1948 Diary of Rev. Hugh Jones

The Battle for Jerusalem, May–July 1948 as witnessed by the Rev. Hugh Jones

May 16th

Rev. Hugh Jones, rector from 1945-1964
Rev. Hugh Jones, rector from 1945-1964

“One heavy explosion occurred during the early Celebration and scattered glass and dust in the Sanctuary and damaged one of the plain glass windows there. It proved to be so noisy in Church that it was decided to hold the 10 a.m. Service and the evening Service in the School Hall. The entire Compound (excluding the Moslem families) turned up to both these Services.

During the morning a mortar fell in the Compound at the feet of two people but mercifully failed to explode.

In the evening at 10 p.m., some very heavy explosions occurred nearby and Mr. and Mrs. Hadawi and their two children who were sleeping upstairs in the Parsonage, came down and spent the night with me on the floor in my sitting room. A very noisy night was brought to an end by the explosion of a mortar in the Compound at 5:30 a.m.

One of the eight cars in the Compound was caught broadside on and the bodywork peppered by pieces from the exploded mortar which also broke two windows of the car, but fortunately the tires and engine were not hit.

The Moslem Compound adjoining the Hostel was evacuated about this time.

May 17th

Eight persons were present at the Whit-Monday Celebration in Church.

Another day of continuous heavy firing with heavy explosions in the Old City as Arabs continued to mine buildings in the vicinity of the Jewish Quarter. Another mortar from Montefiore over-shot the Citadel and fell in the Compound where it exploded, catching another car with a broadside, again, fortunately doing no serious damage. Several efforts were made by Jews to reach the Jaffa Gate to link up with the Haganah in the Old City, many of whom were reported to have taken refuge in the big Synagogue. There were several fatal casualties besides a number of wounded in the Armenian Compound from mortars.

Arabs were reported to have recaptured Barclays Bank and the Jews were reported to be in Tannous Building just below the Jaffa Gate. Almost the whole of the city of Jerusalem outside the walls reported to be in the hands of the Jews.

I rang up the British Embassy during the day to ask them to inform our Headquarters in London, through the Foreign Office, that all C.M.J. staff in Jerusalem were well. I also ‘phoned our staff in the Superintendent’s house who reported that all was well.

At midnight the Jews launched their most determined attack on the Jaffa Gate. The attack lasted for about three hours, but they were unable to make any headway against withering fire which hundreds of Arab irregulars kept up without a break from the Citadel and Jaffa Gate.

The acrid smoke from all this intensive firing was wafted across into the Compound and into my house where the smell was so thick that it was quite unpleasant to have to breathe.”

– Excerpt from Rev. Hugh Jones 1948 Diary

Read the rest of the story: Diary of Events, May–July 1948