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Irgun Announces Hanging of Two British Soldiers; Warns of More Reprisals

July 31, 1947
See Original Daily Bulletin From This Date

The Irgun Zvai Leumi today issued an announcement to the press stating that the two British soldiers who were being held as hostages by the Jewish underground organization have been hanged.

The Irgun emphasized that the two Britons — Clifford Martin and Mervin Paice — had not been executed in reprisal for the hanging of the three Irgun members yesterday at Acre prison. “For that we will take revenge later” the announcement stated.

The Irgun “communique” enumerated the following charges on which the doomed soldiers were “tried” by a “military court” of the underground organization: 1. Illegal entry into Palestine; 2. Member of the occupying forces; 3. Wearing civilian clothes in order to spy on Jews; 4. Illegal carrying of arms; 5. Activities against the Jewish armed forces.

Anonymous telephone calls to American correspondents said that the bodies of the two would be found hanging on trees in the government forestry preserve near Nathanya. The correspondents were warned that the area around the scene of the hanging was mined.


Immediately after the Irgun announcement, strong and fully armed police units went to the forest, which is between Nathanya and Tel Mond in search of the bodies. The section surrounding the small government preserve was fenced off with barbed wire and nobody, not even reporters, was allowed to enter. Later, the Palestine Government denied finding the bodies in the Nathanya area “in spite of thorough searches which have been carried out since morning.”

In the evening, the Irgun, in a broadcast over its clandestine radio, reiterated that the two non-commissioned officers had been sentenced to death. However the broadcast did not mention any executions. Replying to an appeal from Paice’s ##ather in England to spare the life of his son, the broadcast said that the British authorities are responsible for the death of the two sergeants.

“We, the members of the Irgun, also have fathers and sons,” the announcer stated, “but Britain disregards appeals for their lives, and ten of our members met ##eath on gallows.” The broadcast then repeated the warning that the Irgun fight will go on and called on the Jews of Palestine to initiate civil disobedience. The Irgun spokesman at the same time denied that the organization had issued a statement threatening that “Palestine will run red with British blood.”


It was learned today that Deputy Superintendent G. E. Charlton, chief of the Acre jail, was relieved of his post for refusal to carry out the execution of the three Irgunists yesterday. He has served for twenty-five years with the Palestine Government. An official announcement said that he was suspended from all his duties because “for personal reasons he felt unable to be present at the executions.” Acting Superintendent Andrew Clowe was immediately appointed in his place and supervised the hanging of the three, the announcement said.

Deep grief at the Palestine authorities’ failure to heed the appeals of Palestine Jewry for clemency for the three Irgunists was expressed last night in a statement issued by the Chief Rabbinate. The statement pointed out that the three had not been convicted of murder and that the Palestine question is now sub judice at the United Nations. At the same time, the Rabbinate appealed strongly to the Irgun “to suppress feelings of revenge” and release the two hostages.


Two soldiers were killed and three slightly injured today when their truck was blown up by an electrically detonated mine near the Jewish settlement of Hadera. Shortly afterwards, the local council of Hadera issued a warning calling all inhabitants “to be on guard against the dissidents.”

A trap buried one foot deep was discovered today by the military authorities at the side of the road at the entrance to Jerusalem. The trap was ready for detonation. It contained a large amount of explosives.

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