Email Email   


Wingate is renowned as the creator of the long-range penetration tactics by which his Burma campaign (1943-44) saved India from the Japanese in World War II. Earlier, in 1941, he used similar tactics to drive the Italians out of Abyssinia and restore Haile Selassie to his throne in Addis Ababa. But it was in Palestine that Wingate achieved his early fame. Under his training, special night squads broke the grip of the Arab terror in 1938. And, throughout his later career, his heart was set on returning to the Holy Land. The deeply idealistic and fiercely individualist personality of Orde Charles Wingate, a non-Jew, was shaped by the twin influences of the Bible and of military service. He came to Palestine in 1936 as an intelligence officer to the British Forces stationed there. His lifelong absorption in the Bible made Wingate feel at home in the Holy Land. He traveled to all the Holy Places, learned Hebrew, sought out Jews in Haifa where he was stationed, and got to know the Jewish leaders in Jerusalem and the young halutzim in the kibbutzim.

The Arab terror that had broken out in 1936 was aided by German and Italian subsidies and was making life difficult in Palestine. Arab guerrillas infiltrated from Syria, Lebanon, and Transjordan. They attacked settlements and road traffic, and instigated the local Arabs to join them in looting, killing, and sabotaging the oil pipelines that led from Iraq to the British-controlled refineries in Haifa. Wingate found that the British police and troops were ineffectual in controlling the situation because of their tradition-bound methods, and because of the prevailing anti-Zionist policy. The British administration drove the Jewish self-defense militia underground and actually arrested those caught defending Jewish settlements with arms.

Wingate obtained official permission to investigate the ways and methods of Arab infiltrators; unofficially, he got assistance from members of the Haganah in carrying out this task. His report to General Wavell included a plan for wiping out the Arab terrorists and a request for permission to carry it out. Despite considerable official opposition, Wingate was granted permission and set up headquar
ters at En Harod, a kibbutz in the shadow of Mount Gilboa. In the same countryside where Gideon had chosen his warriors, Wingate chose and trained his special night squads. They were composed mainly of 400 selected members of the kibbutzim, including Moshe Dayan and Yigal Allon, with about 200 equally handpicked British soldiers. Within three months, Wingate had a highly trained commando force. These he led in swift nightly attacks on Arab rebel centers and points of infiltration. In six months, the back of the Arab terror was broken. Wingate‘s achievement brought him the Distinguished Service Order but the intense dislike of the local anti-Jewish British officials.

Moreover, the Palestine administration did not like to see military skills developed in Jews, and shortly after his success in 1938, Wingate was recalled to London.

Wingate‘s brilliant contributions to Allied victories in World War II ended tragically while he was touring his forward bases in the Burma jungle. During a severe storm, his plane crashed against a Mountainside and Wingate died at age 41. In Israel, Wingate has become a legend. He is remembered gratefully in many ways. A Wingate Forest was planted near En Harod on the southern slopes of Mt. Gilboa. A school for physical training has been named for him, and Yemin Orde, a Youth Aliyah village on the slopes of his well-loved Carmel, was established as a living memorial to him.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email