launches. ML 1277, (replaced by ML 1126), ML 1145, ML 1146 and ML 1246. Seawolf, a former Thames river sightseeing cruiser Shark, High-speed cruiser Lorna, Long-distance motor cruiser Moreta, Seawolf and Shark were damaged by limpet mines on 1 November 1945, but repaired and returned to service.4 Appendix 1 250
  • Appendix 2 List of deportation and prison ships Empire Comfort, ex-HMS York Castle; builder: Ferguson Bros, Port Glasgow. Scrapped 1955. Empire Concrete, ex Theresia L.M.Russ; built Hamburg 1927, delivered to British Ministry of War Transport 1945, 1946 given to Holland and renamed Velsen, 1947 Croneburg, 1955 Astor. Scrapped 1970. Empire Heywood, 1947 renamed Saint Gregory, 1962 Andros, 1963 Abiko, 1987; builder: Caledonian Shipbuilding. Scrapped 1987. Empire Lifeguard, HMS Maiden Castle; builder: Fleming & Ferguson. Scrapped 1955. Empire Rest, ex-HMS Rayleigh Castle; builder: Ferguson Bros, Port Glasgow. Scrapped 1952. Empire Rival, 1949 renamed Amberton, 1957 renamed Parmarina; builder: Wm. Gray, West Hartlepool. Wrecked off Keelung. Empire Shelter, ex-HMS Barnard Castle; builder: Geo Brown & Co, Greenock. Scrapped 1955. Ocean Vigour, 1948 renamed Ramillies, 1965 renamed Galavale, 1975 renamed Confidenza; builder: Permanente Metals, Richmond, California. Scrapped 1967. Runnymede Park, 1951 renamed Lake Michigan, 1957 renamed Karaostasi, 1964 renamed Adelphos Petrakis; builder: United Shipyards, Montreal, Canada. Scrapped 1967. Snowden Smith, ex-HMS LST 3028; builder: Alexander Stephen, Glasgow 1944. 1964 renamed Elbano Primo. Scrapped 1969.
  • Appendix 3 Details of Jewish illegal ships which landed immigrants on the Palestinian coast or were intercepted by British Armed Forces or Palestine Police1 This list does not include clandestine immigration ships which were intercepted or which landed illegal Jewish immigrants prior2 to and during3 the Second World War. Some ships made several journeys. The ownership and charter arrangements of many IJI vessels are in most cases extremely obscure and such information as exists may be unreliable, but could form the basis for additional research. 1 Official name of ship4 2 Renamed (Hebrew name) 2a Name (Mossad crypto system) 3 Description 4 Displacement and/or capacity figures are recorded according to source used 5 Port and/or country of departure 6 Number of passengers 7 Landed (location) or intercepted 8 Date 9 Suspected or known owners5 1 Abbruziana alias Cicino Viareggio, alias Cicilio, alias Ambrosiana, ex-Chi-avari, ex- Maria Madre, ex-Costanza, ex-Capofranco, ex- Gigino 2 Yerushalajim Hanetzura (Jerusalem the Besieged) 2a Hakedosha (The Saint) 3 Twin-masted wooden motor vessel 4 300 tons 5 Civitavecchia, Italy 6 678 7 Intercepted by HMS Phoebe, Cheviot and Chaplet, passengers transhipped to Cyprus and interned
  • 8 12 February 1948. 1 Abril alias Artheus, Argosy 2 Ben Hecht6 (Revisionist Jewish-American publicist and playwright) 2a Revisionistim 3 The Abril was Alfred Krupp’s yacht, then a Spanish Civil War blockade runner, then US Coastguard Radar Picket Cythera PY-31; registered in Puerto Cortes, Honduras; renamed 1957 Santa Maria del Mare 4 825 tons (753 Gross Registered Tonnage (GRT)) 5 Port de Bouc, France 6 626 7 Intercepted by HMS Chevron, Chieftain, St Brides Bay, Welfare and Chivalrous, passengers transhipped to Cyprus and interned 8 18 March 1947 9 Tyre Shipping Co., Broadway, New York. 1 Adriana (Ariella), ex-Avvenire, ex- Carlo 2 Palmach (the six Palmach regiments were the Haganah’s crack force), 3 Twin-masted barquetine, wood construction with 250HP Ansaldo Diesel engine; Italian flag 4 300 GRT 5 Bocca di Magre, Italy 6 611 7 Intercepted by Rowena 8 22 September 1946 9 Fratelli D’Amico, Rome. 1 Aghia Anastasia 2 Abba Berditchev (Abba Berditchev was a Jewish parachutist executed by the Nazis during the Second World War) 2a Hakedosha (The Saint) 3 Gunboat Vitoreul 4 600 tons 5 Bakar, Yugoslavia 6 600 7 Struck rock and sank in Greek waters, 9 November 1946. Passengers rescued by Lohita and transhipped to Cyprus 8 26 November 46. Appendix 3 253
  • 1 Aghia Orietta 2 Mordeh Hagetaot (Fighters of the Ghettos) 2a Henrietta 3 3-masted schooner, registered in Italy 5 Mola di Bari, Italy 6 1,410 7 Intercepted by HMS Haydon, Brissenden, Skipjack and Magpie, passengers transhipped to Cyprus and interned 8 23 May 1947. 1 Aghios Andreas (Aghios Ioannis) 2 Haviva Reik (Haganah (SOE) parachutist, 1914–44, executed by the Nazis) 3 Wooden vessel, single mast with sail; Egyptian flag 4 140 tons 5 Cape Sonion south of Piraeus, Greece 6 462 7 Intercepted, passengers interned in Athlit 8 8 June 1946. 1 Akbel, ex-Ayten, ex-Serefunur, ex-Cherefnur, ex-Firouze, ex-Nish, ex-Thessaloniki, ex-Lefkas, ex-Neva. 2 Biria (Biriah was a Jewish settlement which became notorious due to the Palestine authorities attempt at dislodgement) 3 Wooden-hulled cargo ship, built 1896, Turkish flag 4 284 tons (250 tons?) 5 Marseilles 6 1,015 (transferred from Norsyd/Balboa, renamed Haganah) 7 Intercepted by HMS Virago, Stevenstone, Talybont and Haydon; passengers brought to Haifa and interned; note: HMS Haydon dropped a depth charge, probably from an ahead-throwing ASW squid mortar MK 10 to persuade Akbel to stop her engine 8 2 July 1946. 1 Albertina* (Alberta?); allegedly completed nine journeys; her passengers were transferred to Amilia (Shear Yashuv) and other vessels 2 Aliyah (Immigration) 2a Peter. See also Pietro A and B 3 Caique with 150HP Ansaldo engine Appendix 3 254
  • 4 25 tons (170 tons?) 5 6 km west of Banzoul, France 6 182 7 Landed at Nahariya 8 6 November 1947 9 Societa Transporti Maritima, (Sotrama), Savona. *See also Pietro and Sirius. This vessel was also used as equipment and crew transporter and as an escort ship, which may explain the ‘nine journeys’. 1 Amilia (Gian Paolo-Galata) 2 Shear Yashuv (The Remainder Will Return) 3 Turkish registered coastal steamer 4 Approximately 500 (350?) tons 5 Bogliasco, Italy 6 768 7 Intercepted by HMS Cheviot, Pelican, Charity and Espiegle; Passengers transhipped to Cyprus 8 27 April 1947. 1 Andarta alias Marie alias Mariu alias Amorta. ex-Enderta. 1957 renamed Konstantinos 2 Hannah Szenesh (1921–44, poet and Haganah parachutist, executed by the Nazis) 3 Steel hulled trawler* 4 250 tons, Italy 5 Savona near Genova 6 250 7 Naharia 8 27 December 1945. * The Hannah Szenesh became an armed fleet auxiliary in the Israeli navy. 1 Annal (Anal) alias Earl of Zetland II 2 Yehuda Halevy (eleventh/twelfth-century Spanish-Jewish philosopher) 2a Sabta (Granny) 3 The Annal was built in 1877 to serve as a Shetland inter-island steamer; registered in Panama 4 253 tons 5 Algeria 6 399 7 Intercepted by HMS Whitesand Bay Peacock Talibont and Skipjack in position 32° 50′ 15″ N. Appendix 3 255
  • 34° 54′ 06″, passengers transhipped to Cyprus and interned 8 31 May 1947 9 Cia. Anal Provencial SA, Panama (Director: Sophocles Pilides). 1 Archimedes 2 Umot Meuchadot (United Nations) 3 Wooden two-masted twin-screw schooner with 2×200HP ‘Ansaldo’ engines 4 Approximately 350 ton (180 tons?) 5 Fascia Romana near Gaeta, Italy 6 537 7 Landed at Nahariya, some passengers detained; the British destroyers were engaged in monitoring the Pans north of Cyprus 8 1 January 1948. 1 Aric Saiam (Assipa?) (Arites Salas?) 2 Henrietta Szold (Zionist and philanthropist, co-founder of youth Aliyah, 1860–1945) 3 Turkish wooden caique (Greek flagged?) 4 300 tons (150 GRT) 5 Cape Sounion rocks, south of Athens 6 543 7 Intercepted by HMS Venus. One of the two first clandestine immigration vessels whose passengers were transhipped to Cyprus 8 12 August 1946. 1 Asya, ex-Assia, ex-Macedonia, ex-Panormitis, ex-Zingara 2 Tel Hai (Tel-Hai is a Jewish settlement in Upper Galilee, attacked 1 March 1920 by Arab guerrillas then fighting the French in Syria. Joseph Trumpeldor, an early organiser of Jewish defence, was killed at Tel Hai) 2a Ahuva (Darling) 3 Iron construction of the 1920s; registered in Istanbul, former yacht 4 430 tons 5 La Ciotat, France 6 736 7 Intercepted, passengers interned in Athlit 8 28 March 1946. 1 Athinai, ex-Karajz, ex-Panaghia, ex-Joyeuse 2 Rafiah (Crepis Sancta Rafiah was a detention camp near Gaza in Palestine, holding Zionist Appendix 3 256
  • leaders and Haganah suspects) 2a Nisinit (Crepis Aspera a yellow narcissus flowering in the month of Nissan (April)) 3 Built in 1893, sunk while on tow (not by German bombers as alleged) April 1941, raised 1946 4 273 ton (550 ton) 5 Bakar near Fiume, Yugoslavia 6 815 7 Stranded 7 December 1946 at Sirina in the Dodecanese, passengers rescued by British and Greek destroyers and taken to Cyprus on LST 3016. 1 Avanti alias Maria Serra; 1962 renamed Avantir 2 Katriel Yaffe (Katriel Yaffe was commander of the illegal immigrant ship Tiger Hill [September 1939]; he was killed 19 May 1941, leading a combined British (SOE)-Haganah commando raid on the Tripoli-El Mina [Lebanon] refinery)7, see also San Sissimo 3 Wood auxiliary Brigantine, Italian flag 4 550 ton (250 GRT) 5 Bocca di Magra, Italy 6 604 7 Intercepted by HMS Talybont and Volage; passengers disembarked in Haifa 8 13 August 1946. 1 Balboa alias Norsyd (first trip) 2 Haganah 2a Nur (Light) 3 Flower class Corvette ex-Royal Canadian Navy, sailing under Panamanian flag 4 970 ton (1,039 GRT) 5 Cette, France 6 1,015 7 Passengers transferred 1 July 1946 to Akbel, the Haganah returned to Europe 1 Balboa (second trip) 2 Haganah* 3 Corvette, ex-Royal Canadian Navy, flying Zionist flag 4 970 ton 5 Bakar, Yugoslavia 6 2,638 7 Intercepted by HMS Venus, Virago and Brissenden, passengers transhipped to Athlit Appendix 3 257
  • 8 30 July 1946. * With creation of the state of Israel the Haganah became one of its fledgling navy’s first warships (Kuf 20) 1 Bruna 2 Yod Dalet Halalei Gesher Haziv (named after 14 victims of Gesher Haziv, casualties of the 17 June 1946 Haganah operation to blow up the border bridges) 2a Hachuma (The Brown One) 3 Wood three-master, Italian flag 4 200 tons 5 Miglarico near Lucca (between Pisa and Viareggio), Italy 6 685 7 Intercepted by HMS Verulam, passengers transhipped to Cyprus and interned 8 28 July 1947 9 Societa Armamento Ricuperi Pesca & Affini, Rome. 1 Col. Fredrick C.Johnson provisionally named Derecktor* 2 De Witt Clinton/Galila 3 Hudson River Dayliner/US Army Transport. 4 3899 GRT 5 Samuel Derecktor, owner of a bogus firm. * Due to the establishment of Israel, the Derecktor became part of Israel’s merchant Navy. 1 Colon alias Beauharnois 2 Josiah Wedgwood* (J.Wedgwood was a pro-Zionist British politician) 2a Bachar (First-born) 3 Flower-type Corvette, ex-Royal Canadian Navy, Panamanian flag 4 970 tons (1,039 GRT) 5 Savona, Italy 6 1,259 7 Intercepted by HMS Haydon, Talybont and Venus, passengers transhipped to Athlit 8 27 June 1946. * With creation of the state of Israel the Wedgwood became the flagship of Israel’s young navy (Kuf 18). 1 Dimitrios ex-Tartar 2 Berel Katzenelson (Zionist Labour leader 1893–1945) Appendix 3 258
  • 3 Iron hull coastal vessel 4 180 tons 5 Lavrion, 60 km SE of Athens, Greece 6 221 7 Landed at Shefayim (12 miles north of Jaffa light), captured by HMS Peacock nearly empty (first post-war RN success, but there were only 20 refugees still on board) 8 25 November 1945 9 Gaganis Shipping Co., Piraeus. 1 Endeavour, Fabio 2 Krav Emek Ajalon (Vale of Ajalon Battle). To commemorate the famous victory of Joshua over the Amorites. ‘Sun stand thou still upon Gibeon and thou, Moon, in the valley of Ajalon’ (Joshua 10, 12). 2a Hamored (The Rebel) 3 Twin-masted wooden steamship, Panamanian registry 5 Banzoul, France 6 7098 7 Landed after establishment of Israel, passengers legalised 8 29 May 1948. 1 Esmeralda alias Peppino; 1949 renamed Paola Andalo 2 Yehiam (in commemoration of January 1948 Arab attack on Yehiam, repulsed with heavy losses) 2a Hamoshia (The Messias) 3 New wooden schooner with 300 HP Ansaldo engine, flying the Italian flag 4 650 ton 5 Formia, Bay of Gaeta, Italy 6 1,023 (767 according to report from Mossad commander Eli to ‘Sammek’, 2 May 1948), this number included the passengers picked up from an IJI ship stranded near Corsica 7 Intercepted by HMS Verulam, passengers transhipped to Cyprus and interned 8 28 March 1948. 1 Farida alias Michele Parma (LCT 147, 256, 265 or 441), ex-US Navy; the Mossad-allocated Egyptian name and flag was for camouflage only, LCTs only carried consecutive nos; the Farida is now displayed in the IJI museum, Haifa 2 Af-Al-Pi-Chen (In Spite Of All, Yes) 2a Hapoleshet (The Landing Craft) 3 LCT Mk II with 3×150 HP engines; camouflaged with a dummy funnel and ventilator Appendix 3 259
  • 5 Beach near Formia in the bay of Gaeta, Italy 6 434 7 Intercepted by HMS Talybont, passengers to Cyprus 8 29 September 1947 9 Societa Transporti di Armamento (Star), Milano. 1 Fede (Faith) alias Cudio, alias Guelph alias Owen Sound; 1948 renamed Giustitia 2 Dov Hos (Labour leader, killed 1940 in a road accident) 3 Wooden motor schooner, wearing Italian flag 4 650 tons (512 Gross Registered Tonnage) 5 La Spezia, Italy 6 1,014 7 Held together with the Fenice/Eliahu Golomb in the La Spezia Incident, immigrants arrived with permits in Haifa 8 29 May 1946. 1 Fede II alias Cudio (second journey) 2 Arba Hiruyot (Four Freedoms) 3 Wooden motor schooner, wearing Italian flag 4 650 tons (512 GRT) 5 Bocca di Magre, Italy 6 1,024 7 Intercepted by HMS Childers, Chivalrous the Police launch Moreta and HDML 1126, passengers transhipped to Cyprus and interned 6 2 September 1946. 1 Fenice I (Phoenicia) ex-Alma (first journey) ex-Enrico, ex-Jocelyn, ex-Rotterdam; 1949 renamed Bracha Fuld. (See Fenice II) 2 Eliahu Golomb (Golomb was leader of Jewish defence in Palestine and chief architect of the Haganah) 3 New motor schooner, Italian registered 4 650 ton (298 GRT) 5 La Spezia, Italy 8 15 May 1946. 1 Fenice II (second journey) 2 Bracha Fuld (Bracha Fuld was a Haganah girl soldier, killed in a fire fight at a Haganah road block during Operation Nachshon (the Wmgate Night) 25–26. March 1946). See also pp. 00–00 Appendix 3 260
  • 3 Italian registered 5 Mola di Bari near Metaponto, Italy 6 806 7 Intercepted by HMS Chaplet, Moon, Chequers and Rowena 8 21 October 1946 9 Cia. Genovese di Armamento, Genoa. 1 Gabriela 2a Heleni 3 Small wooden single-mast fishing boat, smuggler and pirate 4 50 ton 5 Small bay near Piraeus, Greece 6 40 7 Landed at Caesarea 8 9 September 1945. 1 Guardian, ex-Ceibar 2 Theodor Herzl (prophet of the Jewish state, father of political Zionism, 1860–1904) 2a Hashomeret (The Guardian) 3 Naval Cutter/Cable ship built 1907, later a banana boat, sailing under the Honduran flag 4 1,785 tons 5 Cette, France 6 2,641 7 Intercepted by HMS Haydon and St Brides Bay (also Cheviot, Octavia, Charity). Towed to Haifa by St Brides Bay. Passengers transhipped to Cyprus and interned. See pp. 208–19 8 15 April 1947. 9 West India Fruit Co. Ltd., Norfolk, Virginia. Then sold to Empresa Hondurena de Vapores, Puerto Corte. 1 Hochelaga (Hochelaga was an Indian village near Montreal), ex-RCN Yacht Watura (Waturus?). In August 1918 the Hochelaga was involved in an inglorious U-boat incident in the western Atlantic, which led to her captain’s court martial 2 Hachajal Haivri (The Hebrew Fighter, name chosen to mark disbandment of the Jewish Brigade Group and enlistment in the Haganah) 3 Coastal passenger steamer, iron hull, Panamanian and later Hondurean flag, built in 1900 4 628 tons 5 Antwerp, Belgium Appendix 3 261
  • 6 510 7 Reached Haifa without being sighted, then intercepted by HMS Saumarez 8 31 July 1946 9 Janet Steamship Corporation, New York (Directors: Emmanuel Fostinis, Leonidas Grigorakis & Haniotis). 1 Ideros (The Ideros was a phantom ship, allegedly not intercepted and its existence unproven. It is possibly identical to the Ile de la Rose.) 3 Auxiliary schooner wearing French flag 4 150 tons 6 170 7 Not intercepted by Saumarez due to Radar error9 Landed clandestine immigrants at Tel-Aviv, escaped without being sighted 8 3–4 September 1946. 1 Ile de la Rose (Some sources claim this ship was idential with the Ideros) 2 Amiram Shochet (Amiram Shochet was an illegal immigration activist missing in action during a 1941 combined British (SOE)-Haganah commando raid on Tripoli refinery). See Avanti, p. 270, p. 283 2a Shoshana (Rose) 3 Wooden sailing vessel 4 200 tons 5 Pozzuoli, north-west of Naples 6 183 7 Landed at Caesarea 8 16 August 1946. 1 Lohita alias Anna, ex-Evelyne, ex-Elise, ex-Industria, ex-Nils, ex-Winnie 2 Knesset Israel (Jewish Community), also named Hameri Haivri (The Hebrew Resistance) 2a Hannah 3 Iron-hulled cargo vessel built in 1892; Panamanian registry; built in 1889 4 1,870 tons 5 Bakar, Yugoslavia 6 3,845 (including 600 rescued passengers from the Aghia Anastasio) 7 Intercepted by HMS Haydon, Brissenden, Octavia, Espiegle, Skipjack and three police launches, passengers transhipped to Cyprus and interned 8 26 November 1946. Appendix 3 262
  • 1 Luciano M., ex-Bacicin 2 Shivat Zion (Return to Zion) 2a Ora (Light) 3 Wooden cargo vessel with Ansaldo diesel engine 4 287 tons 5 Beach, 19km west of Algiers 6 411 7 Located by 38 squadron RAF, intercepted by Haydon, Octavia, Brissenden and Espiegle; passengers transhipped to Cyprus and interned 8 28 July 1947 9 Ditta Pittaluga, Genoa (Agent: Ginesta et Cie., Rue de la Republique, Marseilles). 1 Mala* alias Mayflower 2 Calanit (Anemone) 3 ex-Presidential Yacht (from Th. Roosevelt through H.Hoover) 5 France 6 1,200 7 Arrived after proclamation of the State of Israel 8 11 July 1948; scrapped 1949. * For the reason recorded in (7) not considered an IJI vessel. 1 Maria Christina alias Karango (Karuga?) alias Saturna 2 Lo Tafchidunu (You Will not Scare Us) also The Unafraid 2a Hanozria (The Christian) 3 2-masted schooner, Turkish flag 4 371 tons 5 Porto Venere, Italy 6 850 7 Intercepted by HMS Chequers, Volage, Verulam and Bigbury Bay, passengers to Cyprus 8 24 December 1947. 1 Maria Giovanni, ex-Kleber 2 Kaf Tet Be-November (29 November—UN resolution on partition of Palestine) 2a Hahalutz (The Pioneer), Jerushalajim (Jerusalem), Johanan 3 3-masted wooden schooner with twin Alva diesel engines 4 420 tons Appendix 3 263
  • 5 Leghorn, Ajaccio/Corsica (Marinelli near Spezia) 6 680 (transferred from the Setti Fratelli (Komemiut) in Corsican waters) 7 Intercepted by HMS Volage and Verulam, passengers transhipped to Cyprus and interned 8 28 December 1947. 1 Merica alias Franco 2 Lanegev (To the Negev) 3 Wooden two-masted barquetine/brigantine built 1875; port of registry Genoa 4 400 tons (292 GRT) 5 Cette, France 6 643 7 Intercepted by HMS Chieftain and Welfare on the high seas, nine miles west of Caesarea, then towed across the three-mile limit. Passengers transhipped to Cyprus and interned 8 9 February 1947 9 Societa Armamento Ricuperi Pesca & Affini, Rome (Agent: Ginesta et Cie., Rue de la Republique, Marseilles). 1 Moris (Likeliest spelling Norris or Noris) ex MV Vila reported as the Kismet Adalia (Adalir?) 2 Wingate (Major General Charles Orde Wingate was a British pro-Zionist army officer (1903– 44), formed the ‘Special Night Squads’ to fight the Arab Rebellion). Chindit leader in Second World War 3 Two-masted caique with 100 HP engine, built 1899 4 144 tons 5 Pallestrina island south of Venice, Italy 6 238 7 Trying to land at Tel-Aviv under heavy Haganah cover (see Fenice II), intercepted by Chevron, passengers transhipped to Athlit10 8 26 March 1946. 1 Nettuno A (Nettuno is Italian for Neptune, the God of the Sea) 2 Natan A 3 Wooden-hulled fishing trawler 4 50 tons 5 Bari, Italy 6 79 7 Landed in Caesarea 8 4 September 1945. Appendix 3 264
