Words of the Wing Commander: The Letters of William Weiser, World War Two Royal Canadian Air Force Bomber Pilot, as Published in “The American Hebrew”

In prior blog posts, we have seen accounts of the experiences of Jewish servicemen in the First World War, as reported in periodicals such as The Jewish Chronicle and The Jewish World (England), and, l’Univers Israélite (France).  The common aspect of these stories has been the presentation of accounts of military service in a serviceman’s own words, whether composed by the serviceman himself, or adapted within the format of an article by a reporter or editor.

I hope and plan to present more accounts of Jewish military service in “The Great War” in the future.

For now, however, we’ll move “ahead” some two and a half decades and westward across the Atlantic to Manhattan, to The American Hebrew of mid-1944.

In a two-part article, “From the Diary of Wing Commander Weiser”, published on May 19 and 26 of that year, the magazine published extracts from letters sent by Wing Commander William Weiser of the Royal Canadian Air Force, to his wife, Sophie (Goldberg) Weiser, then residing at 1475 Grand Concourse, in the Bronx.  (His father Jacob lived at 971 Fulton Street, in Brooklyn.)

Encompassing May of 1942 through February of 1944, by which time the Wing Commander – a Halifax bomber pilot in Number 405 Squadron of the Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF) – had completed his second tour of combat missions over German-Occupied Europe, the letters are entirely candid, in terms of his attitude and feelings about flying in combat; very descriptive, in his description of the events in which he participated and witnessed; and perhaps even nostalgic – at least from the vantage of 2017! – in his accounts of life and scenery in wartime England.  It’s surprising that Mrs. Weiser was willing to share private correspondence of this nature with the general public, but then again, likely she was more than proud of her husband’s accomplishments in overlapping terms of personal achievement, patriotism, and solidarity with the Jewish people, let alone his expressiveness with the written word.

According to his biography (presented at the end of this post) at the website of the RCAF Association, William Weiser remained in the RCAF as a career officer, eventually rising to the rank of Air Commodore.  He was also mentioned (in passing) in The Jewish Chronicle on June 2, 1944, and, in The Brooklyn Eagle on October 1, 1943 and January 29, 1945.

A PDF version of this article is available here

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The picture of Wing Commander Weiser presented below appeared in the May 19 issue of The American Hebrew.

May 19, 1944

Wing Commander William Weiser at 25 holds a Canadian rank the equivalent of which in American usage is that of Lieutenant Colonel.  Known formerly as “the boy pilot of Brooklyn”, he grew up to become one of the most gifted airmen in the Canadian Air Force.  When he was to receive the Distinguished Flying Cross, bestowed upon him in person by the King of England, at Buckingham Palace, he cabled his wife: “The King is going to give me a nice medal.  All’s well.  Love, Bill.”  His wife, Mrs. Sophie Weiser, the recipient of the interesting and informative letters here, has been active in the Zionist Organization helping refugees.  Wing Commander Weiser is the son of Mr. and Mrs. Jacob Weiser of Brooklyn, and they have another son, Hyman, in the Navy.  The flyer enlisted in May, 1941, at Halifax, Nova Scotia.  He is a graduate of Brooklyn Polytechnic Institute, and used to run away often as a boy, to fly a plane.

May 1, 1942, Aboard boat.

Somewhere on the Atlantic tonight there is a very lonely young man…your husband…sitting down…writing and thinking.  We were together for so little time, my sweet.  And already reality is gone and I am living on memories…living every moment of the precious past over again.  This is not reality surely; this vast expanse of black water stretching on every side as far as the eye can see… hemming in us.  The ocean is horrible; lonely and tormented – in ceaseless convulsion.  Now the fog has surrounded us – closed us in completely and we are moving noiselessly through a black void as far removed from reality as the stars.  Only the slow interminable rolling of the ship and hissing foaming water along the sides bring a sense of motion.  Time is suspended.  I rise, eat four meals a day, talk to people and retire…  Today is different.  For the first time in three days – the sun.  The sea has been calm throughout.  It is nice to stand on the top deck and the ship and glance out over the water as the other ships keep pace is perfect formation.  The sea has a long slow swell which causes quite a pitching motion.  First the nose rises high, high into the air and then slowly down until it buries itself into the spray of sometimes blue, sometime green water.

…We should be getting pretty close to England by now.  The anti-aircraft is really out in force; you can’t move about deck without stumbling over some kind of anti-aircraft armament.  The decks literally bristle with guns.  So far we haven’t had any excitement of any kind.  The sea has been calm all the way over and except for a few depth charges dropped at one point there has been no sign of enemy activity…

May 23, 1942

I am now on leave for seven days.  I left my station on the 20th and spent one day in London just looking around.  I feel quite cosmopolitan now having trod the pavements of Piccadilly Circus, Trafalgar Square, Leicester Square, the Strand and a dozen other places.  I would have liked to stay in London longer but right now it is probably one of the most crowded and expensive places to stay in the world.  I stayed pretty well around home base in London and got away with about 30 bob ($6.75).  Right now, I am spending six days in the country in the northwestern corner of England.  The country is very beautiful; all mountains and lakes.  The organization which handles the whole business has gotten us an invitation from a doctor and his family.  They are really awfully nice people.  England is really a beautiful country and the English in their native habitat are quite nice people.  They can’t be exceeded for hospitality at any rate.  Before I go, one last observation.  Our impressions of the English are quite overly exaggerated.  The English don’t speak like the English at all.  They speak in a perfectly understandable fashion!

June 5, 1942

Incidentally I had my first brush with enemy aircraft the other day and learned just what it feels like to hear a bomb come screeching down at you from the sky.  It isn’t a nice feeling at all.  But anyhow my good luck ring and Mogen Dovid are in full operation and all I got was a very dirty face out of it all.  My kit is completely intact.  Some of the boys didn’t fare quite so well.  I’m rather pleased with my reactions under fire.  No sign of fear or excessive excitement.

July 3, 1942

Flying in England is work, damned hard work.  It is raining in some part or other all the time; not a steady downpour but little individual rains from separate clouds.  Flying is a series of immersions in these rains and the first few times I hit them while moving at high speed, I had the impression of having struck something solid and unyielding.  The rains pound at the “glasshouse” with terrific force and rapidity almost as though it would destroy the fragile man- made machine which dares challenge its fury.  It requires all one’s strength and skill to maintain the aircraft on a reasonably even keel.

July 16, 1942

Had my first brush against the man with the scythe, not counting the air raids, and my lucky ring sure scared him off.  Was my own fault too; showing off to some people whom I knew were watching on the ground.  Ship fell into a spin from a vertical turn and I pulled out just brushing the tree tops.  I learned a lesson from that one though, won’t be doing any exhibition flying again unless it’s for the Jerries.

