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Orde Wingate, A Man of Genius, Trevor Royle

Orde Wingate, A Man of Genius, Trevor Royle

Orde Wingate was one of the more controversial and unconventional British military leaders of the Second World War, best known both as the driving force behind the Chindit raids into Burma and for his often unusual behaviour, often appearing in camp just wearing his helmet (much to my surprise most photos, including the last one taken before his death, show Wingate clean-shaven), as well as for his ability to annoy his superiors.

Wingate has a tendency to appear out of nowhere in books on the Burma campaign, or after a brief summary of his career in books on the Chindits, so it's very valuable to learn in more detail about his previous career. The sections on the Special Night Squads in Palestine in the immediate pre-war period and on his part in the liberation of Abyssinia are of particular interest, helping to show how his theories on irregular warfare and long range penetration raids developed.

The liberation of Abyssinia was one of the more impressive British victories of the Second World War, and deserves to be rather better known than it is. A large and well equipped Italian army was driven out of position after by position by a much smaller British and Abyssinian force,

Wingate has always been a controversial character, attracting admirers and enemies with equal ease. He was clearly not an easy man to work with, mainly because he was always convinced that his ideas were absolutely correct. Anyone who opposed him was thus wrong, or an enemy determined to hold him back. Despite his eccentricities Wingate was clearly an excellent military leader, and was capable of inspiring great loyalty in the men serving under him.

Royle has produced a well-balanced biography of Wingate, attempting to look at both sides of the case in many of Wingate's bigger arguments with his superiors, and often finding good arguments on both sides (something Wingate himself rarely seems to have done!). The result is a superb biography.

Chapters
1 - Father to the Man
2 - Fighting the Good Fight
3 - Officer and Gentleman
4 - Soldiering in the Sudan
5 - In the Land of Beulah
6 - Defender of the Faith
7 - Gideon's Men
8 - Marching off to War
9 - With the Lion of Judah
10 - Watershed
11 - Stemming the Tide
12 - Planning for Victory
13 - Operation Thursday
14 - Aftermath

Author: Trevor Royle
Edition: Paperback
Pages: 355
Publisher: Frontline
Year: 2010 edition of 1995 original



Wingate S Men

Synopsis : Orde Wingate written by Trevor Royle, published by Pen and Sword which was released on 30 November 2014. Download Orde Wingate Books now! Available in PDF, EPUB, Mobi Format. Winston Churchill described Wingate as a ‘man of genius who might well have become a man of destiny’. Tragically, he died in an jungle aircraft crash in 1944. Like his famous kinsman Lawrence of Arabia, Wingate was renowned for being an unorthodox soldier, inclined to reject received patterns of military thought. He was a fundamentalist Christian with a biblical certainty in himself and his mission. He is best-remembered as the charismatic and abrasive leader of the Chindits. With the support of Wavell, he was responsible for a strategy of using independent groups deep behind enemy limes, supported only by air drops. Wingate was responsible for leading the charge of 2,000 Ethiopians and the Sudan Defence Force into Italian-occupied Abyssinia. Remarkably, he defeated a 40,000 strong enemy that was supported by aircraft and artillery, which Wingate did not possess. Despite his achievements, Wingate suffered from illness and depression and in Cairo attempted suicide. He was not universally liked: his romantic Zionism contrasted with the traditional British Arabist notions. He did, however, lead from the front and marched, ate and slept with his men. In this authoritative biography, Royle expertly brings to life a ruthless, complex, arrogant – but ultimately admirable – general. Trevor Royle is an author and broadcaster specialising in the history of war and empire, with more than 30 books to his credit. His latest book is The Road to Bosworth, a study of the War of the Roses. He is a columnist for the Sunday Herald and is an Honorary Fellow at Edinburgh University’s School of History. He was born in India in 1945.


Orde Wingate: A Man of Genius, 1903–1944

Orde Wingate remains controversial: his reputation is fiercely defended by those who knew him or accept his theories, while others less close to him minimise his achievements and question his methods and mental state. The second group relegate Wingate to a minor role in a much larger struggle whereas the first group write approvingly and magnify what he did. Trevor Royle’s “Orde Wingate: A Man of Genius 1903-1944” falls into the first group. It may be described as a military biography, concentrating on his life and military career, not a detailed account of the campaigns he was involved in. It is generally favourable to him and relies heavily on uncritical accounts from his family and friends. Although it does not evade criticisms of Wingate, it counters them and is not impartial.

Royle’s Wingate is a very strange individual. Far beyond eccentric, he was prone to mood swings, resentful and suspicious of superiors he thought denied him credit but demanding total obedience from subordinates, argumentative and prone to criticise but unable to take even constructive criticism, manipulative in using patrons to get his way and convinced that he had a mission. Several times in his career, he ignored advice from those with greater military or political experience and rarely gave any credit to earlier sources for his theories. Many who were initially impressed by his strong determination later distrusted his irrationality.

