Major Roy Farran, DSO, MC

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#1
I`m trying to establish if the transcript, or other record, of the court martial of Major Roy Farran exists and, if so, where.

Major Farran was a much decorated WW2 cavalry and SAS officer tried in Palestine (I believe in 1947?) for implication in the death of a member of the Stern Gang after the King David Hotel bomb.

Can anyone point me in the right direction?
 
#2
TangoFowerAlpha said:
I`m trying to establish if the transcript, or other record, of the court martial of Major Roy Farran exists and, if so, where.

Major Farran was a much decorated WW2 cavalry and SAS officer tried in Palestine (I believe in 1947?) for implication in the death of a member of the Stern Gang after the King David Hotel bomb.

Can anyone point me in the right direction?
Try National Archives: WO 373/53/560 - I only have the reference because of a related thing I was researching - the ref is his WO file.
 
#4
Major Roy Farran, DSO, MC

Roy Farran was born in England in 1921, attended school in India, and after service in the Second World War retired to Calgary (at the age of 31) to raise cattle. His Second World War exploits could (and have) fill volumes; Farran was a Commando officer, serving in the now famous Special Air Service. He first saw action in North Africa with the 3rd Hussars before joining the SAS, commanding a troop of tanks. Farran was moved to Crete where he was wounded in action and taken prisoner. After reuperating in a Greek hospital, Farran escaped by boat and were adrift for nine days before being rescued by a British destroyer. After joining the SAS he led many raids behind enemy lines, large and small, and was highly decorated. He won the DSO twice and the Military Cross three times, as well as the US Legion of Merit.
He remained in the SAS after World War Two, being wrongfully accused of the murder of a 16 year old Jewish terrorist in Palestine while serving there. When a mail bomb sent to "R. Farran" at his mother's home killed his brother Rex, he decided to leave the Army.

Once in Calgary, Farran founded the North Hill News in 1954 (at about the same time he wrote the Calgary Highlanders' history), and served as city alderman between 1961 and 1971. Elected a Member of the Legislative Assembly of Alberta, he served as Solicitor General from 1975 to 1979.
 
#5
TangoFowerAlpha said:
castlereagh said:
TangoFowerAlpha said:
Try National Archives: WO 373/53/560 - I only have the reference because of a related thing I was researching - the ref is his WO file.

Thanks, castlereagh, I`m new to this so I presume that`s in Kew and will need a personal visit?
You could pay for an internal researcher to look up the stuff but I would go to Kew myself.
Just register before hand, the catalogue is on line - so you can reserve the documents in advance.
Can I ask why the interest?
 
#6
Thanks, GDav. I`m specifically after details of the court martial, particularly those who testified against him. Incidently, I`ve been told he "escaped" through an open window in the gents during the trial! Bit of a player from the old school, I think.
 
#7
He was a 3rd Hussar so some of his details may still be held on file at HHQ Queen's Royal Hussars. You could try the regimental history section. www.qrh.org.uk
 
#9
TangoFowerAlpha said:
Family interest from somebody else caught up in the whole sordid business.
I know that many people who served in post war Palestine felt betrayed by Attlee but as records show there was no alternative, especially with US pressure. Ritchie Ovendale 'Britain, the United States and the End of the Palestine Mandate, 1942-48' is a great over view imo.
 
#12
GDav said:
TangoFowerAlpha said:
castlereagh said:
TangoFowerAlpha said:
castlereagh said:
TangoFowerAlpha said:
Can I ask why the interest?

Family interest from somebody else caught up in the whole sordid business.
He was found innocent so why do you think it is sordid?
It bought a lot of promising careers to an end. Hence the need to put some ghosts to rest. The 16 year old helped carry the milk churn filled with explosive in to the basement of the King David. He was caught at the scene. He refused to name names and died under interrogation. Major Farran was in charge of the interrogation.
 
#13
TangoFowerAlpha said:
GDav said:
TangoFowerAlpha said:
castlereagh said:
TangoFowerAlpha said:
castlereagh said:
TangoFowerAlpha said:
Can I ask why the interest?

Family interest from somebody else caught up in the whole sordid business.
He was found innocent so why do you think it is sordid?
It bought a lot of promising careers to an end. Hence the need to put some ghosts to rest. The 16 year old helped carry the milk churn filled with explosive in to the basement of the King David. He was caught at the scene. He refused to name names and died under interrogation. Major Farran was in charge of the interrogation.
I think Farran was arrested on the suspicion of ordering the 'kidnap' of Alexander Rubowitz. Not excusing the murder or whatever happened to that boy but the Stern gang were causing mass panic and British soldiers and others were dying because of their actions.
 
#14
castlereagh said:
TangoFowerAlpha said:
GDav said:
TangoFowerAlpha said:
castlereagh said:
TangoFowerAlpha said:
castlereagh said:
TangoFowerAlpha said:
Can I ask why the interest?

Family interest from somebody else caught up in the whole sordid business.
He was found innocent so why do you think it is sordid?
It bought a lot of promising careers to an end. Hence the need to put some ghosts to rest. The 16 year old helped carry the milk churn filled with explosive in to the basement of the King David. He was caught at the scene. He refused to name names and died under interrogation. Major Farran was in charge of the interrogation.
I think Farran was arrested on the suspicion of ordering the 'kidnap' of Alexander Rubowitz. Not excusing the murder or whatever happened to that boy but the Stern gang were causing mass panic and British soldiers and others were dying because of their actions.