July 22, 1942

I have trouble writing to you when I am not in a hurry because the combination of circumstances puts me into a reverie from which it is hard to bring myself back into the reality of putting words on paper.  I find myself thinking of New York and the things we used to do.  There are little incidents which come into my conscience; like the breakfast boxes at the Barbizon-Plaza and the coffee that was invariably too cold.  The crowds on Pitkin Avenue on a Saturday afternoon and the taste of a pastrami sandwich and beer.  Carnegie Hall and the Philharmonic playing Tchaikowsky or Brahms…

August 15, 1942

One of these days I am actually going to stay in one place long enough to get my stuff unpacked.  I’m getting out of trunks and duffle bags.  One consolation about hopping all over the place is that you certainly get to see the country.  In one town I was at for ten days, I had beer in a pub that was built into a cave next to a castle.   The Crusaders on their way to Jerusalem in 1200 A.D. stopped at this same pub to take care of their thirst – and I’ll bet the beer was much better then.  I’ve been into London twice this past week to attend the BBC Prom concerts at Albert Hall.  Albert Hall is a tremendous place and the concerts are quite popular; the average audience is about 4000.  The concerts start at 6:00 P.M. and are somewhat longer than what we are accustomed to.  During the intermission everyone goes to one of the restaurants in the hall for beer or tea and sandwiches.

September 9, 1942

The flying is coming along fine.  My crew is shaping up swell now that we are becoming more experienced and I am getting good reports both as pilot and as skipper.  I am becoming well known throughout camp and getting along fine with people owing to my social activities and also because I am the only American left on the station since the other one cashed in his chips the other night.  I’ll probably get nabbed for funeral detail tomorrow.  The boys get a good send-off anyhow; flag draped coffin, rifleman firing volleys and all the works.  I’ve already served on one funeral party last week so I know what it’s like.  Darling I’ve started becoming morbid again, so we had better call it quits for now.

October 1, 1942

I think I have matured a little bit since last night and that my sense of values has become a little more practical.  I spent a very hot thirty minutes last night; a half hour where the life of myself and four other men teetered on a thin edge.  The Weiser luck came through and everything came out all right.  I think I now know why pilots have been known to kiss the earth when they come down.  At any rate I believe I have won the respect of my crew with regard to my flying ability and my ability to co-ordinate the working of each individual in the crew.  Thank God I am a pilot; in an emergency I am so busy that I have no time to pay any attention to my personal feelings and sensations.  It must be pure Hell to just have to sit there doing nothing and wait.  Anyhow, I know now that if the time does come when I have to pack up, I’ll go like a man, unafraid.

October 24, 1942

I have been through quite a lot since my last letter.  As you can tell from my new return address, I am now at a squadron.  On leaving my last station, I was granted eight night’s leave in order to have a last fling.  It reminded me of the last sumptuous meal which is given to a prisoner before he is led off to execution, but that didn’t prevent me from having the nicest time I’ve had since I came to England.

November 9, 1942

I am very tired right now.  I have been doing a lot of flying and I’m just sick; mentally and physically.  I wish I could get away from here for a week.  I want to sit in a living room of a private home in front of a fire in a nice comfy chair with my feet up.  Not a care in the world and with my contentment made secure by the knowledge that the woman in my life is standing right next to me.  All I have to do is open my eyes and I can see her.  I don’t even have to do that; I can just feel her presence right next to me.  God!  What a dream – what a feeling.  I guess I shouldn’t have impossible dreams like that.  I’m going to sleep now; I’m very tired darling.  Please keep up a steady stream of prayers.

December 11, 1942

At long last I have gotten to the stage where I am taking an active part in the argument going on.  I have been out many times already and it isn’t really so bad.  I was a little scared at first but the feeling went away quickly.  I have too much to do to pay attention to my own feelings.  My crew took it very nicely as well and my navigator proved his worth and skill by bringing us home under very adverse conditions.  English weather is known the world over, particularly in winter, and it certainly has lived up to its reputation.

About the only time I see the sun is when I climb up over the clouds.  I’m not worked very hard.  We have a few days off every week and a twelve day leave every three months.  My aircraft is right off the line and the ground crew keep it in tip-top order.  So taking everything into account, I consider that we have a good chance of a reunion one of these days.

January 28, 1943

Everything is coming along OK now although we are kept very busy seeing what we can do about the U-boat menace.  I have been out on quite a few bombing raids lately and I am beginning to feel tired out.  I am due for seven days leave within a few weeks, I hope, and I am planning on laying up in the country for a good rest.  The raids my squadron are doing are very long ones, over ten hours, and the major problem is keeping awake.  Orange juice, caffeine tablets and oxygen do the trick.  I don’t have any trouble keeping awake over the target however.  Searchlights, flak and nightfighters really keep you on your toes.  Flak look pretty coming up; like a tremendous fireworks display.  Vari-colored tracers seem to drift up slowly and then they suddenly go by with express train speed.  Heavy flak shells explode with a vivid orange flash and if perchance the explosion is close, the aircraft shakes and trembles like a live thing.  And then the bombing run-up, when the aircraft must be flown straight and level for 45 seconds come what may.  The feeling of relief when “bombs gone” comes over the inter-communication and we start to get the hell out.  I wouldn’t trade it for anything though.  The thrill of living dangerously gets into your blood.  I have a long time to go yet because after I finish this tour of “ops” I will get a “rest” and then back for another tour.

May 26, 1944

Sometimes when you’re out about ten o’clock in the evening, the chances are that at that exact moment your husband will be in the sky, in the hell over Western Germany.  I’m not good at descriptive writing.  I can’t tell you what it is like to fly straight and level through a barrage thrown up by a hundred heavy flak guns and hundreds of light ones while the bomb aimer says, “right, left-left, steady”.  Innumerable searchlights sway back and forth, looking for the tiny speck way up, a tiny speck, but potent with destruction.  Seven pairs of eyes ever watching the enveloping blackness in the game of vigilance and wits which is necessary to avoid sudden death in the form of a night fighter.  For every egg we’re throwing the Jerries now, we’re giving them back only part of what we owe them…

March 16, 1943

Before I go, I must tell you about the circumstances which caused me to be returning to my station on the night of the 13th by train.  I don’t tell you much about my flying because firstly, the censors don’t like it and secondly because it smacks too much of “line-shooting”, but this is really something.  If you read your daily paper, you probably know that practically every night the RAF is out taking a smack at some part of Germany or occupied territory.  Well, I’ve been on most of these jaunts recently and I’ve had a good bit of experience and close shaves, but on the night of the 12th I came closest.  As your paper will tell you, the target that night was Essen, in “Happy Valley” (the Ruhr Valley).  I’ve seen plenty of hot targets in my time; Hamburg, Bremen and Berlin are not exactly picnics, but I’ve never seen anything like Essen that night.  After we dropped our eggs the flak boys gave us a little attention with the following results:

One engine dead, another one dying, hydraulics shot sway so that bomb doors would not close, four petrol tanks holed, electrical wiring severed, rudder control rod hanging on by a hair, aerials shot away.  A piece of flak came in one side, passed under the bomb aimer’s belly and out the other side.  The tailgunner’s right boot had a piece of flak cut a grove in the leather.  We landed at the first ‘drome we saw in England and the next morning I went out to survey the damage.  I counted 112 holes and I’ll bet that I missed some.  Talk about luck!  I certainly hope I don’t get anymore like that.  Your prayers must have been with me that night!

