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  • Israeli Small-armsan overview

    See NOTES field for descriptions

    1. Title picture Star of David & Mausers

    To start with, we'll try and keep this lecture as non-political as we can, though that's not always possible ... so, just to set the scene, our title picture is Israel's familiar Star of David symbol, here composed of six Mauser rifles ...

    ... to begin with then, a little background history ... I suppose our starting point must be the founding of the early Jewish armed settlements in Palestine at the end of the 19th century ... those early pioneers, mostly fleeing persecution in Russia and Eastern Europe, were determined not to be passive victims in this new land, and so each settlement would provide its own small defence force, armed with a variety of weapons

  • 2. settlers

    ... here's a typical group ... and if we look at a close-up, we can see quite clearly ...

  • 3. c/u broomhandle

    ... this chap's got a broomhandle Mauser, complete with its wooden holster ...

  • 4. second settlers group

    ... and here's another group ... we wondered what the rifle was ...

  • 5. c/u rifle

    ... is it a Mannlicher? Opinions, please

  • 6. "dressing-gown" man

    ... here's a typical watchman ... but what's that pistol?

  • 7. c/u pistol

    ... it looks like a cut-down shotgun, doesn't it?

  • 8. woman & shotgun

    ... and here's a woman defender with a shotgun ..

  • 9. Trumpledor

    ... one of the early pioneers of organised settlement defence was a Russian ex-soldier called Joseph Trumpledor .

  • 10. colour picture Smith & Wesson

    ... and this is his personal weapon, appropriately enough a Smith and Wesson Russian ...

  • 11. Zion Mule Corps 1

    ... then, with the outbreak of the First World War, some of those early settlers volunteered for service in the British Army and were enlisted as the Zion Mule Corps founded, incidentally, by the aforementioned Trumpledor ... they served with distinction at Gallipoli and later with ...

  • 12. Zion Mule Corps 2

    ... the five thousand strong Jewish Brigade, many of whom served throughout the Palestine campaign ... then in 1917 Britain's Balfour Declaration announced the approval of a Jewish homeland in Palestine, and the United Kingdom was tasked with the governing of that country, a responsibility known as the Mandate. This led, in the 20's and 30's, not surprisingly ...

  • 13. Arab guerillas

    ... to a series of riots from within the local Arab communities, and these had to be dealt with. The problem was that the existing Police Force was an inheritance from the old Ottoman Empire that had previously ruled Palestine, and it was primarily a Turkish and Arab constabulary ... it was obviously impossible to use them to put down these uprisings, and so it was decided to recruit a British section to the Palestine Police, as that force was to be known ...

  • 14. Palestine Gendarmerie with Mausers

    ... this is a group of the existing Gendarmerie, together with their Mausers, and although not directly connected with our talk on Israeli Arms, it's an interesting related story. We're looking now at the early 20's ... Home Rule had just been granted to Ireland, and the RIC, the Royal Irish Constabulary, had been disbanded and they were given three options. They could either join the Garda Sicana, the new Irish Police Force, they could enlist in the RUC, the Royal Ulster Constabulary in Northern Ireland or they could volunteer for the Palestine Police ...

  • 15. Palestine Police 2

    ... now the Gendarmerie's got SMLEs ... and note their distinctive headgear, ... the distinctive fur hat was called the Kalpak ... originally worn by the previous Turkish Police Force, it was retained when the Palestine Police were formed, as it readily identified the wearer as a constable ...

  • 16. Fort Tregantle parade

    ... while back in the UK, three hundred ex-RIC volunteered their services, and were sent here to Fort Tregantle in Cornwall for three months training before being shipped shipped to Palestine as the British Section of the Palestine Police. ... but we digress ... so to continue with our potted background history ... as Arab opposition increased towards Jewish immigration ...

  • 17. Haganah "Night Squad 2" illustration

    ...the settlements banded together to form a self-defence organisation - the Haganah, or self-defence force, precursor to the Israel Defence force of today. Their weapons were a dispirate collection of arms sourced from wherever they could be found ... but the Arab rebellion continued ...

  • 18. engine derialment

    ... noticeably in attacks on the railway system ...

