The Historama
Alex Ben-Arieh
P.O.Box 32128
Tel Aviv, Israel 61321
Phone: +972-547-680-086
Fax: +972-3-546-1971

Uniform (and History) of Jewish Palestine Police "Noter"

Though this isn't the most significant individual article I've had the pride of presenting in the online gallery (so far) this is probably the most interesting one: a near-complete uniform of a Jewish 'Noter' (guard) in Eretz-Israel/Palestine from the period 1936-48.

This is something seen widely here in period photographs but very rarely encountered in 'real life', and because of its Zionist-social-military historical and iconic significance, for the benefit of my visitors from abroad, I'll combine the showcase with a historical summary of the Jewish 'Notrim' all here on this page.

To shed light on the scope of the subject, the history of the 'Notrim' relates directly to the "Palestine Police", the concept of Jewish self-Defence in Palestine and the eventual establishment of the Israeli Army; the "tower and stockade" settlement movement; and the "kofer ha'yishuv" initiative. I'll cover all the subjects here.

The key word for this overall subject is "Noter", which is best translated into English as "Guard". In Israeli social history, the movement which spawned and supported the creation of these "guards" - though donations, social norms, songs and prose - is called by the noun/pro-noun, the "Notrut", and those who served in the "Notrut" were called "Notrim" (in plural).

To understand the meaning of the uniform on display here I have to backtrack and explain first the origins of those who wore such a uniform:

The "Notrim" were legally armed, uniformed Jews, organized into forces for the purpose of defense against Arab marauders, in 1936. They were created under the auspices of the British "Palestine Police".

Establishment of the Palestine Police
The Palestine Police Force was created on 1 July 1920, numbering 1,217 officers and men (both British and local Arabs and Jews) with the formation of a civil government in Palestine. This force assumed police responsibilities from the British Army (i.e. Military Police): the Army, which conquered Palestine from the Turks in 1917-1918, had until then fulfilled police duties in the area under the auspices of the Enemy Occupied Territory Administration (South).

Between 1920 and 1926 the police forces in Palestine consisted of the "Palestine Police Force", the "Palestine Gendermerie", the "British Gendermerie", and various military units.

In 1926, the two gendarmeries were disbanded, with some joining the British and Palestinian (Arab and Jewish) sections of the Palestine Police, while most transferred to a new formation called the "Transjordan Frontier Force" (TJFF). In that same year the Palestine Police established a supplementary police branch of volunteer assistants.

Bechor Shitreet: judge, future first Israeli Minister of Police and signatory on the Declaration of Independence (1948) as a Mandate-period officer in the Palestine Police Force.

In its early years the uniform of the Palestine Police Force was not homogenous and developed on a case-by-case basis depending on the locale: tunics and breeches varied from Army drill khaki to Police black, with variations in the patterns for officers or for staff, and sometimes a mixture of black tunics with khaki breeches. As a compromise for the religious needs (kneeling for prayer) of Moslem members and in order to avoid offending any of the nationalities by using a style associated too much with one over another, the Police generally wore a black woolen fez/tarboosh-styled hat called a "kolpak" hat, though here too headwear varied depending on the locale: in Tel Aviv the police wore specially designed visored hats with a white crown and blue band, in Zichron Yaakov and further north they wore Army caps, elsewhere they wore the kolpak.

About the only standard accoutrements found everywhere were the leather jackboots, sam browne belts and cross-strap; in many instances, also a black or brown leather bandolier (though not in Tel Aviv). In time the Palestine Police would be clothed in a homogeneous manner: black pants, tunic and black kolpak hat or visored hats.

The first officers of the Mandatory police in the Upper Galilee, 1918. Bechor Shitreet on far right, next to a Moslem, a Jewish and a Christian (far left) policeman. Seated on the left is the British district commander (Mackenzie).

Jewish Self-Defence
Although the police contained Arab and Jewish members, on the ground there were constant tensions between the two nationalities. Jewish residents back in the 1870's had already experienced attacks by Arab marauders and begun to protect themselves from further attacks; at the turn of the 20th Century they also employed the services of Circassians (Caucasian Moslems) to protect them, and then in 1907 a small group of settlers established the first organized self-defense organization, called "Bar Giora". In 1909 this grew into a larger region-wide entity called "HaShomer" ('The Watchman' or 'The Guardsman').