April 22, 1943

Since my last letter I’ve packed up my kit and moved again.  The reason for this last move is a deep dark military secret.  I can only say that because of our previous success as a crew on bombing raids and because of the outstanding ability of my navigator, we have been selected to train for a very special job; a job which, while it entails a slightly greater degree of risk and a much greater degree of skill on the part of several members of the crew, is imperative to the success of our raids.  If we can prove ourselves adept at the work, promotion and recognition should be rapid.  Personally I have the greatest confidence in my crew.  I only hope that I won’t fail them in carrying out the increased burden which will fall upon my shoulders.  The responsibility, in the final analysis of taking a quarter million dollar bomber and a crew of seven out over Germany and bringing them safely back rests on the sound judgment, common sense, and flying skill of the captain…and also Lady Luck (blessed be she!).

May 12, 1943

I HOPE you received the cable I sent last week.  I didn’t know for sure whether the Air force would advise you that I had been injured while on operations, but I didn’t want you to worry needlessly.  Here is what happened – as much as I can tell you.  I was on my way back from … and I couldn’t land anywhere because a thick fog had closed in.  After awhile my petrol got very low so I told the boys it looked like a blind crash landing.  The boys could have baled out, but they elected to stay.  The last thing I remember was one helluva big tree coming up.  I came to and found myself lying alone on the ground.  It was black as pitch, but I could hear the crew getting out of the kite.  I couldn’t get up because there was something wrong with my right leg, so I called to them and they made me comfortable.  After awhile an ambulance came and took us all to a hospital.  After they got me out of the tatters of my uniform and got some of the plowed field off my hide, a survey was made.  They found concussion (mild), gashes on head, right hand and both legs.  Six x-rays were taken of my spine because I couldn’t move my right leg before somebody discovered that the only trouble was a bad sprain.  Well, I’ve been in bed for a week now.  The rest of my crew have all been discharged some three days but I haven’t been allowed out of bed yet.  By the way, my face is quite intact.

The incident referred to above occurred during a mission to Dortmund, Germany, on the evening of May 4 – 5, 1943, and is described in Volume IV of W.R. Chorley’s Royal Air Force Bomber Command Losses of the Second World War.  (Midland Publishing, Hinckley, England, 1996.)  According to Bomber Command Losses, W/C Weiser (then a Flight Officer) and his crew, in Halifax II JB897 (individual aircraft code LQ * T), “Ran low on fuel and while trying to land in misty weather conditions at Wyton, collided with trees and crash-landed 0430 in a field near the airfield.  Four crew members received slight injuries.”

Along with F/O Weiser,  the crew comprised:

Geary, T., Sergeant
Ellwood, G.B., Flight Officer
Baker, R.E., Pilot Officer
Mayou, F.D., Sergeant
Colburn, L., Flight Sergeant
Banks, H.C., Flight Officer

Yesterday I flew for the first time since my accident and it was just as though I hadn’t been away.  It was interesting to note that the squadron leader and wing commander were obviously worried that I had lost my nerve.  They needn’t have concerned themselves; my nerve and mental attitude are just the same as they ever were.  So if the old Weiser luck continues to hold out, I’ll be home in time and we’ll see if we can battle the problems of life together!

June 24, 1943

It’s funny how attached the aircrew and the ground crew become.  When speaking of the kite, it’s always ”ours”.  We’ve been together for a long time now and we’ve been through four ‘v’s; I honestly don’t think those boys sleep at night when we go out on an ‘op until they know that we are safely back.  They are a good bunch of boys, competent and keen because they know that in a large measure our safe return will depend on the excellence of their work.  The chief engine man, Pop, is about 44, an old hardened ex-soldier of the last war.  The four engines are his children, his joy in life, and he talks to them and babys them and tunes and adjusts until those engines are as near perfect as humans can get them.  The rest of the ground crew are younger but the same in type, so that when “V” takes off to have a slap at the Ruhr, we know that we have a machine which will be dependable when the night fighters start looking for customers and the searchlights and flak are coming too close.

June 26, 1943

Well, there’s another trip to record in the log book.  It was an interesting trip – and a tough one.  I had a feeling of acute depression before take-off – for the first time in all my ops.  Frankly, I had a feeling, that all would not go well; I even thought I might not come back.  It was unaccountable – maybe I’m getting psychic.  Anyhow I communicated my feelings to one of the station switchboard operators, a devout Catholic girl as Irish as they come.  I didn’t know her, but she made me wear one of those Catholic medallions around my neck.  The next day one of the other operators told me that the girl had been up several times during the night and – of all things – praying for me.  It kind of re-establishes one’s faith in human nature when a complete stranger does that for you…  I got back all right, but it was my second toughest trip – (hardest one was the first time I went to Essen).  The funny part of it all was that after being fired at without respite for more than two hours and going from searchlight cone to searchlight cone, a careful examination of the aircraft failed to show so much as a scratch.  The queerest part of the whole damned business was that after we got back the navigator, mid-upper gunner and engineer individually told me that they had each had exactly the same feeling.  And yet everyone kept his mouth shut and carried on – a swell bunch of boys.

August 19, 1943

I have done 50 per cent more trips so far this month than I have done in any of the four preceding months.

After four days ago I landed away from the base after a trip and I slept for three hours before flying to base.  I arrived at base in the afternoon just in time for briefing, for that night’s operations.  No wash, no shave, no nothing.  Luckily I had a second pilot that night and slept most of the time.  I can stand the pressure as well as the next guy, but I’m afraid it will leave permanent marks.  The lines on my face are getting deeper but at least my hair isn’t getting gray like some of the boys.  I am really looking forward to my two weeks’ leave at the beginning of Sept.  I intend to get a good rest.

October 4, 1943

We’ve been working pretty hard lately; long trips that leave one absolutely exhausted.  I don’t know whether you can remember the spirit in which you write your letter, but I feel exactly the same way.  “Browned off” we call it.  My trips are mounting up; the end of my tour is getting into view.  I don’t know what the Air Force plans on doing with me if I do finish my tour.  The probability is that I will have to do 6-12 months of duty as a flying instructor over here imparting my operational knowledge to green crews.

I have always been reluctant to discuss the future in this racket because all too often there isn’t any.  And then again, the censor strongly disapproves of people saying too much.  But I see that I’ve been unfair; you deserve to know what the score is.

The score is this: I am not doing an ordinary tour of operations; I am not doing ordinary operations.  The work I am doing is confined to a small number of crews who have shown themselves above the average and have been entrusted with the special work which determines whether or not our bombing raids shall be successful or failures.  I am now fully trained in my work and because it is practically impossible for any crew to be replaced, we have to carry on beyond the normal number of operations.  We do almost twice the normal American number.  My crew and I are proud of the responsible work we are doing and we are not looking for “angles” to find a way of quitting before we have to…  The score is this: I am terribly homesick and I miss you very much.  Hang on for a while longer and if all goes well I’ll be back.

October 29, 1943

I hope you received my cable telling you of my appointment at Buckingham Palace.  The King is going to pin a Distinguished Flying Cross on my flat chest.  You should really be quite proud of me because in this outfit medals aren’t handed out as part of one’s weekly clothing ration.

