On This Day…

On the 30th June 1948 the last British troops left Palestine


In 1917, the British Balfour Declaration promised to support the establishment of a Jewish national home in Ottoman-controlled Palestine. This was in order to win Jewish support for Britain’s First World War effort. The British had also made a promise to the Arabs that a united Arab country, covering most of the Arab Middle East, would result if the Ottoman Turks were defeated. In the aftermath of the war, neither promise was fulfilled.

In 1920, Britain assumed responsibility for Palestine under a League of Nations Mandate. During the next two decades over 100,000 Jews entered the country. The British Army’s operations in Palestine during this period were mainly directed against militant Arab groups opposed to this mass Jewish immigration. Violence reached a height with the Arab Revolt of 1936-39.

Following the Second World War, 250,000 Jewish refugees were stranded in displaced persons camps in Europe. Despite the pressure of world opinion the British refused to lift the ban on immigration and admit 100,000 Jews into Palestine. The Jewish underground forces, which had resisted attacking the British as long as they were fighting Nazi Germany united. Now their fighters began to carry out raids against the British.


British troops deployed


In late 1945, in response to full-scale riots in Jerusalem and Tel Aviv, and bomb attacks on the railway system, British troops from the 1st Infantry and 6th Airborne Divisions were deployed in support of the civil police.

When the 3rd Infantry Division arrived in Palestine in 1947, the number of British troops deployed there had risen to about 100,000 – the majority of them National Servicemen. The Royal Signals contribution comprised of Palestine Command Signals, the divisional signals and the brigade signal sections. In November 1947, the United Nations recommended the partition of Palestine and the establishment of Arab and Jewish States and in May 1948 Britain gave up her mandate and the British Army departed from Palestine leaving the Jews and the Arabs to fight it out in the war that followed.

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