After the First World War, Arab nationalism gained momentum in Palestine resulting in violent attacks on Jews and Jewish property. Reacting to what appeared to be a lack of will on the part of the Palestine Police to afford adequate protection, in 1921 the "Ha'Shomer" movement transformed itself into a more organized and established body called the "Hagana" ("Defense"), now finally under the unified leadership of the Jewish community's governing body, the "Histadrut" (the Jewish worker's union) of the umbrella "Jewish Agency for Palestine".

Nevertheless, the "Hagana" was what the British Mandatory Authorities considered to be an illegal armed force: though large in time, it was poorly equipped and unable to accumulate adequate experience in the open.

Formation of the "Notrut"
The watershed event which led to an expansion of legal Jewish self-defense in Palestine was the "Great Arab Revolt" (or "Arab Troubles") of 1936-39. The Arab leadership of Palestine instigated the revolt, which began in the form of a general strike, as a protest against Jewish immigration and sale of land to Jews; the strike was aimed at wrecking the Jewish economy which had been dependent until then on Arab labor. However the revolt also targeted Mandatory institutions and so drew the direct reaction of the British against it.

In the year the Revolt erupted, the Palestine Police expanded its auxiliary branches with the recruitment of two full-time kinds of reinforcements: "Ghaffirs" and "Supernumerary Police":

Every police commander was permitted to recruit "Additional Police" (i.e. "Supernumerary Police") for the hour of need. These forces were equipped with military rifles, Police uniforms (with the "Supernumerary" emblem see below on this page) and paid for by the Police from a special budget.

The "Ghaffirs" (meaning "watchman" in Arabic) were a carry-over from Ottoman days and found throughout the Arabian world - a sort of private armed guard; in Palestine's case, armed and clothed in uniforms similar to those of the Police. They were armed with hunting rifles, subjected to less direct scrutiny than the "Supernumeraries", and permitted to enter the open spaces between Jewish settlements. Their salaries were paid by their employer - meaning, by the Jewish settlements and institutions themselves.

Future IDF Chief of Staff, Moshe Dayan, as a 'Noter' and wearing a metal emblem of the 'Ghaffir' on his kolpak hat.

The Police also recruited "Special Constables" (or "Special Police" - SP; in Hebrew "Mushbayim", meaning "Seconded") - civilian volunteers, working for free or recruited suddenly at times of emergency, who were employed in neighborhood defense, and equipped with weapons and uniforms (or just wore a police brassard on civilian clothes).

The "Hagana" saw an opportunity in the enlistment of the Jewish population into these auxiliary forces to promote the creation of a legal Jewish self-defense force - really, the first ever legal armed force of Jews for Jews. The Jewish Agency supported the enlistment of Hagana members into these branches as a way of acquiring know-how and experience and in time succeeded in staffing these forces with Hagana members. In the meantime the general movement to recruit Jews into the Ghaffirs and Supernumerary Police lead to the coining of the name for these types of formations, the "Notrim". Notrim now became the word being used as a generic pronoun for all types of armed auxiliaries.

In June 1936, the Agency proposed to the Mandatory Government that it recruit 2,550 guards, of whom 1,800 would be paid for by the Jewish settlements. Although the Government didn't accept the idea in total it did decide to allow individual settlements to request defense assistance on a case-by-case basis. Initially 600 men were sworn in - about a third being paid for by the Government - and these forces were restricted to operate only within the boundaries of the settlements. These forces were officially called "Temporary Additional Constables" (TAC).


The first Notrim appeared spring 1936 in a variety of appearances: some in old work clothes wearing the brassard of "Temporary Additional Police", and others in wrinkled, ill-fitting yellow-khaki uniforms and wearing the 'keffiyeh' scarf or the kolpak with a badge stamped "Ghaffir". In time there was a formal distinction between the uniforms worn, with black kolpaks being worn by the Police and brown-khaki ones being worn by "Notrim", however in practice there was no such distinction and throughout their existence (1936-1948) Notrim could be found wearing both Police black and Noter khaki uniforms and accessories. Some of these distinctions were determined by the locale of the Noter force in question: in Tel Aviv, for instance, with its strong Hebrew culture, Notrim regularly wore the white and blue visored hats of the municipal police.

Among the first groups of Notrim in 1936, wearing Arab 'Keffiyeh' on their heads.

Another early group of Notrim in training wearing a variety of hats, accoutrements and uniforms.

The security situation worsened over the course of the months and by September the Government had recruited more than 2,800 "Notrim". These later recruits received matching uniforms and were granted permission to operate beyond the boundaries of the settlements - and the Government paid half of their salary (the settlements bearing the rest). Among the Notrim posted specifically to settlement defence, the officers were British while NCO's and privates were all Jewish.