  • 1 Nettuno B (second voyage) 2 Natan B (not to be confused with the Nettuno, reported by MI6 in report No. 20; 19 September 1947—Suspect Shipping) 3 Wooden-hulled fishing trawler 4 50 ton 5 Monopoli, Italy 6 73 7 Landed at Shefayim 8 1 October 1945. 1 Northland (she became the Zefonit, Ejlat, Alef 16, one of Israel’s first warships, later renamed Matzpen 2 Medinat Hajehudim (Jewish State) 2a Zefonit (Northern) 3 US Coastguard Icebreaker, WPG 49; the Northland did sterling service in the Second World War fighting German weather stations in Greenland; diesel-electric propulsion 4 2,050 ton (1,273 GRT) 5 Burgas, Bulgaria 6 2,664 7 Intercepted by HMS Charity, passengers transhipped to Cyprus and interned 8 2 October 1947 9 Weston Trading Co. Inc., Stone Street, New York (Agent: Nathan Cohen, Baltimore). 1 Orchidea 2 Medinat Israel (State of Israel) 2a Hanarkiss (The Narcissus) 3 wooden-hulled caique with two masts 4 240 tons 5 Brindisi, Italy 6 243 7 Legalised, arrived after creation of Israel 8 17 May 1947. 1 Paducah (alias Biarritz according to some sources, but the confusion probably arose due to the refitting port—Bayonne/Biarritz) 2 Geulah (Redemption) 2a Malah, Melah (Sailor, Salt) Appendix 3 265
  • 3 Former coast guard vessel/ice breaker PG18, Chesapeake Bay training ship (not an ex-channel steamer, was the rear smoke-stack a dummy? Rotten Row, Haifa part photographs show rear smoke-stack was genuine) registered in Panama, built 1905 4 252 tons net (1,085 GRT) 5 Burgas, Bulgaria 6 1,388 7 Intercepted by HMS Chaplet, passengers transhipped to Cyprus 8 2 October 1947 9 Montrose Shipping Co., New York. 1 Pan Crescent* alias El Valle 2 Atzmauth (Independence) 2a Chaver (Comrade), Chevreman (Good Sport) 3 ‘United Fruit Company’, banana carrier built 1901 4 4,570 tons 5 Burgas, Bulgaria 6 7,618 7 Burgas, Bulgaria 8 1 January 1948. 9 F.B. Shipping Company, Panama. In the Mossad vernacular F.B. stood for F k Britain. Purchased by American Jews Green and Shulman. Ex US Navy Officer and Annapolis graduate Paul Shulman later became the first Commander of the nascent Israel navy. * The Pan Crescent was damaged early September 1947 in Porto Margera (Giudecca) near Venice allegedly by a limpet mine in an attack, supposedly instigated by Commander Crabb of the British Underwater Working Party, Sant’ Andrea, Venice. In fact Crabb employed an Italian shipyard employee to place a time bomb inside a hold at the ship’s stern. The Pan Crescent was subsequently repaired and returned to service. (Interviews, the author with Captain Enrico Levi, Pino Ashuach and Haim Winkler. Avraham Lichowsky, Mossad wireless operator, confirmed Ashuach’s version.) 1 Pan York alias El Dia, ex-USS Roanoke 2 Kibbutz Galujot (Ingathering of the Exiles) 2a Ha Achot (The Sister) 3 ‘United Fruit Company’ banana carrier, built 1901 4 4,570 tons 5 Burgas, Bulgaria 6 7,618 7 Sailed directly to Cyprus by mutual agreement Appendix 3 266
  • 8 1 January 1948. 9 F.B. Shipping Company, Panama. * In the Jewish Agency Code the two Pans were called ‘Hagdolim’ (The Big Ones) 1 Pietro A (first voyage) alias Albertina 2 Peter (Aleph) 2a Peter Hahamishi (Peter the Fifth) 3 Single mast, cargo boat with 150 HP Fiat engine 4 150 ton 5 Santa Margherita, Italy 6 168 7 Landed at Shefayim 8 17 September 1945. 1 Pietro B (second voyage)11 2–5 See Pietro A 6 174 7 Landed at Shefayim 8 26 October 1945. 1 President Warfield12 2 Exodus 1947 2a Hanassi (The President), Ha-kli (The Tool) 3 Chesapeake (Baltimore-Norfolk) River Steamer built in 1928; during the Second World War D-Day service, then accommodation craft (500 troops and 105 officers) for Combined Operation Forces and Seine river service. 4 705 tons net, 1,814 tons GRT (not 4,273 tons as given in most sources) 5 Sète, France 6 4,500 7 Intercepted by Ajax, Mermaid and Cheviot, sent back to Sète, then passengers transhipped to Hamburg and interned in the British Zone 8 18 July 1947 9 Weston Trading Co. Inc., Stone Street, New York (Agent Nautical Shipping & Servicing Co. also reported as owned by Portia Steamship Co., Panama). 1 Raffaelucia (Raffael Lucid?) alias Elias, ex-Excelsior, ex-Peloro 2 Kadimah (Forward!) 2a Michael Appendix 3 267
  • 3 Auxiliary schooner, three-masted wood construction barkentine, built in 1921; engine by Deutsche Motorenwerke 4 25 tons 5 Pellestrina (beach between L. Spezia and Livorno, Italy) 6 794 7 Intercepted by HMS Venus, passengers transhipped to Cyprus and interned 8 16 November 1947 9 Cia. Maritima Geojunior S.A., Panama (Agent: Till Co. (England) Ltd., 78, New Oxford Street, London, W1, Directors: Israel Beitely, Walter Williams and others). MI 6 reports control by Mario Chenda. 1 Rondina (Swallow) 2 Enzo Sereni (Jewish Labour leader and Haganah parchutist, 1905–1944, executed in Dachau) 2a Snunit (Swallow) 3 Two-masted cargo schooner, wood construction, 300 HP Ansaldo engine 4 550 ton 5 Savona, Italy 6 908 7 Intercepted by HMS Venus, passengers transhipped to Athlit 8 18 January 1946. 9 Societa Transporti Maritima (Sortrana), Savona (Directors: Guiseppe Musso and Matteo Marangatti, Giovanni Pinter also involved). The Italian crew returned on the Ada. 1 Rondina II. Renamed 1950 Raffaele Capano. 2 Bonim Velochamim (Builders and Fighters) 2a Dina 3–4 See Rondina (Enzo Sereni, which had been arrested on the high seas and had to be released 5 Bakar, Yugoslavia (Bakar is a small fishing port, ten kilometres south of Sušak-Rijeka) 6 1,022 7 Intercepted 8 28 February 1948. 1 Sagolem alias Sogur 2 Yagour (named after the Jewish settlement ‘Yagour’, scene of a British arms search on ‘Black Saturday’ 29 June 1946) 3 Wooden caique, Turkish flag 4 255 GRT Appendix 3 268
  • 5 Le Ciotat near Toulon, France 6 754 7 Intercepted by HMS Brissenden; one of the two first illegal immigration vessels whose passengers were deported to Cyprus 8 11 August 1946. 1 San Basilio alias Vesterbotten, ex-Berghol, ex-Nya Soderhamn, ex-Finland; built 1876; sister ship to San Miguel Ran aground 5 December 1946 at Dresund; laid up in Göteborg February 1947. Never sailed to Palestine. Intended passengers were collected by Ulua (Haim Arlosoroff). 3 Panamanian registration withdrawn 4 March 1947 4 995 GRT (611 tons gross ?) 9 Cia. Cerro Pando de Navegacion, Panama. Agents Blidberg and Metcalfe. Scrapped 1951. 1 San Demetrio alias Sodra Sverige 2 Latrun (The Latrun was named after an internment camp which held Haganah prisoners) 2a Portona 3 Lake or coastal steamer built 1871, Panamanian flag (Panamanian Registration withdrawn) 4 733 ton (472 GRT) 5 La Ciotat near Marseilles, France 6 1,275 7 Intercepted by HMS Providence, Octavia, Rowena and Chivalrous also involved; passengers transhipped to Cyprus 8 1 November 1946 9 Cia. Cerro Robalo de Navegacion, Panama (Director: Jean Iliades, Agent: Nicolaides & Co., Antwerp, connection with Anton Nikolandis?). 1 San Eusebio (Aghios Eusevios) ex-Nestor, ex-Gotland; built in 1868, laid up in Copenhagen February 1947; never sailed to Palestine; intended passengers collected by Ulua (Haim Arlosoroff); Panamanian registration withdrawn 4 March 1947 4 282 GRT 9 Cia. Cerro Pando de Navegacion, Panama. Scrapped 1951. 1 San Michele alias Salvador, 1953 renamed Nukalau 2 Mishmar Haemeq (Kibbutz controlling the road from Jenin to Haifa, which defeated Kaukji’s ‘Liberation Army’s’ April 1948 offensive) 2a Michal 3 Cargo boat, wood construction 4 402 tons 5 La Ciotat, France Appendix 3 269
  • 6 782 7 Intercepted by HMS Virago, passengers transhipped to Cyprus and interned 8 24 April 1948. 1 San Miguel (Eleni) ex-Runeberg 2 Hamaapil Haalmoni (The Unknown Illegal Immigrant) 2a Haganah-Cherut (the name Haganah-Cherut was abandoned to prevent the dissident Cherut Party being credited with the transport) 3 Packet steamer built in 1876 for the North Sea passenger traffic 4 472 tons 5 Sète, France 6 804 7 Intercepted by HMS Virago, St Austell Bay and Welfare, passengers transhipped to Cyprus and interned 8 16 February 1947 9 Cia. Cerro Pando de Navegacion, Panama (Directors: Jean [Ioannis] Iliades, Menas Rethymnis and Leonidas Stathakis). 1 San Philippo (San Felipe) ex-Egil ex-Samuel Gustav Hermelin 2 Moledet (homeland, in memory of the immigrants who died in the war-time sinking of SS Patria) 2a Hanesher (The Eagle) 3 Panamian registration (withdrawn); Norwegian Fiord Steamship built in 1876 4 749 GRT 5 Metaponto, Italy 6 1,563 7 Intercepted by HMS Charity and Octavia. Towed to Haifa by HMS Haydon; passengers transhipped to Cyprus and interned 8 30/31 March 1947 9 Cia. Cerro Pando de Navegacion, Panama (Director: Jean [Ioannis] Iliades, Agent: Ginesta et Cie., Rue de la Republique, Marseilles). 1 San Sissimo (San Pisero?), ex-Giuseppe Bertolli 2 Kaf Gimel Yordei Hasira (The 23 Sailors, in memory of a combined Jewish-SOE Second World War commando, missing in action May 1941 against the Vichy French in Syria; actually there were 24, originally the British SOE Observer, Major Palmer had not been counted).13 2a Twentythree 3 Coaster with jury rig sail, Italian flag Appendix 3 270
  • 4 300 tons (200 GRT) 5 Bocca di Magre, Italy 6 790 7 Intercepted by Brissenden and towed to Haifa, passengers to Cyprus 8 15 August 1946. 1 San Spyridon (Aghios Spyridon), ex-Konung Oscar. One of the three vessels bought in Sweden which never sailed; Panamanian registration withdrawn 4 736 GRT 9 Cia. Cerro Pando de Navegacion, Panama. Agents Blidberg and Metcalfe. Previous owner Svea Line. 1 Sette Fratelli alias Abdul Hamid alias Ylderan 2 Komemiut (Dignity or Independence, lit. ‘Head Erect’) 2a Hasivla 3 Three-masted sailing ship with 200 HP Ansaldo engine flying the Italian flag 4 191 GRT, 293 tons 5 Banzoule Bay, a beach west of St Tropez and east of Toulon, France See also Maria Giovanni for earlier journey 6 699 7 Intercepted by HMS Childers, passengers transhipped to Cyprus and interned 8 22 February 1948. 9 Naim Molvan. Nominal owner Grimaldi, Milan. 1 Sirius 2 Dalin (Code name of Eliahu Golomb, 1893–1945, one of the founders of the Haganah), (Dalia) 3 New fishing vessel, purchaser Enrico Levi 4 170 tonnes; builder: Cantiere Sangermani, Riva Trigoso, 1945 5 Monopoli near Bari, Italy 6 35 7 Landed in Caesarea 8 28 August 1945. 1 Smyrna 2 Max Nordau (co-founder of the World Zionist Organisation 1849–1923) 2a Shabtaia 3 Caique flying Greek flag Appendix 3 271
  • 4 760 ton 5 Constanza, Romania 6 1,754 7 Intercepted by HMS Jervis 8 13 May 1946 9 Pandelis and Co., Athens (Directors: Jean and Dimitrios Pandelis (Pandelis was Hashamen— The Fat One in the Mossad encryption)). 1 Susannah alias Rosa 2 Shabtai Lushinsky (Zionist emissary, died 1946 in a road accident in Italy) 2a Shoshana (The Rose) 3 Twin-masted wooden motor schooner 4 420 tons 5 Metaponto, Italy 6 823 7 350 landed near Nitzanim (5 miles north of Ashkelon), MR 1121281, those arrested taken to Cyprus (many of those arrested were bystanders aiding the landing and had to be returned from Cyprus, the crew of eight had escaped to Kibutz Givat Brenner). HMS St Brides Bay standing by lost one officer and two ratings through drowning, when her whaler overturned in the surf 8 12 March 1947 9 Societa Transporti di Armamento (Star), Milano. 1 Sylvia Starita, ex-G. Carducci, ex-Giosue Carducci 2 Lamed Hei Giborei Kfar Etzion (The 35 heroes of Kfar Etzion, the ship’s name commemorated a combined Palmach/Chish relief platoon for besieged Kfar Etzion, annihilated May 48 between Har-Tuv and Kfar Etzion). 2a Haskenah (The Old One) 3 Twin-masted wooden schooner with 120 HP Benz engine 4 114 tons 5 Sailed from the Pallestrina lagoon, 12 miles from Venice, Italy 6 274 7 Intercepted by HMS Cheviot, passengers transhipped to Cyprus and interned 8 1 February 1948. 1 Tadorne ex-La Savoie 2 Nachshon (Haganah Operation ‘Nachshon’ for the relief of besieged Jerusalem and re-capture of the Castel stronghold, from 3 April 1948 to the First Truce) 2a Castel Operation, Tamar Appendix 3 272
  • 3 Fishing trawler built 1897 4 400 tons 5 Bandole, France 6 533 7 Intercepted by HMS Chieftain, passengers to Cyprus 8 26 April 1948. 1 Trade Winds alias Gresham ex-Trade Winds, ex-T.V.McAlister 2 Hatikvah (The Hope, also the title of the Jewish national anthem) 2a Amalia 3 US Revenue cutter WPG 85, also served as an Ice Breaker 4 1,500 tons 5 Bogliasco, Bocca di Magre, Italy 6 1,413 7 Intercepted by HMS Venus, Brissenden, Espiegle and Haydon; passengers transhipped to Cyprus and interned 8 16 May 1947 9 Weston Trading Co. Inc., Stone Street, New York. Also reported as Portia Steamship Co., Panama (Agent: Baharlia 42, Rue de Phoceens, Marseilles, also Nathan Cohen, Baltimore). 1 Tuglia Cristina ex-Borea 2 Lanitzahon (To Victory) 2a Havatzelet (Lily) 3 Two-masted wood construction 4 146 tons 5 Brindisi, Italy 6 186 7 Legalised, arrived in Tel-Aviv after proclamation of Israel, included in this list because she left Europe prior to 14 May 1948 8 17 May 1948. 1 Ulua Malias Ulnaga 2 Haim Arlosoroff (Labour Zionist leader, murdered 1933, either by revisionists, Arab criminals or Mrs Arlosoroff) 2a Yuval 3 Revenue cutter/corvette WPG 53/weather ship built in 1912, home port Laceiba, Honduras. 4 808 ton (412 GRT) Appendix 3 273
  • 5 Trelleborg, Sweden 6 1,334 (664 from Sweden, 700 passengers, allegedly survivors who joined at Metaponto near Taranto from the shipwrecked Uninowo or Unino alias Rosa). According to verbal testimony from Arthur Bernstein, (8 October 2003) there was no Unino shipwreck. The alleged additional passengers came from SS Aghios Eusebio and/or San Spyridon, who were unable to satisfy Swedish ‘Safety at Sea’ regulations and whose Panamanian registrations had consequently been withdrawn. 7 Intercepted by HMS Chieftain, Chevron, St Austell Bay, Welfare and Rowena 31° 45′N, 32° 45′E, but beached at Ras el-Krum point (Bat Galim) near Haifa; passengers transhipped to Cyprus and interned. 8 28 February 1947 9 Caribbean Atlantic Shipping Co., Panama (Agent: Ginesta et Cie., Rue de la Republique, Marseilles). 1 Ville de Oran 6 150 illegal immigrants concealed amongst legitimate passengers 8 September 1945, landed in Haifa 1 Vivara (Rina) 2 Tirat Zvi (the Tirat Zvi was named after a Jewish settlement in the Beth She’an valley which on 16 February 1948 repulsed an attack by Kaukji’s Arab Irregulars) 2a Chaimke (Little Chaim) 3 Cargo vessel 4 600 tons 5 Formia, Gaeta Bay, Italy 6 798 7 Intercepted by HMS Virago, passengers transhipped to Cyprus and interned 8 28 March 1948. 1 Vrissi alias Lady Vagrant 2 ‘Yacht’ 3 Prepared by the Irgun, flying the Panama flag14 4 440 tons 7 Intended for the embarkation of refugees from Cinecittà camp through the port of Civitavecchia, but sunk 11 July 1947 while at anchor in Genoa port through an explosion, thought to have been caused by a British limpet mine* 8 18 April 1947 9 Cia. Atlantica Pacifica, Panama and/or Societa Anonima Industria Armamento (Agent: Fratelli Ravano. Contact: Stefano D’Andrea). Appendix 3 274
  • * Despatch 1681/U/T dated 18 May 1947 from the Italian Ministry of Defence, Navy, to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. 1 W.V.Marie, Marie Annick ex-Fonceur 2 Haportzim (Haportzim—The Blockade Runners. The Raisers of the Jerusalem siege. The 4th Palmach regiment had been distinguished with this battle honour) 2a Mirjam 3 Sailing ship with auxiliary engine, wood construction 4 50 ton 5 Banzoule, France 6 167 (including 44 passengers transferred from Hechalutz) 7 Landed at Tel-Aviv 8 4 December 1947. Illegal immigrants were also concealed in legal vessels, although this was not a matter for the navy. Such illegals were found on board SS Ascania, SS Mataroa, SS Champollion, SS Transsylvania, SS Ville d’ Oran among others. Overcrowding of the IJI ships was endemic. Great play was made in British publications of overcrowding and passengers/ton ratios. The Pan York and Pan Crescent had a rather generous 1.24 passengers to the ton.15 The ratio for the President Warfield was 2.44, for the Guardian 1.53, for the San Miguel 2.92, for the Aghios Andreas 3.32, for the Aghia Orietta 3.64 and for the Balboa (Norsyd) 5.54 to the ton. The average dimension of bunks was: length 170cm, width 50cm, height 50–65 cm. (For comparison, the Mauritania allowed 31 ton per passenger on Atlantic crossings and 47.5 on Caribbean—Dollar Tourist—cruises).16 38 illegal immigrants from Constanza had been concealed amongst some 900 immigrants with legal certificates who arrived in Haifa on the Transsilvania. 900 illegal immigrants from Toulon arrived in Haifa on the former Cunard liner Ascania, concealed amongst 2000 legal immigrants. Most of these certificates had been allocated to Jews of the Polish Anders army. Information on Ascania and Transsilvania from Clandestine Immigration by Paul H.Silverstone, and from Jürgen Rohmer’s ‘The Loss of the Jewish Refugee Transports Struma and Mefkure in the Black Sea.’ Appendix 3 275
  • Appendix 4 Crew members of HM ships interviewed by the author Eyewitness accounts, verbal testimonies, letters, documents and photographs were received from: Adams, Roy., Naval Seaman, Radar, Landing craft LST 3016. Allum, D., HMS Providence. Ashe Lincoln, Fredman, Captain, QC, RNVR. Master of the Worshipful Company of Plaisterers etc. (Vice President of the British Zionist Federation, 1947. Avory, (initials not known) AB, HMS Storm Cloud. Stoker. Balmer, Donald, AB, HMS Brissenden. Barnes, Michael, HMS Charity, midshipman to Lieutenant Commander. Barrett, Eddie, AB, HMS Chaplet, stoker/mechanic. Brian, Dennis, AB, HMS Newcastle. Buccleuch, His Grace the Duke of, (Lord Dalkeith). Bush, Admiral Sir John Fitzroy Duyland, Lieutenant Commander and CO HMS Chevron in 1946, GCB, KCB, CB, DSC and Bars. Later VCNS and C-in-C Western Fleet, Eastern Atlantic and C-in C Channel (NATO). Retired 20 August 1968 as full Admiral. Cleaver, John, AB, HMS Chequers, stoker. Collier, F.J., AB, HMS Moon. AB. Davies, Raymond, AB, HMS Talibont, gunner. Eggleton R.F., HMS Euryalus, electrician’s mate. Fry, Alex, Marine stationed in Haifa. Glover, Jeff, HMS Childers, medic. Green, Alan, AB. Johnson, Heywood, HMS Charity, Stoker. Knight, Peter, HMS Peacock, Petty-Officer, Radar. Lawson, Captain J.A.F., midshipman on HMS Ajax. Ludlow, John, HMS Fierce, then HMS Chevron. Messinger, Nick, (son of William M.Messinger, Commanding Officer HMS Providence) Morter, Jeff A., Morter had been awarded the Naval General Service Medal with Palestine Clasp and Bar, once for fighting the Arab Revolt in the 1930s on detachment together with his pom-pom from the HMS Valiant to the Palestine Police, and he was awarded the Bar to the medal for serving on HMS Chevron in the RN. Note: J.A.Morter had been mentioned in despatches for bravery during HMS Chevron’s part in the rescue of the IJI MV Athinai’s passengers off Sirinia. It is peculiar that this mention had never been brought to Mr Morter’s attention. It gave the author
