Orde Charles Wingate
Major-General Orde Charles Wingate is a name that is remembered fondly in Israel to this day. As a young officer, Wingate was assigned to the British Mandate in Palestine. There he devoted his efforts to training the Haganah, the Jewish defense forces, by lending them his military expertise. For the first time in the history of the British Mandate, a British officer recognized the legitimacy of Jewish defense forces in Palestine. But Wingate’s support was controversial in his own country, and he was ordered to withdraw from Palestine on the eve of World War II.
At that time, Arab rioters were attacking the Jewish outposts in Palestine. It was for this reason that the Haganah, a Jewish defense force, was formed. But the Haganah was for the most part populated with young people with no military background. Wingate lent his military expertise to the Haganah, helping them form Special Night Squads which both attacked and defended against rioters.
Wingate was ideologically committed to a Jewish presence in Palestine. His ardent loyalty rendered him a controversial figure in Britain, and he was ordered to withdraw from service in Palestine in 1939, just in time for the outbreak of World War II. Wingate continued to serve in the British armed forces until his death in a military plane crash in 1944.
Today, Wingate looms large as a figure of importance in Israel’s history.