Richard O’Connor

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General Sir Richard O'Connor (1889-1981) was born in Srinigar, Kashmir in India on 21 August 1889, the son of Major Maurice O'Connor, of the Royal Irish Fusiliers, and Lilian, nee Morris.

In September 1938, O'Connor was notified of his appointment as Commander of 7 Division in Palestine, and on his arrival there was informed of his additional responsibility as Military Governor of Jerusalem. The responsibility for maintaining control involved close cooperation with the Commander-in-Chief, Maj Gen Robert Haining, and the High Commissioner for Palestine and Transjordan, Sir Harold MacMichael, and is reflected in the wealth of surviving correspondence between civil and military authorities which is kept in the Liddell Hart Centre for Military Archives at King's College London. The correspondence also illustrates means of control exercised in areas of gang warfare where, for example, the sabotage and mining of railway sleepers and sniper attacks were commonplace. These means of control included orders for curfews; cooperation between the police and military, and training of the police by the latter; establishment of tactical police outposts in rural areas, and regular patrols; special regulations for road travel outside municipal boundaries for civil and military authorities, and traffic control posts; detention centres; confiscation and general control of firearms. O'Connor worked alongside Maj Gen B L Montgomery, Commander of 8 Division, to monitor and control areas of unrest between the Arab and Jewish communities. The papers contain much correspondence with Haining and refer to particular incidents, including reports on the district of Ramallah, January and February 1939 (3/3/8) and the political situation in the sub district of Hebron, 1938-1939 (3/4/10); declaration by Montgomery of the general policy to be pursued by 8 Division, November 1938 (3/4/4); and suggestions by the District Commissioner of Jerusalem, Edward Keith-Roach, for alterations to the methods of government in Palestine, February 1939. The papers also include a despatch on the operations carried out by British forces in Palestine and Transjordan, covering action between November 1938 and March 1939 (3/4/53), and those relating to the theory and practice of military control (3/4/55).

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