Palestine Police


The surrender of Jerusalem by the Turks on 9 December 1917 created an urgent need for British policemen. Policing of the town was initially the responsibility of the Assistant Provost Marshal aided by the Military Police. Shortly afterwards, a City Police Force was re-established employing men who had served in a similar capacity under the Turkish regime. By January 1918, there was one British police officer in occupied southern Palestine, a number of Arab officers and a total of 340 other ranks within the police.

1922 Jan 25. The Mandate Government in Palestine decided that the task of maintaining public security would best be accomplished by forming two gendarmerie units. Both were called Palestine Gendarmerie.

Recruitment was of 719 Other Ranks and 42 officers, a total of 761 men. The ADRIC supplied 158 men and 18 officers

Recruiting was carried out for Palestine among the soon to be demobilised ADRIC and RIC. I have identified 158 ADRIC men who went to Palestine. A large number, when one considers that the strength of ADRIC in Jan 1922 was no more than 1500. In other words 1 in 10 of ADRIC men serving at disbandment of ADRIC went to Palestine

It was certainly a British Force. 38 per cent of the force was Irish-born. Of the rest 52 per cent English, 7 per cent Scottish and 1 per cent Welsh. Of the remainder all but one were born to British parents overseas.

Confidential - Palestine  Gendarmerie Royal Irish Constabulary Office, Dublin Castle. 25th January 1922.
There is an opening in the above Force for a limited number of young District Inspectors and Constables, unmarried and under thirty years of age, of superior education and First Class Records. Head Constables and Sergeants up to thirty five years of age would also be considered. The proposed pay of the Force will approximately be :-
Constables 10/- a day, free of income tax; in addition deferred pay of 1/- a day, with Rations, Fuel and Light or allowance in lieu. Officers and N.C.Os pay in proportion.
Pensions after ten years service on a scale not less then that of the London Metropolitan Police. Leave, three months every three years, £30,towards the cost of passage.
The matter is not to be circulated generally, but individuals who are known to be suitable should be approached personally. No recruiting will take place in Ireland, but if there are any men who can be personally recommended and who are willing to serve abroad, their names and addresses should be submitted at once in order that they may be brought to the notice of the Recruiting Officer in London.
Men will not be asked to join this Force until granted pensions and demobilized from R.I.C. This matter is urgent.
C.A.Walsh. Deputy Inspector General. Issued to C.Is. Except in Northern Ireland.

1922 Mar 9. Hansard

1922 Mar 16 Hansard.

1922 Mar. The British Gendarmerie in Palestine was recruited , chiefly from among constabulary and auxiliaries who had served in Ireland. Its strength was 49 officers and 701 other ranks and its headquarters were at Bir Salem. It was dissolved in June 1926, due to financial constraints. It consisted exclusively of British personnel and shouldn't be confused with the Palestine Gendarmerie, which consisted of Arabs and Jews. In April 1922, around 650 former “Black and Tans” arrived in Haifa, Palestine and commenced their duties in the British Palestine Gendarmerie. The majority of the British Palestine Gendarmerie were former members of the RIC from Ireland. The uniform of the British Gendarmerie in Palestine included a distinctive 'lemon squeezer' style wide brimmed hat.

1922 Apr 12. The main body of 750 men embarked on the Steamer ‘City of Oxford’ at Devonport Dockyard. The main group arrived in Haifa, Palestine and commenced their duties as the British Palestine Gendarmerie. It docked in Palestine on 29 April 1922. There is a transcription of the Nominal roll on this page and has 760 names. Some men resigned before the contingent left for Palestine. There is a separate list of 495 RIC men (this does not include ADRIC). And the Nominal Roll also included some 176 from the ADRIC. The lists of man and previous roles never are exact as men came and went, and compilers differed in their exactness. But one sees that of 760 original men enlisted in Palestine Gendarmerie, that the bulk came from the RIC (500/550) and a large chunk 170/190 from ADRIC), The balance of 30/60 , depending on the counting, being ex-Servicemen

On arrival in Palestine their structure was changed to 6 companies numbered 1 to 6 with a Headquarters unit and the companies were posted out to different towns. In 1922 their rates of pay were quite generous for the times, but still only 50% of what they had been paid in Ireland. Platoon Commanders were paid 22 shillings per day & Platoon Officers such as 20 shillings per day. Within days the men started patrolling and acclimatising themselves to the rigours of conditions in Palestine. They were supported by ample supplies of motor transport, Model T Fords being standard issue.

According to their own reports, these former “Black and Tans” were brash and anxious for action. They delighted in skirmishes with bandits in the hills. Four platoons of British Gendarmerie were assigned to Nazareth.

1922 May 3. Question asked in Parliament

The Inspector-General of Police and Prisons, Major-General H. H. Tudor (who also served as the General Officer Commanding), was in charge of the British military, Palestine Police, and the Palestine Gendarmerie. Tudor had been the Chief of Police in Ireland prior to this. As the “Black and Tans” were being disbanded in Ireland, enrolment sheets were circulated. In Palestine, they wore a distinctive uniform that included a Stetson broad-brimmed hat, reminiscent of a cowboy hat.

In the four years that the British Palestine Gendarmerie existed (1922-1926), only two articles appeared in the New York Times that mentioned the former “Black and Tans” in Palestine. The first is a short article written as the Gendarmerie was forming. The second was an article published in 1926 as the Gendarmerie was disbanding. The Times of London ran a story on 25th February 1926, describing the disbandment of the Palestine Gendarmerie. It mentioned that it had consisted of mostly former “Black and Tans” and that some of them would stay and serve in the British section of the Palestine Police. I have so far found 159 ADRIC who joined Palestine Gendarmerie This is my detailed list of ADRIC men in Palestine Gendarmerie, with their service numbers and CVs

Both sections of the Palestine Gendarmerie were disbanded. The 5 officers and 200 men of the British Section and 2 officers and 250 men of the Palestine Section were re-engaged for service in Palestine Police Force

It is difficult, as the original documents do not exist, to follow individual resignations/dismissals but it appears that of the original contingent of 719 other ranks , only 229 (or 32 per cent) were still serving when the force was disbanded in April 1926. The men were on an initial 1 year contract, which expired in Spring 1923 . Almost half of the original draft resigned due to dissatisfaction over some of their contract’s terms and conditions.

The main problem was that RIC pensions be suspended for the duration of their service in Palestine.

1926 By the time the Gendarmerie was disbanded its composition had changed. The rolls show




GB165-0001 Adamson
GB165-0082 De Lacy
GB165-0240 Rice
GB165-0253 Saunders
GB165-0255 Scott
GB165-0281 Tegart

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