Notrim in the expanses outside settlement boundaries.

In October of that year the Arab strike came to an end and the Mandatory Government awaited the arrival and recommendations of the Parliamentary "Peel Commission". During this period of relative calm the Government offered the Jewish Agency a deal whereby of it would disband the "Hagana", the Government would enlist expand the "Notrim" by several thousand. However the Agency declined the offer, and a combination of continuing Arab disturbances plus pressure by the British Army to cut expenditures led the Government to release many Notrim from regular duty. These would now be formed into a standby-reserve force of 4460 men.

The Police appointed "Notrim" Officers in its national Command plus in four other districts, and so turned the force into a national force, now called the "Auxiliary Police Force" (in English). The Jewish Agency simultaneously appointed "Noter" liaison offers of its own to each of the district commands, and these kept in touch with the Hagana, for recruitment and coordination purposes. As the Peel Commission would eventually call the Jewish community in Palestine (called the "Yishuv" in Hebrew - a pronoun for the community) a "state within a state", so too the "Notrut" was rapidly becoming the army-in-the-making of the said state.

From spring 1937 the Government permitted the Notrim to operate even beyond the surrounding areas of the settlements in times of pursuit of marauders; they were also authorized now to provide security and escort to workers, and so also assistance in the establishment of "tower and stockade" settlements (see below). By the summer the Mandatory authorities even began to regard the Notrim stationed on the settlements as a homogenous force, and called it the "Jewish Settlement Defence" (JSD).

That same year the Jewish Agency and the Hagana organized three short legal training courses: 90 Notrim were trained, among them corporals and squad commanders. Under guidance by British sergeants, three more courses were run for corporals, and 150 men participated. The army firing grounds were opened before the Notrim and the Hagana initiated the publication of training booklets translated from the English, under the series title "For the Noter" ("La Noter"). In this way a legal framework was established for the distribution of training materials to members of the Hagana.

These developments dovetailed with a general change in military doctrine within the Yishuv: until 1936 the Jewish leadership in Palestine had advocated a policy of "restraint" ("havlaga", in Hebrew) towards Arab attacks, with an emphasis on passive defense. The eruption of the Revolt spurred greater acceptance of a doctrine promoted by a prominent commander of the Haganah, Yitzhak Sadeh, who encouraged the Jews to "come out from behind the fences" and attack their enemies on their own soil.

Notrim (the "Jewish Settlement Police" in this case - note the triangular emblem on the sleeve; more about the JSP below) receive mortar training.

Testaments to the expansion of the "Notrut": membership documents of various auxiliary Noter formations.

A Hebrew translation of the British Army training manual "Small Arms Training", 1937. Published by "La Noter" ("For the Noter").

As the "Notrut" movement started to crystallize into a coherent and organized vehicle, supporting both legal and illegal expressions of Jewish self-defense, operating inside and beyond the settlements, identified with the city as well as the agricultural countryside, it also started to express itself as the embodiment of the "new Hebrew man": assertive ("coming out from behind the fences"), independent and proud, entrusted with his own weapon, trained in defense (soon also attack).

The image of the "new Hebrew man" protecting but also building also gained strength from the involvement of the Notrut in a non-military but equally Zionist activity: the establishment of new settlements.

The new "Hebrew Man": the Noter Tzvi Ben-Gershon on duty, 1938.

The Noter as cultural image, 1939.

Notrim building the northern fence take a break to play music, 1938.

A military-pioneering, but not militarist, bearing.

A Noter enlistment ("meguyas", in Hebrew) pin symbolically associating the force with the tower and stockade settlement movement

The Tower and Stockade Settlements
The Zionist leadership's response to the Arab revolt took the expression of an idea put forward by Shlomo Gur, to build quickly erected wood and metal entrenched-settlements all over Palestine in order to create "facts on the ground" in time for the findings of the Peel Commission.

Notrim guard a newly constructed "tower and stockade" settlement.

From left to right, the entire political spectrum of the Jewish leadership in Palestine supported the initiative (called "Khoma u'Migdal" in Hebrew). To erect such settlements the raw materials were prepared ahead of time; in a certain place at a certain time groups of pioneers would set out with Noter accompaniment to erect the tower around which would then be built the stockade. The underground Haganah helped plan and carry out the program, and as many Hagana members were also formally members of the Notrim forces, the Notrim played both a covert and visible part in the logistics and erection of settlements as well as in the defense of contructed and completed settlements.

Notrim protect the erection of the watch tower for kibbutz Betelem (now Ein Gev), 1937.

