Alan Mills – Room with a View

Alan Mills finished his training at the Palestine Police training college at Mount Scopus Jerusalem and awaited his first posting in Haifa

So the end of basic training and farewell to Mount Scopus in Jerusalem. The next morning six of us were all present and correct with full and civilian kit, waiting for transport to transfer us to Haifa, about 80 miles away.

Within half an hour we were on our way but it turned out to be a long tedious journey stopping to drop others off at Nablus, Jenin and Ramalla before eventually arriving at Central Police Station, Haifa. Here, we found this was also the police headquarters for Northern Palestine Region.  They were like the civil police force in the area, but there wasn’t much difference between us, we all mucked in together  sharing the same mess for meals and all other facilities.

Haifa was the main port for Palestine, one of the reasons I’d asked to be posted there was because I hoped there might be a sea breeze to make the stifling      middle eastern heat a bit more bearable. Like all ports it had rich and poor areas but the main divide was the Arab and Jewish quarters.

We went through various introductions and paper work and eventually we were directed to our living quarters which were all on the sixth floor, various dormatries all the same layout, six beds in, three either side of a large window. I presumed my bed was the unmade one to the right of the window, By now it was dark as I unpacked, made the bed up and made myself at home. The next morning I was awoke by the sun shining through the window – and what an astonishing view I was presented with. Looking straight down was the main road, which I learned was called Kingsway, there were modern (very expensive) shops, cafes and restaurants. The road ran into the port area, with cargo ships flying the flags of  all nationalities which were accompanied by three Royal Navy Destroyers who were there to escort any illegal or sinking small ships back to the port. At the tip of the bay was the City of Acre which was steeped in history as the link between the Crusaders and their advance in the regions towards Jerusalem and the lucrative spice trade. This beautiful view was encapsulated by Mount Hermon which overlooked us from Lebanon. This was snow capped all year round, in fact I was told you could be swimming in the sea near Beirut and after a short taxi ride, thirty minutes later, still in your swimming trunks you could be skiingdown the slopes.

After breakfast we were officially welcomed by the British Police Inspector who was in charge of the station, assisted by four British shift sergeants who in turn were supported by between four and eight constables per shift. He broadly outlined the stations beat, which was set out in overlapping circles a little like the Olympic rings. The reason for this was we had no radio’s and when we were in the depth of the Arab quarter, we really were, on our own. Each circle had a time table  so we always met at a certain time at the point of overlap. It wasn’t a perfect system but it’s all we had. To finish off his introduction the Inspector then told us he expected us to wear a white singlet or vest while on duty. This was not so much an order as common sense, as the vest could be used in an emergency to stop the blood (our own blood) if we were to be shot or stabbed, which  apparently was not uncommon. Great I thought, out there on our own with no means of communication and a good chance of getting stabbed!

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3 Comments

  1. Lovely, very evocative, look forward to the next issue.

  2. Another great article, keep it up Alan, everyone in our club loves and looks forward to your articles.

  3. great story. having lived in Haifa for 77 years–this story is special. I wish we could travel to Beirut

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