  • 19. wrecked trucks

    ... interestingly enough, the Army and Police had a unique way of dealing with the Arab insurgents who were in the habit of blowing up railway lines ...

  • 20. Arab "minesweepers"

    ... they simply took a number of suspects and placed them on a flat car in front of the train, where they were cynically referred to by the squaddies as "Arab mine-sweepers"! Another problem were the regular Arab attacks on oil pipe-lines, particularly those that fed into the refinery at Haifa ...

  • 21. Mounted patrol

    ... and so there were also mixed patrols of the British Section and locals ... as you can see here ...

  • 22. Wingate

    ... then a young British officer stationed in Palestine, familiar to you as Orde Wingate, came up with the idea of what became known as Night Squads ...

  • 23. Night Squad 1

    ... these were groups of Haganah personnel, led by British officers and, not only were they highly successful in combatting the Arab rebels but they also succeeded in getting Wingate dismissed from Palestine for his perceived close sympathy and connections with the Haganah ...

  • 24. Gaffir & SMLE

    ... at that time there were also a certain number of both Arab and Jewish Supernumeries in the Palestine Police whose duties were primarily those of watchmen, or Gaffirs as they were locally called. This one's at a Jewish settlement with his trusty SMLE and and wearing the Kalpak ...

  • 25. Gaffir & Lewis

    ... and another, with a Lewis ...

  • 26. Police & armoured car

    ... then, following the events of the Second World War, the political landscape changed again. Jewish refugee immigration from Europe was severely curtailed by the British government and Jewish terrorism against the Mandate replaced the Arab revolt and, as a result, the Army and Police carried out routine raids, continually searching for illicit arms in the Jewish settlements. This led, inevitably, to a continual game of cat and mouse between the authorities and the settlements ...

  • 27. Ayalon Instutue ground plan

    ... one such clandestine location was the "Ayalon Institute" ... code name given to a secret underground factory at Rehovot, near Tel-Aviv, which a group of us visited on a recent trip to the Military Museums of Israel last year. Its sole purpose was to provide 9mm ammunition for the Haganah's locally produced Sten guns ... the factory itself was covered by thirteen feet of earth and measured some 300 square yards. There were two camouflaged entrances ... at one end there was a fully operational laundry and at the other a bakery, both also allowing a regular supply of fresh air as well as providing sufficient noise to cover the sound of the underground factory when it was operating, before swivelling to provide access to the workshops downstairs ...

  • 28. laundry entrance

    ... here is the actual laundry entrance ... with access by a steep staircase to the workshops below ...

  • 29. workshop

    ... this is one view of the workshop... the ammunition itself had its own distinctive headstamp, "AE", should you ever find one. Much of the brass, incidentally, was sourced by the ploy of importing brass lipstick cases ... over its years of operation some three million rounds of 9mm ammunition were produced here ...g.v. workshop

    ... and there were various other subterfuges to fool any likely military inspection. For instance, because the people working down there would be somewhat pale compared to their sunburnt comrades up above, a special sun-tan room was built ...

  • 30. girl in workshop.

    ... also, on one of the first occasions that a British Army unit came to search the kibbutz they asked if there was any beer, and when they compained that it was too warm, the settlers apologised and said that if in future they'd let them know when they were coming, then they'd put some on ice ...

  • 31. 9mm Sten testing chamber

    ... finally there was a testing range at the end of the factory, seen here, with a unique system of spinning discs to calibrate and test each batch ... it's also interesting that at that time, while locally made Sten guns were being made, the various component parts themselves were being produced in workshops all across the country, with even the manufacturers not knowing what they were making. When we visited the underground factory, one wall display showed the stripped-down components of a homegrown Sten, and our guide explained that a recent visitor, when he saw the return spring, only then realised what his father's bed-spring factory had been producing all those years ago!

  • 32. IDF Museum Stens

    ... these are two examples of those locally produced Stens ... oh, and the exhibit in the background is a Molotov cocktail!

  • 33. Sten c/u

    ... here's an Israeli Sten in close-up .

  • 34. Sten mag housing

    ... the only clue as t