October 29, 1943

My next promotion has just come through and I now find myself  with the rank of Squadron Leader – this is equivalent to the rank of major in the army.  One thing about operational aircrew in the RCAF; if one can manage to live long enough, there’s plenty of promotion.

The crew has gone on leave today but it looks as though I won’t be able to get away for more than a day or two later in the week.  That’s what comes of being a flight commander and having to bring a lot of crews through their teething stage and seeing to it that they have a decent chance of survival when they begin their “ops”.  The hard part is having to do that and operations besides.  I have only a very few more left to do now though.  As a matter of fact I’ve finished my tour and I’m doing a few extra to finish the crew off.  It’s the least I could do after we’ve been together so long and through so much.

December 22, 1943

Here is your Xmas present.  Frankfurt, 20th Dec. was my last raid.  I’m finished with operations now.  I’ve done two complete tours at once so that I cannot be called back unless I wish it.  I’m still in a whirl of shaking hands and receiving congratulations from all sides.  It really is an occasion for the squadron because it is rather rare for a complete crew to complete two tours.  After we landed on the last trip and I cut the engines, the ground crew came swarming in with bottles of beer and there was bags of hand shaking and back slapping all around.  Last night I arranged a party for the aircrew-ground crew unit and I’m afraid that the circumstances, together with the alcohol, made us quite sentimental.  After all we’ve been together for more than a year and through more than most people ever go through in a life-time and now we’re splitting up.

February 19, 1944

Now that there is some possibility of my getting home some time this year I want to be in good shape – physically and financially.

Evenings have become somewhat of a problem now because I don’t feel like going out to the nearest town, but what with the gym, a bit of reading, some letter writing and surprise inspections of sections under my control after personnel think I have relaxed for the day, I manage to fill in my time fairly well.

– Transcribed by Michael G. Moskow

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RCAF Personnel – Honours and Awards – 1939-1949

WEISER, F/O William (J10822) – Distinguished Flying Cross – No.405 Squadron – Award effective 4 October 1943 as per London Gazette dated 15 October 1943 and AFRO 2610/43 dated 17 December 1943.  Born in Newark, New Jersey, March 1919.  Home in The Bronx, New York.  Enlisted in Ottawa, 9 June 1941.  Trained at No.1 ITS (graduated 25 September 1941), No.20 EFTS (graduated 5 December 1941) and No.16 SFTS (graduated 27 March 1942).  DFC and Bar both presented by King George VI, 11 August 1944.  Repatriated to Canada, 1944, serving with both Western and Eastern Air Command; remained in postwar RCAF, rising to Air Commodore by June 1963.  Postings included CEPE (1947), US Armed Forces Staff College (1947- 48), AFHQ (1948-50), CJS Washington (October 1950-August 1952), Training Command Headquarters at Trenton (1952-53), No.2 Fighter Wing in Grostenquin (July 1953-October 1955), Air Defence Command Headquarters (October 1955-October 1959), AFHQ (1959-63), and NORAD. Awarded Queen’s Coronation Medal, 23 October 1953.

Soldiers of The Great War: Jewish Military Service in WW I, as Reported in l’Univers Israélite (The Jewish World) – Le Séder sur le Front (The Seder at The Front), April 9, 1915

The following item, from l’Univers Israélite, is as moving as it is interesting.

Covering the observance of the “first” Pesach Seder of World War One – occurring on the 15th of Nisan, 5675 (Tuesday, the 30th of March, 1915) – the essay was written by a Jewish chaplain serving in the French Army. 

Each paragraph is introduced with a transliterated Hebrew phrase, and a discussion of that phrase is then used to segue into a discourse on the relationship between various aspects of the Seder night in particular, and Pesach in general, and contemporary military service by Jewish soldiers, touching upon the discomforts and dangers of military life, support of French Jewish troops by the Consistoire, and musings about an eventual, more peaceful future.  

Notably, the fact that this particular Seder was held by and among a group of some forty Jewish soldiers from North Africa, specifically Zouaves and African chasseurs – men from Constantine and Oran – is strongly emphasized. 

This essay is actually the first of several such items published by l’Univers Israélite in the course of World War One, and its presence would be very strongly echoed in other organs of the Jewish press during that conflict (such as The Jewish Chronicle). 

And inevitably, in subsequent military conflicts, as well… 

Le Séder sur le front
The Seder at The Front

l’Univers Israélite
April 9, 1915

The Jewish World
April 9, 1915

Leil chimourim.             Ces mots qui désignent dans la Bible la soirée pascale, pourraient fort bien se traduire par “Nuit de garde”.  Joseph Derenbourg a rapproché cette expression hébraïque de l’arabe samara, qui s’applique aux entretiens nocturnes des arabes du désert lorsque accroupis, le soir, autour du feu, ils devisent des légendes héroïques du passé.

Leil chimourim.                 These words in the Bible meaning Passover evening, could well be translated as “Night Watch”.  Joseph Derenbourg has brought this Hebrew speaking Arabic Samara, which pertains to nocturnal meetings of Arabs in the desert, when squatting around the fire, in the evening, conversing about heroic legends of the past.  

Je pensais à ces explications en donnant, comme on dit, ou comme on devrait dire, en “ordonnant le Séder avec une quarantaine de soldats israélites dans un village à demi détruit, à moins de deux kilomètres de l’ennemi.  C’était à…  Si je pouvais vous dire le nom, vous reconnaîtriez une localité qui sera renommée dans l’histoire de cette guerre, car les zouaves y menèrent une de leurs plus fougueuses attaques.  C’étaient justement des zouaves, survivants de l’épopée, qui étaient réunis ce soir, avec quelques chasseurs d’Afrique et même quelques tirailleurs.  L’assistance, le lieu, le moment, tout cela faisait que jamais le Séder ne parut plus émouvant ni la Hagada plus éloquente.

I thought of giving these explanations, as they say, or as we should say, in “ordering the Seder with forty Jewish soldiers in a half destroyed town, less than two kilometers from the enemy.  It was…  If I could tell you the name, you would recognize the place as being famous in the history of this war, because the Zouaves led one of their most spirited attacks upon it.  These were precisely the Zouaves, survivors of the epic, who gathered tonight, with some African chasseurs and even some sharpshooters.  The assistance, the place, the time, this was all such that the Seder never seemed any more moving or the Haggadah more eloquent.

Ha lahma…                   Après l’office du soir et le Hallel, la table sommaire fut dressée dans la salle délabrée.  L’invitation n’en fût pas moins cordiale: “Voici le pain de misère que nos pères ont mangé en Égypte.  Que celui qui a faim vienne en manger; que celui qui est nécessiteux vienne célébrer la Pâque.  Cette année nous sommes ici, l’année prochaine puissions-nous être dans pays d’Israël!  Cette année nous sommes esclaves, l’année prochaine, nous serons libres !” Jamais appel et souhait ne portèrent aussi bien.

Ha lahma…                         After the evening service and the Hallel, the summary table was drawn up in the dilapidated room.  The invitation did was no less cordial: “This is the bread of affliction that our fathers ate in Egypt.  That the hungry come and eat; that the needy come and celebrate Passover.  This year we are here, next year may we be in the land of Israel!  This year we are slaves, next year we will be free!”  Never call and wish not also doing well.

