Wingate, Orde Charles
- (1903-44)Orde Wingate was a British major general who, during his brief term of service in mandatory Palestine, had a major impact on the development of the yishuv's defensive capabilities and the Hagana's military strategy and methods. Born on 26 February 1903, Wingate was strongly influenced from a young age by his mother's missionary zeal and Christian Zionism.In 1936, Wingate was assigned as an intelligence officer with the British mandatory (Palestine mandate) force in Palestine. He viewed his assignment as an opportunity to facilitate the fulfillment of the Christian prophecy of a Jewish state in Palestine. He worked with leaders of the Jewish Agency and the Hagana to defend Jewish settlements in the yishuv against the ongoing Arab Revolt. He formulated an idea of armed groups of British-led Jewish paramilitary mobile defensive units, and sold this idea to senior commanders of British forces in Palestine. In June 1938, the new British commander in Palestine, General Haining, gave his permission to create the Special Night Squads (SNS), armed groups formed of British and Hagana volunteers. This is the first instance of the British recognizing the Hagana's legitimacy as a Jewish defense force. The Jewish Agency helped pay the salaries and other costs of the Hagana personnel.Wingate hand-picked and trained his men, among them Yigal Al-lon, Moshe Dayan, and other founders of the Palmah—the Hagana's elite commando volunteer units, formed in 1941 — and the modern Israel Defense Forces (IDF). The Special Night Squads were known for their efficiency and boldness; as the name implies many of their activities, including surprise raids on border Arab villages suspected of protecting terror gangs, occurred under the cover of darkness. The Special Night Squads soon became viewed by the British as a political liability, in that British policy favored the Arab side over the Zionists. The squads were officially disbanded by the mandatory authorities in 1938. Wingate, who remained unrelenting in his pro-Zionist orientation and openly critical of British policy, was rotated out of Palestine in May 1939. His passport was stamped "NOT ALLOWED TO ENTER PALESTINE." He was killed on 24 March 1944 during a military mission in south Asia when his plane crashed near Burma.Wingate became one of the heroes of the Zionist movement and was highly respected by Israeli military leaders, such as Moshe Dayan, who acknowledged that Wingate had "taught us everything we know."
Historical Dictionary of Israel. Bernard Reich David H. Goldberg. Edited by Jon Woronoff..
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