Dov Gruener's funeral.

Dov Gruener and two others, convicted at the same time, were executed on 15th April 1947 and were taken to Safad, a religious centre for the Jews, to be buried at 5.0 p.m. on 16th April.

A 100% "Stand-To" was declared for that day and remained in force until twenty-second April. This meant that we could be on duty continuously. Police were not allowed out of the Station unless on duty and in suitable numbers. A curfew was declared for all civilians from 6.0 a.m. until 12.00 and then from 3.00p.m. until 6.00 p.m.

I had been Attested as a British Constable on New Year's Eve 1946 and had been stationed at Safad Police Station since 2nd March 1947 . All personnel in the Station on 15th April, were called up at 5.30 a.m. and remained on duty until 8.30 p.m. that evening.

I was nominated as the Jewish Mukhtar's escort during his travelling in the curfew between the Jewish elders while he arranged details of where Dov Gruener was to be buried and the necessary rituals to be used.

This involved accompanying the Mukhtar through all the British Army checkpoints which were spread out over the hills around Safad to protect the Curfew area. The checkpoints consisted mainly of six soldiers each under a Sergeant armed with their rifles and usually having at least one Bren gun. There seemed to be dozens of these checkpoints and it was my job to vouch for the Mukhtar at each one. On more than one occasion the Sergeant in charge expressed his disbelief that a single British Policeman with only his personal rifle ( there was a shortage of revolvers that day ) was considered safe to move around within the curfew area.

During this time the Mukhtar and his associates were outwardly friendly and provided a chair and tea at each stop. All their conversations were in Hebrew and consequently not understood by myself.

I was not allowed to attend the actual funeral which took place at about 5.0 p.m.

The authorities were concerned at the possibility of the bodies being removed by the Jews, reburied elsewhere and regarded as Martyrs .

With this in mind, a British Police patrol was stationed in the graveyard, adjacent to the new graves, to prevent any such body-snatching during the night. A Second British Sergeant named Stephenson was in charge and the rest of us returned to the Station.

At about 8.00 p.m. the TAC (temporary assistant constable) on roof guard duty at the Station, reported seeing a red flare , the " attacked " signal, from the cemetery. All available Policemen in the Station turned out and piled into any serviceable vehicle in the yard. The Station armoured car ( an elderly GMC ) led the way and we roared down to the cemetery, expecting to find the patrol slaughtered and the graves empty. We debussed at the top of the footpath and hastily went down to where we had left the patrol. We were in single file due to the narrowness of the path and most of us had our safety catches off with a round "up the spout". A British Inspector Owens was at the front of the column and halfway down started calling out the Sergeant's name.

He received no reply and that made us even more sure something had happened to the patrol. We continued down the path, the Inspector still calling the Sergeant's name at intervals. At last he obtained a reply wanting to know who was calling. It turned out that the patrol had not signalled at all, the TAC who reported the flare was obviously mistaken. The patrol was even more worried than we were. The sudden rush of vehicles to the top of the path, the hurried onslaught of many men down the path and the bellowing of unintelligible words installed a feeling of surprise and uncertainty in all, only allayed when the Sergeant recognised the Inspector's voice. The patrol had released their safety catches. It would have needed only one clumsy Constable to trip on the way down that path and discharge his weapon, for an almighty fire fight to have taken place between the two forces which would have probably resulted in the elimination of the patrol and half the relieving force!

The rest of the night passed peacefully, as did the next few days which were spent on escort duties to Haifa and Nazareth.

R. Hyde
Ex-B.C. 3941

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