Ma niçhianna…             Après cette invitation en arméen, le questionnaire…  en arabe.  Suivant un ancien usage conservé en Algérie, la Hagada est traduite dans la langue du pays.  Le Constantinois se sert de l’arabe, l’Oranais de l’Espagnol, l’Algérois du francais…  quand il sait encore.  J’avais demandé au plus jeune des fidèles – classe 14 — de poser les quatre questions traditionnelles; il s’en acquitta en chantant une mélopée en arabe que je ne compris guère.  C’eût été à moi de questionner.

My niçhianna…                  After this invitation to the army, the questionnaire…in Arabic.  Following an ancient custom preserved in Algeria, the Haggadah is translated into the language of the country.  Arabic is used in Constantine, in Oran Spanish, in Algiers French…when he yet knows.  I asked the youngest of the faithful – Classe 14 – to ask the four traditional questions; he acquitted himself singing a chant in Arabic that I hardly understood.  It would have been for me to question.

Abadim hayinou…         Je répondis tout de même.  Oui, nous avons été esclaves en Egypte et ailleurs depuis;  mais Dieu nous a délivrés et cela plus d’une fois.  Aussi fusions-nous tous sages et âgés — et il y avait bien parmi nous quelques ignorants et quelques novices — que nous aurions considéré comme un devoir et un plaisir de faire et de refaire le récit de la sortie d’Egypte.  Volontiers nous aurions prolongé la veillée jusqu’à la pointe du jour, comme jadis les rabbins réunis à Bené Beraq, si nous n’avions craint que la garde vînt nous dire: “Il est temps d’aller se coucher”.  Mais honneur à Ben Zoma, qui a montré par une ingénieuse déduction que la sortie d’Egypte devait être dite la nuit, car le soldat en campagne n’est pas libre dans la journée.

Abadim hayinou…            I answered anyway.  Yes, we were slaves in Egypt and elsewhere since; but God saved and delivered us more than once.  We all emerged wiser and older – and there were many ignorant among us and some novices – we would have considered it a duty and a pleasure to tell and retell the story of the exodus from Egypt.  Gladly we would have prolonged the vigil until daybreak, as the rabbis once gathered in Bene Beraq, if we had feared that the guard would come to say: “It’s time to go to bed.”  But credit to Ben Zoma, who showed by an ingenious deduction that the exodus from Egypt was to be called the night because the soldier in the field is not free in the day.

Barouch Hamaqom…     Il y a quatre sortes de soldats, et de soldats israélites.  Le hakkam, c’est dans le civil l’ouvrier ou l’employé intelligent et dévoué, dans le religieux le croyant sincère et le pratiquant éclairé, dans le militaire, c’est le “poilu”.  Le racha, c’est dans le civil l’oisif ou le raté, dans le religieux, le lâcheur et le “je m’enfichiste”, dans le militaire, c’est l’embusqué.  Le tam, c’est dans le civil, le garçon de bonne volonté qui ne demande qu’à faire mieux, dans le religieux celui qui chante sa paracha comme un perroquet, dans le militaire c’est le “bleu”.  Le quatrième enfin, c’est dans le civil celui qui joue à la guerre, déjà, dans le religieux celui qui épelle le Chema avant de le comprendre, dans le militaire c’est celui qui “entrera dans la carrière”, quand ses ainés n’y seront peutêtre plus…

Baruch Hamaqom…         There are four kinds of soldiers, and of Jewish soldiers.  The hakkam, is the civilian worker or the intelligent and devoted employee; the sincerely religious believer and informed practitioner, in the military, he is the “poilu”.  The racha, is in the idle or missing civilian, the religious, the quitter and “I enfichiste”; in the military, he’s the evader.  The tam, in civilian life, is the boy of good will just waiting to do better, in religion the one who sings the parsha like a parrot; in the military he is the “blue”.  The fourth finally, is the one who plays at civil war, already in religion one that spells the Shema without understanding, in the military he is the one who “will enter the career,” when his elders perhaps there will be more…

Mitchilla…                    Reprenons le fil de la Hagada; rappelons la merveilleuse et émouvante histoire, là descente en Egypte, la chute dans l’esclavage, puis la montée vers la Terre Promise, l’ascension à la liberté.  Ces deux actes du drame, qui les joue aujourd’hui?  Eux et nous.  La tyrannie, la persécution, la cruauté jusqu envers lés enfants, l’orgueil et les défis à la Divinité, c’est eux, et quel commentaire cette partie de la Hagada que le Rapport officiél sur les atrocités allemandes!  A nous les durs labeurs et les corvées pénibles, mais à nous aussi les prodiges et les revirements merveilleux de la fortune, et à nous bientôt la sortie, le passage, la victoire et la libération.  Nous ne demandons que les réparations et non la vengeance.  “Si Dieu nous délivre des Egyptiens et qu’il n’exerce pas de représailles contre eux, dayénou: suffit!”

Mitchilla…                          Take up the thread of the Haggadah; remember the beautiful and moving story, the descent into Egypt, the fall into slavery, then the climb to the Promised Land, the ascent to freedom.  These two acts of the drama, which plays today?  They and us.  Tyranny, persecution, cruelty against children, pride and the challenges to the Divinity, it is they, and any comment on the part of the Haggadah that is the official report on the German atrocities!  To us is hard work and drudgery, but we also wonder and wonderful reversals of fortune, and we will soon exit the passage, the victory and liberation.  We ask for reparations and not revenge. “If God delivered us from the Egyptians and did not engage in reprisals against them, dayenu: enough!”

Bechol dor…                 Ah! qu’il est donc vrai que dans tous les siècles chaque Israélite doit se considérer comme bénéficiant en personne de la déliverance d’Egypte…  C’est pourquoi nous sommes tenus de louer et de célébrer Celui qui nous conduit de la servitude à la liberté, de la douleur à la joie, des ténébres a la lumiére…  Sois béni, Seigneur, qui nous as fait la grâce d’atteindre cette soirée.  Notre Dieu et Dieu nos pères, veuille que nous atteignions ainsi d’autres fêtes et d’autres solennités, qu’elles nous trouvent en paix, heureux du rétablissement de la cité et de la restauration de la foi.  Alors nous chanterons un cantique nouveau pour notre affranchissement et notre libération!”  Combien cette prière nous parut actuelle et comme elle fut sentie ce soir-là!

Bechol dor…                      Ah! it is true that in all ages every Israelite must consider himself personally benefiting from the deliverance from Egypt…  This is why we must praise to Him who led us from bondage to freedom, from pain to joy, from darkness to the light…  Blessed are you, Lord, who hast made us the grace to reach this evening.  Our God and God of our fathers, grant that we reach other festivals and other solemnities, that we are at peace, the happy restoration of the city and the restoration of faith.  Then we will sing a new song for our liberation and our freedom!  “How this prayer seemed to us today and as it was felt that night!