Notrim help found kibbutz Hanita, 1938. Built near the Lebanon border in an area without road transport, requiring manual transport of materials and much armed protection, this was considered the crowning achievement of the tower and stockade movement, and an opera was written in its honor.

The "tower and stockade" initiative was at once both a practical and an ideological movement, and the close association of the "Notrut" with its promulgation made that Jewish defense force almost synonymous with the Zionist "tower and stockade" movement. The movement's daring achievements stirred emotions throughout Jewish Palestine: books, pamphlets and even full length operas were written in its honor. In the course of the next 3 years, from December 1936 to October 1939, about 53 such settlements were built - and these would have a decisive effect on the separation lines of the future, 1947 United Nations partition plan for Palestine.

Original film showing the establishment of kibbutz "Negba" with Hebrew commentary (and sadly, some modern background music which kills the nostalgic atmosphere).

Another, silent, original film is here


When the Arab Revolt resumed in force in autumn 1937, the Jewish Agency authorized the corporal-level Notrim on the settlements to recruit their own reserve forces, and organized short training courses for the new recruits.

In 1938 a machine-gun training course took place and in general training was expanded to include field training. At the start of the year about half of the salaried Notrim were raised in rank to Corporals and Sergeants - the Corporals for the settlements and the Sergeants for settlement blocs. The Sergeants underwent month-long training courses run by British Army trainers and overseen by members of the Hagana. Sergeants were also appointed to "Senior Sergeants" or "Group-Sergeants".

The Jewish Agency continued to press for the expansion of the number of Notrim and their weapons, and in the summer a British Army and a British Police representative evaluated the defense needs of the settlements. They proposed the creation of the "Jewish Settlement Police" (JSP; in Hebrew it's called the "Hebrew Settlement Police"), and this was approved at the start of 1939.

In the meantime about 60 "Mobile Guards" ("Mishmarot Nayim" - also called "Manim" from the initials of the Hebrew words) numbering 400 men were established, and these traveled in armored 'tenders' - some provided by the Government and others from the Jewish Agency. Of all the Noter formations, the "Manim" were frequently seen wearing steel helmets - ironically, German steel helmets.

The feeling of public security fostered by the mere existence of mobile Jewish self-defence at any hour of the day turned the word "Tender" into a cultural icon of its own: whenever mentioned - even to this day - it always implied Jewish armed self-defence. Such a central cultural idiom was it that the lyricist Moshe Vilensky wrote a song called "The Tender Drives Forth", sung by Shoshana Damari in 1939 (can be heard here).

With the establishment of the Jewish Settlement Police, the "Manim" were absorbed into its battalions and they formed the JSP's mobile alert force. The size of the JSP, particularly the "Manim", already reached 14,400 men in November 1938 (i.e. even before the official establishment of the JSP) - and of these 1,300 were fully salaried.

Noter "Manim" in an armored car

An armored mobile force of Noter "Manim", with Moshe Dayan in foreground (right).

A Noter "Manim" force at Kibbutz Dan in 1939.

The "Kofer Ha'Yishuv"
Between the years 1938 and 1948 the Jewish community in Eretz Israel / Palestine (called in Hebrew, the "Yishuv") instituted a mechanism by which to raise funds for self-defense, and this initiative operated between 1938-1939 under the name "Kofer Ha'Yishuv" (sometimes translated too directly as the "People's Ransom Fund" and so perhaps it's more accurate to refer to it as the "Community Levy").

Unlike other forms of fundraising by the Yishuv, the "Kofer" was not a voluntary charity but an actual levy imposed on the Jewish residents of Palestine: although the British Mandatory government did impose compulsory taxes, these were relatively light and insufficient for the provision of various services to the Mandate's residents. Until the Arab Revolt of 1936-1939, the Jewish community had raised supplemental funds for areas like education through the issuance of vouchers called "Shekels" - donors who gave money received a "Shekel" token which entitled them to participate in elections to the Yishuv's various bodies.

The Zionist land purchasing authority, the Jewish National Fund (JNF), had long issued labels used as semi-official stamps: here one design connects the Notrut with the Tower and Stockade settlement movement - the chief beneficiaries of the "Kofer Ha'Yishuv".

A "Kofer HaYishuv" womens' wedding band given as a token in exchange for the donation of a real precious-metal wedding ring.

A "Kofer HaYishuv" donation pin given as a token for the donation of jewelry, 1938-39.

However the sheer intensity of the Arab Revolt required additional funds to support both the "Tower and Stockade" settlement enterprise and the general protection required both for that movement and for civilian life in general.

