The British Section of the Palestine Gendarmerie was raised in early 1922 by the colonial secretary, Winston Churchill, as a striking force and riot squad for Palestine. Through the agency of the Irish police chief, General Hugh Tudor, this British Gendarmerie was recruited almost entirely from amongst the Royal Irish Constabulary (RIC) and its Auxiliary Division, then in the process of disbanding as part of the recent Anglo-Irish settlement. The international notoriety of the Black and Tans led to official efforts to obscure the fact that the force was to be drawn from RIC ranks but these were entirely unsuccessful. Indeed, the British Gendarmerie itself quickly acquired a reputation for Black and Tan-type behaviour but an examination of its four-year career indicates that this derived more from preconceptions about the force's composition than from its actual conduct. In fact, in terms of force discipline and levels of police brutality, the British Gendarmerie's record compared very favourably with those of its ‘parent’ forces in Ireland, lending support to recent claims that historians have tended to over-value character-based explanations at the expense of circumstance-based assessments when analysing police behaviour both during the Irish revolution and the Palestine Mandate.
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