Mais il n’y a pas que la Hagada dans le Séder.  Il y a aussi le repas!  Hélas!  Plats délectables de Pésah, ou êtes-vous?  Cependant nous ne sommes pas entièrement dépourvus, grâce à la prévoyance de nos familles et des œuvres, et nous pouvons contenter Rabban Gamliel, sinon notre estomac!  Voici, à côté du vin cachir de la Maison Hanoui-Lachkar, d’Alger, voici le pain de misère, la maça, épaisse galette algérienne, qui fait concurrence au biscuit de guerre, ou friable crêpe parisienne, envoi du Consistoire.  Voici le maror, du pissenlit cueilli cet après-midi dans un champ parmi les “marmites”.  Nous aurions pu y joindre, a la manière de Hillel, du harocet nature: la boue des tranchées.  Nous avons mieux: nous avons des briques, représentées par les tablettes de chocolat pascal, don délicieux de l’ “Aide fraternelle aux soldats”.

But it’s not just the Haggadah at the Seder.  There is also the meal!  Alas! delectable dishes of Pesach, are you?  However we are not entirely free, thanks to the foresight of our families and works, and we can settle upon Rabban Gamliel, if our stomachs allow!  Here, next to the cache of wine of Maison Hanoui-Lachkar, Algiers, here is the bread of misery, maça, the thick Algerian wafer, which competes with war biscuits or friable Parisian crepes, sent by the Consistoire.  Here is the maror, of dandelions picked this afternoon in a field among the “marmite”.  We could join, as in the manner of Hillel, this kind of harocet: the mud of the trenches.  We have better: we have bricks, represented by the chocolate Easter bars, a delicious gift of the “fraternal help to soldiers.”

Tout en le dégustant, nous faisons la lecture du Numéro de Pâque dé l’Univers israélite, qui n’est pas moins apprécié, je vous assure.  Toute la Hagada y est paraphrasée, depuis là Ha lahma jusqu’au Vaamartem zébah Pésah, et toute la légende pascale, depuis la dixième plaie tournée en vers jusqu’à la dernière actualité transformée en conte.

While enjoying them, we read the Passover number of The Jewish World, which is no less appreciated, I assure you.  The entire Haggadah is paraphrased from Ha lahma until Vaamartem zebah Pesah, and all the pascal story from the tenth plague to the journey until the last news has turned into a story.

La soirée s’achèver par les psaumes, les prières et les poésies de la deuxième partie de la Hagada.  Les allusions au présent leur donnent de l’attrait et il n’est pas jusqu’à l’appel nostalgique de la fin à quoi l’expédition d’Orient ne donne un regain d’actualite: “L’année prochaine à Jérusalem!” Le plus “sioniste” ne peut s’empêcher d’ajouter: “Cette année-ci dans nos foyers!”

The evening will end with psalms, prayers and poems of the second part of the Hagadah.  Allusions to this give them the attraction and this does not measure up to the recent nostalgic appeal that the expedition to the Orient has actually renewed: “Next year in Jerusalem!  The most “Zionist” “cannot help adding: “This year in our homes!”

UN AUMÔNIER ISRAÉLITE
A JEWISH CHAPLAIN

– Transcribed and Translated by Michael G. Moskow, 2016

Reference

Jewish Holiday Festivals in 1915 (at JewishGen), at http://data.jewishgen.org/wconnect/wc.dll?jg~jgsys~josfest.

 

Women at War: Driving Through the Desert – Women of the A.T.S. (Auxiliary Territorial Service) – As Depicted in Parade – Middle East Weekly

An essential aspect of all military endeavors is the provision of the material and logistical support – transportation; supply; repair; maintenance; communications; medical services, and more – that can enable a force of combat arms (land, sea, or air; singly, or more often in combination) to conduct offensive or defensive military activity.  The centrality of this aspect of military operations has been manifest in practically every conflict of the twentieth century (and certainly far earlier), by the armed forces of practically every nation engaged in military conflict.

A related aspect of this facet of military service has been – especially during period of mass conscription – the mobilization and conscription of citizens who would not typically not be subject to military service, “freeing up” other citizens to directly serve in combat positions.

A noteworthy example of this was Britain’s Auxiliary Territorial Service, or “A.T.S.”, which, established in September of 1938, was the women’s branch of the British Army during World War Two.  A.T.S. members served as cooks, clerks, storekeepers, drivers, postal workers, and ammunition inspectors.  Though A.T.S. members were prevented from serving in battle, some members of the Service eventually did serve in such tasks as radar operators, anti-aircraft gun crews, and members of the military police.  The nature of such assignments was not without risk, as – according to the Wikipedia entry on the A.T.S. – the A.T.S. incurred 717 deaths during the war out of a total mobilized force of over 190,000 women.

During World War Two, some 30,000 men from the Yishuv served in the British armed forces, at the behest of the Jewish Agency.  Eventually, this recruitment effort extended to women, due to an agreement between British authorities and the Council of Women’s Organizations.  Eventually, some 4,350 women from the Yishuv would serve in the A.T.S. and W.A.A.F. (Women’s Auxiliary Air Force). 

A group of A.T.S. drivers from the Yishuv became the subject of a photo essay which appeared in the British military newspaper Parade – Middle-East Weekly, on February 12, 1944, under the title “Convoy Girls of the A.T.S.”

First published in mid-August of 1940, Parade – edited by A.W. Parsons and Captain D.H. Flockhart – was published by the “Inter-Service Publications Directorate for the Joint Publications Board”.  The publication was printed in Cairo by Al Hilal, which was – according to the masthead – the “Sole Distributor for Egypt, Sudan, Syria, “Palestine” and Cyprus”.  As indicated by its title, Parade’s news coverage focused upon – but was certainly not limited to – British military activity in North Africa, the Middle East, and Mediterranean, in time expanding in scope to encompass news from other theaters of war, and the armed forces of other Allied nations, such as United States, Soviet Union, and other European countries.  The magazine frequently presented photographic essays about national, ethnic, and religious groups throughout the Middle East, as well as military, cultural, and social news from the British Isles.  Likewise, the back page of many issues featured a full-page-size pin-up of a prominent (or not so prominent?!) actress. 

In its day, Parade provided news for Commonwealth military personnel.  In our day, it offers a fascinating, retrospective view of the British military, as well as an “image” (quite literally, considering the abundance of illustrations in each issue!) of the early 1940s, as seen through and portrayed by British military and political leadership during that decade.

The images from “Convoy Girls of the A.T.S.” appear below. 

I hope to bring you further posts based upon images and articles in Parade, in the future.

– Michael G. Moskow

____________________

Brief and to the point, the following is the entirety of the text that accompanies the photos:

A Corporal poses beside her truck.

Parade - 1944 02 12 - Convoy Girls of the ATS 4A BWA group of drivers receives a briefing.

Parade - 1944 02 12 - Convoy Girls of the ATS 1A BWThe following image, showing a line-up of Dodge D15 GS trucks, is notable in two respects.

1) A British “roundel” – intended to provide rapid air-to-ground recognition to forestall “friendly-fire” by Allied aviators – is visible on the upturned hood of the middle truck.

2) Note that the face of the driver kneeling in front of her truck (the woman wearing heavy gloves) has been obscured, unlike her comrades.  This leads to conjecture…  Did she request anonymity to protect any family who still might be living in German-occupied Europe?