With funds for these settlements and armed branches lacking, the Yishuv instituted the "Kofer ha'Yishuv". In this framework taxes were levied on imports, entertainment events, on drinks at coffee shops - and even as imposed contributions during key Jewish holidays.

Evaders faced "honor courts" and the movement as a whole generated a culture of its own with slogans, jingles and informative booklets. In this context, residents were encouraged to donate items of precious metals, under the framework of an initiative called "Matat Takhshitim" ("giving of jewelry"), in exchange for which they would receive a 'token' in return - a ring, a pin, a document. In this regard there were men and women who even donated their wedding rings and so in exchange the Kofer fund gave male and female token rings in return, with the words "Kofer ha'Yishuv" stamped on them.

The Jewish Settlement Police
With the approach of the Second World War, in March 1939, the Commander of the British Army in Palestine launched a committee on the defense of the settlements, including members of the Army, the Police and the Jewish Agency. The committee dealt with organizational changes in light of the establishment of new Jewish settlements.

As a result the Jewish Settlement Police (JSP) became a legal armed militia charged with defending the settlements and the open spaces between them. Beyond the legal duties of the Notrim, these forces also enabled greater training of Hagana members and even provided cover for the armed activities of the Hagana. The JSP received weapons training and soldiery/field training.

Horseback Jewish Settlement Police

The JSP was organized into 10 companies, each one commanded by a British junior-officer and assisted by a Jewish liaison office selected by the Jewish Agency. Although called "companies" the JSP units were known as "battalions" ("gdudim", in Hebrew) among the Jews, as they also took into account the reserve forces and "special" forces, as well as the broad physical distribution of the forces which in most cases matched the zones of the Hagana's disposition. Each battalion was given a Hebrew name and denoted by a colored triangular emblem:

1. Jerusalem - dark blue
2. South - white
3. Sharon (Samaria) - orange
4. Emek Kheffer (Kheffer Valley) - red
5. The Carmel - green
6. Zvulun - yellow
7. Yizrael (Jezreel) - purple
8. Gilboa - black
9. Yarden (Jordan) - light blue
10. Galil Elyon (Upper Galilee) - brown

Jewish Settlement Police uniform kit with slouch hat.
Around this time the Settlement Police also enjoyed an improvement of sorts in its work conditions and received organized uniforms plus their trademarked broad visored Australian slouch hat in place of the hot kolpak. The national command of the JSP also worked to improve the quality of training and preparation: physical fitness received emphasis and the Jewish Agency brought in a specialist to do training; the British command also supported this initiative and launched a series of conventions and competitions in participation with its own officers.

By the end of July 1939 the Jewish Settlement Police numbered 15,872 Notrim, of whom 1,275 were regulars on full pay, with 4,788 rifles and 48 machine guns at their disposal. 438 of the full-time Notrim served in 67 "Manim" units, who accounted for 33 open tenders, 20 armored vehicles; other Notrim rode on horses or went by foot.

Mounted cavalry "Manim"

Jewish Settlement Police "Mobile Reserve" (Manim) members from Even Yehuda.

Development of Notrim Forces from 1938
From the summer of 1938 the recruitment of Notrim was expanded to include general security details. The Palestine Police recruited Notrim for policing, liaison and investigative duties, as assistance to British policemen, and by the summer of 1939 there were more than 1600 "general" Notrim in the Palestine Police.

Though the full story of this force is presently outside the scope of this brief history, among the forces of a more military nature, the Notrim also staffed the "Special Night Squads" (1938-39) of Orde Charles Wingate; Wingate's methods inspired the formation of additional locally-based 'attack' forces such as Noter "flying columns" ("Meofefot", in Hebrew), "ambush" units and other "special forces". Likewise some 240 Notrim were seconded to the British Army as "Jewish Attached Police" (JAP), serving in assistant-management and operational roles. Another 550 served in 'private' plant defense units of the Electric Company, the Ashlag company and others; 300 more helped set up the northern border fence, and another 400 served in the railway guard forces. Still more Notrim served provided airfield and port protection.

A section of the Special Night Squads from Kfar Yona assigned to protect power lines.

Men of the Special Night Squads with a British officer, in Emek Yizrael (Jezreel Valley).

By summer 1939 there were around 22,000 Notrim, regular and mobile, in the various units and frameworks of the service, and at their disposal more than 7,850 rifles, machine guns grenades and other weapons. And by May of that year the Arab Revolt was finally put down - however the British then implemented the severe immigration restrictions of the 1939 White Book (effectively pursuing the policy which the Arab Revolt aimed at achieving).