  • particular pleasure being able to correct this omission and arrange for a fulsome letter of praise to be despatched to Mr Morter, alas a very short time before he passed away. Oram, Commander J.S.K., First Lieutenant on HMS Stevenstone. Ord, Jack, HMS Phoebe, Palestine medal with engraved name. Parry, G., AB, HMS Mermaid, interception of Paducah. Parr, Ron, AB, HMS Chieftain. Patten, Ted, National Serviceman, HMS Troubridge. Pearce, Rear Admiral Roger Gerard C.B. Prince Philip, HRH The Duke of Edinburgh, Admiral of the Fleet. Via Equerry Sir Brian McGrath KCVO. Quartermain, Jack, HMS Phoebe, also served in Fleet Minesweepers and in Malta. Ravenscroft, Eric, deceased. Member of boarding party steering the President Warfield, sadly deceased since our interview. Smith, Al, Submarine HMS Tiptoe, naval Seaman—Asdic Operator. Stewart, Commander Ninian L, Naval Historian. Stokes, Len, AB Seaman, HMS Charity. Stringer, Thomas Ernie, AB Seaman, HMS Charity, later HMS Volage. Tyler, Alan, Junior Officer HMS Chevron, Retired as Lieutnant Commander in 1966. Wallis, Bernard, Naval Seaman, HMS Cheviot. Webber, Ken, HMS Childers. Whitcombe, Les R., HMS Phoebe, member of boarding parties. William, Jack, HMS Algerine. Woodbridge, Derek, who served on one of the twin-diesel Palestine Police Harbour Defence Motor Launches. Appendix 4 277
  • Appendix 5 Crew members of IJI ships interviewed by the author (This list makes no claim to being correct or complete in each and every detail) Almog, Josef. Commander, Northland (Medinat Hayehudim). Commander, Tadorne (Nahshon). Ashuah, Pini. Escort, Pan Crescent (Atzmaut—part journey). Arms ship Montechiar o (Atlas). Auerbach, Jisrulik (Usi). Joint Commander, Sagolem (Yagour). Escort, Ulua (Haim Arlosoroff). Escort, Colon (Josiah Wedgwood). Bergman, Elihu. AB seaman, American crew member of Paducah (Geulah). Bernstein, Arthur. One of the merchant navy’s few professional sailors, who was a mate on the Ulua. Degani, Nissan (author of Exodus Calling), Escort, San Michele (Mishmar Haemeq), Maria Giovanni (Kaf-Tet Be-November). Eldar, Meir. Akbel (Biria). Escort and author of unpublished Akbel narrative. Harel (Hamburger), Josi (nom-de-guerre—Amnon)., Commander, President Warfield (Exodus 1947). Commander, Lohita (Knesset Israel). Harel was also in overall charge of the ‘Pan’ Operation. Janai (Posnansky), Shmuel (Sammek). Escort, Rear Admiral, retired, Aghios Andreas (Haviva Reik). Joint Commander, Aric Saiam (Henrietta Szold). Sammek Janai commanded a small vessel, Rafi II, with 150 Hungarian Jews which accompanied the Aric Saiam on its journey. He was joint commander only during the boarding and fighting. The Rafi II returned with the Greek members of the Aris Saiam’s crew. Jatir (Hirsch), Reuven. Escort, Lohita (Knesset Israel). Escort, Athinai (Rafiah). Kaplan, Arie (Kippy). Escort: San Dimetrios (Berl Katzenelson). Commander, Aric Saiam (Henrietta Szold). Commander, Aghios Andreas (Haviva Reik). First Commander of Cyprus camp, (four months). Member of arms acquisition group. Escort of arms acquisition ships Resurrectio and then its Commander. Lester, Sol (deceased). Engineer, President Warfield (Exodus). Levi, Captain Enrico. Purchaser, Sirius (Dalin), Nettuno (Nathan A and B), Pietro/Albertina (Peter A and B). Lichovsky Avraham (deceased). Wireless Operator (Gid’oni), Balboa (Haganah) and Athinai (Rafiah) and arms ship Montechiaro (Atlas) Limon, Mordechai (Mokka). Commander, Maria Giovanni (Kaf-Tet Be-November). Commander, Guardian (Theodor Herzl). Commander, Paducah (Geulah). Became Chief of Naval Operations and was CIC of the Israeli Navy 1950–54. Maimon, David. Commander, Archimedes (Umot Meuchadot). Commander, Susanna (Shabtai Lushinski). Commander, Luciano M. (Shivat Zion). Ravid Ossy (Jehoshua). Commander, Farida (Af-Al-Pi-Chen).
  • Tal (Klein), Eliezer (Eres). Commander, Fede (Dov Hos). Commander, Bruna (Jod Dalet Halalei Gesher Haziv. Commander, Avanti (Katriel Yaffe), Commander, Fenice I (Eliahu Golomb). Winkler, Chaim. Escort, Pan Crescent (Atzmauth—part journey). Escort, Rondina (Enzo Sereni). Appendix 5 279
  • Appendix 6 Biographical glossary The following appendix lists British and other officials and politicians of particular relevance to the contents of this book. The information has generally been restricted to the period 1945–8. The later forms of names which subsequently changed as well as noms-de-guerre where applicable are noted. Members of HM services are identified by the highest rank achieved during their career, while the rank held at the time of a particular event has been used here. This is a cumulated indexed biographical dictionary for the persons mentioned in this book and has been included for those readers who may come upon a name they wish to identify. Abramovsky, Leibel, Arjeh. Member of Kibbutz MISHMAR Hayam. 1936–9 volunteer to the Special Night Squads under the command of Captain Orde Wingate. Organiser of war-time clandestine immigration from Baghdad. Then Mossad activist in Yugoslavia. Nom-de-guerre Yechiel. Acheson, Dean, Assistant United States Secretary of State, 1947. Adam, F.E.F., British Envoy-Extraordinary and Minister-Plenipotentiary in Panama, 1939. Arazi (Tannenbaum), Yehudah (1907–59). Nom-de-guerre Alon or Broshi. Veteran Haganah and arms acquisition officer. Head of Italian Section of Mossad Le’Alyiah Bet from 1945–7. The British had a £1,000 bounty on Arazi’s head. Ashe Lincoln, Captain Fredman, QC, former Master of the Bench of the Inner Temple and Chairman of the Association of Jewish ex-Service Men and Women, 1907–97. Officially appointed Naval Adviser to the State of Israel. Attlee, Clement R., First Earl Attlee from 1955 (1883–1967). Labour MP for Limehouse 1922–50. Prime Minister 1945–51. Avigur, Shaul (Meirov). Head of Mossad Le’Alyiah Bet from 1934. Nomde- guerre Arzi or Ben Yehuda. ‘The HQ of Illegal Immigration is wherever Shaul Avigur is.’ Balfour, Lord Arthur J., First Earl (1848–1930). British statesman, Foreign Secretary from 1916. It was during his tenure at the FO that he made his decision in favour of the Zionist aspirations for the creation of a Jewish national home in Palestine which was subsequently embodied in the Balfour Declaration of 1917. Balfour, Sir J., KCMG, Minister, British Embassy, Washington. Barker, Lt Gen. Sir Evelyn H., KCB, KBE, DSO, MC, General Officer Commanding British Troops in Palestine and Transjordan (MILPAL) 9 May 1946–12 February 1947. Remembered for anti-Semitic outburst following the King David affair: ‘Jews in the country are accomplices and bear a share of guilt they shall suffer punishment and be made aware of the contempt and loathing with which we regard their conduct punishing the Jew in a way the race dislikes—by striking at their pockets and showing our contempt for them.’
  • Bateman, Sir Charles H., CMG, MC, Assistant Under Secretary, FO, and Minister Plenipotentiary, British Embassy, Alexandria. Baxter, Maurice, Head of the Eastern Department, FO. Baxter, Charles W., CMG, MC, Councillor, Ministry of Economic Warfare, then Head of Eastern Department, FO. Battersby, J.V., Principal Private Secretary to First Lord, Admiralty. Beckett, W.E., CMG, KC, legal adviser, Foreign Office. Beeley, Sir Harold, CBE, Secretary of the Anglo-American Committee of Enquiry on Palestine. Beith, J.G.S., First Secretary and Assistant legal adviser, FO. Beith was appointed Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary in Tel Aviv in 1963. Israel’s approval and accreditation seemed rather surprising, considering his earlier consistently diligent and inspired hostility to the Zionist case. Beith had recommended mining Palestine waters which would have been perfectly within Britain’s right (FO 371/61809). Ben-Gurion, David (1886–1973). The leading statesman and political leader in the early years of the State of Israel, combining a Jewish nationalist vision with socialist ideals. Born David Gruen in Plonsk, he was elected in 1911 as a delegate to the 11th Zionist congress in Vienna. He became head of the Jewish Agency and the World Zionist Organisation, and then the first Prime Minister and Minister of Defence of the State of Israel. Retired from politics in 1953, but returned as Prime Minister in 1955. Retired for the second time in 1963 to study philosophy and Buddhism. Bennett, J.S., Assistant Secretary, FO. Bevin, Ernest, The Rt Hon., PC, MP, S of S for the FO. Bols, Lt Gen. Sir Louis Jean, Head of the post First World War military administration of British-occupied Palestine. Boyd, C.H., Ministry of Shipping (1940). Co-signatory for Great Britain of the Convention on Safety at Sea, 1929. Buckley, Lt Col., Albert DSO, Parliamentary Secretary to the Board of Trade. Bush, Lieutenant-Commander John Fitzroy Duyland Bush and in 1946 Commanding Officer of HMS Chevron. Post-war, Bush became Sir John Fitzroy Duyland Bush, GCB, KCB, CB, DSC and Bars, VCNS and C-in-C Western Fleet, Eastern Atlantic and C-in-C Channel (NATO). Retired 1968 as full admiral. Bushe, Sir Grattan, KCMG, CB, legal adviser, CO, 1939. Butler, Neville M. [initialled documents NB] CMG, CVO. Assistant Under Secretary of State, FO. Cable, Sir J.E., MBE, KCVO (1976), CMG, FO. Author of Gunboat Diplomacy, The Royal Navy and the Siege of Bilbao. Nom-de-plume Hugo Grant. Cadogan, Rt Hon. Sir Alexander George Montagu PC, GCMG, KCB, KCMG, CB. Permanent Under Secretary FO; Permanent UK Representative to the UN. Cantoni, Raffaele, President of the Italian Jewish Communities. Carandini, Niccolo (Nicoló). Joined the Italian Liberal Party in 1944; November 1944, representative of the Italian government with the British government with the rank of Ambassador]; first post-war Italian Ambassador to London, 1946; member of the Italian delegation to the Paris Peace Conference, 1946; Representative to the Italian Chamber of Deputies [Constituente] 2 June 1946; nominated Head of the Italian delegation to Appendix 6 281
  • Yugoslavia, Austria, Czechoslovakia, Hungary and the port and area of Trieste, 1954; subsequently President of ‘Alitalia’. Carter, D., Private Secretary, Board of Trade, 1939. Carvell, John E.M., British Consul General in Los Angeles. Chadwick, John Edward, CMG, Intelligence Officer(Cadet) in the Department of Overseas Trade (1934), First Secretary FO, Intelligence Officer Main Grade, (1937). First Secretary Washington and Tel Aviv 1946–50, apparently always under MI5 cover. It is extremely difficult to ascertain records of personal or service details of this or indeed of any other under-cover Intelligence Officer. Charles, Sir Noel, KCMG, Charge d’Affaires in Rome, 1938–39; representative of HM Government with personal rank of Ambassador, 1944–7. Charteris, Lt Col. The Hon. M.M.C., OBE, WO. Clarke, H.Ashley, CMG, Envoy Extraordinary and Minister Plenipotentiary in Paris. Collins, Sir Godfrey, ex-Indian Civil Service. Commissioner for the Jewish Camps in Cyprus. Cooper, The Rt Hon. Alfred Duff Cooper, DSO, HM Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary at Paris, later Lord Norwich. Cowen, Joseph (1868–1932). English Jewish businessman, founder of the Jewish Colonial Trust, close collaborator of Chaim Weizmann. Crabb, Lionel K., OBE, GM, RNVR. Acting Lt Cmdr, head of an experimental two- man Torpedo and Diving Establishment in San Andrea, Venice. Cranborne, Viscount Lord Arthur J.C.Privy Seal and Paymaster General, Secretary of State for the Colonies, 1942. Creech Jones, The Rt Hon. Arthur, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for the Colonies 4 August 1945–4 October 1946; appointed Secretary of State for the Colonies 4 October 1946. Cripps, Sir Richard Stafford, KG, MP for Bristol. President of the Board of Trade, Minister for Economic Affairs (1947). Crocker, General Sir John T., KCB, KBE, DSO, MC. Armoured Corps. Crossman Richard Howard Stafford, Journalist and Editor; British Labour MP for East Coventry; Journalist and Editor of the New Statesman and Nation 1938–55. Assistant Chief of Psychological Warfare Division of SHAEF, 1944–5. Member of the Anglo- American Committee of Enquiry on Palestine 1945–6, (UNSCOP). Minister of Housing and Local Government, 1946. Cunningham, General Sir Alan Gordon, 1887–1983, replaced Lord Gort as High Commissioner for Palestine 9 November 1945 to 1948. Cunningham, Admiral Sir John H.D., GCB, MVO, First Sea Lord and Chief of Naval Staff 1946–48. Commissioner for Executing the Office of Lord High Admiral of the United Kingdom. Curzon, George N., First Marquess Curzon of Kedleston (1859–1925). Lord President of the Council and Lord Privy Seal. Succeeded Arthur James Balfour on 24 October 1919 as S of S for Foreign Affairs. Dalton, Edward H.J.N., (1882–1962). Labour MP for Bishop Auckland 1935–59. Chancellor of the Exchequer 1945–7. Dean, Patrick Henry, CMG, Counsellor and Assistant legal adviser in the FO. Appendix 6 282
  • De Gasperi, Alcide, President of the Council and Foreign Minister, (Christian Democrat). DeSalis, Commodore A.F., DSO, Commodore Palestine. Dekamozov, Vladimir G., Member of the Communist Party, 1920; Central Committee, 1939–41 and 1941–52; Deputy People’s Commissariat (Soviet Minister) for Foreign Affairs, 1947. Denny, Michael M., Rear Admiral, Flag Officer Destroyers, Mediterranean and Director of Services Department. Dodds, G.C.B. Principal, Admiralty Branch I. Dove, Brigadier A., CBE, Deputy Director of Military Operations, WO. Downie, Sir Harold Frederick, (1889–1966), CMG, OBE, Assistant Secretary, CO. Dugdale, John, Parliamentary and Financial Secretary, Admiralty, (1946). Dunn, George, Assistant Secretary, Military Branch, Admiralty. Edelsten, Vice-Admiral Sir John Hereward, KCB, CBE, Imperial Defence Committee, Lord Commissioner of the Admiralty and Chief of Naval Staff from 13 October 1947. Edwards, R.S.F., Principal, Ministry of Transport, Department of Safety at Sea. Engzell, Head of Department in the Swedish Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Evans, Sir Francis E., KCMG, Consul General, New York. Evans, W.F.J., granted a certificate as an Assistant legal adviser to the FO 19 March 1947. Evershed, Cmdr.W., DSO, RN, Secretary of the Cabinet Illegal Illegal Immigration Committee. Fitzgerald, Sir William James, Kt, MC, CO. Solicitor General, Northern Rhodesia, 1932; Attorney-General, Northern Rhodesia, 1933; Attorney-General, Palestine, 1937; Chief Justice of Palestine, 1944; Member of Commission of Enquiry on local administration of Jerusalem, 1945. Fone, C.H., Staff Officer, FO, 1939. Fransoni (Franzoni), Francesco. General Secretary of the Ministry for Foreign Affairs 23 November–21 May 1947; correspondence from Fransoni to the Italian Embassy in Washington on the subject of the Palestine question at the United Nations, 9 April 1947; appointed Ambassador to Brussels in March 1947. Galili, Israel, nom-de-guerre Hillel, one of the Heads of the National Haganah Command. Garran, Isham, P., First Secretary Consuls Grade VII, Assistant Head of Eastern Department, FO. Gater, Sir George Henry Gater, GCMG, KCB, DSO and bar. Second Minister of Home Security 1940–2. Under-Secretary, Colonial Office, retd. 1947. Gibson, T.G., Assistant Solicitor, Board of Custom and Excise. Glubb Pasha, Brigadier Sir John Bagot Richard, (1897–1956), CMG, DSO. Commander of the Transjordan ‘Arab Legion’. Godfrey, Admiral John Henry, Director of Naval Intelligence 1939–42; lent to the Royal Indian Navy from 22 February 1943, Retd. 1946. Greenwood, Arthur (1880–1954). British Labour leader, Labour MP for Wakefield 1922–31 and 1932–54. Lord Privy Seal 1945–7, and Paymaster General 1946–47. Appendix 6 283
  • Halifax, Edward F.K.W., The Rt Hon. Viscount, KG, GCSI, GCIE. His Majesty’s Principal S of S for Foreign Affairs, May 1938–40, Ambassador to the United States 1941–6. Haining, Lt.-Gen. Sir Robert Hadden, 1882–1958. In Command of British forces in Palestine and Transjordan, 1 April 1938–30 July 1939. Hall, George H., MP, Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs 3 August 1945–7 October 1947, thereafter The Rt Hon. Viscount Hall of Cynon Valley, First Lord of the Admiralty. Hampshire, G.P., Legal Assistant, Treasury. Hebblethwaite, Sidney H., Second Secretary, FO. Higham, J.D., Principal, Admiralty 1941; transferred to CO 1946, Assistant Secretary, CO, 1948. Hourani, Albert, Arab Historian and writer. Attended Magdalene College, Oxford in 1933 and graduated in 1936; Joined the Royal Institute of International Affairs in 1939; Analyst at the office of the British Minister of State, resident in Cairo from 1943–5; helped with the presentation of the Arab case to the Anglo-American Committee of Enquiry on Palestine in 1946; offered a fellowship at Magdalen College and later became Director of St Antony’s College Middle East Centre. Howe, Sir Robert E.George, KCMG. Transferred to the Foreign Office as an Assistant Under—20 August 1945. Secretary of State, Foreign Office; in 1946 Adviser to Foreign Secretary Ernest Bevin on Middle Eastern Affairs, 1945–46. Appointed Governor- General of the Sudan, 19 April 1947. Idelson Y., Jewish Labour leader, member of Kibbutz ha-Meu’had. In 1947 Idelson was co-ordinator of the Defence Committee. Inskip, Sir Thomas, W.H., Viscount Caldecot of Bristol, 1876–1947. Dominion Office, S of S for the Colonies January 1939, Lord Chancellor September 1939. Inverchapel, Rt Hon. Lord (First Baron Inverchapel of Loch Eck, previously Archibald John Kerr Clark-Kerr) GCMG, Ambassador Extraordinary and Minister Plenipotentiary at Washington. Iwimy, J.W.L., attached to Treasury’s Aerodromes Division, Ministry for Civil Aviation Jabotinsky, Ze’ev (Wladimir), Chairman of the New Zionist (Revisionist) Organisation. Jeffries, Sir C.J., KC, MG, OBE, CO, deputy to Sir Thomas Lloyd. Jerram, Sir Cecil Bertrand, KCMG, British Minister in Stockolm 1945–7, Ambassador 1947–8. Jones, J.M., Legal Member of FO Research Depatment. Jowitt, The Rt Hon. Earl Lord William Allen, Lord Chancellor, 1945–51. Kellar, A.J., MI5. Kelly, Sir David Victor, KCMG, Ambassader Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary in Angora (modern Ankara). Kinahan, Admiral Harold R.G., CB, CBE, commanding First Cruiser Squadron in the Mediterranean. Knatchbull-Hugessen, Sir Hughe M., Ambassador to Turkey 1939–44. Lang, Sir John G,, KCB, Permanent Secretary, Department of the Secretary of the Admiralty. Commissioner for Executing the Office of Lord High Admiral of the United Kingdom, 1946–8. Appendix 6 284