Parade - 1944 02 12 - Convoy Girls of the ATS 2A BWA Dodge is driven to an assembly point.

Parade - 1944 02 12 - Convoy Girls of the ATS 3A BWA group of drivers receive rations at a rest point.

Parade - 1944 02 12 - Convoy Girls of the ATS 5A BWThe same group as above.

Parade - 1944 02 12 - Convoy Girls of the ATS 6A BWWhether posed or genuine, this photo gives an indication of accommodations (or, lack thereof!) to be found in the desert!

Parade - 1944 02 12 - Convoy Girls of the ATS 7A BW____________________

The American Hebrew of January 19, 1945, in an article covering military service of volunteers from the Yishuv in the Allied armed forces, featured a photo (certainly posed) of a Yishuv A.T.S. driver in Italy.  Her cap badge is quite obvious. 

Here’s a much (!) better view of an A.T.S. cap badge, displayed at the website of the Historama Online History Shop:

____________________

Curiously, in place of its typical weekly back-page pin-ups of actresses, during 1943, three issues of Parade featured pin-ups promoting enlistment in the A.T.S.  These pin-ups are shown below.

Two of the pin-ups – by the Austrian artist A. Sevek – are idealized portraits of A.T.S. servicewomen, both wearing service caps bearing the organization’s badge.  Given the differences in the women’s facial features, Sevek’s drawings very likely depicted actual A.T.S. personnel.  Unfortunately (and quite understandably), Parade did not reveal their names.

The third A.T.S. pin-up isn’t – really! – a pin-up at all.  It’s actually a full-page photo (probably posed) of an A.T.S. servicewoman working on the engine of a Ford truck, intriguingly nicknamed “Partisan”.  The ad presents a more realistic – hence less idealized – depiction of an A.T.S. servicewoman in the Yishuv, or, Egyptian desert.  An unspoken message of the ad would seem to be, “Are you ready for the challenge?”

A notable aspect of the ad are the four “blurbs” promoting enlistment in the A.T.S., which answer the lead statement, “She has released a man…”  These are:

  • No – he wasn’t trapped under the bonnet.  He was doing a job, but could have been more usefully employed elsewhere.
  • By joining the A.T.S. this girl has enabled him to be released for more important duties with fighting troops in forward zone.
  • Girls are needed for the A.T.S. in the M.E. as drivers, clerks, storewomen, hospital orderlies, draughtswomen and ‘phone operators.
  • If you join the A.T.S. you will be helping soldiers with their jobs.  You will find the training interesting and conditions good.

The pin-up also includes the locations of A.T.S. recruiting offices.  These were located at:

In Egypt:

114, Rue Fouad, Alexandria
Kasr el Nil Barracks, Cairo
Sarafand

In the Yishuv:

Allenby Street, Tel-Aviv
Princess Mary Avenue, Jerusalem
Kingsway, Haifa

In closing… 

…a restored Ford F60L truck (1941 vintage), from the Wheels and Tracks website.  Just to give you an idea…!

____________________

As a part of this research, I’ve attempted to identify the Jewish servicewomen – from the Yishuv and elsewhere – who died while serving in the A.T.S. Their names are listed below.

A list of abbreviations follows each record, representing the following sources of information:

Gelber II – Jewish Palestinian Volunteering in the British Army During the Second World War – Volume II – The Struggle for A Jewish Army, by Dr. Yoav Gelber, Yav Izhak Ben-Zvi Publications, Jerusalem, Israel, 1981

TJC – The Jewish Chronicle

“WWRT I” and “WWRT II” – Volumes I and II of We Will Remember Them – A Record of the Jews Who Died in the Armed Forces of the Crown 1939-1945

____________________

Jewish Casualties in the Auxiliary Territorial Service
  In the Second World War

– .ת.נ.צ.ב.ה. –

Bat Shalom, Sara                                           Pvt.                       W/PAL/195678
5/29/42 (“Died in Egypt as the result of an accident.”)
Tel-el-Kebir War Memorial Cemetery, Egypt – 3,C,8
Gelber II – 318; TJC 8/13/43; WWRT I – 060, 238; WWRT I as “Bat-Shalom, Sara”; CWGC as “Ben Shalom, Sara”

Ben Baruch, Rachela                                     Pvt.
Israel, Rishon-le-Zion; 1925
Died on Active Service (Illness)
TJC 11/23/45 (Cannot identify in CWGC database)

Berger, Cornelia                                             Pvt.                       W/PAL/203704
9/3/44 (“Died in Egypt as the result of an accident.”)
Tel-el-Kebir War Memorial Cemetery, Egypt – 5,J,6
Gelber II – 318; WWRT I – 239

Best, Ruth                                                        Pvt.                       W/PAL/195938
4/29/43
Ramleh 1939-45 Memorial, Ramleh, Israel            
Gelber II – 318; WWRT I – NL; WWRT II – NL

Blank, Sara Rachela Shoshana                    Sgt.                       W/PAL/203880
12/20/44 (“Died in Israel as the result of an accident.”)
Ramleh War Cemetery, Ramleh, Israel – W,32
TJC 1/12/45; Gelber II – 318; WWRT I – 064, 239; WWRT I as “Blank, Shoshanah”

Butovitzky Stein, Chava                               Pvt.                       W/PAL/221031
3/24/43 (“Died in Egypt as the result of an accident.”)
Tel-el-Kebir War Memorial Cemetery, Egypt – 4,N,5
WWRT I – 240; WWRT I as “Butovitzky-Stein, Chava”; CWGC as “Stein Butovecky, Haya”

Courtman, Stefahia                                       Pvt.                       W/PAL/203386
10/4/45
Brookwood 1939-1945 Memorial – Panel 23, Column 1
Gelber II – 330; WWRT I – NL; WWRT II – NL

Epstein, Milada                                               Pvt.                       W/PAL/195790
6/14/43 (“Died in Egypt from Illness.”)
1906
Mr. Emil Epstein (husband), Northampton, England
Mr. and Mrs. Tomas Chytil and Frantiska Chytilova (parents)
Suez War Memorial Cemetery, Suez City, Egypt – 3,A,14
Gelber II – 317; WWRT I – 242 (WWRT I as “Epstein, Milda”; CWGC as “Epsteinova, Milada”)

Ettlinger, Dora Leslie                                     Pvt.                       W/PAL/245610
10/14/45 (“Died in Egypt.”)
Heliopolis War Cemetery, Heliopolis, Cairo, Egypt – 4,F,22
Gelber II – 316; WWRT I – 242

Kantorowicz, Chana                                      Pvt.                       W/PAL/245725
1/23/44 (“Died in Israel from illness.”)
Ramoth Hashovim Cemetery, Israel
Gelber II – 331; WWRT I – 247 (WWRT I as “Kantorowicz, Chana”; CWGC as “Kantorowitz, Hanna”)

Katz, Rosel                                                       Pvt.                       W/PAL/245671
Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers, 2nd Base Workshop
7/15/43 (“Died in Egypt from Illness.”)
Tel-el-Kebir War Memorial Cemetery, Egypt – 4,K,4
Gelber II – 325; WWRT I – 248 (WWRT I as “Katz, Rozelle”; CWGC as “Katz, Rosel”)