After dealing briefly with Wingate’s early life, army training and service in Britain and the Sudan, Royle covers two formative episodes. The first was the Palestine Arab uprising of 1936 39, when he organised British led irregular units including Jewish settlers for counter insurgency. In undertaking preemptive attacks and reprisal against suspected rather than proven insurgents in Arab villages (who Royle invariably describes as “terrorists”) and providing information to Zionist activists, Wingate undermined the British policy of inter-community neutrality. Secondly, in 1940-41, to intensify guerrilla warfare in Italian occupied Ethiopia, he created “Gideon Force”, mainly regular troops cooperating with local irregulars. This had some success after early difficulties arising from Wingate ignoring local advice and having bad relations with his superiors, and (as in Palestine) he became involved in political issues. After Ethiopia that Wingate advocated Long Range Penetration, which he claimed was a new theory of warfare and the key to victory. As Royle notes, irregular forces have a long history in the British army and others had advanced views similar to Wingate’s, but he made them central to his plans, perhaps excessively so.

He was permitted to test their effectiveness in command of the Chindits in Burma in 1943-4. Although by far his largest and best remembered command, Royle gives it less space than Wingate’s two previous operations combined. The first Chindit operation, Longcloth, ended with only 600 of an original force of 3,000 ever returning to duty and relatively little material damage to Japanese military capacity, although it provided valuable lessons and was a propaganda coup. The second, much larger operation, Thursday, was planned by Wingate but he was killed shortly after it commenced. Royle suggests the subsequent change of commander and putting the Chindits under the control of US General Stilwell perverted Wingate’s intentions, leading to heavy casualties in unsuitable operations.

Wingate, like James Wolfe and Sir John Moore (also military innovators), was killed at the height of his reputation. It is idle to speculate on how his career might had developed, but Royle is probably correct to say that Wingate would have had no place in a post-war British Army, particularly without the patronage of Wavell or Churchill. The claim that he was an innovative military genius is questionable. He was an inspirational leader of small forces (he fretted in Operation Thursday because he could not lead it directly), but his Chindit operations, for whatever reasons, were not sufficiently successful to prove his theories. A reasonable verdict would be that he happened to be in the right place at the right time and used his connections to exercise his talents in some well-publicised operations.

Royle takes issue with the views of the British Official History and Lord Slim that the resources of men and equipment devoted to the Chindits could have been better used in conventional operations. There is clearly a need for irregular and unconventional forces as an adjunct to conventional ones but to claim, as Wingate apparently did, that the Japanese army in Burma could be defeated solely by Long Range Penetration techniques, without being defeated in battle, seems unlikely.

Overall, although far too partial towards Wingate, this is a useful biography, but needs to be read with caution.


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Winston Churchill described Wingate as a 'man of genius who might well have become a man of destiny'. Tragically, he died in an jungle aircraft crash in 1944.

Like his famous kinsman Lawrence of Arabia, Wingate was renowned for being an unorthodox soldier, inclined to reject received patterns of military thought. He was a fundamentalist Christian with a biblical certainty in himself and his mission.

He is best-remembered as the charismatic and abrasive leader of the Chindits. With the support of Wavell, he was responsible for a strategy of using independent groups deep behind enemy limes, supported only by air drops.

Wingate was responsible for leading the charge of 2,000 Ethiopians and the Sudan Defence Force into Italian-occupied Abyssinia. Remarkably, he defeated a 40,000 strong enemy that was supported by aircraft and artillery, which Wingate did not possess.

Despite his achievements, Wingate suffered from illness and depression and in Cairo attempted suicide. He was not universally liked: his romantic Zionism contrasted with the traditional British Arabist notions. He did, however, lead from the front and marched, ate and slept with his men. In this authoritative biography, Royle expertly brings to life a ruthless, complex, arrogant &ndash but ultimately admirable &ndash general.

Trevor Royle is an author and broadcaster specialising in the history of war and empire, with more than 30 books to his credit. His latest book is The Road to Bosworth, a study of the War of the Roses. He is a columnist for the Sunday Herald and is an Honorary Fellow at Edinburgh University's School of History. He was born in India in 1945.

Orde Wingate was a lauded and controversial officer,forever associated with his Chindit force in the jungles of Burma in WW2. Even now his personal and military legacy can be nearly as decisive as Haig and the First World War.An innovative genius achieving results out of all proportion,or a madman profligate with scarce ives and scarcer material?Both arguments have been made. Frontline's reissue of Trevor Royle's 1995 biography"Orde Wingate:A Man of Genius"(355pp£16.99)perhaps gives us an indication from the get-go(it was perhaps better subtitled'Irregular Soldier'on origianl publication) but of the vast literature this stands out as one of the best.Well worth acquiring if you do not have the earlier addition.

Softnam Newsletter Spring 2011

Wingate has a tendency to appear out of nowhere in books on the Burma campaign, or after a brief summary of his career in books on the Chindits, so it's very valuable to learn in more detail about his previous career. The sections on the Special Night Squads in Palestine in the immediate pre-war period and on his part in the liberation of Abyssinia are of particular interest, helping to show how his theories on irregular warfare and long range penetration raids developed.

