From ANZAC Private to District Commissioner of the Galilee

March 8, 2015 by Roz Tarszisz
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An ANZAC who became a British District Commissioner in Palestine  was assassinated in Nazareth in 1937. Mourned and respected by Jews, his biographer now seeks his descendants.

Lewis Yelland Andrews was assassinated, probably as a political, rather than a terrorist, attack. It appears he was instrumental in Jewish land purchases in the north of Palestine and in encouraging the Peel Commission to endorse partition.


Lewis Yelland Andrews

His biographer  is trying to identify and contact Andrews’ descendants to flesh out the personal side of his life and give Andrews the biography he deserves.  Yaron Bashan’s details are at the end of this article.

In 1937, an Australian, Lewis Yelland Andrews, was shot dead on his 41st birthday as he left church in Nazareth. As news spread, Arabs throughout Palestine celebrated as Jews mourned.

Davar, the most popular Hebrew newspaper at the time, dedicated a full-page to a mourning notice which was signed by dozens of communities in the Galilee and the Jezreel Valley, something quite unprecedented.

Future President Ben-Zvi eulogized Andrews as one who had sacrificed his life, while future leader Ben-Gurion and Haganah leader, Dov Hos, grieved for a personal friend and political ally.

A kibbutznik summed it up by saying “I’m terribly sad. He was our friend, just like Orde Wingate”. Wingate was the military genius who helped reshape the Haganah and dreamed of leading a Jewish Army.

Andrews joined the Australian 2nd Light Horse Regiment as a private where he served in Gallipoli.  Later in Egypt and Palestine he switched to the Camel Transport Corps.

It is possible that he knew and served with Max Steigrad, a Jaffa-born Jew born who migrated to Australia as a boy in the early 1900s. From 1915 Max served with the first AIF in Egypt and Palestine in the Imperial Camel Corps.


Lewis Yelland Andrews

By the end of World War I Andrews was a captain and stayed on in Palestine, gaining a reputation for bravery and administrative brilliance. At the time of his death, his position in the British Mandate’s government was unique. While heading the development department, he was appointed Commissioner for Galilee, tasked with subduing a rebellious district.

He achieved this and was then targeted by the disciples of Izz A-Din Al-Qassam. The investigation into his death was unsuccessful.

Andrews became a faded memory, a footnote to history. It is only in Netanya, a town he helped to build and clear of malaria, that there exists an Andrews Street.

Known history is that he grew up near and around Sydney. There are records of his family living in Enfield, West Wyalong and Summer Hill.

He had three brothers, William, Herbert Harold and Anthony and married Maude Elizabeth (nee Kirkham) who may have been English.  They had three children, Tony (born 1924) and two younger daughters, Diane and Georgina Mary. The latter may have married a Martyn Sands in, or near, Sydney.

All his children grew up in England and were schooled at Taunton. Only a few documents and memoirs exist to tell odd bits of his story.

If you have any information about Lewis Yelland Andrews or his family, please contact

Yaron Bashan

14 Gnesin Street

Givatayim   53419 Israel


2 Responses to “From ANZAC Private to District Commissioner of the Galilee”
  1. Israel Guttman says:

    I am looking to contact any descendant of Lewis Yelland Andrews if I can be contact at: I would greatly appreciate it.

    Thank you.

    Israel Guttman

  2. Tom V says:

    I am direct descendant of Lewis Yelland Andrews and have subsequently sent an email to Yaron Bashan but I thought a comment here would be appropriate also

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