  • Law, The Rt. Hon. Richard Kidstone, Conservative MP for the Kensington, South Division; Under-Secretary of State, Foreign Office. Financial Secretary to the War Office, May 1940–July 1941; Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Foreign Office July 1941–September 1943; Minister of State September 1943; Head of UK delegation to Conference of Foodstuffs in the USA, 1943. Lawrence, Thomas Edward, adviser to Husain Ibn Ali of the Hijaz, Sharif of Mecca, adviser to the British delegation to the Paris Peace Conference, adviser to the Emir Abdallah Ibn Husain. Le Maitre A.S., CB, MC. Under-Secretary Staff (USS), an Admiralty Department controlled by the Secretary of the Admiralty, 1946–8. Some sources indicate that the initials of Le Maitre’s Christian names are A.J., however, Mr Le Maitre’s hand-written signature and initials always appear to be indistinct. Lloyd George, D., David Lloyd George of Dwyfur, First Earl (1863–1943). British statesman, Minister of Munitions, then Prime Minister who led Britain to victory in the First World War. Lloyd, Sir Thomas Ingram Kynaston Lloyd, KCMG, CMG, OBE. Second Lieutenant RE 1916. Served in Egypt and Palestine (despatches) 1917. Assistant Under-Secretary of State for the Colonies April 1929; Secretary to the Commission on the Palestine disturbances 1929–30; Permanent Under-Secretary of State for the Colonies 1947. Locker, Oliver, CMG, DSO, Conservative MP for Birmingham Handsworth. Luke, Stephen E.V., CMG, Principal, CO, 1939. Lurie, Ben Zion, Jewish Historian, Education Department of the Vaad Leumi, (National Council). MacDonald, Malcolm, MP, (son of former-Prime Minister Ramsay MacDonald), S of S for Foreign Affairs at the time of the 1939 ‘White Paper’. Magan, Colonel W.M.T, ex-Indian Army, acting Brigadier. Service in Iraq with the Qashgai tribe, spring 1944. MacMichael, Sir Harold A., (1882–1969), KCMG, CMG, DSO, High Commissioner and Commander in Chief for Palestine and High Commissioner for Transjordan 1938–44. Mallet, Sir Victor Alexander Louis, KCMG, British Embassy, Rome. Manningham-Buller, Major Reginald Edward, KC, National Conservative MP for the Northampton, Daventry Division; Barrister at Inner Temple, 1927; member of Parliamentary Mission to USSR; Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Works, May–July 1945; member of Anglo-American Committee of Enquiry on Palestine and the European Jewry, 1945–6. Martin, J.M., CVO, Assistant Under Secretary of State, CO. Matheson, Donal Lloyd, Principal, CO; Education Officer, 1947. Maunsell, Captain T.A.K., Royal Navy. Mayell, F., OBE, Lord Chancellor’s Department. Mayhew, Major Christopher Paget, Labour MP for Norfolk South, Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Foreign Office; Private Secretary to the Rt. Hon. Herbert Morrison, Lord President of the Council, August 1945. McMichael, Sir Harold Alfred, 1882–1969. McNeil, The Rt. Hon. Hector, Labour MP for Greenock. Under-Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs October 1945; appointed to be Minister of State in Paris, 7 October 1946. Appendix 6 285
  • Meinertzhagen, Col Richard Henry, CBE, DSO 1919–20 (Jewish Officer). Chief of Military Intelligence in General Allenby’s Palestine Campaign, Chief Political Officer in the post-First World War Military Administration in Palestine and self-styled Zionist apologist. Migliori, Giovan Battista, Extraordinay Delegate, Christian Democrat politician, 1946. Money, Gen. Sir Arthur (1866–1951). Chief Administrator of Palestine 1918–19. Virtually cashiered as a follow-up to the Nebi Musa disturbances. Moore, John Bassett, 1860–1947, American authority on internatinal law, Assistant Secretary of State 1886–91, Professor at Columbia 1891–1924, Panel of the Hague Tribunal 1912–38, First American Judge on the World Court (the Permanent Court of International Justice) 1921–8. Morrison, The Rt Hon. Herbert S., Lord Morrison of Lambeth. Labour MP for East Lewisham, Deputy Prime Minister, Lord President of the Council and Leader of the House of Commons (1946). Motterhead, F.W., Principal Private Secretary to the First Lord of the Admiralty, 1947. Moyne, Lord Walter Edward Guinness (1880–1944). Deputy Minister of State, Middle East 1942–3, Deputy Minister of State, Resident, Cairo, 1944; assassinated 6 November 1944 in Cairo by Jewish terrorists. Nenni, Pietro, Italian journalist and political leader. Imprisoned in 1911 for protesting against the Italian-Turkish war. Before the Great War Nenni was an ‘interventionista’ (in 1914–15 he recommended that Italy join the Entente); in the Great War Nenni served as a ‘sergente bombardiere’, Joined Socialist party in 1921; editor of Avanti; exiled in 1926; Spanish civil war participant 1936; General Secretary of the Socialist Party 1931–9; served in the Spanish Civil War as Divisional Political Commissar 1936–8; arrested by Vichy France in 1943; Secretary-General of the Italian Socialist party 1944; served in several post-war Cabinets; Vice-President of the Council and Minister of the Constituent Assembly, 1946–7. Norton, Sir Clifford John, KCMG, CVO. Second Secretary in the Foreign Office, 1 January 1925; appointed Acting Councillor of Embassy in Warsaw, 14 December 1939; promoted to be Ambassador Extraordinary at Berne, 18 April 1942; Ambassador Extraordinary at Athens, 17 March 1946. Oliphant, Sir Lancelot, KCMG, CB, MC, Deputy Under-Secretary at the Foreign Office 1936–9. Diplomatic Service: Ambassador Belgium (Minister, Luxembourg), 1939–40 and 1941–4). Onslow, Richard William Alban, KGC, Earl of Onslow. Ormsby-Gore, William George Arthur, Fourth Baron Harlech (1885–1964). Politician and banker. British liaison officer with the Zionist Mission in March 1918. Colonial Secretary, 1927. Supporter of Lord Peel’s plan for partition of Palestine and creation of a truncated but independent Jewish state. Pailairet, Sir C., British Envoy-Extraordinary and Minister Plenipotentiary in Athens, 1939. Peterson, Sir Maurice Drummond, GCMG, Foreign Office; Second Secretary to Washington, 12 January 1920; First Secretary 1 February 1921; attached to the Disarmament Conference at Washington October 1921– February 1922; Acting High Commissioner to Cairo 12 July 1927–17 July 1929; Acting Envoy Plenipotentiary and Extraordinary at Sofia 6 October 1936 and in Baghdad 9 March 1938 as an Ambassador Appendix 6 286
  • with special responsibility. Ambassador Plenipotentiary and extraordinary in Ankara 29 September 1944 and British Ambassador in Moscow 17 May 1946. Poland, Captain Albert Lawrence, CB, DSO, DSC, Commodore 2nd Class. ADC to the king, 1948. Power, Admiral Sir Arthur John, GBE, KCB, CVO, Second Sea Lord and Chief of Naval Personnel; Lord Commissioner of the Admiralty, Commander-in-Chief Mediterranean Station and Chief of Naval Staff; Commanded HMS Ark Royal 1938–40; Assistant Chief of Naval Staff and promoted to Admiral, 1946. Randall, Alec Walter George, CMG, OBE; Acting Councillor Foreign Office. Envoy Extraordinary at Copenhagen, 1 June 1945; Ambassador Copenhagen, 11 April 1947. Great advocate of IJI Ship interception on the high seas. Reale, Eugenio, Socialist who defied the Communist Leader Togliatti; Under- Secretary in the Italian Foreign Office. Imprisoned along with Parodi, 1941; Reale received a folder about the Jewish refugees and the development of the situation in Palestine in March 1947. In 1954, following the Hungarian uprising, he was expelled from the Communist Party. Rendel, Sir George William, KCMG, Temporary Ambassador, Foreign Office. Plenipotentiary and Extraordinary Envoy at Sofia May 1928. Appointed one of the United Kingdom’s Representatives on the European Regional Commission of the United Nations Relief and Rehabilitation Commission, with the rank of Ambassador. Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary at Brussels, 5 November 1947. Roberts, Frank Kenion, CMG. Acting First Secretary, 01 December 1940. Chargé d’Affairs to the Czechoslovak government in London from 18 July–6 October 1941. Promoted to be Acting Councillor and transferred to Moscow with local rank of Minister Plenipotentiary 17 January 1945. Chargé d’Affairs in Moscow 1945–47. Acting Private Secretary to the Secretary of State, Foreign Office, January 1948; to the Secretary of State, Foreign Office, 1948. Roberts-Wray Kenneth Owen, CMG. Second Assistant Legal Adviser, Colonial Office 1 July 1931, Commonwealth Relation Office, Legal Adviser, 1 January 1945, Robertson, Col. T.A. MI5. See Nat. Arch. Adm 1/20789. Secret—IIP (47) 14th meeting of the Cabinet Illegal Immigration Committee, held in Conference Room ‘A’, Cabinet Office, 22 August 1947. Robertson J.C.Major MI5. [See above entry for Col T.A.Robertson.] Major Robertson had been very active in December 1945–January 1946 in trying to forbid Jewish Brigade’s ‘Search Parties’ from looking for surviving relatives in Poland, Hungary and Romania [FO 371/52582]; in the list of Officials attending the IIP Cabinet Illegal Immigration Committee meeting on 22 August 1947, J.C.Robertson was only listed as ‘also present’, he must have been of lower rank then his namesake Col. T.A.Robertson, who is listed as attending this high-level meeting. Rumbold, Sir Horace Anthony Claude, Baronet, 3rd Secretary in the Foreign Office and Diplomatic Service. Appointed to the Foreign Office 28 October 1940. Acting First Secretary in the Foreign Office, 2 February 1945. Transferred to Prague, 2 June 1947. Charge d’Affairs in Prague from 1947. Rundall, Francis Brian Anthony Claude, CMG, KCMG, OBE, FO. Acting Consul- General in Boston, 23 April 1935 and 1938; appointed Vice-Consul at New York, 28 July Appendix 6 287
  • 1941; Appointed Foreign Service Officer, Grade 7, in the Foreign Office, 1 August 1946 and became Consul in New York. Russel-Edmonds, W., Temporary Administrative Officer, Treasury, 1946–47. Samuel, Sir Herbert Louis, 1st Viscount Samuel, 1870–1963. Sarell, Rhoderick Francis Gisbert Sarell, Foreign Office. Vice-Consul, Addis Ababa 8 June 1938 and at Basra 6 August 1940. Promoted to Foreign Service Officer Grade 7, 6 June 1946. Transferred to Bucharest and appointed 1st Secretary there on 20 Nobember 1946. Chargé d’Affaires at the British Embassy, Bucharest in 1947. Sargent, Sir Orme Garton KCB, KCMG. Promoted First Secretary 1 April 1919; transferred to the Foreign Office 16 November 1925; Assistant Under-Secretary of State 14 August 1933; promoted to be Deputy Under-Secretary of State 11 September 1933; Promoted to Permanent Under-Secretary of State, Foreign Affairs, 1 February 1946. Sereni, Ada, Nom-de-guerre Daniella. Mossad Le’Alyiah Bet delegate in Italy, succeeded Yehuda Arazi [Nom-de-guerre Alon] in the spring of 1947. Ms Sereni insisted on decentralisation and introduced specific sections into the Mossad’s activities, for example, radiotelegraphy, embarkations, shipyards, a secretariat and so forth, and most importantly, a change from the wooden 450–600 ton ships used hitherto to larger and faster ships with steel hulls exceeding thousands of tons, which began to arrive in the Mediterranean from the United States. Sforza, Count Carlo, Italian Minister for Foreign Affairs, later President of the National Conference, (Independent). Sherren, D.J., MI5 Sherman, Lt. Col., Cabinet Office. Shertok (Sharet), Moshe, Head of the Jewish Agency’s Political Department. Shuckburgh, Sir John Charles Arthur Evelyn, KCMG, CB, Private Secretary to Permanent Under-Secretary of State, July 1902. Assistant Under-Secretary of State, 1 April 1924. Deputy Under-Secretary of State, Colonial Office, 15 August 1931. Cabinet Office, (Historical Section), 1942–8. Sieff, Baron Israel Moses. British Industrialist and Zionist, Secretary of the Zionist Commission for Palestine. Vice Chairman, Joint Managing Director and President of Marks and Spencer. Vice-President World Jewish Congress and then its Chairman. Hon. President Zionist Federation and member, Jewish Agency Executive. Simpson, Lt Gen. Sir Frank, KBE, CB, DSO. War Office. Siri, Giuseppe, Archbishop of Genoa 1946, Cardinal 1953. Smith Trafford, (Trafford Smith) Assistant Private Secretary to Mr Ormsby Gore (Lord Harlech) 1935 and to Malcolm MacDonald, Colonial Office 1938. (It would appear that Trafford Smith had no first names! In countless letters and memos sent and received, as well as in official Almanacs and Annual Colonial Office Lists, Trafford Smith or Smith Trafford is always recorded as such.) Sneh, Moshe (previously Kleinbaum), One of the Heads of the National Haganah Command, Commander-in-Chief of the Haganah, 1941–6; Member of the Jewish Agency Executive, 1945–7; Director of the European Branch of the Jewish Agency Political Department. Soragna, Antonio, Meli-Lupi di, Secretary-General of the Italian Delegation to the Peace Conference, 1946. Appendix 6 288
  • Spears, Major-General Sir Edward Louis, CB, CBE, MC; First Baronet; Head of British Military Mission, Paris 1917–20. National Liberal, later Conservative MP for Carlisle, October 1931 and November 1935; Head of the British wartime Mission to General de Gaulle, 1940, Head of Mission to Syria and Lebanon, 1941; First Minister to Syria and Lebanon, 1942–4. Friend of Winston Spencer Churchill. Postwar Chairman of Ashanti Goldfield Corporation and member of the board of the Bank of West Africa. Spear believed that the empire could be saved ‘at the eleventh hour’ and that British pledges to the Arabs were unambiguous, but were violated by the Balfour Declaration. Stevenson, Col. Robert Colin, RE, in charge of the 1948 evacuation of RE establishments in Palestine. Stockwell, General Sir Hugh C. Cmdr 6th Airborne Division in Palestine 1947–8, Ground Forces Suez 1956, Military Secretary to the Secretary for War 1957–9. Stokes Richard Rapier. Labour MP for Ipswich 1938–57. Minister of Works 1950–51, Lord Privy Seal 1951. Storrs, Col Sir Ronald, KCMG, CMB, CBE (Mil). Assistant political Officer attached to the Anglo-French political mission to the Egyptian Expeditionary Force, 1917. Secretariat of War Cabinet 1917. Military Governor of Jerusalem 1917–20; Civil Governor of Jerusalem and Judea, 1920–6; Governor of Cyprus 1926–32; and Northern Rhodesia 1932–4. Author of Orientations. Synnott, P.N.N., Acting Assistant Secretary, Admiralty, Dept. USS, 1946–48. Sykes, Sir Mark, 6th Baronet. Involved in the Arab revolt, 1915–16; co-signatory of the Sykes Picot Agreement, 1916; involved in the liberation of Baghdad, 1917; Political Officer attached to the Commander-in-Chief of the Egyptian Expeditionary Force 1917– 18; Conservative MP, 1911–19. Trafford Smith, see entry under Smith Trafford. Turner, W.T., Principal, Board of Trade, 1939. Ussishkin, Abraham Menachem Mendel. Russian Zionist leader, delegate to the First Zionist Congress held in Basel in 1893; forced the abandonment of the Uganda Scheme at the Seventh Zionist Congress in 1905; settled in Palestine in 1919; organiser of Palestine colonisation and purchaser of land. Director of the Keren Kajemet Le’Jisrael (Jewish National Fund, JNF), 1923–41. Ussishkin was a delegate for Jekaterinoslav at the seventh Zionist Congress in Basel in 1905. He belonged to the practical rather than to the political wing of the delegates, stating that unless Jewish workers were substituted for the Arab labourer ‘the whole Yishuv will be built on sand or rather on the edge of a volcano’. Ward, J.C.British Ambassador Extraordinary and Minister Plenipotentiary in Rome. Ward, John Guthrie, transferred to Rome, September 1946. Chargé d’Affaires 1946–8. Waters-Taylor, Colonel L.R.E.Chief of Staff for Major-General Bols at OETAS, 1919–21. Colonel Waters-Taylor was the moving spirit behind the idea of Administrator Bols to recognise Shareef Faysal as at least nominal ruler of Palestine. As early as 1919 Waters-Taylor explained to the Arabs that freedom can only be attained through violence. Totally opposed to Colonel Meinertzhagen on abandonment of the Jewish National Home, Waters-Taylor withdrew Police and Army before the 1920 riots. Wedgwood, Josiah Clement, First Baron Wedgwood, Liberal MP to 1919, thereafter Labour MP for Newcastle-under-Lyme. Weizmann, Chaim. Research chemist, important war work on acetone (a vital solvent for the production of munitions) for the British Admiralty. Zionist leader, chairman of Appendix 6 289
  • Jewish Agency for Palestine and President of the World Zionist Organisation. In 1946 driven to resign due to the widening gap between the British and Jewish viewpoints on the Palestine situation. First President of Israel 1948. Willis, Admiral Sir Algernon Usborne, KCB, KBE, DSO. C-in-C Mediterranean. HMS Warspite, 1939–41; C-in-C South Atlantic Station, 1941–2; Levant Station, 1943; Mediterranean Fleet, 1946–8; Second Sea Lord and Chief of Naval Personnel, 1944–6. Retired with the rank of Admiral of the Fleet. Wingate, Major-General Orde Charles. Military service in Sudan, Palestine and Transjordan, 1936–9. Pro-Zionist trainer of Haganah night squads in Palestine during the Arab revolt, 1936–7. Winster, Baron of Witherlack. Reginald Thomas Herbert Fletcher, PC Governor and C-in-C Cyprus. Wright, John, Oliver, DSC. British Vice Consul, New York. Zamboni, Guelfo, Primo segretario di legazione di prima classa (First Secretary of Legation, First Class). Zoppi, Count Vittoro Zoppi, Minister of Foreign Affairs, April 1947. Appendix 6 290
  • Notes Preface Note: The Jews considered immigration to Palestine to be their legal right and claimed that the phrase ‘Illegal Immigrants’ was invalid, since it was based on the 1939 White Paper. Zionist sources, therefore, prefer the definition ‘Unauthorised’ or ‘Clandestine’ Immigrants.8 In 1938 the Admiralty referred to it as ‘Illicit Immigration’ or ‘Gatecrashing.’9 1 Cdr N.L.Stewart in a paper presented at Tel-Aviv University, 29 October 1997. 2 Foreign Office Arabists (the so-called ‘Camel Corps’) nearly always suffered from anti- Semitism, which has never been eradicated, though it disguises itself nowadays as anti- Zionism. 3 FO 371/54380. 2 October 1945. Foreign Office memo. 4 FO 371/40137. 27 August 1944. FO minute by M.Baxter. 5 N.Bethell, The Palestine Triangle, The Struggle the British, the Jews and the Arabs 1935–48 (André Deutsch, London, 1979), p. 169. 6 Testimonies from ‘well-informed Israeli sources’. The reports are still ‘Top Secret’ and can therefore not be attributed. 7 Mossad (Institute) was short for the clandestine movement Mossad le Alyah Beth, the Haganah Agency that directed the operations of the illegal immigration. This Haganah agency was created exclusively for bringing Jews from Europe by sea to Palestine (not to be confused with Israel’s current Institute for Intelligence and Special Services, equivalent to the British Secret Intelligence Services (SIS)). 8 FO 371/52628, 14 August 1946. Telegram from Lord Inverchapel to the Foreign Office on the subject of American reaction to measures to stop or at least reduce the Illegal Jewish Immigration to Palestine. 9 For example 22 August 1938. ‘Turnover Notes’, brief from the Captain of HMS Repulse to the Captain of HMS Malaya. 1 Introduction 1 FO 371/52571. 26 November 1946. Letter 2775, Lord Inverchapel, British Ambassador in Washington, to Ernest Bevin. 2 Sunday Times, 8–6 and 13 July 1997. Andrew Roberts in his review of Patrick French’s Liberty or Death. 3 D.Ofer, Escaping the Holocaust (Oxford University Press, New York and Oxford, 1990). The caption beneath the illustration of the IJI ship (p. 133) shows the Parita, beached 22 August 1939 and not the Patria sunk in Haifa by Jewish saboteurs in Haifa port 22 November 1940.