Royle has produced a well-balanced biography of Wingate, attempting to look at both sides of the case in many of Wingate's bigger arguments with his superiors, and often finding good arguments on both sides (something Wingate himself rarely seems to have done!). The result is a superb biography.

www.historyofwar.org

As something of a maverick, who was- same people argue- bordering on the insane, Wingate was seen as something of a loose cannon by his superiors,especially due to his often scathing criticism of fellow officers, and the fact that his tactics often lead to great numbers of casualties amongst his own men. However, he did nonetheless orchestrate some impressive offensives, and this biography does much to restore the reputation of his martial prowess

Scottish field

As something of a Maverick, who was - some people argue - bordering on insane, Wingate was seen as something of a loose cannon by his superiors, especially due to his often scathing criticism of fellow officers, and the fact his tactics often lead to great numbers of casualties amongst his own men. However, he did nonetheless orchestrate some impressive offensives, and this biography does much to restore the reputation of his martial prowess.

www.scottishfield.co.uk

Renowned for being an unorthodox soldier, and inclined to ignore more conventional patterns of military thought, Winston Churchill once described Wingate as "a man of genius who might well have become a man of destiny". In this biography, Trevor Royle brings to life the actions of this complex, but ultimately admirable, general.

Bookstore

Royle's book is an insightful look at the controversies which have dogged Wingate's reputation over the years. All in all this book is strongly recommended to anyone interested in irregular warfare and counterinsurgency operations.

African Armed Forces Journal, Oct 2010

A lucid and convincing account.

Frank McLynn

Contents

Wingate, the eldest of three sons, was born on 26 February 1903 at Naini Tal near Almora in Kumaon, India, into a military family (cousins of the Wingate baronets). [4] [5] His father, Colonel George Wingate (1852–1936), [6] had become a committed member of the Plymouth Brethren early in his army career in India at the age of 46, after wooing her for 20 years, he married (Mary) Ethel (1867–1943), the oldest daughter of the Orde Browne family, who were also Plymouth Brethren. [6] [7] His father retired from the army two years after Wingate was born.

Most of Wingate's childhood was spent in England. For the first 12 years of his life, he socialised primarily with his siblings. [8] The seven Wingate children received a Christian education that was typical for that period, and time was set aside each day for studying and memorising the Scriptures. [8]

In 1916, his family moved to Godalming where Wingate attended Charterhouse as a day boy. He did not board at the school nor did he participate in the activities of a public school education. Instead, he was kept busy at home by his parents, who encouraged their children to tackle challenging projects which fostered independent thought, initiative, and self-reliance. [9]

After four years, Wingate left Charterhouse and in 1921 he was accepted at the Royal Military Academy at Woolwich, the Royal Artillery's officers' training school. For committing a minor offence against the rules, a first-year student would be subjected to a ragging ritual named "running". This ritual consisted of the first-year being stripped and forced to run a gauntlet of senior students, all of whom wielded a knotted towel which was used to hit the accused on his journey along the line. On reaching the end, the first-year would then be thrown into an icy-cold cistern of water.

When it came time for Wingate to run the gauntlet, for allegedly having returned a horse to the stables too late, he walked up to the senior student at the head of the gauntlet, stared at him and dared him to strike. The senior refused. Wingate moved to the next senior and did the same he too refused. In turn, each senior declined to strike coming to the end of the line, Wingate walked to the cistern and dived straight into the icy-cold water. [10]

In 1923, Wingate received his Royal Artillery officer's commission [11] and was posted to the 5th Medium Brigade at Larkhill on Salisbury Plain. [10] During this period, he was able to exercise his great interest in horse riding, gaining a reputation for his skill (and great success) in point-to-point races and fox hunting, particularly for finding suitable places to cross rivers, which earned him the nickname "Otter". [12] It was difficult for a 1920s army officer to live on his pay and Wingate, living life to the full, also gained a reputation as a late payer of his bills. [13]

He was promoted to lieutenant on 29 August 1925. [14] In 1926, because of his prowess in riding, Wingate was posted to the Military School of Equitation where he excelled, much to the chagrin of the majority of the cavalry officers at the centre who found him insufferable he frequently challenged the instructors as a demonstration of his rebellious nature. [15]

Wingate's father's cousin, Sir Reginald Wingate, a retired army general who had been governor-general of the Sudan between 1899 and 1916 and high commissioner of Egypt from 1917 to 1919, had a considerable influence on Wingate's career. [16] He gave him a positive interest in Middle East affairs and in Arabic. As a result, Wingate applied to take a course in Arabic at the School of Oriental Studies in London and passed out of the course, which lasted from October 1926 to March 1927, with a mark of 85/100. [17]

In June 1927, with Cousin Rex's encouragement, Wingate obtained six months' leave in order to mount an expedition in the Sudan. Rex had suggested that he travel via Cairo and then try to obtain secondment to the Sudan Defence Force. [17] Sending his luggage ahead of him, Wingate set off in September 1927 by bicycle, travelling first through France and Germany before making his way to Genoa via Czechoslovakia, Austria and Yugoslavia. From Genoa he took a boat to Egypt. From Cairo he travelled to Khartoum. [18]

In April 1928, his application to transfer to the Sudan Defence Force came through and he was posted to the East Arab Corps, serving in the area of Roseires and Gallabat on the borders of Ethiopia, where the SDF patrolled to catch slave traders and ivory poachers. [19] He changed the method of regular patrolling to ambushes.

