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Acre Jail Break

AcreOn April the 16th Dov Gruner and the three men captured by the 6th Airborne Division were hanged in Acre Prison to become the first 'martyrs' of the Irgun, who in a broadcast declared the British Army and Administration to be  'criminal organizations'. On the 4th of May midway through the afternoon the Irgun blew a hole in the mighty, ancient wall of Acre Gaol and enabled 255 of its 623 inmates to escape, the great majority of them being Arabs.

The raiders came in British Army vehicles and were dressed as British Soldiers, and having done the deed they had the prospect of making good their escape, for there was no Army camp within three miles of the prison. However, some men of the 1st Parachute Battalion were bathing nearby and they gave chase in their scout car and forced one terrorist vehicle off the road  near the beach, killing some of its load and scattering the rest. In the hunt for the latter Privates Mc Cormack and Thorne saw some make off in another truck. They at once commandeered a car from a Arab to give chase. The terrorists turned off the road, leapt out amid some crops and opened fire with a bren gun on their pursuers.  The two Parachute regiment Privates stalked and slew the bren gunner, who was a terrorist dressed as an R.A.S.C captain and turned his weapon on his comrades. They soon forced five of them into surrender with crippling fire and also recaptured  three escaped Arab prisoners, for this action they each received the meagre award of the British Empire Medal. Although the troops were on active service, it was not yet the policy to grant martial awards.

It was about this time when the Government informed the United Nations that it would be giving up the Mandate of Palestine and would not enforce any solution not acceptable to both Arab and Jews. the bombs had done their work effectively, even if by devious method of making the cost of keeping order heavier than the Government were prepared to bear. There was general disbelief that the British  really intended to act in this manner, and for the jews ironically, it was tinged with fear. The leaders of the Arab League had already pledged themselves to the extermination of any Independent Jewish state.

James Robinson

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