I agree. there was the case of the two British sergeants who were tortured and castrated by the Stern Gang. It is easy to see why Major Farran may have taken things too far, given the climate at the time. But I`m no expert on the subject - that`s why I`m after the trial transcript.
 
#15
Found an abstract of article which could help you - Not sure where you are but if you want the article just go to your local library and ask for a inter service request and they should be able to get the article for you at a small cost.


Type: Article
Author: Charters, David A.
Title: SPECIAL OPERATIONS IN COUNTER-INSURGENCY: THE FARRAN CASE, PALESTINE 1947.
Citation: Journal of the Royal United Services Institute for Defence Studies [Great Britain] 1979 124(2): 56-61.
Abstract: By 1947 the Palestinian police force had become highly militarized, especially the special operations group, with the appointment of officers to senior positions. These transformed the role of the police into a military one. The parameters of the counterinsurgency group were never firmly defined, its intelligence was poor, and the trial of Captain Roy Farran in 1947, highlighted the inadequacies of the group and the police.
Documentation: Based on documents in the Public Record Office, London; 34 notes.
Abstracter: E. J. Adams
Language: English
Period: 1947.
Subject: Trials.
Police.
Palestine.
Farran, Roy.
Counterinsurgency.
ISSN: 0953-3559
Entry: 33B:698
 
#16
I don't see it as sordid at all. He was obviously a brave man and he was left in a situation where he had to fight fire with fire.

With all due respect I think that needs to be taken into account.
 
#17
Thanks again, castlereigh, I will get on to it next week. Sorry not to have replied earlier, I was summoned by higher authority to deal with the Sunday roast.

With regard to GDav`s assertion that it was not "sordid", I was not so much refering to Farran`s actions as the fallout from the trial. It`s all hearsay to me but I gather that the British authorities took much the same view as GDav and initially tried to sweep it under the table. The subsequent outcry from the Jewish homeland lobby (particularly in America where the Stern gang were seen as freedom fighters) put enough pressure on the British to bring the case to trial. When the charge sheets were drawn up it was not so much that a quilty verdict would mean a rap over the knuckles and half a dozen extra orderly officers for those concerned but a conviction for murder and the death penalty. At which point the police/military broke ranks collectively and individually and a lot of finger pointing and "It was him not me, m`lud" went on. Careers were ended. Sordid or not, GDav?

The sad ending was that when Farran was acquitted the Jewish militants, as is their way, decided to take matters into their own hands and sent a letter bomb to Farran`s mother`s address in England. The letter was addressed to "R. Farran". Roy Farran was away but his brother Rex opened it thinking it was for him and went to meet his maker.
 
#18
Yes I'm aware of the death of the Rev Rex Farran. I merely pointed out that if the man was acquitted he was deemed innocent of all charges, regardless of the circumstances. I'm not trying to sanctify him.
 
#19
TangoFowerAlpha said:
Thanks again, castlereigh, I will get on to it next week. Sorry not to have replied earlier, I was summoned by higher authority to deal with the Sunday roast.

With regard to GDav`s assertion that it was not "sordid", I was not so much refering to Farran`s actions as the fallout from the trial. It`s all hearsay to me but I gather that the British authorities took much the same view as GDav and initially tried to sweep it under the table. The subsequent outcry from the Jewish homeland lobby (particularly in America where the Stern gang were seen as freedom fighters) put enough pressure on the British to bring the case to trial. When the charge sheets were drawn up it was not so much that a quilty verdict would mean a rap over the knuckles and half a dozen extra orderly officers for those concerned but a conviction for murder and the death penalty. At which point the police/military broke ranks collectively and individually and a lot of finger pointing and "It was him not me, m`lud" went on. Careers were ended. Sordid or not, GDav?

The sad ending was that when Farran was acquitted the Jewish militants, as is their way, decided to take matters into their own hands and sent a letter bomb to Farran`s mother`s address in England. The letter was addressed to "R. Farran". Roy Farran was away but his brother Rex opened it thinking it was for him and went to meet his maker.
Glad I could be of help. But I think that people often forget that the Stern Gang brought terror back to the UK with their campaign of Letter bombs against people they deemed to be 'anti-semitic' i.e. those who did not agree with their aims. I also think it is unfair to say that the authorities had a deliberate policy of sweeping things under the carpet, they were in a now in situation in which they were effectively powerless. You had an establishment that was split between pro-zionist factions and those who wanted to protect British interests in the ME. Therefore the actions of Farran and others like him have to be seen in the context of a policy that was unclear and divided. Also many of the people engaged in what was a police action were actually military and so came with 'military' solutions and had no real guidance on how to 'police' the situation. It was therefore a situation that was doomed to produce 'mistakes' on all sides.
 
#20
TangoFowerAlpha said:
I agree. there was the case of the two British sergeants who were tortured and castrated by the Stern Gang. It is easy to see why Major Farran may have taken things too far, given the climate at the time. But I`m no expert on the subject - that`s why I`m after the trial transcript.
I think it was three sergeants, all RAF BTW, who were kidnapped, tortured and hanged. Anecdotally I am informed that the mutilations were post mortem and intended to terrify the survivors not brutalise the subjects but that is not really the issue, is it? More importantly, IMHO, there was another British sergeant who was not kidnapped because he was out - probably up to no good - at the time. He was Cuddles pere and thank God, but for his grace and the poor close recce skills and impatience of the Stern Gang, I would not be here to read this interesting thread.
 
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