In March 1930, Wingate was given command of a company of 300 soldiers with the local rank of bimbashi (major). He was never happier than when in the bush with his unit, but when at HQ in Khartoum, he antagonised the other officers with his aggressive and argumentative personality. [20] He was granted the local rank of captain in the regular army on 16 April 1930. [21]

At the end of his tour, Wingate mounted a short expedition into the Libyan desert to investigate the lost army of Cambyses, mentioned in the writings of Herodotus, and to search for the lost oasis of Zerzura. [22] Supported by equipment from the Royal Geographical Society (the findings of the expedition were published in the Royal Geographical Magazine in April 1934) and the Sudan Survey Department, the expedition set off in January 1933. [23] Although they did not find the oasis, Wingate saw the expedition as an opportunity to test his endurance in a very harsh physical environment, and also his organisational and leadership abilities. [24] He concluded his service in the Sudan on 2 April 1933. [25]

On his return to the UK in 1933, Wingate was posted to Bulford on Salisbury Plain and was heavily involved in retraining, as British artillery units were being mechanised. [26] On the sea voyage from Egypt he met Lorna Moncrieff Patterson, who was 16 years old and travelling with her mother. They were married two years later, on 24 January 1935. [26]

From 13 January 1935, Wingate was seconded to the Territorial Army as the adjutant of the 71st (West Riding) Field Brigade, a Territorial Army unit of the Royal Artillery, with the temporary rank of captain. [27] He was promoted to the substantive rank of captain on 16 May 1936, and vacated his appointment as adjutant on 8 September. [28]

In September 1936, Wingate was assigned to a staff officer position in the British Mandate of Palestine, and became an intelligence officer. [29] From his arrival he saw the creation of a Jewish State in Palestine as being a religious duty, and immediately put himself into absolute alliance with Jewish political leaders. Palestinian Arab guerrillas had at the time of his arrival begun a campaign of attacks against both British mandate officials and Jewish communities.

Wingate became politically involved with a number of Zionist leaders, and became an ardent Zionist himself. [30] He always returned to Kibbutz En Harod—because he felt familiar with the biblical judge Gideon, who fought in this area, and used it himself as a military base. He formulated the idea of raising small assault units of British-led Jewish commandos armed with grenades and light infantry small arms to combat the Arab revolt. Wingate took his idea personally to Wavell, who was then the commander of British forces in Palestine.

After Wavell gave his permission, Wingate convinced the Zionist Jewish Agency and the leadership of Haganah, the Jewish armed group. In June 1938, the new British commander, General Haining, gave his permission to create the Special Night Squads, armed groups formed of British and Haganah volunteers. The Jewish Agency helped pay salaries and other costs of the Haganah personnel.

Wingate trained, commanded and accompanied them on their patrols. The units frequently ambushed Arab saboteurs who attacked oil pipelines of the Iraq Petroleum Company, raiding border villages the attackers had used as bases. In these raids, Wingate's men sometimes imposed severe collective punishments on the villagers, which was criticised by Zionist leaders as well as Wingate's British superiors.

Wingate disliked Arabs, once shouting at Haganah fighters after a June 1938 attack on a village on the border between Mandatory Palestine and Lebanon, "I think you are all totally ignorant in your Ramat Yochanan [the training base for the Haganah] since you do not even know the elementary use of bayonets when attacking dirty Arabs: how can you put your left foot in front?" [a] But the brutal tactics proved effective in quelling the uprising, and Wingate was awarded the DSO in 1938.

However, his deepening direct political involvement with the Zionist cause and an incident where he spoke publicly in favour of the formation of a Jewish state during his leave in Britain, caused his superiors in Palestine to remove him from command. He was so deeply associated with political causes in Palestine that his superiors considered him compromised as an intelligence officer in the country. He was promoting his own agenda rather than that of the army or the government. In May 1939, he was transferred to Britain. Wingate became a hero of the Yishuv (the Jewish Community), and was loved by leaders such as Zvi Brenner and Moshe Dayan, who had trained under him and who claimed that Wingate had "taught us everything we know." [32]

Wingate was the commander of an anti-aircraft unit in Britain when the Second World War began. He repeatedly made proposals to the army and government for the creation of a Jewish army in Palestine which would rule over the area and its Arab population in the name of the British. His friend Wavell was commander-in-chief of Middle East Command based in Cairo, and he invited him to Sudan to begin operations against Italian occupation forces in Ethiopia. He created Gideon Force under William Platt, the British commander in Sudan, a Special Operations Executive (SOE) force composed of British, Sudanese, and Ethiopian soldiers. At Khartoum, he and Tony Simonds joined Mission 101 controlled by London and Cairo.

Gideon force was named after the biblical judge Gideon who defeated a large force with a tiny band of men. [33] Wingate invited a number of veterans of the Haganah SNS to join him, with the blessing of Ethiopia's Emperor Haile Selassie, and the group began to operate in February 1941. The Italians occupied Ethiopia between 1936 and 1941, and they conducted operations to "pacify" the people which killed about seven percent of the population. [34] There was a huge reservoir of hatred for the Italians as a result, and many Ethiopians were happy to assist Gideon Force. Wingate was temporarily promoted lieutenant colonel and put in command. He again insisted on leading from the front and accompanied his troops in the reconquest of Abyssinia.

Gideon Force harassed Italian forts and their supply lines with the aid of local resistance fighters, while regular army units took on the main Italian army. A small force of no more than 1,700 men took the surrender of about 20,000 Italians toward the end of the campaign. At the end of the fighting, Wingate and the men of Gideon Force linked with the force of Lt. Gen. Alan Cunningham which had advanced from Kenya in the south, and they accompanied the emperor in his triumphant return to Addis Ababa that May. Wingate was mentioned in dispatches in April 1941 and was awarded a bar to his DSO in December.