  • 4 Z.Hadari and Z.Tsahar, Voyage to Freedom: An Episode in the Illegal Immigration to Palestine (Vallentime Mitchell, London, 1985), p. 25. The Exodus was a Chesapeake river steamer and not a corvette. 5 M.Naor, ha-Haapala (The Clandestine Immigration) (Ministry of Defence Publishing House, Jerusalem, 1987), Appendix, list of illegal vessels. 6 The Times 17 July 1997. Jonathan Mirsky’s review of Terry Waite’s Season of Betrayal. 7 The Interception of the Guardian and the sinking of the Athinai are described at some length in this book (pp. 241–60). These incidents are only two good examples of many where the testimonies of British and Jewish eye witnesses diverge on essential facts. Mistakes or bias? 8 For example, The claim that the Archbishop of Genoa commissioned a vessel from the Sangermani yard in Riva Trigoso to allow a group of Jews to reach their ‘spiritual fatherland’ (Le barche di Sangermani) is flatly contradicted by the real purchaser, Captain Enrico Levi. 9 One of many examples: a photograph in A.Halamish, The Exodus Affair: Holocaust Survivors and the Struggle for Palestine (Syracuse University Press, Syracuse, NY, 1998), (facing p. 139) is captioned ‘Illegal immigrants dancing a tempestuous hora in expression of their joyful victory.’ The identical picture on p. 319 of the pro-government Illustrated London News, 29 September 1947 is captioned: ‘Seemingly in good health and bounding spirits— Jewish illegal immigrants dancing a national dance in the sunshine outside a Nissen hut in Pöppenforf camp.’ 10 Most RN witnesses were very willing to offer testimonies, a few opined that it was time to forget and forgive while one ex-RN officer, (Admiral J.Bush), after being helpful initially, later considered the subject too political for his comments and involvement. 11 J.Vansina, Oral Traditions as History (James Curry, London, 1985), pp. 8–9. 12 Ibid. 13 Admiral J.H.Godfrey. Memoirs, July 1966. Churchill College Archive Centre, Cambridge. 14 J.Vansina, Oral Traditions as History, p. 9. 15 Gitta Sereny, Albert Speer: His Battle With Truth (Macmillan, London, 1995), p. 407. 16 Josephus Flavius addressing the historian Justus in his autobiography, The Works of Josephus (Virtue & Co. London, 1870), p. 23. 17 Ibid., pp. 632–3. 18 Siegfried Sassoon, The Weald of Youth (Faber & Faber, London, 1942), p. 103. 19 See also CO 537/3945, 3946, 3947 and 3948 which deal at some length with the Cyprus detainees and the fate of the Pan York and Pan Crescent after establishment of the state of Israel. 20 19 July 1938. Letter No. 020/994, from battle cruiser HMS Repulse to the High Commissioner, following the Palestine government’s request for one of HM ships to be detached to patrol the coast north and south of Haifa. Cmdr N.L. Stewart to the author. 21 See also Chapter 3 for details of British pre-occupation with the perceived threat from Nazi or Soviet infiltration and subversion. 22 See Chambers English Dictionary, 7th edition, 1989. 23 Encyclopaedia Britannica, 1911. 24 Encyclopaedia Britannica, 1964. 25 The Yishuv was the Jewish population of Palestine before proclamation of the State of Israel. 26 See also Chapter 5 for the choice between interception on the high seas or within territorial waters and for the judicial basis for the fight against IJI. 27 The Mossad le’Aliyah Bet was established in 1939 as the Jewish Agency’s underground organisation for illegal immigration. It was an arm of the Haganah, its head was the prominent Labour activist Shaul Avigur. The Palestine HQ of the Mossad was in two miserable little rooms on the top floor of the Vaad Hapoel of the Histadrut (Action Committee of Union HQ). There was no contradiction between the need for secrecy and the location in a busy public building. Notes 292
  • 2 The determinants of British policy towards Jewish immigration into Palestine 1 M.Vereté, From Palmerston to Balfour, Collected Essays of Majir Vereté (Frank Cass, London, 1992), p. xi. 2 Ibid. 3 Ibid. 4 N.Shepherd, The Zealous Intruders, The Western Rediscovery of Palestine (Collins, London, 1987), p. 228. 5 M.Asher, Lawrence, The Uncrowned King of Arabia, (Viking & Penguin Books, London, 1998), p. 62. 6 Ibid. p. 230. 7 Ibid. p. 256. 8 Türkei 195 Vol. 17, K 179939–41, encl. in Erzberger to Köhlmann, 30 November 1917). Isaiah Friedmann, Germany, Turkey and Zionism 1897–1918 (Clarendon Press, Oxford, 1977), pp. 345 and 424. ‘Die Kaiserliche Regierung steht dem Bestreben der Zionistischen, Organisation, in Palästina eine nationale Heimstätte für das jüdische Volk zu schaffen, mit Wohlwollen gegenüber und ist gewillt, diesem Bestreben ihre talkräftige Förderung angedeihen zu lassen. In der Anerkennung der grossen wirtschaftlichen und kulturellen Bedeutung, die eine jüdische Siedlung in Palästina für das mit Deutschland verbündete türkische Reich besitzt, ist die Kaiserliche Regierung bereit, bei befreundeten Türkischen Regierung dafür einzutreten, dass die Grundlagen für die unbehinderte Weiterentwicklung der jüdischen Siedlung in Palästina geschaffen werden.’ 9 David Lloyd George, Memories of the Peace Conference, Vol. 2, p.726, quoted by Ran Merom in R.S.Wistrich (ed.) The Left against Zion (Vallentine Mitchell, London, 1979), p. 16. 10 23 May 1939. Winston Churchill in the House of Commons, Parliamentary Debates, Vol. 347, Nos. 107 and 108. 11 J.M.N.Jeffries, The Palestine Deception ‘Daily Mail’ Inquiry on the Spot (Alabastor, Passmore & Sons, London, 1923) p.16. 12 B.Wasserstein, Britain and the Jews of Europe 1939–1945, (Clarendon, Press, Oxford, 1979), p. 3. 13 Conjoint Committee of the Board of Deputies and the Anglo-Jewish Association. 14 CO 733/248. The second part of this passus from the Balfour Declaration was interpreted by Chief Rabbi J.H.Hertz to be a secular translation of Leviticus 19, 33/34: ‘And if a stranger sojourn with thee in your land, ye shall not vex him, But the stranger that dwelleth with you shall be unto you as one born unto you and thou shalt love him as thyself.’ 15 Cmd 1708 dated 1922 made this change to lower case for national home very clear. 16 FO 800/214. Curzon’s memo of 16 November 1917. ‘We pledged ourselves, if successful, to secure Palestine as a national home for the Jewish people.’ First recorded use of lower case a, n and h in this context. 17 FO 800/215. Private note of warning from Curzon to Balfour, 16 January 1919. 18 4 July 1922. The Rt. Hon. Winston S.Churchill in the Supply Committee of the Commons. Hansard, Fifth Series, Volume 156, Column 328 Period from Monday 3 July, to Friday 21 July. 13 George V, published 1922. Notes 293
  • 19 B.Wasserstein, The British in Palestine, The Mandatory Government and the Arab-Jewish Conflict, 1917–29 (Basil Blackwell, Oxford, 1991) p. 10. 20 Ibid. 21 See, for example, the 1917 correspondence and undertakings of Sir Henry McMahon, British High Commissioner in Egypt, with Feisal, Shereef of the Hedjaz. 22 21 May 1930. Cmd 3582. Lord Passfield, Secretary of State for the Colonies to the High Commissioner for Palestine. 23 Ibid., p. 7. 24 See p. 00 about illegal immigration of Arabs. 25 FO 371/4882. 6 May 1937. Letter from Ormsby-Gore to Duff Cooper. 26 See illustration of the General Service Palestine Medal, Figure 10. 27 The word ‘appeasement’ has been lent a disparaging and discredited connotation by contemporary historians, it is used here as a description of a policy aimed at the preservation of peace and avoidance of bloodshed. 28 Even in 1937, 123 out of 157 candidates accepted for the Colonial Service were Oxford or Cambridge graduates. R.Heussler, Yesterday’s Rulers pp. 35, 50, 65 and 90 as quoted in B.Wasserstein, The British in Palestine, p. 11. 29 ‘Noi non possiamo favorire questo movimento. Non potremo impedire gli Ebrei di andare a Gerusalemme—ma favorire non possiamo mai. La terra di Gerusalemme se non era sempre santa, è santificata per la vita di Jesu Christo. Io come capo della chiesa non posso dirle altra cosa. Gli Ebrei non hanno riconosciuto nostro Signore, perció non possiamo riconoscere il popolo ebreo.’ Pius X in an audience, 25 January 1904. ‘Non possumus’. (‘We cannot’) [support Zionism], in Raphael Patai, The Diaries of Theodor Herzl (trans. Harry Zohn), Herzl Press, New York, 1960), p. 1605; and in Sergio I.Minerbi, The Vatican and Zionism (Oxford University Press, Oxford & New York, 1990), p. xiii. 30 Avner Falk, Herzl King of the Jews, A Psychoanalytic Biography of Theodor Herzl, University Press of America, Lanham, New York, London, 1993, p. 545. 31 Papal Allocution (a formal address of the Pope to the Cardinals) dated 14 June 1921. 32 Dedaratio de ecclesiae habitudine ad religiones non-christianas, for the sake of brevity referred to as Nostra aetate (our period of life). S.Schmidt, Augustin Bea the Cardinal of Unity, (New City Press, New Rochelle, NY, 1982), p. 500. 33 Ibid., p. 516. 34 As late as 1987 St Hugh of Lincoln (Little St Hugh), whose death in 1255 was supposed to have been the result of ritual murder, remained firmly in the calendar of Saints, Oxford Dictionary of Saints, see also The Prioress Tale in Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales. 35 B.Wasserstein, The British in Palestine, p. 11. 36 Volume 1 of Yehoshua Porath’s The Emergence of the Palestinian—Arab National Movement (Frank Cass, London, 1974) is probably the best source on the early Arab opposition to Zionism. 37 B.Wasserstein, The British in Palestine, p. 3. 38 Ibid., p. 16. 39 R.Crossman, Palestine Mission, A Personal Record (Hamish Hamilton, London, 1947), p. 61. 40 Call to the Labour government, as recorded in the Report of the National Executive Committee of the 45th Annual Conference held in the Pavilion, Bournemouth, 10–14 June 1946. 41 Quoted from Arthur Greenwood’s speech at the Labour Conference, May 1944. 42 Victor Mishcon (British Democratic Labour Party) in seconding the Chairman’s 45th Labour Conference Resolution. 43 Quoted from Dr Dalton’s Labour Conference speech, 1945. 44 K.Harris, Attlee. p. 390. 45 CO 733/426/75872/85. See footnotes 73 and 74 for details. Notes 294
  • 46 A.Bullock, Ernest Bevin, Foreign Secretary, 1945–1951, (Heinemann, London, 1983), pp. 272–8. 47 See for example Peter Grose, Israel in the Mind of America (Knopf, New York, 1983), pp. 70–1. 48 28 October 1946. Message from President Truman to the King of Saudi Arabia concerning Palestine. Wayne C.Grover, and Bernhard L.Boitin, The Public Papers of the President of the United States from 1 January 1946 to 31 December 1946, United States Government Printing Office, Washington, 1962, pp. 467–9. 49 Ibid. President Truman’s message to the King of Saudi Arabia pleading for the King’s agreement to further Jewish immigration into Palestine. 50 Richard Crossman Palestine Mission, p. 42. 51 Ibid. 52 A.H.Sherman, Mandate Days, British Lives in Palestine (Thames & Hudson, London, 1997), p. 16. 53 Ibid. 54 Ibid. Sir Michael Hogan, quoted in Hadara Lazar, Hamandatorim: Eretz Yisrael 1940–1948, (Hebrew) (Keter Publishing, Jerusalem 1990), p. 86. 55 Owen Tweedy, quoted in Evyathar Friesel, ‘Through a Peculiar Lens’, Journal of Middle Eastern Studies, Vol. 29, No. 3, July 1993, p. 424. 56 A.H.Sherman, Mandate Days, p. 30. 57 The Jews had become even more powerful as donors to the political parties than voters. Approximately 50 per cent of Democratic funding and 20 per cent of Republican funding derived from Jewish donors. 58 M.J.Cohen, Truman and Israel, University of California Press, Berkeley, Los Angeles, CA, Oxford, 1990, p. 48. 59 Ibid., p. 60. 60 Ibid., p. 61. 61 Ibid., p. 60. 62 Richard Crossman, Palestine Mission, p. 66. 63 CO 537/1783, p. 100. 20 September 1947. Letter from High Commissioner A. Cunningham to G.H.Hall, S of S for the Colonies. 64 Ibid. 65 Z.Hadari and Z.Tsahor, Voyage to Freedom, p. 55. 66 Richard Crossman, Palestine Mission, p. 88. 67 A.Shapira, Land and Power Oxford University Press, Oxford, 1992, p. 159. 68 Ibid. 69 Lt General Bols had to deal with M.Ussishkin (Vice President of the Zionist Commission), who had threatened Bols with Jewish self-defence if in future the British police or army again proved unable or unwilling to protect Jewish lives and property. 70 J.M.N.Jeffries, The Palestine Deception, pp. 52–5. 71 Mere administrators like General Money or Sir Louis Bols could not comprehend that Hebrew, spoken by less than 10 per cent of the population should be accepted as an official language. 72 Article 22 of the Mandate for Palestine as defined and approved by the League of Nations came into force on 24 July 1922 with replacement of the military government by the first (Jewish) High Commissioner, Herbert Samuel. Article 22 read: ‘English, Arabic and Hebrew shall be the official languages of Palestine ’. 73 The Reverend James Parkes, Whose Land (Penguin, Harmondsworth, 1970), pp. 210–12. 74 Hope Simpson Report p. 126—Sir John Hope Simpson, Palestine Report on Immigration, Land Settlement and Development, Command 3686, 1930. 75 Report by his Britannic Majesty’s Government to the Council of the League of Nations on the Administration of Palestine and Transjordan for the year 1934, Colonial No. 104, p. 34. Notes 295
  • 76 Ibid., pp 280–2. 77 Ibid., p. 291. 78 A report to this effect is also found in the League of Nations Permanent Mandates Commission, Minutes of the 27th session, 1935. Doc. No. C. 251. M.123.1935.VI. 79 J.Peters, From Time Immemorial (Michael Joseph, London, 1984), pp. 318–19 80 Hansard Official Reports, Fifth Series, Parliamentary Debates, Commons 1946–1947, Vol. [438], 3 June to 20 June 1946. The High Commissioner’s reply is announced in Vol. [442] col. 113. 81 Department of Migration. Report for the year 1934, p. 28; report for the year 1935, pp. 13– 19. Also quoted by Joan Peters, From Time Immemorial, p. 318. 82 Hope Simpson Report, p. 138. 83 Yehoshua Porath, Emergence of the Palestinian-Arab National Movement, Vol. 1, p. 47. 84 Walter Reich in The Atlantic (July 1984), Bernard Gwertzman in the New York Times (12 May 1984) and Daniel Pipes in Commentary (July 1984) and many others were favourable. 85 E.C.Corrigan, review of Joan Peters, From Time Immemorial: Definitive Study or Transparent Fraud?, American Arab Affairs, 18 (1986), p. 78. 86 Sir Ian Gilmour called Ms J.Peters’ book ‘Preposterous’ in Arab Studies Quarterly (Spring- Summer 1985), pp. 181–95. 87 ‘The impression you get is of one team of experts tossing file cards into large file folders and another team pasting them on to more or less consecutive pages ’ (quoted from E.C.Corrigan, review of J.Peters, From Time Immemorial, p. 79.). 88 London Review of Books (7 July 1985). 89 Davar, ‘Jelidej Haaretz o Bnej Huz Laaretz’ (Born in Palestine or Immigrants), 3 October 1937, p. 4. 90 Jitzhak Ben Zwi to Moshe Shertok. From Daf meha Slick, (Pages from the Cache, 4 September 1940, Hebrew), pp. 31–2. 91 Much of the background to the arguments for the correspondence for the relative recent origins of many Palestinian Arabs is based loosely on supplementary chapter 5, pp 29–33 of an article by S.Salomon in the Hebrew quarterly Daf meha Slick (Pages from the Cache), issued by the History of the Haganah archive, No. 9–10, December 2001. 92 Report of the Mandates Commission at the League of Nations, C. 330. M.222. 1937. VI. p. 228. 93 Introduction to Cmd 5479, a Report on the 1936 disturbances. 94 Sir John Hope-Simpson, Vice Chairman of the Refugee Settlement Commission in Greece on behalf of the League of Nations. 95 CAB 51/11, ME(O) 292. 24 January 1939. CID sub-committee report. 96 14 February 1939. Round-table conference at St James’s Palace, London. 97 M.J.Cohen, ‘British Strategy in the Middle East and the Palestine Question 1936–39’, Journal of Contempomry History, No. 3–4 (1972), p. 173. 98 Ibid., p.167. 99 Cmd 6019. Palestine: Statement of Policy, London, 1939. 100 CO/733/426. 11 January 1940. Memorandum from H.F.Downie to Sir John E.Shuckburgh. The words ‘Rutenberg Concession’ refer to the virtual monopoly for the supply of electricity throughout Palestine, granted to the Zionist Jew Pinchas Rutenberg in 1922. 101 23 May 1939. House of Commons, Parliamentary Debates, Vol. 347, Nos. 107–108. 102 Haim Weizmann, pleading the case for partition, in a speech at the 20th Zionist Congress. Zurich 4 August 1937. 103 14 February 1947. Ben Gurion to Weizmann, four days before Bevin’s declaration that the Palestine issue was to be handed over to the United Nations. 104 21 July 1946 Weizmann to Chief Rabbi Herzog, following operation ‘Agatha’ (29 June 1946), which involved the physical occupation of the Jewish Agency offices and the detention of its leaders. Notes 296
  • 105 CO 733/426, 6 November 1940. Memorandum from H.F.Downie to Sir John E.Shuckburgh. 106 CO 733/426 contains many documents of the 1939–40 period. It was one of the darkest periods of the Second World War, but many of the letters in CO 733/426 reveal an unethical abandonment of obligations and blatant attempts to pander for Iraq, Egypt etc., countries which subsequently proved to be militarily insignificant. 107 J.H.Moore (ed.) The Amb-Israeli Conflict, Vol. 3 (Documents), (1974), pp. 222–4, Jewish Agency Book of Documents pp. 140–51. 108 COS sub-committee report 16 January 1939, CP7, CAB 24/282 pp. 182–3. 109 FO 371/21881, E5726/10/31, 30 August 1938. Charles B.Bateman, British Embassy in Alexandria, to Sir Lancelot Oliphant, FO. 110 FO 371/21868, 2 December 1938. Memorandum from H.F.Downey. 111 FO 371/21869, 19 December 1938. FO minute. 112 Ibid. 113 M.J.Cohen, ‘Appeasement in the Middle East’, Historical Journal, Vol. 16, No. 3 (1973), p. 581. 114 The terms of the White Paper were published 17 May 1939. In the Commons debate on the new policy the normal government majority of 230 was reduced to 89. 115 FO 371/23234, 20 April 1939. Chamberlain in the minutes of a meeting. 116 FO 371/24566, 3 June 1940. Bagallay minute. 117 Yossi Harel (Hamburger) The Fight of Knesset Israel (Lohita), in Book of the Palmach, Vol. 1. pp. 691–2 as quoted by A.Halamish ‘Illegal Immigration: Values, myths and Realities’, Studies in Zionism, Vol. 9, No. 1 (1988), p. 54. 118 N.Livyathan, Chaim Arlosoroff, pp. 692–4 as quoted by A.Halamish, in ‘Illegal Immigration’, p. 55. 119 For the ill-feeling between the ‘Palmachniks’ and the ‘Zionist Emissaries’ on the IJI ships see p. 5 of Rotem’s highly critical oral history report dictated by Israel Rosenbaum-Rotem (‘Ben Jitzhak’) on the luggage carried by the ‘Zionists’ and on their alleged ‘empire- building’ while abroad. 120 John Marlowe, The Seat of Pilate: an Account of the Palestine Mandate (Cresset Press, London, 1959), p. 171. 121 Christopher Sykes, Cross Roads to Israel, (Collin, London, 1965), pp. 271–2. 122 FO 371/61822. Aug 1947. Recommendations for action on Jewish Illegal Immigrants, made during the President Warfield ‘refoulement’. 123 See Chapter 10, footnote 1. 124 FO 371/21881. From Brigadier Glubb’s undated and, unsigned ‘A Note on Partition as a Solution of the Palestine Problem’ (1946). 3 The British preoccupation with the perceived danger of communist infiltration and subversion 1 FO 371/25239. Memorandum dated 5 February 1940 from J.E.M.Carvell FO. 2 CO 733/449/34. Memorandum dated 23 December 1941 from from S.E.V. Luke. 3 House of Lords debate, Lords Davies, Viscount Cranborne, S of S for the Colonies, the Rt. Hon. Arthur Creech Jones, Lord Wedgwood. 4 CO 733/449/34, 24 December 1941. Memorandum from Lord Moyne to Richard Law, MP. 5 Ibid. Notes 297