The Jewish Agency, through the Hagana, encouraged voluntary enlistment into the Notrut, organized and guided the recruits according to the security needs of the hour, and helped further widen and deepen the breadth of the legalized training, from thousands of members to tens of thousands; to grow the units from squads into platoons, to companies and battalions on a nation-wide scale.

When the Second World War broke out the Mandatory authorities found in the Notrim a permanent solution to the defense needs of the Jewish community.

At the outbreak of the war there were 4,275 full time Notrim including 1,275 "Manim"; another 14,600 men were available on partial basis, plus some 2,200"specials".

The needs of the war effort took its toll and with fund lacking some 1,300 men were released by spring 1940, among them members of the plant guards and the Army's "Jewish Attached Police"; the tenders of the "Manim" were also put out of service, the quantity of weaponry available was cut and the number of fully salaried Notrim was cut to under 1,100. Nevertheless receruitment continued during the war.

With the threat of invasion by Rommel looming on Palestine, in the summer of 1942 the national organizational plan of the Jewish Settlement Police was cancelled and its battalions submerged under the command of the district Palestine Police commanders - but their number increased from 10 to 12 (as did their designations):

1. Jerusalem - dark blue
2. Negev - blue
3. South - white
4. Sharon (Samaria) - orange
5. Emek Kheffer (Kheffer Valley) - red
6. Carmel - green
7. Zvulun - yellow
8. North (to Western Galilee) - gray
9. Yizrael (Jezreel) - purple
10. Gilboa - black
11. Yarden (Jordan) - light blue
12. Galil Elyon (Upper Galilee) - brown
Wartime Notrut recruitment poster: "For the Defense of the Nation and the Homeland Enlist in the Notrim Corps!"

The nature of the JSP's work also changed: the mobile component increased such that half of the regular (full-time) Notrim were formed into reinforced "Manim" units. Training was also directed at protection against aerial assault and coordinated defense of settlements in time of invasion with the Army.

The JSP also underwent special training geared at military preparation: additional training courses - in British Army camps and under Hagana personnel training - took place for Sergeants' in a variety of weapons, anti-tank weapons and explosives; the quantity of weaponry for the JSP also increased, and by end of 1942 it received 2,000 rifles, over 100 Bren machine guns and 12 mortars (one per battalion).

That same summer of 1942 there was another recruitment drive and some 500 men were formed into the "Coastal Guard".

However as the tide of the war turned, from 1943, the Notrut movement began to suffer from a lack of weaponry by the British Army and also from low interest: Jewish volunteers preferred to join the Army itself or the Hagana's special "Palmach" strike companies. And as the threat of German invasion waned so too did the morale of the Notrim: war needs caused the formation to be striped of many war-related weapons, turning many branches of the Notrut into less combat oriented forces; many members also quit. And to bolster waning numbers in the Notrut bodies (other than the "Jewish Settlement Police"), the Mandatory authorities drafted in more Arabs.

To combat the decline in stature and morale, the Notrut formed public support bodies for the movement as well as a national secretariat in 1943, to serve the needs of its members and their families. There was an increase in the movement's numbers and this yielded the creation of district training camps. By the end of the war, there were 4,200 full-time Notrim in various formations: about 2,475 in the Jewish Settlement Police (plus 16,000 part-time servicemen), more than 900 in "general" duties in the Palestine Police, 250 attached to the British Army, about 300 attached to the Royal Air Force, about 200 guarding the Haifa Port and POW camps, and some 50 in private plant security units.

Even though the Hebrew Revolt of 1944-47 shook relations between the Jewish community in Palestine and the Mandatory Government, the Notrut was not cancelled by the authorities, and continued to serve until 1948. Jewish youths were encouraged to undertake 1 year of "national service" in the formations of the movement. Nevertheless the presence of Jewish Notrim in various formations waned as the British enlisted more Arabs; the Jewish Agency in turn dedicated more attention to staffing specifically the "Jewish Settlement Police". By the end of 1947 there were only 1,300 Jewish Notrim in the other bodies as compared to 5,850 Arabs already in March 1946. The Jewish Settlement Police continued to function on a basis of 12 battalions, with 1,650 full-time regulars and 12,800 reservists in 1945, and even a rise to 1,860 regulars in 1947.

