HAIFA (Jun. 30)
The last British soldier left Palestine soil today and the thirty-one-year British rule of Palestine ended at midnight, by proclamation of Lt. Gen. Gordon H.A. MacMillan, last British military commander in this country.
The military administration, which began with the triumphal entry into Jerusalem by Gen. Edmund Allenby at the head of a British army in 1917, ended in good order with the last few units of marines and infantry withdrawing from behind their barbed wire positions in military order. They were taken aboard landing, ships and thence escorted to four British warships lying in the harbor.
As the British withdrew from one port building after another they handed over the keys to Jewish port authorities. At the police station the British flag was hauled down and an Israel banner hoisted in its stead. The official raising of the Jewish flag over the port authority building took place at 6 P.M. local time.
Gen. MacMillan’s order terminating the British evacuation at midnight tonight brought the occupation to an end a full month before the official British timetable. MacMillan himself boarded a ship’s boat after noon and was taken out to his headquarters aboard a British cruiser.
During the embarkation planes roared back and forth overhead and depth bombs were exploded in the harbor at frequent intervals. Apparently the British still feared reprisals by extremists.
The parting ceremonies were marred by MacMillan’s last minute refusal to attend a banquet tendered in his honor by the Haifa municipality. He had previously accepted, but later refused because three British heavy tanks were stolen and he insisted that the Jews return them before he would attend the affair.
It is believed that the tanks were stolen by British soldiers deserting, with them to the Jewish forces. One of the tanks was discovered near Yagour and several Jewish camp employees there were detained for a short while, but were later released. The other two have not been recovered.
In retaliation for the stealing of three British vehicles, British troops today confiscated 13 Israeli public or private vehicles. The occupants and the contends of the cars and trucks were thrown out and the vehicles were driven off. It was officially estimated that over 250,000 tons of equipment and supplies were evacuated by the British since last December.