Wingate, Charles Orde

(1903–44)
   British soldier and Zionist. Wingate was a brilliant and unorthodox soldier. The men he led always worshipped him and would follow him anywhere. His superior officers tended to dismiss him as insubordinate and unbalanced. To the Palestine Jews he was a friend and a legend, sometimes called ‘the Lawrence of Judea’, after his distant kinsman T.E.LAWRENCE, whom he resembled in some ways. Wingate was born in India of non-conformist missionary parents, and had an intense attachment to the Bible, a copy of which he always carried with him.
   In 1936 he was posted to Palestine as a captain, at the beginning of the Arab rebellion. He spent time in the kibbutzim, and gained the confidence of the Jewish Agency leaders. He obtained permission from the British army to train groups of selected Haganah men for the protection of the oil pipeline from Kirkuk, Iraq, to Haifa, that was constantly being sabotaged by Arab raiders. The groups became known as Wingate’s Night Squads and included such future Israel commanders as Yigal ALLON and Moshe DAYAN. Wingate taught them the elements of speed, surprise, subterfuge and night attack that were to have a lasting effect on the outlook and methods of the Haganah and later the Israel army.
   In 1939, he was transferred back to England because he was identified with the Zionist struggle and openly critical of the authorities. During World War II, he played a notable part in the Ethiopian campaign and entered liberated Addis Ababa at the side of Haile Selassie. In 1944 he organized and commanded the famous Chindit irregulars that operated in the Burmese jungle behind the Japanese lines, and was given the rank of major-general. He was killed in a plane crash.
   Wingate’s name is perpetuated in Israel in a forest on Mount Gilboa, a square in Jerusalem, a children’s village in the Carmel Hills and a physical training centre near Natanya. His widow, Lorna, was the Youth Aliyah chairman in Britain.

Who’s Who in Jewish History after the period of the Old Testament. . 2012.

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