  • 6 FO 371/25239, 5 February 1940. Proposal made by J.E.M.Carvell for the concurrence of Lord Halifax, outlining the constitutional pros and cons for removing the matter of IJI prevention from the courts and putting it into the hands of an executive authority. 7 FO 371/25239. Registry No. W 2789/38/48. R.R.Colton reporting on the Sakaria. 8 FO 371/25239. Letter dated 14 February 1940 from MacDonald to Halifax. 9 FO 371/24097, 18 December 1939, Registry No. 18793/1369/48. Sir Knatchbull-Hugessen (Ankara) to the Eastern Department of the FO. 10 Ibid., 20 December 1939. Hand-written draft FO minute. 11 CO 733/449, 29 April 1941. Minutes by J.S.Bennett, FO to Sir J.E.Shuckburgh CO, Sir C.Parkinson, M.Boyd etc. 12 Ibid. 13 FO 371/29160W 188, 14 January 1941. Thomas Snow (formerly ambassador to Finland) to Downie. 14 CO 733/445/7602/41. 7 August 1941. Downie to McPherson (General Secretary of the Palestine administration) and McPherson’s reply, 7 August 1941. 15 R.S.Wistrich (ed.) The Left Against Zion (Vallentine Mitchell, London 1979), p. 54. 16 Ibid., p. vii. 17 Ibid., pp. 58–9. 18 S.M.Rubenstein, The Communist Movement in Palestine and Israel 1919–1984 (Westview Press, Boulder, CO, and London, 1985), p. 287. (But the IZL was disbanded on 1 June 1948). 19 The Stern Gang (Lehi) did in fact make approaches to the Soviet Union and other Eastern bloc countries, meeting with a Bulgarian Communist delegation in 1947, but these contacts did not lead to any co-operation. Lehi was disbanded in May 1948 and outlawed in September 1948. 20 Mapai was the mainstream Eretz Israeli (later Israeli) Labour party. 21 Professor Yoav Gelber, Lamah Pirku et Hapalmach? (Why had the Palmach been Disbanded?) (Jerusalem/Tel Aviv, Schocken, 1986 (Hebrew)), pp. 266–8. 22 Ibid. 23 MIR No. 4 dated 10 May 1946, April 1946 report. 24 FO 371/61832. 2 December 1947. Letter 349/311/47 from Chancery, British Legation, Bucharest to FO, Eastern Department. 25 From a background article on Palestine Affairs ‘The Russians and Palestine’, in The Economist May 1947. 26 See an article by General Safwat Pasha, Commander of the Palestine Liberation Army in Al- Ahram, 23 March 1948. 27 FO 371/61855, 29 Dec 1947. Telegram Cypher OTP. Sarell, Bucarest to FO. 28 Report on the arrival of the Northland signed Captain Linklater of 317 Field Security Section, 3 October 1947. 29 According to oral testimonies Captain Linklater had been turned by the Mossad. 30 FO 371/61854. 1 December 1947. Letter 172/97/47 from British Embassy Moscow to FO Eastern Department. 31 Ibid. 32 Mr J.C.Roberts (MI5), the UK Political Representative with the Romanian government (there was no Peace Treaty between the UK and Romania yet, therefore there existed only a Commission of Political Representatives), tried to gain the support of the Russian Foreign Minister Vyschinsky. 33 FO 371/61824. Telegram from Mr Roberts, Moscow, to FO, copying text of letter delivered 26 August 1947 to Soviet Foreign Minister Vyshinsky. 34 FO 371/61824. 28 August 1947. Telegram No 1926, Mr Roberts, Moscow to FO. 35 Captain Linklater’s FS Section Report JPTL/BNH dated 3 October 1947. Notes 298
  • 36 The Jewish passengers were transhipped 2 October 1947. Captain Linklater’s report JPTL/BNH dated 3 October 1947 from Stella Maris. Stella Maris is an old Carmelite convent on the Carmel above Haifa, then and now it is an important naval command centre. 37 Captain Linklater was correct on this point at least; no immigrant was allowed to embark at a Russian-controlled Romanian or Bulgarian port without Soviet Security Service (NKVD) clearance, neither could ships depart from such ports as Varna, Sulina or Constanza, unless permission had been sought and given by the communist authorities. 38 FO 371 61832, 22 September 1947. Telegram, C-in-C MELF to War Office. The importance lent to such (non-) news can be gauged by the distribution to CIGS, VCIGS, DMO, DMI, FO, CO, Admiralty (Mr Dodds) and so on. 39 Another report by Captain Linklater’s 317 AB Intelligence Unit, 11 February 1947. 40 ADM 1 08372. Cable, 9 January 1948. 41 All reports on IJI vessels quoted here emanate from Captain Linklater’s Intelligence unit FS 317, which was part of the 6th AB Division. In 1946–7 some regiments of the 6th AB Division formed part of the Palestine garrison. The FS 317 Intelligence Unit was usually out- manoeuvred by the Zionist Intelligence units. 42 FO 371/61855, 2 December 1947. Report on Albertina (Alyah), A.J.Fforde, CID HQ, PP, to Chief Secretary of Palestine government, Jerusalem. 43 J.M.Hochstein, The Jews’ Secret Fleet (Gefen Publishing, Jerusalem, 1987), p. 154. 44 R.S.Wistrich, The Left Against Zion (Vallentine Mitchell, London 1979), p. 16. 45 David Lloyd George of Dwyfur, Memories of the Peace Conference, Vol. 2 (New Haven CT, Yale University Press, 1939), p. 726. 46 These were two very left-wing pro-Soviet, theoretically Marxist rather than Stalinist parties, but they were mainly free from Soviet control. The two parties amalgamated in January 1948 to found the Mapam. They exerted decisive leftist influence over the Palmach and its Paljam regiment. (The Paljam was the equivalent of Britain’s Special Boat Services and engaged in illegal immigration and marine sabotage operations.) 47 ADM 205/172, 27 January 1949. CNS to First Sea Lord (Chief of Naval Staff). 48 ADM 205/172, 9 February 1949. Letter from E.Whorpley Cook, DNI, to First Sea Lord. 49 ADM 205/172, 7 September 1949. Admiral Power to First Sea Lord. 50 Ibid. 51 Ibid. 52 FO 371/61854, 17 December 1947. Telegram No. 1526, Mr Holman, Bucharest to FO and repeated to Washington. 53 FO 371/61816, 12 August 1947. FO Telegram No. 39 to Tunis, 107 to Rome and repeated to C-in-C Med. and so on, also FO 371/61821 Telegram No. 16, 12 August 1947, FO to Bilbao for passing with safe hands to HM Consul at San Sebastian. 54 FO 371/61821. 1 August 1947. Letter 452–47(S/3), British Consulate San Sebastian to Chancery, British Embassy Madrid and FO 371/61821, FO telegram No. 16, 12 August 1947, to Bilbao. 55 FO 371/61832, 22 November 1947. Telegram DTO 211930B November, GI/31730, C-in-C MELF GOC Palestine and Transjordan. It was deemed important enough to send copies to FO (I.P.Garran), CO (Trafford Smith), Admiralty (Dodds), CIGS, VCIGS, DMO and DMI. 56 Ze’ev Hadari, Voyage to Freedom, pp. 186–7. 57 Captain Linklater’s report AHH, 14/275, 2 January 1948. 58 See Newsweek 23 February 1948. Notes 299
  • 4 Britain’s fight against the sources of illegal immigration beyond the borders of Palestine and her confrontation with the financial, logistic and moral supporters in Europe and North America 1 N.Bogner, The Resistance Boats (Sefinot Hameri) (Hebrew) (Ministry of Defence Publications, Jerusalem, 1993), p. 20. 2 Z.Hadari. Second Exodus (Vallentine Mitchell, London 1991), p. 124. 3 WO 170/7802, 23 April 1946. Secret and Personal letter GBI-389.510/43/2, Major C.J.H.Foulkes of General GHQ, CMF, GSI to Major G.Curry GSI, HQ 3 District, CMF. 4 WO 170/7802, 6 May 1945. Letter from Captain R.T.White 38 FSS at Bari to Capitano Losacco, Head of Bari Security Section and Capitano Fienga, Port Commander, Bari. 5 FO 371/52628. Letter dated 14 August 1946 from the Political Division at the British Element of the Allied Commission for Austria CMF to the FO’s Eastern Department. 6 WO 170/7802, 26 June 1946. A typical example is letter 7007 from Maggiore capo centro (Major, Head of the Security Centre, Naples) which informs the command of the 3rd (Army) district in Naples that the Beauharnois (Wedgwood) had not yet been sighted by the Straits of Messina signal station and that the Fede had left Cagliari in May 1946 with a load of salt for Genoa. 7 PRO FO 371/60786. Communiqué issued 4 November 1946 by the Supreme Command of the IZL. 8 PRO FO 371/60786. Telegram from De Gasperi to Prime Minister Clement Attlee, 1 November 1946. 9 PRO FO 371/60786. OTP telegram No. 1652 dated 5 November 1946 from N. Charles, Rome, to FO and repeated to UN, Jerusalem, Cairo etc. 10 Public Record Office document FO371/60786. Telegram Cypher/OTP, Departmental No. 2, from the British Ambassador in Rome, Sir Noel Charles to the Foreign Office with copies to the United Kingdom Delegation to Council of Foreign Ministers (New York), to Washington, Cairo and Caserta. 11 In Hebrew, literally ‘flight’, which referred to two things: one was the mass movement itself and the other the name of the organisation that was behind most, but by no means all of this migratory movement. Yehuda Bauer, Flight and Rescue: Brichah (Random House, New York, 1970), p. vii. 12 Mario Toscano, ‘La Politica italiana verso l’immigrazione clandestina ebraica in Palestina nel primo semestre del 1947’ (‘The Italian politics towards illegal Jewish immigration into Palestine during the first six months of 1947’), Storia Contemporanea, Vol. 20, No. 5, October 1989, p. 758. 13 Hachsharot (sing. Hachshara) were Zionist agricultural training camps in the diaspora. 14 The American Joint Distribution Committee (AJDC) was the chief American agency for aid to Jews overseas. It was heavily involved in financing illegal immigration. 15 See the article ‘Importante colloquio con l’on. De Gasperi’ in the Italian-Jewish weekly journal, Israel, 27 March 1947. At the time De Gasperi was President of Italy, Count Sforza was Minister for Foreign Affairs. 16 See Telegram 2719, 13 March 1947, Italian political representative in Austria to Foreign Minister Zoppi reporting ‘tens of thousands of Jews awaiting a suitable moment to pour illegally into our territory’. 17 Si tratta per la massima parte di Israeliti che non possono, a tre anni di distanza dalla fine delle ostilità, considerarsi alla stregua delle [‘displaced persons’] in quanto si tratta invece di persone che abandonano ora, senza esservi costrette da alcuno, e quindi liberalmente e Notes 300
  • spontaneamente, i paesi nei quali si trovano, e si trasferiscono in Italia, al solo scopo di emigrare in Palestina. Talune di esse abandonano clandestinamente i campi di assistenza dell’UNRRA in Austria e Germania. Esse sono indotte a tale passo anche dalla sicurezza che, una volta giunte in Italia, sono assistite dall’UNRRA. Occorrerebbe quindi che quest’ultima si astenesse da tale assistenza in sostanza ci troviamo non di fronte a persone perseguitate, o deportate, o spostate per causa della guerra, ma di un fenomeno di spontanea migrazione verso la Palestina, che l’assistenza dell’UNRRA involontariamente favorisce e acuisce. 18 See also the section in this book describing the violent interception of the Guardian, pp. 209–19. 19 Letter dated 1 April 1947 with enclosures by the British Political Representative in Rome Sir Charles Noel KCMG to the Italian Minister for Foreign Affairs, Count Sforza. (In the absence of a ratified Peace Treaty between the UK and Italy, Sir Charles was only a ‘Political Representative’.) 20 ADM1/20779, 28 March 1946. Disposal of craft. Captain R.H.D.Olivier RN confirmed that LCTs 136 and 147 were part of a batch transferred 24 February 1946 to the Italian Navy. See also FO 371/61827, 19 September 1947, Weekly report ‘Suspect Shipping’ No. 20. 21 Ibid. 22 FO 371/61805, Letter M59733/47 G.C.B.Dodds, Adm. to J.G.S.Beith, FO dated 15 April 1947. 23 Ibid. 24 Ibid. 25 Ibid. 26 See note 19. 27 Despatch 11/21 RP from the Legione Territoriale dei Carabinieri di Bari, Compagnia di Matera to the Ministry of the Interior. See also periodical Israel, 17 April 1947. 28 Letter 37/45/47, 1 April 1947. N.Charles, British Ambassador in Rome, to Foreign Minister C.Sforza with allegations regarding the ‘Italian schooner Susannah and the landing craft LCT 256’. See also an article in the Avanti of Rome, reporting on diplomatic notes sent to the French and Italian governments regarding the control of illegal immigration from their ports and harbours. 29 Telegram 11153/141 dated 9 April 1947 from Fransoni (General Secretary of the Italian Foreign Office) to the Italian embassy in Washington. 30 Memorandum 325/3/47, 2 May 1947. Sir Noel Charles to Carlo Sforza and letter 37/70/47, annotated ‘Urgent’ dated 3 May 1947 from Charles to Sforza. 31 ‘potrebbe cogliere questa occasione di disporre contra una ripetizione di un tale incidente, almeno a questo punto della costa!’ (you could have taken this opportunity to ensure prevention of another incident of this sort, at least at this point of the coast!). 32 As a comparison of secret agents employed in the struggle for and against IJI: At the end of the Second World War the Mossad had 25 emissaries in 13 countries, an additional 30 agents were despatched to Europe in due course. (Z.Hadari, Operational Logbook p. 15). 33 In its Saturday/Sunday issue (10 and 11 May 1947) the paper Avanti printed in Rome, carried an article headlined ‘Nave carica di criminali pronta a salpare da un porto italiano, segnalisata dagli Inglesi e Fascisti, con ebrei agli imbarchi clandestini’ (‘A ship carrying criminals together with illegal Jewish immigrants, has been reported by the British and by the Fascists as being ready to sail from an Italian port’). 34 Il messagero di Roma, reporting one hour before II Messagero, La Voce Repubblicana and l’Unita, also published articles in their Saturday/Sunday issues (10–11 May 1947) under the headings ‘Un intero piroscafo allestito per mettere in salvo criminali di guerra e delinquenti’. ‘Non uno ma piu piroscafi clandestine segnalati al largo della riviera di Genova’; (‘Not Only One but Several Illegal Ships are Reported at Large on the Coast of Genoa’); ‘Tra le maglie dell’ Intelligence Service Filtrano gli emigranti clandestini ebrei’ (‘The Illegal Jewish Notes 301
  • Immigrants Slip Through the Nets of the Intelligence Service’). And Il Secolo XIX reports on 11 May 1947: ‘Nella note gli Israeliti s’ imbarcano’ (‘The Jews Embark at Night’). (The 10th and 11th May had been a Saturday-Sunday weekend, therefore some papers printed a weekend copy). 35 12 May 1947, note from Zoppi to Legation Councillor Zamboni. 36 Archivo Centrale dello Stato, File (busta) ACS Min. Int. D.G. P.S. AA.GG.RR., A 16 b, 4 f 3. Telegrams 16870 and 16983 dated 12 and 13 May 1947 from the questor (Police Superintendent) of Bari to the Ministry of the Interior. 37 Ibid. Report 04437, 6 June 1947. Prefetto di Bari (Prefect of Bari) to the Minister of the Interior. 38 See for example R.Bernardini’s articles of 16 and 22 May 1947 in La Repubblica Italiana under the headlines ‘Secret Hebrew Embarkations for Palestine’ and ‘They Leave From Puglia for Palestine’. 39 ASMAE (Archivo di Stato Ministero degli Affari Esteri—State Archives Foreign Ministry) A.P.Italia, b. (busta—file) 114. Records of telephone conversations 3865 and 3877, dated 9 and 10 May 1947 respectively, between the capo gabinetto (Chief Officer) at the Ministry of the Merchant Marine and the Foreign Minister, which refer to protests of the ship’s captain and suggested contacting the British Ambassador before sending new instructions to the captaincy of the port of La Spezia. 40 Letter 325/26/47, 11 May 1947. Sir Noel Charles to Foreign Minister Carlo Sforza marked ‘Immediate and Secret’. In the same letter Charles demanded from Sforza the embarkation of Italian observers with every suspect vessel departing from Italian waters. 41 ASMAE, A.P.Italia, b. 114. Letter from the Ministry for Foreign Affairs to Ward dated 15 May 1947. 42 ASMAE, A.P.Italia, b. 114. Telegram 241 from Sforza to the Italian embassy in London. 43 ASMAE, A.P.Italia, b. 114, Letter 325/47/47 dated 17 May 1947 from Charles to Fransoni marked ‘Confidential’. 44 ASMAE, A.P.Italia, b. 114, (letter 325/117/47) from Charles to Fransoni asking him for his comments, why the Anal, after being correctly reported by the British, was allowed to leave Palermo with enough fuel to reach Tunisia. (The Anal was intercepted on 31 May off Haifa with passengers probably embarked at Algiers.) 45 ASMAE, A.P.Italia, b. 114, letter dated 30 May 1947 marked ‘Secret and Personal’ from Ward to Zoppi. 46 ASMAE, A.P.Italia, b. 113. Report from headquarters of police to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, dated 15 July 1947, referring to illegal immigration into Italy. The report also quotes an observation from the Prefect of Bolzano in his report 7788 dated 8 June and originally addressed to the Ministry of the Interior, that the involvement of the joint in the illegal immigration ‘is becoming ever clearer and more damaging’. 47 ASMAE, A.P.Italia, b. 113. Telegram 14153, 6 May 1947. Ministry for Foreign Affairs to the Italian Delegation (Rappresentanza) in Vienna; Telegram 149, 21 June 1947. Zoppi to the Italian Delegation in Vienna and telegram 210, 22 June 1947, Italian Delegation in Vienna to the Ministry for Foreign Affairs. 48 On 24 May 1947 Il Momento published an article ‘La strada per la Palestina passa attraverso il Brennero’ (‘The Road to Palestine Passes Over the Brenner Pass’); on 7 June the Alto Adige carried an article with the headline ‘Un’altra colonna di clandestini è stata bloccata alla stazione di Silandro’. (‘Another Column of Illegals has been Halted at Silandro Station). 49 ASMAE b.0113, 3 June 1947. Letter marked ‘Secret’ from Charles to Minister C.Sforza on the subject of illegal immigration. 50 ASMAE, A.P.Italia, b. 113. Telegram 17958/C from the Foreign Ministry to the Warsaw embassy and to the legations in Vienna and Prague. Notes 302