With the end of the East African Campaign on 4 June 1941, Wingate was removed from command of the dismantled Gideon Force and his rank reduced to that of major. During the campaign, he was irritated that British authorities ignored a request for decorations for his men. They also obstructed his efforts to obtain back pay and other compensation. He left for Cairo and wrote an official report which was extremely critical of his commanders, fellow officers, government officials, and many others. He was also angry that his efforts had not been praised by authorities and that he had been forced to leave Abyssinia without saying farewell to Emperor Selassie. He was most concerned about British attempts to stifle Ethiopian freedom, writing that attempts to raise future rebellions amongst populations must be honest ones and should appeal to justice.

Wingate contracted malaria soon after this and sought treatment from a local doctor instead of army medical staff because he was afraid that the illness would give his detractors a further excuse to undermine him. This doctor gave him a large supply of the drug Atabrine, which can produce depression as a side-effect if taken in high dosages. [35] Wingate was already depressed by the official response to his Abyssinian command, and he was also sick with malaria he attempted suicide by stabbing himself in the neck. [30] Only prompt action by another officer saved him, [36] and he was sent to Britain to recuperate.

A highly edited version of his report was passed to Winston Churchill through his political supporters in London, and Secretary of State for India Leo Amery contacted Wavell, Commander-in-Chief in India commanding the South-East Asian Theatre to enquire if there were any chance of employing Wingate in the Far East. Wingate was far from pleased with his posting as a "supernumary major without staff grading", but he left Britain for Rangoon on 27 February 1942. [37]

Chindits and the first long-range jungle penetration mission Edit

Wingate was appointed colonel once more by General Wavell upon arrival in the Far East in March 1942, and he was ordered to organise guerrilla units to fight behind Japanese lines. However, the precipitate collapse of Allied defences in Burma forestalled further planning, and he flew back to India in April where he began to promote his ideas for jungle long-range penetration units. [38] "Never ask favours", he recalled from his long association with Wavell, "but tell people if they care to help they can come along, that you yourself are going anyway". [39]

Wavell was intrigued by Wingate's theories and gave him the (Indian 77th Infantry Brigade), from which he created a jungle long-range penetration unit. 77 Brigade was eventually named the Chindits, a corrupted version of a mythical Burmese lion called the chinthe. By August 1942, he had set up a training centre at Dhana near Saugor district in Madhya Pradesh and attempted to toughen up the men by having them camp in the Indian jungle during the rainy season. This proved disastrous, as the result was a very high sickness rate among the men. In one battalion, 70 percent of the men went absent from duty due to illness, while a Gurkha battalion was reduced from 750 men to 500. [40] Many of the men were replaced in September 1942 by new drafts of personnel from elsewhere in the army.

Meanwhile, he won few friends among the officer corps with his direct manner of dealing with fellow officers and superiors, along with eccentric personal habits. He would eat raw onions because he thought that they were healthy, scrub himself with a rubber brush instead of bathing, and greet visitors to his tent while completely naked. [41] Wavell's political connections and patronage protected him from closer scrutiny, for he admired Wingate's work in the Abyssinian campaign, but Wingate remained the regimental gadfly always ready to flout the King's regulations he grew a beard in the jungle and allowed his men to do the same. Nevertheless, he won plaudits by his outstanding courage and leadership in the face of the enemy. [42]

The original 1943 Chindit operation was supposed to be a coordinated plan with the field army, [43] but the Army's offensive into Burma was cancelled. Wingate then persuaded Wavell to let him proceed into Burma anyway, arguing the need to disrupt any Japanese attack on Sumprabum as well as to gauge the utility of long-range jungle penetration operations, and Wavell eventually gave his consent to Operation Longcloth. [44] Wingate set out from Imphal on 12 February 1943 with the Chindits organised into eight separate columns to cross the Chindwin river. [44] The force met with initial success in putting one of the main railways in Burma out of action, then Wingate led them deep into Burma and over the Irrawaddy River. However, they found conditions very different from what their intelligence had led them to expect. The area was dry and inhospitable and criss-crossed by motor roads which the Japanese were able to use to good effect, particularly by intercepting supply drops to the Chindits. They soon began to suffer severely from exhaustion and shortages of water and food. [45]

On 22 March, Eastern Army HQ ordered Wingate to withdraw his units back to India. He and his senior commanders considered a number of options to achieve this, but all were threatened by the fact that the Japanese would be able to focus their attention on destroying the Chindit force, having no major army offensive in progress. They finally agreed to retrace their steps to the Irrawaddy, since the Japanese would not expect this, and then disperse to make attacks on the enemy as they returned to the Chindwin. [46] By mid-March, the Japanese had three infantry divisions chasing the Chindits, who were eventually trapped inside the bend of the Shweli River. [47] They were unable to cross the river intact and still reach British lines, so they split into small groups to evade enemy forces. The Japanese paid great attention to preventing air resupply of Chindit columns, as well as hindering their mobility by removing boats from the Irrawaddy, Chindwin, and Mu rivers and actively patrolling the river banks. [48] The force returned to India by various routes during the spring of 1943 in groups ranging from single individuals to whole columns: some directly, others via a roundabout route from China, and always harassed by the Japanese. [49] Casualties were high, and the force lost approximately one-third of its total strength. [49]

