Capt. Alan Edward Sigrist

1893 Dec 31. Born Portsea Island, Hampshire

1901 census at Station Road, Lydd, Kent

1911 census 13 Plumstead Common Road Plumstead Woolwich

1914 Aug 16 Landed in France

1914 Oct 25 Commissioned 2nd Lt

1916 Mar 2. Promoted Lt

1919 Dec 15 AE Sigrist relinquishes the temp rank of Capt. He had a Class HH Special Appointment

1920 Jan 14 Dorset Regt. Relinquishes the rank of Capt

1921 Feb 4. Dorset Regt. retires with a gratuity. and is granted the rank of Capt

1921 Feb 14. Joined ADRIC with service no 1675. Posted J Coy

1921 Nov 15 Stationed at Macroom Castle with J Coy (on MIC)

1921. Undated fine of £1 from Coy Commander

1922 JAn He appears to have served until the demobilisation of the ADRIC

1922 . Joined British Gendarmerie section of the Palestine Police

1926/1930 married in Cairo to Renee Frederika SCHIRMER

1931 Aug 14 Arrives UK from Port Said with wife Renee and 2 children. 2nd Class. "police officer"

1933 Oct 29. Involved in Jaffa riots The rioting broke out when the Arabs, pouring out of the mosques after mid-day prayers, attempted to form a procession, refusing to disband when the Riot Act was read. Brandishing clubs and daggers, hurling stones and firing occasional revolver shots, the Arabs closed with the police. After a native policeman was slain by one of the shots fired by the rioters, the police were ordered to open fire. The disorders continued for about half an hour before the police dispersed the demonstrators and restored order. The wounded, demonstrators and police alike, were rushed to the Hadassah hospital Members of the Mogen David Jewish first-aid organization which functions as a Red Cross, rendered first-aid and treated the less-seriously injured on the scene. Among those wounded were John A. M. Faraday, assistant superintendent of police, and Officer Sigrist. Scores received minor injuries when the demonstrators pulled mounted police from their horses and the frightened steeds ran riderless through the throngs

1934 Awarded Kings Police Medal for service rendered at riots in Jaffa in 1933. The citation for Sigrist’s Medal, shows how hard colonial policing could be: In the first charge he [Sigrist] was severely wounded in the face by a broken bottle, and though severely injured in both arms and legs, he remained on duty and led his men in a second and third baton charge.

1934 Jul 13. Arrives UK from Port Said. Police officer in Palestine, 2nd class, wife and 2 children.

1934 Oct 24 Leaves UK for Port Said, with wife and 2 children. He is a "policeman"

1936 Jun 11. Wounded in Palestine. An article in Contemporary History gives the arab side

The author of the Contemporary History article, Matthew Hughes was Reader in History at Brunel University and from 2008 to 2010 and interviewed Bahjat Abu Gharbiyah when he was 93 years old. Excerpts below give his account of what happened

Just before midday on Friday, 12 June 1936, by St Stephen’s (or Lions’) Gate outside the Old City of Jerusalem, two armed Palestinians, Bahjat Abu Gharbiyah and Sami al-Ansari, both teachers, aged respectively 20 and 18 ambushed a car containing British Acting Assistant Police Superintendent Alan Sigrist and his guard, British Constable Edmund Doxat. The assailants’ primary target was the senior officer, Sigrist, notorious locally for his violent attacks against Palestinians, not Doxat. This was almost two months into the Arab revolt in Palestine, during which Palestinian rebels targeted British officials in protest against Britain’s policy of supporting Jewish immigration and settlement to the country. The assassins shot Sigrist but did not kill him.

Sigrist was on a tour of the police units guarding the gates of the Old City when he was shot. ...Sigrist was driving a left-hand-drive car on the right side of the road ...Doxat sat to Sigrist’s right in the passenger seat, armed with a British army-issue Lee-Enfield rifle and a Service revolver pistol. As the two men drove away from St Stephen’s Gate following Sigrist’s visit to the police picket there, the assassins, who had been tracking Sigrist’s daily schedule, struck on the Jericho road just outside, shooting Sigrist on the incline by the Muslim cemetery a few metres before the turn at the northeast corner of the Old City walls, opposite the Rockefeller Museum and by the Stork Tower. Sigrist being on the road-side side of the car meant that the two assassins had to step into the middle of the road to shoot him, and as both men aimed at Sigrist this left Doxat temporarily free to return fire. The assassins had chosen this spot as Sigrist’s car slowed on the incline before the turning;...For the attack, Abu Gharbiyah had hidden his weapon under his a fez , while al-Ansari’s was in his pocket. Both assassins had 7mm automatic pistols, Abu Gharbiyah an Italian Beretta and al-Ansari a French Lafayette, which could fire about seven rounds each in one shooting.

