View Full Version : Charles Tegart - Irish Architect of Palestinian Fortress Chain in the 1930s

C. Flower
10-09-2012, 09:24 PM
Fascinating report by Kevin Connolly of the BBC on an Irishman in the British police force who developed a chain of fortresses across Palestine still in use.

There is a narrative of British history from the late 1930s and early 1940s with which we are familiar - Chamberlain and Churchill, Munich and Dunkirk, the Battle of Britain and the fight for survival.
Tegart worked in parallel with that familiar story, and it's a reminder of how important Palestine was to the British that, in that direst hour of national emergency, several million pounds was spent building this extraordinary network of fortifications.
The historian Dr Gad Kroizer, of Bar-Ilan University in Israel, has published a book chronicling of the whole project and says simply: "The British saw Palestine as strategic, because it controlled the way to the Suez Canal and to India via Transjordan and Iraq. They spent 2,200,000 on these buildings... it's unbelievable how they used that money for the fortresses and not for their armies in Europe."

When the British sought to quell unrest in Palestine in the 1930s, they turned to an uncompromising Irish policeman, who came up with a drastic and expensive solution - a network of fortresses that today stand as monuments to a lost empire.
They don't make policemen like Sir Charles Augustus Tegart any more.
That's partly because they don't need to - Sir Charles was a colonial officer whose job was to keep the Union Flag flying over Britain's far-flung imperial territories.

In military terms, the forts were every bit as effective as Tegart must have hoped - even if they ended up in the hands of Arabs and Israelis rather than in the hands of the British who paid for them.

Most of them these days belong to Israel, although there are some on the Occupied Palestinian Territory of the West Bank. At least two Tegart forts are now museums and another is currently being used to store huge amounts of garlic on a kibbutz in the Jordan Valley.

But it is some kind of testament to the quality of their design and construction that plenty of the fortresses are still being used for their original purpose - if not by their original occupants.