This year marks the 70th anniversary of the death of Orde Wingate, arguably the most innovative and certainly one of the most eccentric senior soldiers the British have ever produced . . .
Today Ron Dermer will cross the Potomac over the Arlington Memorial Bridge to visit the National Cemetery where the murdered Kennedy brothers lie among some of the casualties from every conflict America has ever fought. There he will do something that Israeli ambassadors to Washington have been doing on March 24 for 40 years. At the headstone of a British war hero he will lay a wreath for the man who in Hebrew is called HaYedid: the Friend.
Even more unsettling for many of the officers in the Palestine Britain ruled after 1918, where a visceral anti-Semitism was not unknown, were Wingate’s Zionist sympathies. Although distantly related on his mother’s side to Lawrence of Arabia and himself an Arabic speaker who practised it at every opportunity, his unalloyed support for its Jewish settlers was considered contrary to British interests.
Winston Churchill himself famously eulogised him: “. . . a man of genius who might well have become a man of destiny . . .”
Wingate died on March 24, 1944 on a night flight in an American crewed bomber that crashed in the Naga Hills on India’s northeastern border. He was en route to one of the strongholds established well behind Japanese lines in Burma by the British troops he named Chindits, a corruption of the Burmese word for the mythical griffin like stone sentinels outside their temples: Chinthé. He was 41.
Read his incredible story HERE