Abu Gharbiyah and al-Ansari fired together from about a metre away at Sigrist, who was inside the car, wounding him twice in the shoulder and side. Abu Gharbiyah had his left hand at one stage on the front left wing of the car. Abu Gharbiyah and al-Ansari had agreed to fire slowly, but Doxat, struggling with his rifle inside the confined space of the car, managed to return fire with his pistol that he had previously drawn on seeing the two men loitering in the area, so al-Ansari shouted at Abu Gharbiyah to shoot more rapidly. Doxat was quick off the mark, as he was returning fire at the same time or even before the two assassins opened up with their weapons on Sigrist, shooting at first to his left across his comrade and through his open window, a decisive reaction that would surely have deafened Sigrist. Doxat and the assassins also exchanged bullets through the windscreen,.... In the melee, al-Ansari emptied his pistol and ran off, wounded, shot by Doxat in the fire-fight. ....Abu Gharbiyah fired off his last three rounds at Doxat, aware that by chance an Army-escorted Jewish Potash Company convoy was fast approaching the scene from the southeast. Sigrist had slumped back when shot, releasing his feet from the car’s pedals, so Doxat had shot al-Ansari while inside a vehicle rolling backwards, under fire, pulling on the hand-brake, and alongside his badly wounded superior officer – no mean feat. The history of the Palestine police recounts that Doxat was able to ‘leap out’ of the car and shoot al-Ansari; a contemporary newspaper report states that he ‘whipped out’ his revolver and fired through the windscreen at one of his assailants. The car rolled backwards off the road over a drop into a rocky wadi, landing upright with Sigrist and Doxat inside, both badly bruised, the engine still running.

... In total, six bullets hit the car; up to eight rounds missed the target or were not fired off. A private car took Sigrist to the Government Hospital in the British headquarters in the ‘Russian compound’ in west Jerusalem. Doxat soon joined him. On 14 June, Sigrist and Doxat were reportedly ‘cheerful’ in hospital after the incident and both recovered, but Sigrist never returned to police work in Palestine..... Once he had recovered, Sigrist returned to duty, subsequently serving in the police forces in Tanganyika, Aden and Cyrenaica. He died at home in England on 1 March 1983, outliving al- Ansari but outlived by Abu Gharbiyah. The crew and soldiers of the Potash Company convoy tracked the wounded al-Ansari, and a police search with a dog uncovered him hiding in a nearby house; he died on the way to the hospital, or ‘later’ in hospital, of his wounds. Meanwhile, Abu Gharbiyah had run off towards Wadi el-Joz and returned to his family home inside the Old City near the Haram ash Sharif via the Musrara neighbourhood and the New Gate in time to go off to Friday prayers at the al-Aqsa Mosque with his brother, alive to the gossip spreading about the recent outrage. The British insisted that al-Ansari’s funeral be held after the curfew hour of 7p.m., so while several hundred people attended the funeral service at the mosque, only 20 to 30 mourners followed his body to his grave.

The article then goes on to record the reasons for Sigrist's unpopularity. It is difficult to know how much of this is true, or exaggerated

Their assault was a collective revenge attack by Jerusalemites against an officer who was notorious across the city for his savage truncheon-wielding attacks on Arab townsfolk – until ‘their bodies were broken’ – including beating up the staff of the al-Difa‘ [The Defence] newspaper office on 31 May 1936. Sigrist launched indiscriminate assaults on Arab passers-by, including against a well-dressed Arab District Officer official who was outside the Damascus Gate by the Schmidt School and who refused the British police demand that he pick up nails left by rebels hoping to puncture the tyres of passing vehicles. Sigrist and his men wounded dozens in their attack on the al-Difa‘ office, breaking a man’s nose with a truncheon so badly that the victim was hospitalized, dripping with blood and in a ‘perilous state’. At the same time, they also smashed in the windows at the Arab Club, one of a number of sports clubs in the city. Abu Gharbiyah boxed at the Islamic Club. On another occasion, one of Sigrist’s blows left a man with concussion. Jerusalemites cleared the streets when they heard the approaching hum of Sigrist’s Morris car, fearful of the assault that they were sure would come their way if Sigrist caught them in the open. One 16-year old girl learned to remember the name ‘Sickrest, as it hissed down every street’, a man who attacked people so ‘ferociously’ that he would break their arms. In groups of seven or eight, Sigrist’s men would force their way through the narrow streets of the Old City, pushing local people aside and making them salute the police in ‘humiliation opera- tions’. At the Old City gates officers slapped and kicked Arabs passing through. Abu Gharbiyah remembers Sigrist to have been an ‘abnormal’, ‘crazy’ man. who broke one man’s jaw and ‘destroyed his looks’. Sigrist had ratcheted up his brutality after the killing of Constable Bird on 28 May, which might explain the subsequent attack on the al-Difa‘ office. There were so many local pro tests about Sigrist that the leaders of the Istiqlal (Independence) Party met J.H. Hall, the Mandate Chief Secretary, to make a complaint about the goings-on. But there was no response to these petitions, so Jerusalemites ‘condemned’ and ‘sentenced’ Sigrist to death, and it was for this reason that Abu Gharbiyah and al-Ansari had teamed up and were together outside the city walls at around 11.00a.m. on 12 June 1936.... It is not clear whether Sigrist’s supposed Jewish antecedence played any part in the decision to attack him.

1936 Jul 30. Arrives in UK from Port Said. With wife and 2 children, police officer. Travels 1st class

1936 Dec 11. Leaves UK for Dar es Salam with wife and son and daughter - "Crown Agents" 1st Class

1940 Mar 13. Travels from UK to Dar es Salam with wife and son. Assistant Supt of Police

1944 Jun 8. Awarded Colonial Police Medal - he is Deputy Commissioner Aden Police Force

1947 Is quoted as being Commissioner Aden Police Force

1952 Second in Command of Gosforth Home Guard

1983 Jan/Mar died New Forest, Hants

 

ADRIC