With the departure of the British from Palestine and the outbreak of the Israeli War of Independence, in the initial stages of the war, the Jewish Settlement Police of 1,800 men together with the 2,100 in the "Palmach" formed the main prepared armed force at the disposal of the Jewish leadership. At this stage of the war the major target was control of the transportation arteries, and the JSP with its "Manim" forces protected both settlements and the arteries while the Palmach and other forces were organized into strike and offensive movements. Both were subsequently absorbed into the new Israel Defence Forces (IDF).

FORMATION NAMES:  Historiography records the names of the Palestine Police and Noter units under various names, depending on whether the source is in Hebrew or English. The proper names of the following units are given in both languages:
Hebrew Name English Name
Shotrim Musafim Zmaniyim Temporary Additional Constables
Gafirim Ghaffirs
Shotrim Musafim ("supplemental police") Supernumerary Police
Shotrim Meyukhadim Special Police / Special Constables
Kheyl-Ezer La Mishtara ("assistant corps for the police") Auxiliary Police Force
Kheyl Le Haganat Ha'Yishuvim Ha'Yehudim ("Corps for the Protection of the Jewish Settlements") Jewish Settlement Defense (JSD)
Mishteret Ha'Yishuvim Ha'Ivriyim Jewish Settlement Police (JSP)
Mishmarot Nayim ("Manim") Mobile Guards / Mobile Reserve
Plugot Ha'Layla Ha'Meyukhadot
Also sometimes called "Plugot Ha'Esh Ha'Meyukhadot"
* "Pluga" in Hebrew means "company" but is often erroneously translated as "platoon".
Special Night Squads
Also sometimes known in Hebrew as "Special Fire [dispensing] Squads"
Mishmar Ha'Khof Coastal Guard
Kheyl Ha'Safar Ha'Ever Ha'Yardeni Transjordan Frontier Force


Palestine Gendarmerie hat badge (version 1): with date (1921), seen worn on black kolpak hats.

Palestine Gendarmerie hat badge (version 2): without date, seen worn on black kolpak hats.

Transjordan Frontier Force (TJFF) copper-nickel hat badge (version 1): with winged horse; usually found with double-pronged back. Another variant of this version exists without the Crown. The other TJFF emblem (i.e. version 2) is much larger, of a different design (to be shown here soon), akin to the Palestine Gendarmerie, worn on black kolpak hats.

Transjordan Frontier Force (TJFF) copper-nickel miniature collar badge (version 1)

Palestine Police blackened tombak hat/kolpak emblem badge. Some have flat metal sliders on the reverse and others have a two-pronged back instead.

Palestine Police blackened tombak miniature collar emblem badge. Worn on each collar.

Palestine Police silver colored copper-nickel hat/kolpak emblem badge. Some have flat metal sliders on the reverse and others have a two-pronged back instead.

Palestine Police filled-in/uncut silver colored copper-nickel hat/kolpak emblem badge. Frequently seen in period photographs of the 1920's-30's but rarely encountered. Some have flat metal sliders on the reverse and others have a two-pronged back instead.

Palestine Police filled-in/uncut silver colored miniature collar emblem badge.

Palestine Police sergeants arm sleeve badge: bears the "PP" design without text legend around the circular frame.

Palestine Police "Special Police" hat badge: bears "SP" emblem on a filled-back/uncut badge. Of interest is the odd pointed tip of the slider and the filled-in Crown.

Large Palestine Police emblem: worn as a ceremonial device on a cross belt worn on dress uniforms, seen both with white and black tunics.

A Jewish officer, Pinkus, in the Palestine Police: in kolpak hat, probably with the filled-in "PP" emblem, and wearing the collar miniatures along with the ceremonial belt large "Palestine Police" emblem and metal shoulder strap device (see below).

Large Palestine Police pith helmet emblem device: worn on the front of round-crowned khaki pith helmets, circa. 1920's.

Palestine Police "Ghaffir" hat badge in darkened tombak: seen worn on brown and black kolpak hats.

The "Ghaffir" insignia: it should be pointed out that this emblem was not unique to Palestine. This badge existed at least 30 years earlier and was used by similar guard forces in the British empire fulfilling ghaffir duties. There is an erronious tendency to associate this emblem only with Palestine or with the Jewish guard services which also happened to wear it.

Palestine Police "Supernumerary Police" hat badge in copper-nickel: worn on kolpak hats. Note that the Crown is filled in.

Undocumented "Noter" badge: unique in design for a number of reasons - legend in English and Hebrew, bears the Royal Crown but makes no reference to the Palestine Police; in darkened tombak with double-pronged back; not maker-marked.