Kelman, Lola                                                   Cpl.                       W/PAL/195297
12/24/42
Tel el Kebir War Memorial Cemetery – 1,B,10
Gelber II – 331; WWRT I – NL; WWRT II – NL

Krausz, Bertha                                                Pvt.                       W/88628
1904
5/13/42
Birmingham (Witton) Jewish Cemetery, Warwickshire, England – Section C, Row, 1, Grave 316
WWRT II – 17     

Krotovetsky, Chaia Stein
Tel-Aviv, Israel
TJC 4/16/43 (Cannot identify in CWGC database)

Levavi, Uhma                                                  Pvt.                       W/PAL/245414
1923
11/25/44            
Mr. and Mrs. Meir and Sonia Levavi (parents), Kibbutz Merhavia, Israel
Heliopolis War Cemetery, Heliopolis, Cairo, Egypt – 6,L,11
Gelber II – 325; TJC 12/22/44; WWRT I – NL; WWRT II – NL (TJC gives name as “Ochama Levavi“)

Loewenthal, Anna                                          Pvt.                       W/57556
1921
8/19/43              
Mr. and Mrs. Paul and Selma (Shoenfeld) Loewenthal (parents)
Miss K. Loewenthal (sister), c/o Mrs. Eber, 18 Hamilton Ave., Leeds, 7, England
Bristol Jewish Cemetery, Gloucestershire, England
TJC 9/3/43; WWRT I – 124

Mark, Tamar                                                   Pvt.                       W/PAL/220958
3/25/43 (“Died in Egypt as the result of an accident.”)
Kvutzat Avukah, Israel
Tel-el-Kebir War Memorial Cemetery, Egypt – 4,N,3
TJC 4/16/43; Gelber II – 326; WWRT I – 251

Neuberg, Miriam                                            Pvt.                       W/PAL/195720                 504th Company
6/22/42 (“Died in Egypt as the result of an accident.”)
Tel-el-Kebir War Memorial Cemetery, Egypt – 3,B,11
TJC 8/13/43; Gelber II – 327; WWRT I – 136, 253

Ostrogursky, Ilse                                            Pvt.                       W/PAL/245813
7/3/44 (“Died in Egypt [Alexandria] as the result of an accident.”)
Germany, Leschnitzer; 1915
Alexandria (Hadra) War Memorial Cemetery, Alexandria, Egypt – 6,E,14
Aufbau 12/8/44; WWRT I – 254 (WWRT I as “Ostrogursky, Ilse”; CWGC and Aufbau as “Ostrogorski, Anneliese”)

Vilenchook, Pnina                                          Pvt.                       W/PAL/245229
9/17/43
Tel Aviv (Nahlat Yitzhak) Cemetery, Tel Aviv, Israel – Plot 15, Row 9, Grave 5
Gelber II – 322; WWRT I – NL; WWRT II – NL

Weiss Politzer, Shoshana                              Pvt.                       W/PAL/203932
8/19/45 (“Died in Egypt as the result of an accident.”)
Heliopolis War Cemetery, Heliopolis, Cairo, Egypt – 4,G,20
Gelber II – 322; WWRT I – 261 (WWRT I as “Weiss-Politzer, Shoshana”; CWGC as “Weiss Politzer, Berse”)

Wirth, Bracha                                                  Pvt.                       W/PAL/221085
5/28/45 (“Died in Israel as the result of an accident.”)
Ramleh 1939-45 Memorial, Ramleh, Israel
Gelber II – 322; WWRT I – 262 (WWRT I as “Wirt, Bracha”)

Yahaloumy Chizik, Bat-Ami                         Pvt.                       W/PAL/203376
3/24/43
Metulah, Israel
Tel-el-Kebir War Memorial Cemetery, Egypt – 4,N,4
TJC 4/16/43 (TJC lists name as “Yahalomi, Batami”); Gelber II – 324; WWRT I – NL; WWRT II – NL

____________________

References – Author Listed

Gelber, Yoav, Jewish Palestinian Volunteering in the British Army During the Second World War – Volume II – The Struggle for A Jewish Army, Yav Izhak Ben-Zvi Publications, Jerusalem, Israel, 1981

Kessler, Oren, “In Israel and Palestinian Territories, British Still Tend Memory of 16,000 War Dead”, Tablet, November 11, 2013, at http://www.tabletmag.com/jewish-news-and-politics/151916/british-war-graves-in-israel (Accompanying photograph shows matzeva of Sara Rachela Shoshana Blank, at Ramle War Cemetery)

Medoff, Rafael, “Lag B’Omer 1942, ‘Jewish Amazons,’ And The Pyramids”, The Jewish Press, May 15, 2014, at http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/opinions/lag-bomer-1942-jewish-amazons-and-the-pyramids/2014/05/15/

Morris, Henry, Edited by Gerald Smith, We Will Remember Them – A Record of the Jews Who Died in the Armed Forces of the Crown 1939 – 1945, 1989, Brassey’s, United Kingdom, London (See “The Palestinian Jewish Volunteers”, pp. 235 – 263)

Morris, Henry, Edited by Hilary Halter, We Will Remember Them – A Record of the Jews Who Died in the Armed Forces of the Crown 1939 – 1945 – An Addendum, 1994, AJEX, United Kingdom, London

References – No Author

A. Sevek (website of Dr. Bex Lewis), at http://drbexl.co.uk/2010/03/01/a-sevek/

Auxiliary Territorial Service (Wikipedia), at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Auxiliary_Territorial_Service

ATS and WAAF in World War Two (Jewish Women’s Archive), at https://jwa.org/encyclopedia/article/ats-and-waaf-in-world-war-ii

A.T.S. Remembered (ATS Remembered), at http://www.atsremembered.org.uk/

A.T.S. Hat Badge (Historama Online History Shop), at http://www.historama.com/history-shop/israeli-jewish-militaria/hat-badge-of-auxiliary-territorial-service-ats-,-british-army-1941-45-detail.html

Dodge D15 GS Truck (Canada at War), at http://www.canadaatwar.ca/forums/showthread.php?t=3863

Canadian Military Pattern Trucks, at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Canadian_Military_Pattern_truck

Ford F8 and Ford F60 Trucks, at http://wheelsandtracks.blogspot.com/2012_02_01_archive.html

“Jewish Parachutists Join British Forces; Jewish Artillery Unit Formed in Palestine”, Jewish Telegraphic Agency, February 26, 1942, at http://www.jta.org/1942/02/26/archive/jewish-parachutists-join-british-forces-jewish-artillery-unit-formed-in-palestine

“Parade – Middle-East Weekly” (Westleton Chapel Books), at https://www.chapelbooks.com/shop/chapel/19415100.html

“The Face Behind the Poster [Leah Seidmann] (World Zionist Organization – Central Zionist Archives)”, at http://www.zionistarchives.org.il/en/AttheCZA/Pages/ATS.aspx#!prettyPhoto (Website also presents ATS recruiting posters, and, images of ATS personnel)

Convoy Girls of the ATS, Parade, February 12, 1944