After-battle analysis Edit

With the losses incurred during the first long-range jungle penetration operation, many officers in the British and Indian army questioned the overall value of the Chindits. The campaign had the unintended effect of convincing the Japanese that certain sections of the Burma/India Frontier were not as impassable as they previously believed, thus altering their strategic plans. As one consequence, the overall Japanese Army commander in Burma, Gen. Masakazu Kawabe, began planning a 1944 offensive into India to capture the Imphal Plain and Kohima, in order to better defend Burma from future Allied offensives. [48] [50]

In London, the Chindits and their exploits were viewed as a success after the long string of Allied disasters in the Far East theatre. Winston Churchill, an ardent proponent of commando operations, was, in particular, complimentary toward the Chindits and their accomplishments. The Japanese subsequently admitted that the Chindits had disrupted their plans for the first half of 1943. [48]

As a propaganda tool, the Chindit operation was used to prove to the army and those at home that the Japanese could be beaten and that British/Indian troops could successfully operate in the jungle against experienced Japanese forces. On his return, Wingate wrote an operations report in which he was again highly critical of the army and even some of his own officers and men. He also promoted more unorthodox ideas such as the idea that British soldiers had become weak by having too easy access to doctors in civilian life. The report was again passed through back channels by Wingate's political friends in London directly to Churchill. The Prime Minister then invited Wingate to London for talks.

Soon after Wingate arrived, Churchill decided to take him and his wife along to the Quebec Conference. [b] There, Wingate explained his ideas of deep penetration warfare to the Combined Chiefs of Staff meeting on 17 August. [c] Air power, radio, and recent developments in warfare would allow units to establish bases deep in enemy territory, breaching the outer defences, and extend the range of conventional forces. The leaders were impressed, and larger scale deep-penetration attacks were approved. By now, a war-substantive lieutenant-colonel and temporary brigadier, Wingate was promoted to the rank of acting major general on 18 September 1943. [53]

Second long-range jungle penetration mission Edit

After his meeting with Allied leaders, Wingate contracted typhoid by drinking water from a flower vase in a Cairo hotel while on his way back to India. [54] Doctors were shocked as it was drummed into every serviceman that they should never use such a source as drinking water. His illness prevented him from taking a more active role in training of the new long-range jungle forces.

While Wingate was still in Burma, Wavell had ordered the formation of 111 Brigade, known as the "Leopards", along the lines of the 77 Brigade. He selected Brigadier Joe Lentaigne as the new commander. [49] Wavell intended that the two brigades would operate with one engaged on operations while the other trained and prepared for the next operation. However, once back in India, Wingate was promoted to acting major general and was given six brigades. This involved breaking up the experienced 70th Division, which other commanders felt could be better used as a standard "line" division. [55] At first, Wingate proposed to convert the entire front into one giant Chindit mission by breaking up the whole of the Fourteenth Army into Long-Range Penetration units, presumably in the expectation that the Japanese would follow them around the Burmese jungle in an effort to wipe them out. [56] This plan was hurriedly dropped after other commanders pointed out that the Japanese Army would simply advance and seize the air bases from which Chindit forces were supplied, requiring a defensive battle and substantial troops that the Indian Army would be unable to provide. [56]

In the end, a new long-range jungle penetration operation was planned, this time using all six of the brigades recently allocated to Wingate. The second long-range penetration mission was originally intended as a coordinated effort with a planned regular army offensive against northern Burma, but events on the ground resulted in cancellation of the army offensive, leaving the long-range penetration groups without a means of transporting all six brigades into Burma. Upon Wingate's return to India, he found that his mission had also been cancelled for lack of air transport. Wingate took the news bitterly, voicing disappointment to all who would listen, including Allied commanders such as Colonel Philip Cochran of the 1st Air Commando Group, which proved to be a blessing in disguise. Cochran told Wingate that cancelling the long-range mission was unnecessary only a limited amount of aerial transport would be needed since, in addition to the light planes and C-47 Dakotas Wingate had counted on, Cochran explained that 1st Air Commando had 150 gliders to haul supplies: "Wingate’s dark eyes widened as Phil explained that the gliders could also move a sizable force of troops. The general immediately spread a map on the floor and planned how his Chindits, airlifted deep into the jungle, could fan out from there and fight the Japanese". [57]

With his new glider landing option, Wingate decided to proceed into Burma anyway. The character of the 1944 operations differed from those of 1943 in that they aimed to establish fortified bases in Burma out of which the Chindits would conduct offensive patrol and blocking operations. A similar strategy would be used by the French in Indochina years later at Dien Bien Phu.