Note the odd exaggerated shape of the Crown top. The letters "TASC" are sometimes referred to as "Tel Aviv Security Company" in collector literature (which could justify the Hebrew-only accompanying legend, which reads "Guarding and Protection" / "Shmira u'Bitakhon") but in all probability this is not Tel Aviv related and is rather for the "Temporary Additional Security Constables" recruited formally as "Temporary Additional Constables".

I saw this type of badge on the visored white-and-blue hats worn by Tel Aviv security bodies and other uniformed Mandatory arms (like customs and excise), however still, as Tel Aviv was the chief "Hebrew" city and its police forces bore the municipal emblem, for this TASC emblem to have a unique Tel Aviv connection, I'd expect to see the municipal emblem on it.

Palestine Police metal shoulder strap tag in English.

Palestine Police metal shoulder strap tag in Arabic.

Noter "Port Guard" unit tag device in English and Hebrew ("Mishmar Ha'Namal"): may be a shoulder strap tag, sleeve or hat badge; has two-pronged back.

Badge of the Jewish Settlement Police. Bears the initials of "Hebrew Settlement Police" (M.Y.A.), the word "Battalion" and the standard triangular emblem of a battalion unit.
Hat badge of the British Middle East Commando forces in World War II. Seen in a photo of an Irgun member in the Special Night Squads, worn on the front of his slouch hat; if the badge dates at least from 1939 then it may also have been an SNS emblem too. To be researched...

Palestine Police cloth shoulder patch

Shoulder strap tag bearing the word "Noter" in Hebrew.

Cloth patch for the "Temporary Additional Police"

round, metal Palestine Police uniform button; came in large (this one) and small sizes

flat, metal Palestine Police uniform button; came in large (this one) and small sizes

bakelite Ghaffir button; came in large (this one) and small sizes

round, metal Palestine Prison Service uniform button

round, metal button for Palestine Railways uniform

Palestine Police metal belt buckle with emblem

belt buckle for Palestine Plant Protection Service attached to the "Government of Palestine"

Our presentation aims to be as detailed as possible both for the interests of the collector as well as the reenactor. Being a rarely seen object we're taking the liberty of showing numerous angles of the same objects; our obsession with details also reflects our pride in the object.

We have at our disposal several sets of trousers belonging to the Palestine Police and we will display these as well as alternate variations of the Police / Noter uniform.

For the purpose of introducing the article, we will begin with a survey of the uniform on display at the start of this page. We will display first the combination of the uniform's accessories and then salient parts of each accessory individually.

Images From the Front
The uniform consists broadly of a British-made 4-buttoned, 4-pocketed khaki drill uniform and a black "kolpak" hat; the items were not originally acquired together though as we've seen in previous photographs, such accessories could well be worn together.

full front view

upper torso with head, front

front of torso only

head, front

overhead view of tunic (no head)

overhead view from the front

Images From the Right Side
The kolpak hat appears differently depending on whether it is viewed from the front or side; many varieties existed, but most - like this one - contained cardboard inserts. When opened, kolpak hats could appear a little pyramidical - broader at the base and narrower at the top, or just "broad" because of the cardboard flaps to the sides; viewed from the side, however the hat looks round and symmetrical. The tunic's shoulder straps are broad and flat, with metal buttons; the collars have metal loops (probably to lock them together); and two buttons on the cuff.

right side, at angle

right side, profile

overhead, right side

right side of tunic-head, at angle

right profile of tunic-head

upper torso from right side

right side view of upper torso

Images From the Left Side
There is an odd single brown button on the left side of the tunic waist.

head; left, at angle

profile of left upper body and head

left side, overall

overhead of left side, at angle

Images From the Back

upper body, back angle

back of tunic and head, at angle

back side of tunic and head

Details of the Kolpak Hat
Probably the rarest of the presented uniform items: frequently used and seen in its time and just as rare to find today. One of the interest elements of the hat is that its liner fabric is very similar in texture and color to a pair of maroon pantaloons which we will display further down. There is no makers mark inside.

inside liner as seen from back side of kolpak

corner detail of kolpak liner

kolpak folded

overhead view of inside liner

Details of the Tunic
The tunic is well manufactured and appears to have been comfortable to wear (given the shoulder pads). Of interest is a Hebrew name pencilled inside (as "Mister -", a possible sign of the pride taken by its wearer). The original manufacturer's label is inside and indicates the tunic was made for use especially in "Palestine".

full view of tunic liner

tunic breast pocket

shoulder pad

original manufacturers label

tunic button detail

pencil written name in Hebrew: "Mister Aaron Persich"

various size, military and manufacturer markings

detail of inside liner of pocket

detail of tunic waist