  • 51 ASMAE, A.P.Italia, b. 113, 08 July 1947. Confidential letter 37/146/47, N. Charles to C.Sforza and letter E 5001/48/G, 27 June 1947, marked ‘Confidential and Personal’ E.Bevin to C.Sforza. 52 ADM1/19560, 23 June 1946. Lieutenant Commander Crabb was Head of the Allied Navies’ Experimental Station in San Andrea, Venice, which dealt with development of Italian Naval Commando Technology and mine warfare. 53 ASMAE. A.P.Italia b.114. Restricted communications 21891/R.C. and 27978, 12 July and 15 September 1947, from the commander of Genoa port (capitaneria di porto). 54 ASMAE. A.P.Italia, b. 114, 17 July 1947. Letter from the British embassy to the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs marked ‘Secret’. 55 ASMAE. A.P.Italia, b. 114. A Secret Verbal Note is an unsigned document containing a summary of conversations, or of events and the like (similar to an aide-memoire, it is a written summary to a diplomatic document) N.V. No. 498/325/218/47, 29 August 1947. British Embassy, Rome, to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. 56 Typical of articles published by the contemporary Italian press were L’Italia Socialista with ‘Fame e miseria a Port de Bouc’, (‘Hunger and Misery at Port de Bouc’), 1 Aug by G.Cassini, in La Repubblica d’Italia with ‘Il dramma dell’Exodus’, (‘The Drama of the Exodus’), 7 Aug by L.Blum in Il Tempo with ‘Navi maledetti’, (Cursed Ships), an article based on data collected by the Daily Mail of London and many more. 57 ASMAE, A.P.Italia b. 113, 29 July 1947. Letter 11/24018/363 marked ‘Confidential— Personal’ from C.Sforza to E.Bevin and letter 11/24019/364 from Sforza to N.Charles. 58 Mario Toscano, ‘La Politica Italiana verso l’immigrazione ebraica in Palestina’ nel primo semestre del 1947 (‘Italian Policy toward clandestine Jewish immigration in Palestine in the first six months of 1947’), Storia Contemporanea Vol. 20, No. 5, October, 1989, p. 801. 59 WO 170/7802, 21 February 1946. Letter from Captain E.A.Bennett (Napoli) GSO III (I) to Captain R.White, Commanding 38 FSS (Bari). 60 Article 1101, Embarking arms, ammunition or persons for a criminal purpose; Article 1216, Unauthorised navigation (employing a ship not authorised for navigation or without the necessary documents proving seaworthiness); Article 1224, Excessive embarkation of passengers, (regulations regarding the maximum number of persons allowed aboard). No. 165 Official Gazette No. 136, 27 July 1934. 61 WO 170/7802, GBI-389.510/43/2, 9 February 1946. Memorandum marked ‘Secret and Personal’, Major C.J.H.Foulkes, GSI, GHQ, CMF, to Major G. Curry, GSI, HQ 3 District CMF (Naples). 62 WO 170/7802. Report dated 13 February 1946. marked ‘Top Secret and Personal’ from Captain R.T.White, 38 FSS to Major G.Curry, GSI 3 District) Naples). 63 FO 371/61849. Telegram No. 1865, 27 Sept 1947. Ward, Rome Embassy, also Minute by J.E Cable FO, 30 September 1947. 64 Ibid., 6 October 1947. Draft telegram by the Head of the FO’s Italian Section. 65 N.Bogner, The Resistance Boats, p. 20. MOD Publications, 1993. 66 A.J.Kochavi, ‘Britain and the Illegal Immigration from France following World War II’. Holocaust and Genocide Studies, Vol. 6, No. 4, 1991, p. 383. Pergamon Press, 1991. 67 See Z.Hadari, The Mos’ad le-Aliyah Bet (The Organisation for ‘Illegal’ Immigration) Operational Logbook—Paris 1947. 68 See Appendix III for encrypted names of IJI vessels and the Biographical Index for the noms de guerre of Mossad operatives. British or Britain was sometimes en claire but more frequently encrypted with the term of abuse hamenuvalim (the cads, or the bastards). 69 Z.Hadari, The Mosad le-Aliyah Bet, Operational Logbook, p. 12. 70 FO 371/61805, 23 April 1946. Letter from D.J.Sherr, MI5 to J.G.S.Beith, FO. Be’er Sheva, 1991. 71 FO 371/61804, 17 March 1947. Telegram No 435 (E2248/48/G), FO to the British embassy in Paris. Notes 303
  • 72 There is no record at all of a vessel called Archangelos having ever sailed with Illegal Jewish Refugees. This is unsurprising, as British Intelligence was frequently misled by the Mossad. In spite of diligent searches the author is only aware of two contemporary suspect ships with this name. The first became a British prize in 1940 in the Mediteranean, while laden with coconut-shell charcoal, monazite castor seed oil, that is, materials for high explosives! There is also no record of her having sailed as an IJI vessel, although she had been listed as a suspect ship. FO 371/61830/ Fortnightly Report No. 22.SF.215/Supp.BB.3.a/ES in Review No. 4. of suspect ships in port and at sea. In Nat. Arch. PRO ADM 116/5648 there is also the following note, which under the heading ILLEGAL IMMIGRATION may or may not be relevant: ‘Ships suspected of being concerned with an imminent plan for mass immigration of Jewish illegal immigrants into Palestine. Archentelos (Archangelos [?]). 5692 tons. Owning Country Greece. Arrived Marseilles 9 July 1946.’ 73 FO 371/61805, 24 April 1947. Letter from T.J.Teitgen to Duff Cooper. See also telegram No. 321 dated 25 April 1947 from Duff Cooper to FO. 74 Ibid., 29 April 1947. Draft FO telegram to British Embassy Paris. Signature illegible. 75 Ibid., 25 and 26 April 1947. Telegrams 324 and 327 from Paris Embassy to FO. 76 Ibid. 77 Ibid., 25 April 1947. Telegram 327 from Duff Cooper, Paris, to Creech Jones, FO. 78 FO 371/61808. Memorandum dated 28 May 1947 from J.G.S.Beith. 79 Beith, John, Guthrie, (Grenville), Stanley, CMG. Acting Councillor, First Secretary and Assistant Legal Adviser, FO. First Secretary in Washington 1946. Beith was appointed Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary at Tel Aviv in 1963. Approval of accredition seems rather surprising, considering his earlier consistent diligence, zeal and inspired hostility to the Zionist case. Beith had recommended mining Palestine waters which he stated would be perfectly within Britain’s right (FO 371/61809). 80 FO 371/61808. Memorandum dated 28 May 1947 from J.G.S.Beith. 81 Ibid. Handwitten note by M.Baxter dated 28 May 1947 appended to Mr Beith’s memo. 82 A.J.Kochavi, Britain and the Illegal Immigration, p. 391. 83 FO 371/61849, 6 October 1947. Telegram No. 940, Ashley Clark to FO. 84 FO 371/61808, 29 May 1947. Memorandum from J.G.S.Beith to Mr Butler. 85 FO 371/61822, The numbers of the telegrams and the main publicity points have been taken from the apologia handout dated 5 August and issued by Mr G.A.Crossley of the British embassy in Paris. 86 For one of the best explanations how President Warfield became the flagship of the illegal immigration and how the dramatic plot turned into a political affair see Aviva Halamish, The Exodus Affair: Holocaust Survivors and the Struggle for Palestine (Syracuse University Press, Syracuse, NY, 1998). 87 FO 371/61822. Circular No. 44 from Chancery dated 11 August 1947, published by Chancery, the British embassy in Paris to all British consular missions in France. 88 FO 371/61800, 23 January 1947. Telegram from Copenhagen to WO, FO and Stockholm. 89 FO 371/61800, 15 January 1947. Letter from British legation, Stockholm to Eastern Dept, FO. (Chancery is the political office of an embassy.) 90 FO 371/61800, 15 January 1947, Stockholm Chancery (The Embassy’s Political Office) wrote to Eastern Department Foreign Office (54/3/47—E 798) about the Embassy’s fruitless Notes 304
  • approaches and the reaction of Monsieur Engzell, the Head of Department in the Swedish Ministry of Foreign Affairs, who had been dealing with these matters. 91 FO 371/61800, 24 January 1947. Telegram from Stockholm to FO and Cabinet. 92 FO 371/61800, 27 January 1947. Minute from Beith to his FO colleague W.V.J.Evans for action, Higham of the CO, Ashley Clarke in Paris, Jerram in Stockholm for info. 93 Ibid. 94 Ibid. 95 FO 371/61800, 31 January 1947. Note from W.V.J.Evans to J.G.S.Beith. 96 Ibid. 97 FO 371/61822, 8 August 1947. Letter, J.Thyne Henderson to Ernest Bevin. 98 B.Litvinoff (ed.) The Letters and Papers of Chaim Weizmann, Vol. 21 (Transaction Books, New Brunswick, NJ, and Israel Universities Press, Jerusalem, 1979) pp. 128–9. 99 Ibid., pp. 143–4. 100 FO 371/61838, October 1946—January 1947. Correspondence between FO, Washington and Belgrade Missions on UNRRA involvement in the provisioning of IJI vessels. 101 WO 204/10092. A prohibited border zone with a depth of 20 kilometres and patrolled by mobile and static forces had been established. Uncontrolled movement of refugees and displaced person without a special permit was prohibited. 102 E.Avriel, Open the Gates! A Personal Story of Illegal Immigration to Israel (Weidenfeld & Nicolson, London, 1975), p. 16. 103 A.Abramovsky, pp. 14–15. 104 M.Shelah, Hakesher Hayugoslavi, Yugoslavia Vealiyah Beth 1938–1948 (Hebrew). (The Yugoslav Connection, Yugoslavia and the Illegal Jewish Immigration 1938–1948) (Am Oved, Tel Aviv, 1984), p. 156. 105 For one of many instances of British pressure on Yugoslavia see FO 371/52548, 1 August 1946, telegram No. 1194, FO to the Belgrade Embassy, marked Secret—Cypher— Important—Cabinet Distribution: ‘There are reports that illegal immigrants for Palestine are sailing from Yugoslav ports. Please make every effort to induce Yugoslav Government to prevent the embarkation and departure of such persons.’ 106 M.Shelah, The Yugoslav Connection, p. 161. Author’s conversation with Joshko Abraham. 107 FO 371/52628, 12 August 1946. Telegram Mr Clutton, British embassy Belgrade to FO, subject illegal frontier crossings into and from Yugoslavia. 108 Ibid. 109 FO 371/52628, 23 August 1946. FO Minutes initialed J.G.S.Beith, summarising replies received from some British missions in Europe on the subject of legislation to control the movement of people leaving their countries. 110 M.Shelah, The Yugoslav Connection, p. 173. Am Oved, Tel Aviv, 1990. 111 FO 371/61838, 27 January 1947. Letter from F/Lt. A.S.Price on behalf of Major RA. OC BCIS to SIME, GHQMELF, to the British Embassy in Athens and to DSO Palestine. 112 Ibid. 113 Ibid. Telegram No. 21, 6 January 1947. Belgrade Embassy to FO. 114 M.Shelah, The Yugoslav Connection, p. 192. Am Oved, Tel Aviv, 1990. 115 Ibid., pp. 192–3. 116 J.M.Hochstein and M.S.Greenfield, The Jews Secret Fleet, pp, xvii and 171. 117 FO 371/52628, 14 August 1946. Telegram, Lord Inverchapel to FO. 118 7 November 1945. FO telegram No 7445 from the Ambassador, the Earl of Halifax, to FO complaining of the President’s U-turn in objecting to the British phrase ‘or other countries outside Europe’. 119 FO 371/61800. From an advertisement which appeared in the New York Post, 29 April 1946. 120 New York Post, 22 July 1946. Notes 305
  • 121 In March 1947 there existed a rather nonsensical project to lend-lease a number of DC4 transport planes in order to ‘repatriate’ Jews from the US zone of Europe to secret makeshift landing fields in Palestine. Able-bodied men would have to be unloaded by parachute. Ex congressman Baldwin and Rabbi Baruch Korff’s ‘Exodus by Air’ was taken half-seriously by the Rt. Hon. Inverchapel and J.G.S.Beith of the FO. FO 371/61915. 122 FO 371/61800. (1946—exact date not recorded). Copy of proclamation announcing the inauguration of the AS & AVHR fund raising campaign. 123 FO 371/61805, 21 April 1947. Aide-memoire, Lord Inverchapel to Dean Acheson, Assistant United States Secretary of State, 1947. 124 Telegram from Lord Inverchapel to FO, 23 April 1947. 125 FO 371/61800, 8 January 1947. Letter ref. G.2/47, Lord Inverchapel to Secretary of State James F.Byrnes. 126 FO 371/61805, 21 April 1947. Aide memoire, Lord Inverchapel to Dean Acheson. 127 FO 371/6180802 June 1947. Memorandum by I.P.Garran for approval by FO, CO and MI5. 128 Ibid. 129 F.B.A.Rundall, FO, British Consul in New York, C.W.M.Baxter, Head of the Eastern department at the FO and I.P.Garran, also of the FO, were trying to ignore playwright Hecht’s anti-British tirades, and they were supported in this attitude by Neville Montague Butler, an Assistant Under-Secretary of State at the FO, who confirmed the lack of importance to be attributed to Mr Hecht’s outpourings by signing with his initials on 9 June 1947. 130 FO 371/61822, 14 August 1947. Telegram Cypher/OTP, No 4471. Lord Inverchapel to FO. 131 Ibid. Minute by J.G.S.Beith, 15 August 1947. 132 Ibid. The minute was countersigned by all concerned Rundall, Wright and Beith, all FO. 133 FO 371/61810. 134 Ibid. 135 United States Foreign Relations, 1911 p. 398. 136 PRO 371/61810. Letter dated 20 June 1947 from Coudert Brothers to Sir Francis Evans, British Consul General in New York. 137 FO 371/61832, 11 July 1947. Minute by F.B.A.Rundall, commenting on W.F.J. Evans’ memo. 138 FO 371/52628, 23 August 1946. J.G.S.Minutes, E 7815. 139 FO 371/61808, 16 May 1947. Letter 46/112/47 from Chancery, British embassy Athens to FO, Eastern Dept. 140 Ibid. 141 FO 371/61827, 14 September 1947. Note, British Ambassador, Athens, to the Greek Ministry for Foreign Affairs. 142 FO 371/61806, 15 March 1947. British Consul, Piraeus to FO. 143 FO 371/61808, G.H.Hall MP, First Lord of the Admiralty to Ernest Bevin. 144 FO 371/61817, Letter from the Stockholm Chancery to the Eastern Dept, FO on the subject of Weekly Report No. 8, (E5558/48/G). 145 FO 371/61805, 29 March 1947. Telegram E 2644/48/G Cypher OTP, No 725. FO to Athens embassy. 146 Ibid, ‘the Royal Hellenic Government is in no ways disposed to permit the actions of unscrupulous individuals to cause damage to close relations of friendship between our two countries’. Foreign Minister C.Tsaldaris to the British Ambassador Sir Clifford Norton, 3 April 1947. 147 Ibid., 7 April 1947. Telegram No. 835 Cypher OTP from Athens to FO. 148 FO 371/61808, 6 May 1947. Verbal Note No. 25432 from the Greek Foreign Ministry to the British Embassy, Athens: ‘plus de vingt navires sous pavillon helènique portent ce même nom’. Notes 306
  • 149 FO 371/61805, 26 April 1947. Letter, J.D.Higham CO to J.G.S.Beith FO, subject: arrest of IJI service ship Ada. 150 The Ada was arrested by the Greeks (some sources say by the Turks) while trying to return crew members of Rondine and either Noris or Moris to Italy. R.Aharoni, ‘Mutot Toren. Sefinot Ha-Haapala Veharechesh Le-Achar Milhemet Ha-Olam Hashnia’ (‘Leaning Masts. Ships of Jewish Immigration and Arms Acquisition after World War IF) (Effie Melzer, Ramat Ef’al, 1997 (Hebrew)), p. 174. 151 See note 105. 152 Figures and percentages of Jewish immigrants from Balkan ports were taken from an article by Arjeh Joseph Kochavi in Haapala (ed.). Studies in The History of Illegal Immigration into Palestine, 1934–1948 (Hebrew) (Am Oved, Tel Aviv, 1990). 153 FO 371/52628. J.G.S.Minutes E 7757, 23 August 1946. 154 Ibid, E 8043, 15 August 1946. Telegram No. 2668, Peterson, Moscow to FO. 155 FO 371/32662. Extensive correspondence shows the 14-ton yacht Michai carrying 1,400 would-be immigrants to Palestine (!). Not even the most ardent Mossad man could have accommodated 1,400 passengers on a 14-ton yacht. In the meantime a discussion ranging between the pros and cons of possible destinations included Eritrea, Mauritius, Egypt, Port Said, Cyprus, Turkey or back to Constanza. 156 FO 371/61849, 4 October 1947. Telegram No. 489, Commonwealth Relation Office to Dominions. 157 FO 371/61849, 3 October 1947. Minute by Cable FO. 158 Ibid. 159 FO 371/61830, 15 October 1947. Telegram No. 1304, Sterndale Bennett to FO. 160 FO 371/61849, 2 October 1947. Telegram No. 1244, Sterndale Bennett to FO. 161 FO 371/61830, 04 October 1947, Telegram No. 701. Sir D.Kelly, Angora (modern name— Ankara) Embassy to FO and Sofia. 162 For the complete text of the 1923 Straits Convention see ‘Convention concernant le regime des détroits, signé le 24 Juillet 1923’. Actes Signés à Lausanne, Paris, 1923. 163 Ibid., 4 October 1947. Telegram No. 1065. Mr Holman, Bucharest Embassy to FO. 164 Ibid., 6 Oct 1947. Minute by J.E.Cable, FO and agreed by separate minute of same day by J.G.S.Beith, FO. 165 FO 371/61830, 4 October 1947. Telegram No. 701, Sir D.Kelly, Ankara to FO. 166 FO 371/52628, 23 August 1946. J.G.S.Minutes, E 7609. 5 The legal issues involved 1 ‘and with the present letter, out of the fullness of our apostolic power, we give, concede and assign all islands and continents, whether they are found, uncovered or to be uncovered, on the authority of the omnipotent God granted to us in the Saint Peter to the vicar of Jesus Christ ’. Imprint: Einblattdrucke des XV. Jahrhunderts: ein bibliographisches Verzeichnis , Halle, 1914 107a. 2 Until 1876 Britain had upon her statute books various laws loosely referred to as ‘Hovering Acts’. One of these acts provided the forfeiture of vessel (and its goods) found within 8 leagues (24 nautical miles, based on 1 league equals 3 miles) from shore or even if she were found to have been within such waters. 3 C.John Colombos, The International Law of the Sea (Longman, London, 6th edn, 1967), p. 137. 4 L.C.Green, International Law Through the Cases (Oceana Publications, New York, 1975), p. 220. Notes 307
  • 5 P.C.Jessup, The Law of Territorial Waters and Maritime Jurisdiction (G.A. Jenning, New York, 1927), p. 11. 6 C.John Colombos, The International Law of the Sea, p. 138. 7 Hansard, Parliamentary Debates (hereafter Hansard), 2 May 1923, Fifth Series, Vol. 163, columns 1346, and 993, 1417 [fisheries]. Second Session of the Thirty-Second Parliament. 13 & 14 George V.House of Commons. Fourth Volume of Session 1923, comprising period from Monday 23 April to Friday 11 May 1923. Published 1923 by HM Stationers. 8 Ibid. 9 Ibid., col. 1347. 10 William J.Bishop, Jr. International Law, Cases and Materials (Little, Brown, Boston, MA and Toronto, 1971). 11 The nine states who voted for a three-mile limit were Australia, Canada, Denmark, India, Japan, the Netherlands, United Kingdom, Union of South Africa and the United States. Four states voted for a four-mile zone while the remaining 19 states adopted divergent positions, some with and some without a contiguous zone. 12 French: Droit de Pursuit, German: Verfolgungsrecht. 13 C.Sanger, Ordering the Oceans. The Making of the Law of the Sea (Zed Books, p. 14. 14 Dr N.M.Poulantzas, The Right of Hot Pursuit (A.W.Sÿthoff-Leyolen, 1969), p. 39. 15 UNCLOS I, Geneva, 24 February–28 April 1958, 87 nations attending. 16 UNCLOS II, Geneva, 17 March–26 April 1960, 88 nations attending. 17 A.Noble, Minister of State for Foreign Affairs. Hansard, 28 April 1958, Commons Vol. 587, col. 24. 18 UNCLOS III, 1974–82, 11 Sessions, signed 10 December 1982 in Montego Bay, 137 nations attending. 19 S.A.Schwartztrauber, The Three-Mile Limit of Territorial Seas (Naval Institute Press, Anna polis, MA, 1992), p. 240. 20 The most important points relating to immigration were paragraphs 14 and 15, Appendix ‘A’, which decided on a finite number of 75,000 immigrants to be permitted into Palestine during the next five years, to be followed by a complete stop of immigration ‘unless the Arabs of Palestine acquiesced in it’. 21 The Lord Chancellor occupies a unique role because, in addition to his judicial capacity, he is the second most senior member of the Cabinet as well as Speaker of the House of Lords. 22 Admiralty Principal G.C.B.Dodds wrote in the margin of published Minutes ‘How totalitarian are we becoming?’, when the Cabinet’s Illegal Immigration Committee (Cabinet Secretary E.Evershed) agreed that ‘no objections should be raised to the attendance of well- disposed members of the Press at the disembarkation [of President Warfield] at Hamburg.’ Cabinet Office Minutes, 24 August 1947. 23 The Illegal Immigration Ship Hilda carrying 677 passengers from Romania landed 23 January 1940 in Palestine. 24 FO 371/25239, 31 January 1940. Letter H.F.Downie to J.E.M.Carvell. 25 FO 371/25239. Proposal dated 5 February 1940 to extend the powers of the High Commissioner for Palestine to enable effective action to prevent illegal immigrations of Jews, J.E.M.Carvell to S of S, FO. 26 Ibid. 27 Ibid. 28 Ibid. 29 FO 371/25239, 2 February 1940. Minute by Patrick Dean for a meeting at the CO, presided by the Colonial Secretary. 30 Ibid. 31 FO 371/25239, 14 February 1940. Letter, M.MacDonald to Viscount Halifax. 32 CO 733/395/5—(W 10488/1369/48), 24 August 1939. Letter A.W.G. Randall, FO, to H.F.Downie, CO. Notes 308