Operation Thursday Edit

Wingate planned that part of 77 Brigade would land by glider in Burma and prepare airstrips into which 111 Brigade and the remainder of 77 Brigade would be flown by C-47 transport aircraft. Three landing sites, codenamed "Piccadilly", "Broadway" and "Chowringhee" were selected. On the evening of 5 March as Wingate, Lieutenant General Slim (the commander of Fourteenth Army), Brigadier Michael Calvert (the commander of 77 Brigade) and Cochrane waited at an airfield in India for 77 Brigade to fly into "Piccadilly", an incident occurred which Wingate's critics later claimed to show his lack of firmness or balance. [58]

Wingate had forbidden continuous reconnaissance of the landing sites to avoid compromising the security of the operation, but Cochrane ordered a last-minute reconnaissance flight which showed "Piccadilly" to be completely obstructed with logs. By Slim's account, Wingate became highly emotional and insisted that the operation had been betrayed, and that the Japanese would have set up ambushes on the other two landing sites. He passed the responsibility for ordering the operation to proceed or to be cancelled to Slim. [59]

Slim ordered that the operation was to go ahead. Wingate then ordered that 77 Brigade would fly into "Chowringhee". Both Cochrane and Calvert objected, as "Chowringhee" was on the wrong side of the Irrawaddy and Cochrane's pilots were not familiar with the layout. Eventually, "Broadway" was selected instead. The landings were initially a failure, as many gliders crashed en route or on "Broadway", but Calvert's brigade soon made the landing ground fit to take aircraft, and sent the success signal. It was later found that the logs on "Piccadilly" had been laid there to dry by Burmese teak loggers. [60]

Once all the Chindit brigades (less one which remained in India) had marched or flown into Burma, they established base areas and drop zones behind Japanese lines. By fortunate timing, the Japanese launched an invasion of India around the same time. By forcing several pitched battles along their line of march, the Chindit columns were able to disrupt the Japanese offensive, diverting troops from the battles in India.

The value of Wingate's Chindits has been disputed. Field Marshal William Slim argued that special forces in general had an overall negative effect on the prosecution of war by separating the best-trained and most committed troops from the main army. [61] However, Sir Robert Thompson, a Chindit who went on to become one of "world's leading expert on countering the Mao Tse-tung technique of rural guerrilla insurgency", [62] wrote in his autobiography that "Every time I look at the picture of General Slim and his Corps Commanders being knighted by Lord Wavell as Viceroy on the field of battle after Imphal, I see the ghost of Wingate present. He was unquestionably one of the great men of [the 20th] century". [63]

Regarding Operation Thursday, historian Raymond Callahan, author of Churchill and His Generals argues that "Wingate’s ideas were flawed in many respects. For one thing, the Imperial Japanese Army did not have Western-style supply lines to disrupt, and tended to ignore logistics generally. When Special Force launched itself into Burma in March 1944, Wingate’s ideas, so enchantingly laid out for Churchill, rapidly proved unworkable." [64] However, the Japanese commander, Mutaguchi Renya, later stated that Operation Thursday had a significant effect on the campaign, saying "The Chindit invasion . had a decisive effect on these operations . they drew off the whole of 53 Division and parts of 15 Division, one regiment of which would have turned the scales at Kohima". [65]

On 24 March 1944, Wingate flew to assess the situations in three Chindit-held bases in Burma. On his return, he agreed to allow two British war correspondents' request for a lift even though the pilot protested that the plane was overloaded. Flying from Imphal to Lalaghat, the USAAF B-25 Mitchell bomber of the 1st Air Commando Group in which he was flying crashed into jungle-covered hills in the present-day state of Manipur in northeast India, killing all ten passengers aboard, including Wingate, who died an acting major general. [66] [67] [68] [69] [70] [71] In place of Wingate, Brigadier (later Lt.-Gen.) Walter Lentaigne was appointed to overall command of LRP forces. He flew out of Burma to assume command as Japanese forces began their assault on Imphal. Command of Lentaigne's 111 Brigade in Burma was assigned to Lt. Col. J.R. 'Jumbo' Morris. [72]

Wingate and the nine other crash victims were initially buried in a common grave close to the crash site near the village of Bishnupur in the present-day state of Manipur in India. The bodies were charred beyond recognition, hence individuals could not be identified under medical practices of the day, as identification from dental records was not possible.

Since five of the nine crash victims, including both pilots, were Americans, all nine bodies were exhumed in 1947 and reburied in Imphal, India and yet again exhumed in 1950 and flown to Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia for reburial. The exhumation was possible due to a three-way agreement among the governments of India, United Kingdom and the United States, and in accordance with the families' wishes.

Wingate was known for various eccentricities. For instance, he often wore an alarm clock around his wrist, which would go off at times, and had raw onions and garlic on a string around his neck, which he would occasionally bite into as a snack (the reason he used to give for this was to ward off mosquitoes). He often went about without clothing. In Palestine, recruits were used to having him come out of the shower to give them orders, wearing nothing but a shower cap, and continuing to scrub himself with a shower brush. Sometimes Wingate would eat only grapes and onions. [73]

Lord Moran, Winston Churchill's personal physician, wrote in his diaries that "[Wingate] seemed to me hardly sane – in medical jargon a borderline case." [74] Likewise, referring to Churchill's meeting with Wingate in Quebec, Max Hastings wrote that, "Wingate proved a short-lived protégé: closer acquaintance caused Churchill to realise that he was too mad for high command." [75]

Field Marshal Montgomery told Moshe Dayan in 1966 that he considered Wingate to have "been mentally unbalanced and that the best thing he ever did was to get killed in a plane crash in 1944." [76]

In a tribute to Wingate, Churchill called him "one of the most brilliant and courageous figures of the second world war . a man of genius who might well have become also a man of destiny". [77]

A memorial to Orde Wingate and the Chindits stands on the north side of the Victoria Embankment, near Ministry of Defence headquarters in London. The facade commemorates the Chindits and the four men awarded the Victoria Cross. The battalions that took part are listed on the sides, with non-infantry units mentioned by their parent formations. The rear of the monument is dedicated to Orde Wingate, and also mentions his contributions to the state of Israel. [78]

To commemorate Wingate's great assistance to the Zionist cause, Israel's National Centre for Physical Education and Sport, the Wingate Institute (Machon Wingate) was named after him. A square in the Talbiya neighbourhood of Jerusalem, Wingate Square (Kikar Wingate), also bears his name, as does the Yemin Orde youth village near Haifa. [79] A Jewish football club formed in London in 1946, Wingate Football Club was also named in his honour.

