An early immigration officer - Our Passports
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  • An early immigration officer
  • Albert Montefiore Hyamson
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An early immigration officer


For the British Mandate of Palestine.


A colonial passport that was issued by Albert Montefiore Hyamson in Jerusalem in the 1920’s who was Chief Immigration Officer for Palestine from 1921 to 1934.


Some brief points to the region and the travel documents issued there:


This region has always been at the center of civilization. Traveling to, from or just passing through this land has been going on for thousands of years.


Prior to the founding of the State of Israel in 1948, this was part of the British Empire, another colony; it was the Mandate, allocated to the United Kingdom after the end of World War One. The British won this territory from the Ottoman Turks, who have been occupying it for nearly 400 years.


The governing period in the Mandate can be divided into two: Military authority and civil administration, the first from 1918 to 1920 and the later from 1920 to 1948.


Following the entry of the British armed forces, between 1917-1918, into Palestine, the military ruled and administrated the territory, thus all forms, papers and documents relating to that time can be connected to the military authority in occupied enemy territory (OET refers to the division of former Ottoman territory into “occupied enemy territories” with the Middle East into 3 parts, with occupied enemy territory South referring to Palestine). The army that entered from Egypt from the west was named the EEF (Egyptian Expeditionary Forces), thus the following sampled document here was issued by them and bears the same heading as well.


The Colonial passport is an early example being issued in 1929, close to 3 years from the year they began to appear (the earliest example I have seen to-date dates from November 1926, numbered 773, most likely the first mo nth the brown covered passports began to appear). According to on-line information, Mr. Hyamson would personally review and issue himself many of the immigration application and passports themselves, and locating an early example with his hand signature inside is a welcome addition to nay colonial passport collector indeed.


After he ceased to function as chief immigration officer, he continued to contribute to the public life in the region, giving advice and participating in important meetings and conferences related to the life in the 1930’s in the colony. He made the ultimate sacrifice as well to the fighting that would follow in World War Two: Both his two sons (from his marriage to Marie Rose Lavey) would be killed in action: Captain Theodore David Hyamson would die of his battle wounds in the Far East in Singapore and RAF Corporal Philipp Hyamson died in August of 1944.


One of his last duties and contribution to the public sector was an Honorary Editor of Publications for the society, for which he was active for the last 10 years of his life, until his death in 1954.


Have added sample images of this passport bearing his applied signature.




Thank you for reading “Our Passports”.


Neil Kaplan
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