LONDON (Sep. 4)
The War Office today cancelled all leaves for the First Division, whose 15,000 troops had been abruptly recalled on the eve of maneuvers at Sussex to hold themselves in readiness for immediate shipment to Palestine for service in quelling the 20-week-old disorders. All officers and men away on leave were ordered back to the Aldershot barracks.
Three thousand reserves were called to service by the War Office as the regulars began rushing preparations at Aldershot to embark for Palestine at a moment’s notice.
Garrison Adjutant Captain Mole declared:
“We have only a few days to prepare for the men’s departure to Palestine, but our efficiency is at the top mark and we have nothing to worry about. The men will probably entrain from Bordon to Southampton.”
The troops were brought by buses from Sussex to the Aldershot barracks, singing and cheering despite a soaking rain.
The Second Infantry brigade, comprising 3,000 soldiers and fully mechanized, sails within a few days to permit proclamation of martial law. The troops are being rushed in response to High Commissioner Sir Arthur Grenfell Wauchope’s report that reinforcements are necessary if martial law is to be enforced.
Approximately 15,000 troops are already in Palestine including infantry, mechanized cavalry, tank corps, armored cars and airplanes. This constitutes the heaviest military concentration since the World War.
Such sensational interest has been aroused by the Cabinet’s decision to cancel military maneuvers at Sussex in order to be in a position to rush more troops to the Holy Land that it has overshadowed in London newspapers the Spanish rebellion and the Richman-Merrill trans-oceanic flight.
These moves by the British War Office dramatically climaxed a day of lightening developments in the Palestine situation following the Cabinet’s meeting Wednesday.
The day began yesterday with announcement of Colonial Minister William G. A. Ormsby-Gore’s letter of reassurance to Dr. Chaim Weizmann, president of the Jewish Agency for Palestine, that suspension of Jewish immigration into the Holy Land was not being considered as a basis for achieving peace with the Arab insurgent movement.
The letter dissipated fears among Zionists that reported negotiations with Arab dignitaries through the mediation of Iraq’s Foreign Minister Nuri Pasha as-Said, were regarding Jewish interests as a pawn in “the Arab-British game”, as one leading Zionist expressed it.
News of the sanguinary battle in the Tulkarem hills near Bala where three soldiers and sixteen Arabs were killed and several British planes forced down only emphasized the nature of the emergency, informed quarters stated.
They pointed to this latest aggression by Arabs as concrete evidence that even if Arab leaders are prepared for peace, martial law is still urgent in order to crush guerilla bands which roam the land. Armed Arabs it was said, will not now abandon their weapons at the request of Arab politicians.
As even further proof of this analysis, a letter sent to the Arab Supreme Committee earlier in the week by Arab brigand chieftains was offered as “Exhibit A.” The communication repudiated any concessions or agreements until Arab demands of complete immigration stoppage, ban on land sales to Jews and institution of an Arab national government were granted.
Nevertheless, Jewish circles, though happy at the new turn of events, refused to delude themselves that the danger of immigration suspension was past since the question is due to be considered again by the Cabinet at its session next Wednesday.
The possibility is not discounted here that the Arabs may awake to a realization that their insurgency has gone too far in challenging British prestige in Palestine and that as a result, more conciliatory tactics may be adopted by Arabs.
In such an event, the British government might not be averse to halt immigration upon arrival of the Royal Commission into the Holy Land, Jewish leaders maintained.