Wingate, Orde°

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WINGATE, ORDE°

WINGATE, ORDE ° (Charles ; 1903–1944), British Army officer who served in Palestine during the 1936–39 riots. Win gate was born in India into a nonconformist family; his grandfather had helped conduct a Church of Scotland mission in Budapest for poor Jews and his parents served as missionaries. He was raised on the Bible and kept it at his side throughout his life. Wingate was commissioned in 1923. From 1928 to 1933 he served with the Sudan Defense Force and also studied Arabic and Semitics. In February 1934 he was sent on a one-man mission to search for the mysterious Zarzura oasis in the Libyan Desert (reported in the Geographical Journal, 83 (1934), 281–308). In 1936, after his promotion to captain, he was posted to Palestine and played a leading role in fighting the Arab terror campaign, particularly the attacks on the Iraqi-Haifa pipeline, for which he was awarded the d.s.o. He gained the confidence of the yishuv authorities, established contact with the *Haganah, and with its help formed the Special Night Squads (sns), a unit made up largely of Haganah fighters whom he trained in unorthodox but highly successful tactics in countering and preventing Arab attacks. Wingate became a passionate supporter of the Jewish cause in Palestine; the yishuv responded in kind and referred to him as " Ha-Yedid " ("The Friend"). His highly individualistic character, disregard for the conventional rules of military behavior, and his propagation of Zionism finally resulted in 1939 in his being transferred from Palestine with an endorsement in his passport stating that "the bearer … should not be allowed to enter Palestine." He had, however, left a lasting impression upon the country, and some of the young Jews whom he had befriended and trained were to become military leaders in the State of Israel.

In the early stage of World War ii, Wingate commanded an antiaircraft battery in Britain. In 1941 he was "rediscovered" and assigned to lead a force against the Italians in Ethiopia. He played a decisive role in the liberation of the country (he was joined in the campaign by some of the former sns fighters, at his own request) and was at Haile Selassie's side when the emperor reentered Addis Ababa. His talents were then employed in Burma, where he trained and led the Chindits, a special jungle unit that operated behind the Japanese lines. Winston Churchill, who regarded Wingate as a man of genius, invited him in 1943 to join him in his meeting with Roosevelt in Quebec. Wingate was killed in an air crash in the Burma jungle in 1944 and buried at Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia, U.S. By then he had become a major-general.

Wingate's personality and military genius made a profound impact on the *Palmaḥ and the Haganah and, through them, on the Israeli Defense Forces. He, in turn, dreamed of leading the army of the future Jewish state. His devotion to the Jewish people and Ereẓ Israel persisted up to his death. In a letter to a friend in Palestine (1943) he wrote, in Hebrew, "If I forget thee, O Jerusalem.…" Israel has not forgotten Ha-Yedid. A children's village on the slopes of Mt. Carmel is named Yemin Orde, the College of Physical Education near Netanyah and a forest on Mount Gilboa bear his name, and there is a Wingate Square in Jerusalem. His wife, Lorna, although a gentile, was a leader of *Youth Aliyah in Britain.

bibliography:

C. Sykes, Orde Wingate (1959); A.I. Hay, There Was a Man of Genius (1963); W.G. Burchett, Wingate's Phantom Army (1946); L. Mosley, Gideon Goes to War (1955); C.Y. Rolo, Wingate's Raiders (1944). add. bibliography: odnb online; J. Bierman and C. Smith, Fire in the Night: Wingate of Burma, Ethiopia, and Zion (1999); P. Mead. Orde Wingate and the Historians (1987).

[Moshe Dayan]