Photo courtesy of Zionist Archive and Jewish Agency
Jewish British Army soldiers during WWII
Photo courtesy of Zionist Archive and Jewish Agency
Photo: Mati Milstein
British Ambassador to Israel Matthew Gould
Photo: Mati Milstein

Lest we forget our Jewish brothers in arms

Op-ed: Britain's ambassador to Israel pays his respects to men and women who served in British Armed Forces' Jewish Brigade during World War II.

Asher Dishon remembers keenly his service in the British Armed Forces during World War II. He was born in Vienna and made aliyah in 1938. He and his friends had to decide whether to join the Palmach or the British Army. Asher chose to volunteer for the British Army.



With family still in Europe, serving in the British Army was his way of fighting the Nazis. In 1944, Asher moved to the Jewish Brigade and fought under the blue and white flag on the Italian Front, before returning to Palestine after the war. Many of his friends did not return home with him.


Asher was one of thousands from Mandate Palestine who fought for Britain against the Nazis. A higher proportion of people signed up from here than anywhere else in British-controlled territory. And I want to say thank you.


Asher is now 90. This Sunday morning, he will be joining us at the British Embassy’s annual Remembrance event at the Commonwealth War Graves in Ramla. We are holding a special ceremony to honor Asher, and those like him who served in the British Armed Forces during World War II.


Dan Tolkowsky will also be there. Dan was born in Tel Aviv-Jaffa, and was studying for his BA in engineering at Imperial College in London when World War II broke out. He volunteered for the RAF and flew Spitfires over Germany, Italy, Corsica, Greece and France.


He had two reasons for signing up – first, to take part in the war against Germany, and second to fulfill his dream of learning to fly. That dream served Israel well in later years as he became commander of the Israel Air Force, from 1953-8. He told me, "I was involved later on in the war, but I had my bit of it."


Ben-Zion Solomon will be joining us as well. He is now 101. Ben-Zion ended up a prisoner of war. An immigrant from Latvia, he joined the British Armed Forces in 1941. He was shot in the arm when German paratroopers attacked his post at the Port of Kalamata in Greece. The bullet had to be removed by a pair of rusty pliers at a field hospital.


He continued to fight and was captured by the Nazis and sent to a Polish labor camp until the end of the war. He returned to Israel in 1946. Last year we celebrated his 100th Birthday, with HM The Queen sending her personal congratulations.


Every year we hold a Remembrance Day service in Ramla, to honor all those who fought for Britain and for freedom. This year is particularly important as we commemorate 100 years since the start of World War I.


And this year is my chance to honor our World War II veterans, 75 years since the start of that war. Hundreds will attend the ceremony to pay their respects to those who served. Through a shared moment of silence, we remember and give thanks.


What a privilege it will be to stand alongside you – the men and women who stood up for our freedom.


Matthew Gould is Britain's ambassador to Israel.


פרסום ראשון: 11.08.14, 23:51
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