Palestine Gendarmerie

The Mandate 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. This picture courtesy of shows them in their distinctive uniforms.

In 1922, British authorities put out a request for unmarried men under the age of 30 to join this new force but found that the soon to be disbanded Black and Tan constabulary from Ireland provided a large and willing group to recruit from. This force was assembled in Plymouth to undergo training before being despatched by Steamer to Haifa. The Black and Tans, who were mostly ex-services from The Great War, had earned a reputation for brashness and rowdiness whilist serving in Ireland. They appear to have taken these traits with them to Palestine and vigorously pursued bandits or brigands through the deserts and mountains of the Mandate on their Model T Fords or by horseback. The force was unusual in that it was entirely British manned with no local recruitment. This also meant that they were relatively expensive for a colonial gendarmerie and so were disbanded in 1926 and effectively merged into the Palestine Police Force which included Arabs and Jews in addition to British officers. The majority of the Palestine Gendarmerie transferred to this force, but a significant number transferred to the Trans-Jordan Frontier Force or the Imperial Mesopotamian Police Force in Iraq.

Palestine | Palestine: Britain's Crown of Thorns


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by Stephen Luscombe