  • 33 Already in 1812 the Norwegians claimed exclusive fisheries jurisdiction over their territorial waters, but instead of computing the extent of their territorial waters from the usual low water marks on the shore, the tracé parallèle, in which the line of the exterior limit is drawn parallel to the low water mark, the Norwegians claimed it should be measured by connecting the outermost points of the permanently visible isles or rocks furthest from the coast (the courbe tangente), thus enclosing wide bodies of water within the exclusive jurisdiction. 34 Norway argued that the starting point for calculating the outer limit of the territorial sea was a ‘line along the “Skjaergaard”, between the furthest rocks and where there is no “Skjaergaard” between the “extreme points” on the land’. Teruo Kobayashi, The Anglo- Norwegian Fisheries Case (University of Florida Press, Gainsville, FL, 1965), pp. 16–17. 35 Dr R.P.Anand, Origin and Development of the Law of the Sea (Martinus Nijhoff Publishers, The Hague/Boston/London, 1983), p. 167. 36 ADM 116/5648, 3 June 1947. Memorandom, P.N.N. Synnot, Admiralty, to J.D. Higham, CO. 37 This doctrine permits a vessel to be pursued upon the high seas and there seized when she commits a violation of the laws of a foreign state within its territorial waters. Oppenheim, The International Law of the Sea, p. 168. 38 Ibid. There seemed to exist ‘no limit as to the distance at which the capture can be effected provided that the pursuit is immediate, hot and continuous’. 39 CO 733/395/5-W10488/1369/48, 24 August 1939. Letter from Randall to Downey. 40 Cmd 3448, 17 June 1925. International Convention for the Supervision of the International Trade in Arms and Ammunition, Geneva. 41 Ibid. The Arms Trade Convention had been signed in June 1925 by the Earl of Onslow on behalf of the British Empire but had never been ratified by his Britannic Majesty. 42 Professor J.Basset Moore, Digest of International Law, Vol. 2, p. 886. Judge John Basset Moore was the leading illustration of the distinction that has sometimes been drawn between the exercise by a nation of its protective power and the claim of exclusive possession and jurisdiction. 43 CO 733/395/5. (W 13552/1369/48) M 12438/39, 9 September 1939. W. Carter, Mercantile Marine Department, Board of Trade to A.W.G.Randall, FO. 44 CO 733/395/5 (W 13552/1369/48, 19 September 1939. A.W.G.Randall, FO, to Luke, CO. 45 Ships without nationality were in a curious position. Their ‘statelessness’ did not, of itself, entitle each and every state to assert jurisdiction over them, however, such a right is given by article 110 of the Law of Sea Convention and ships which sail under two (or more) flags, using them according to convenience, are assimilated to ships without nationality. R.R.Churchill and A.V. Lowe, The Law of the Sea (Manchester University Press, Manchester, 1985), p. 172. 46 ADM 116/5648, 5 October 1946. Minute from Director of Operation Division, Admiralty. Circulated for amendment and approval to D.N.I., MI, USS, Military Branch I., J.V.Battersby, Admiralty as well as to CO and FO. 47 ADM 116/5648, 20 November 1946. 48 CAB 128 / 6. Cabinet meeting No. 104, 10 December 1946. 49 PRO CAB 128/6. The First Sea Lord, Admiral Sir John H.D.Cunningham had argued at the Cabinet meeting NO.104, 10 December 1946, that as faster and heavier ships were now being used, it was desirable that His Majesty’s ships should have more sea room available within territorial waters. PRO ADM 116/5648, Letter No. 2796/Med.46/1352/23/l. dated 23 September 1946, sent by Admiral A.U.Willis from the Office of the Commanderin-Chief, Mediterranean Station to the Secretary of the Admiralty is one of very many other letters and memoranda, quoting Notes 309
  • the appearance of faster and heavier IJI ships, intensifying the problem of arrest by boarding in the limited sea room available inside territorial waters. 50 A British attempt to assert the right to Innocent Passage through the Corfu Straits resulted in severe mine damage to the destroyers Saumarez and Volage. All attempts to obtain redress through the Security Council and the International Court failed. 51 The court agreed that the Albanians had illegally mined an international strait and decided in favour of the British. Albania was ordered to pay damages. International Court of Justice, Report of Judgements, Advisory Opinion and Orders, 1949, p. 4. 52 Commander N.L.Stewart in his presentation to a 1999 Annapolis Symposium, p. 4. 53 O’Connel in Oppenheim, The International Law of the Sea, p. 151 asserted that ‘the three- mile limit was either a resolution in arithmetical terms of the cannon-shot or an independent standard irrespective of changes in the capability of ordnance.’ 54 Ibid. 55 C.P. (46) 463, Cabinet Meeting No. 107, 19 December 1947. 56 CAB 126/6, Cabinet Minute, 19 December 1946. 57 ADM1/23526, 31 March 1947. Secret Appreciation by C-in-C, Med of the Problems of the Palestine Patrol. 58 ADM 116/5648. Top secret letter from A.S.Le Maitre to First Lord on the topic of illegal immigration C.P (46) 463. 59 Ibid. 60 The I’m Alone was a Canadian liquor-smuggling ship at the time of US prohibition, attempting to illegally import alcohol from Canada. The US Coast Guard cutter Dexter sank the I’m Alone by gunfire. A long legal wrangle ensued. In their judgement of 5 January 1935 the Commissioners of the Council of the League of Nations recommended that the United States, in addition to acknowledging the illegality of its conduct and offering an apology to the Canadian government, should pay to Canada the sum of US$25,000 ‘as a material award in respect of the wrong’. 61 Jeff A.Morter, Chief Gunner and boarding party trainer of HMS Chevron stated on 5 March 1997 in a letter to the author: Between you and me, we boarded on the high seas but were not allowed to speak about it. 62 PRO ADM 1/21106. Memorandum dated 3 March 1949 by G.C.B.Dodds: ‘Illegal Immigration into Palestine by Sea, 1945–1948’. 63 ADM1/23526, 31 March 1947. Appreciation by C-in-C Med on the Problems of the Palestine Patrol. 64 Ibid. 65 Ibid. 66 ADM 1/23526, 31 March 1947. Appreciation by Admiral U.A.Willis p. 3. 67 Ibid., p. 3. 68 Ibid., p. 3. 69 Ibid., p. 4. 70 Ibid., p.4. 71 ADM 1/23526, May 1947. Brief from Head of M1 to VCNS, p. 1. 72 Ibid. 73 For instance: On 12 Feburary 1947, R.C.Catling, Criminal Investigation Department (CID) of the Palestine Police, wrote a top secret letter on behalf of the CID Assistant Inspector General to the Headquarters of the Palestine Police, reporting inter alia: ‘the motor sailing vessel Merica was intercepted on the high seas at a point approximately nine miles west of Caesarea a boarding was affected by personnel of the Royal Navy’. There were numerous other instances where the three-mile limit rule was breached. Notes 310
  • 74 ADM 1/23526. Letter E 4219/48/31, 7 November 1947. G.C.B.Dodds, FO, to J.D.Higham, CO. 75 Ibid. M.0635/47, 8 December 1947. Letter, G.C.B.Dodds to J.G.S.Beith, FO. 76 ADM 116/5648, 19 December 1946. A.J.Le Maitre to First Lord. 77 See the ‘Biographical Index’ at the end of this book for information on participants in the debate. 78 ADM 116/15648.76021/54/47, 12 February 1947. Letter, J.D.Higham to J.G.S.Beith, marked ‘Top Secret’. 79 ADM 116/5648, 13 February 1947. Minute sheet (1), G.C.B.Dodds, Admiralty, MI to DoD. 80 ADM 116/5648, 24 February 1947. Telegram from Mr Fowler, Britain’s Consul in Tegucigalpa, Honduras, to G.C.B.Dodds of the Admiralty. 81 ADM 116/5648, 26 February 1947. Signal to C-in-C Med. 82 ADM 116/5648, 19 February 1947. Confidential code message, G.C.B.Dodds signalling for Head of MI to C-in-C Med. 83 ADM 116/5648, 25 February 1947. Letter from J.G.S.Beith, Assistant Legal Adviser, FO, to J.D.Higham, CO. 84 ADM 116/5648. 76021/54, 26 February 1947. Top Secret letter, J.D.Higham, CO, to Major C.A.H.Chadwick, MI5. 85 On 24 February 1947 the Honduran Ministry of War, Marine and Aviation provided the information that the steamship Ulua was owned by the Weston Trading Company of New York and that her certificate of registration had been cancelled on 21 November 1946, but on 26 February 1946 the Minister for Foreign Affairs named the Caribbean Atlantic Shipping Corporation of Panama as owners and credited the ship with six-month Honduran registration, valid to May 1947. 86 ADM 116/5648, 28 February 1947. Memorandum by A.S.Le Maitre and approved between 28 February and 6 March 1947 by three officials (initials illegible) from different Admiralty departments. 87 Lord Stowell (The Rt. Hon. Sir William Scott, Baron), an important early nineteenth-century judge at the High Court of the Admiralty, where he argued and determined cases and heard appeals in Prize Cause before the Lords Commissioners. Stowell did not expressly rely on the Neutrality Act, but on the more general principle that since the introduction of firearms the distance (of neutrality) has usually been recognised to be about three miles (one league) from the shore. American unilateral action to forbid British ships entry to US waters, eventually led to the British-US war of 1812. 88 Higgins and Colombos, International Rule of the Sea, p. 206. Le Maitre replaced the original wording ‘subjects of another’ with ‘servants of another. It should be noted that the text in parentheses (e.g. on the high seas) was an integral part of Lord Stowell’s original opinion. 89 Ibid, p. 209. 90 PRO ADM 116/5648, 28 Feb 1947. Memorandum by A.S.Le Maitre and approved by three officials (initials unfortunately illegible) from different Admiralty departments. 91 ADM 116/5648, 7 March 1947. Letter, A.S.Le Maitre, Admiralty Dept USS, to J.M.Martin, Assistant-Secretary of State CO, and copied to R.E.G.Howe Under-Secretary, FO. 92 ADM 116/5648, 7 March 1947. Letter from J.M.Martin to Le Maitre. Martin’s letter crossed Le Maitre’s missive of same date. 93 ADM 116/5648, 1 April 1947. Letter, R.E.G.Howe, Under Secretary of State FO to J.M.Martin, Assistant Secretary of State, CO. Notes 311
  • 94 On 1 March the Irgun attacked 15 British targets, including bombing the officers’ club at Bet Goldschmidt in Jerusalem, an attack on a train near Petah Tikva, destruction of ten naval trucks in Haifa and mining a number of army trucks. British armed forces casualties included 17 killed and 27 injured. 95 Habeas corpus instantly supersedes all proceedings in the court below, commanding the inferior court to produce the body of the defendant. It is a pre-rogative process for securing the liberty of the subject by affording an effective means of immediate release from unlawful or unjustifiable detention. Halsbury’s Laws (4th ed) para. 1452. 96 As always in similar cases, the petition for a writ of habeas corpus for the passengers of the Lohita had been rejected on 29 November 1946. 97 Details of the legal case Naim Molvan etc. 98 D.Trevor, Under the White Paper (Kraus International, Munich, 1980), p. 287. 99 Ibid. 100 The S of S for the Colonies at the time was the Rt. Hon. A.Creech Jones. 101 The Lord Chancellor’s Department is responsible for the civil law and for the procedures of the civil courts. 102 ADM 116/5648, E.2119/48/31, 1 April 1947. Letter, R.E.G.Howe, Under Secretary of State FO, to J.M.Martin, Assistant Under Secretary of State, CO. 103 ADM 116/5648, 2 April 1947. Draft letter from Le Maitre, Admiralty, Dept USS to R.E.G.Howe CO, and approved through the initials of Le Maitre’s superiors. 104 ADM 116/5648, 76021/54/47, 5 April 1947. Top secret letter from Sir C.J.Jeffries, CO, to Sir John G.Lang, Admiralty. 105 See C.P.(46) 463, Cabinet Meeting No. 107, 19 December 1947. 106 ADM 116/5648, 10 April 1947. Secret and Immediate letter from A.Creech Jones, Secretary of State for the Colonies, to J.H.D.Cunningham, First Sea Lord. 107 ADM 116/5648. Register No. M.059695/47, 9 April 1947. Memorandum by P.N.N.Synnott, Assistant Secretary Admiralty, Head of MI to serve as a draft letter to Sir C.J.Jeffries. Also signed on behalf of USS. 108 Ibid. 109 ADM 116/5648. One-time-pad message 111920, 11 April 1947. Permanent Secretary to C- in-C Med, First Lord, First Sea Lord, VCSN, USS. 110 Ibid. 111 Ibid. 112 ADM 116/5684. M. 059695/47, 15 April 1947. Top secret letter from J.G. Lang, Permanent Secretary Admiralty, to Sir C.J.Jeffries, CO. 113 ADM 116/5684. M. 059695/47, 15 April 1947. Letter, J.G.Lang to Sir C.J.Jeffries, CO. 114 The British in Palestine, even the authorities dealing with seized IJI vessels, were stickers for the legitimisation of the 1926 Paris International Convention. Therefore they introduced (Jewish) contract cleaners for the deratization (examination of rats) on the seized IJI ships. 115 Author’s interview with Shmuel Janai (Sammek). Rear Admiral Sammek commanded the first Israeli Battle Group, a mixed flotilla of corvettes and frigates and in due course became Deputy Commander of the Israeli navy. 116 PRO FO 371/25239, 31 Jan 1940, H.F.Downey, CO, to J.E.M.Carvell, FO. 117 Croft v. Dunphy [1933] refers to a celebrated case of liquor smuggling into the USA during prohibition (D.P.O’Connell in The International Law of the Sea, Vol. 1 (Clarendon Press, Oxford, 1982) p. 149 records that Croft v. Dunphy was a claim for recovery of a schooner outside the Canadian three-mile limit for a custom offence), when it was ruled that principles become incorporated into the municipal law (for example, US or in our case, Palestine law), only after they have achieved general international recognition. 118 Ibid. Notes 312
  • 119 See CO 733/395/5, 2 March 1923. Confidential FO memorandum (12096) [A 1297/65/45] ‘Memorandum respecting the Seizure of Vessels outside the 3-Mile Limit’, circulated 1939 by FO to CO, Admiralty and Board of Trade. 120 ADM CO 733/395/5. 75113/2/4/39 Palestine, 25 August 1939. Letter, H.F. Downie, CO, to A.W.G.Randall, FO. 121 Having participated in approximately six abortive landing attempts with ship’s boats from the IJI ships Frossoula and Tiger Hill, the author is personally aware of the extremely poor Jewish Reception Organisation on shore in 1939 and the lack of ship-to-shore communication at the time. 122 CO 733/395/5. W 12663/1369/48. Draft telegram from A.W.G.Randall, FO, to Sir M.Palairet, Athens and Mr. Adam, Panama, 1 September 1939. 123 CO 733/395/5. W 12663/1369/48, 1 September 1939. A.W.G.Randall, FO, to G.Dunn, Admiralty. 124 CO 733/395/5. W.12663/1369/48, 1 September 1939. A.W.G.Randall, FO, to W.T.Turner, Board of Trade. 125 CO 733/395/5. W 12663/1369/48, 1 September 1939. Randall, FO, to S.E.V. Luke, CO. 126 During the American Civil War the United States repeatedly requested HMG to prevent the fitting out in British ports of armed cruisers, for example, the Alabama, for Confederate forces. FO Library 5043. 127 Not really an applicable precedent. Britain in May 1861 had recognised the existence of a state of belligerency between the United States and the Confederate governments. The Zionist ‘rebels’ in Palestine deserved acknowledgment far less than the Confederacy, they were a relatively small group and controlled no ports or armies. 128 FO 371/61832, 9 July 1947. Memorandum by J.E.Cable addressed to Mr Evans, FO, and to the North American Department of the FO. 129 See Yacht Abril in Appendix III. 130 Comitas gentium, the international courtesy by which effect is given (within limits) to the law of one state within the territory of another state. 131 ADM 1/23526, 21 May 1947. Letter, T.G.Gibson to G.C.B.Dodds, Admiralty. 132 ADM 116/5648, 30 April 1947. Memorandum/Minute from First Lord to Prime Minister. 133 A surprising number of authors thought that the three-mile limit had lost its rationale. O’Connell on pp. 153–4 of The International Law of the Seas tabulates 33 jurists who believed that the territorial sea expanded with the evolving range of artillery; 26 believed that state practice had established it at three miles; 5 proposed other fixed limits; 5 argued for different limits for different purposes; 8 ambiguously referred to both the three-mile limit and the cannon shot; and 7 thought there was no consensus on the matter. The three-mile rule was, therefore, a minority opinion amongst jurists. 134 ADM 116/5648, 23 May 1947, note by Acting Attorney General, Palestine. 135 L.Oppenheim, International Law, A Treatise, Vol. I (ed. H.Lauterpacht) (Longmans, Green & Co., London, New York and Toronto, 5th edn, 1937), p. 390. 136 The Virginius was a sidewheel steamer originally built on the Clyde as a blockade runner for the Confederate navy. In 1873 she was illegally wearing the American flag while carrying insurgents and arms to Cuba. She was arrested by the Spanish when still a considerable distance outside territorial waters and heading for Cuba. Most of the insurgents and crew were accused of piracy and executed. 137 During the Canadian revolt of 1838 a British force violated the American frontier and cast adrift the steamer Caroline to prevent a body of insurgents from crossing into Canada. 138 W.E.Hall, Treatise on International Law, pp. 328–30 § 86. 139 R.H.Bradford, The Virginius Affair, p. 26. 140 Ibid. pp 323–5., chapter 7, ‘Self-Preservation’. 141 ADM 116/5648, 3 June 1947. Letter, P.N.N.Synnott, Admiralty, to J.D. Higham, CO. 142 Ibid., p. 2. Notes 313
  • 143 PRO ADM1/21106. P.N.N.Synnott of the Admiralty Dept USS in a minute dated 15 June 1948 responding to the presentation ‘Maritime Rights’, ref. No. 7317/18/11 submitted 25 March 1948 by Captain R.D.Watson, Commanding Officer of the destroyer HMS Chequers. 144 Ibid. The subject was ‘Diversion and Detention of Vessels on High Seas’. 145 Ibid. G.C.B.Dodds, Principal at Admiralty Branch I for Head of Military Branch, 15 June 1948. 146 Ibid., handwritten memorandum from VCNS, 18 June 1948. 147 Ibid. Rear Admiral M.M.Denny, Flag Officer Destroyers, Mediterranean, 11 May 1948. Memorandum to C-in-C Med No. A.D.8/240/5. 148 The order of ‘mandamus’ is a command issuing from the High Court of Justice ‘directed to any person or inferior tribunal to do some particular thing which appertains to his or their office and is in the nature of a public duty. It will issue, to the end that justice may be done, in a