The General Wingate School, on the western city limit of Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, commemorates Orde Wingate's contribution (along with the Gideon Force and the Ethiopian Patriots) to the liberation of Ethiopia in 1941, following the defeat of the Italian forces in that country. [80]

A memorial stone in his honour stands in Charlton Cemetery, London, where other members of the Orde Browne family are buried. There is a memorial in Charterhouse School Chapel.

Wingate Golf Club, Harare, Zimbabwe is named after the general and there are photographs of him in the Clubhouse. The club was set up to accommodate Jewish and Catholic members since The Royal Harare Golf Club in the past didn't admit either.

The deep-penetration tactics pioneered by the Chindits were adopted by the Indonesian National Army during the Indonesian National Revolution against the Netherlands. As conventional defensive tactics failed to make up for the technological advantage held by the Dutch, Indonesian General A.H. Nasution ordered Indonesian units to carry out 'Wingate' actions by penetrating into enemy lines and setting up pockets of resistance during the closing stages of the revolution in 1948.

Wingate's eccentric and strong-willed personality, his reputation for being difficult, advocacy of irregular warfare and his Zionism have led to sharply opposed assessments by historians. [81] The British historian Simon Anglim called Wingate the most controversial British general of the Second World War as no other British general from that war produced such starkly polarized interpretations. [81] The Chindit operations have been presented as either costly operations that achieved nothing or inspired operations that tied down Japanese troops that could have been used in the invasion of India. [82] In Britain, the two opposing tendencies has been for historians to portray him either as a mentally unstable, delusional figure operating well beyond his level of competence as in works by I.S.O. Playfair and Woodburn Kirby or alternatively as a visionary, a leader of men noted for his audacity, courage and toughness as in works by Charles Rolo, Bernard Fergusson, Wilfred Burchett, and Leonard Mosley. [83]

Attempts to achieve a balance between the opposing views of Wingate were Orde Wingate and the Historians by Peter Mead, Wingate and the Chindits by David Rooney and Orde Wingate by Christopher Sykes. [83] In Ethiopia, Wingate is remembered as liberator from the Italian occupation. In Israel, Wingate's role in creating and leading the SNS, which became the prototype of the Israeli Defense Forces, has made him a national hero, a man celebrated for his Zionism and courage, in the words of the Israeli historian Michael Oren a "heroic, larger-than-life figure to whom the Jewish people owed a deep and enduring debt". [83]

The two most popular Israeli books about Wingate, both written by SNS veterans were In the Path of Fighters by Israel Carmi and Orde Wingate: His Life and Works by Avraham Akavia. [83] By contrast, Palestinian historians portrayed Wingate very negatively as a thuggish fanatic who terrorized Palestinian villages during the Arab Revolt. [82]

In recent years, the Israeli New Historians have taken a critical picture of Wingate with Tom Segev calling him "quite mad, and perhaps a sadist, too" and a war criminal. [83] Oren has accused Segev of maligning Wingate, arguing that Segev has "edited" accounts by contemporaries to imply that Wingate was present at incidents in Palestine when he was in London at the time. [84]

Orde Wingate had a wife, Lorna, and a son, Lt Col Orde Jonathan Wingate, who joined the Honourable Artillery Company after a regular Army career in the Royal Artillery and became the regiment's commanding officer and later regimental colonel. He died in 2000 at the age of 56, [85] and was survived by his wife and two daughters.


Orde Wingate, A Man of Genius, Trevor Royle - History

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Winston Churchill described Wingate as a 'man of genius who might well have become a man of destiny'. Tragically, he died in an jungle aircraft crash in 1944.

Like his famous kinsman Lawrence of Arabia, Wingate was renowned for being an unorthodox soldier, inclined to reject received patterns of military thought. He was a fundamentalist Christian with a biblical certainty in himself and his mission.

He is best-remembered as the charismatic and abrasive leader of the Chindits. With the support of Wavell, he was responsible for a strategy of using independent groups deep behind enemy limes, supported only by air drops.

Wingate was responsible for leading the charge of 2,000 Ethiopians and the Sudan Defence Force into Italian-occupied Abyssinia. Remarkably, he defeated a 40,000 strong enemy that was supported by aircraft and artillery, which Wingate did not possess.

Despite his achievements, Wingate suffered from illness and depression and in Cairo attempted suicide. He was not universally liked: his romantic Zionism contrasted with the traditional British Arabist notions. He did, however, lead from the front and marched, ate and slept with his men. In this authoritative biography, Royle expertly brings to life a ruthless, complex, arrogant &ndash but ultimately admirable &ndash general.

Trevor Royle is an author and broadcaster specialising in the history of war and empire, with more than 30 books to his credit. His latest book is The Road to Bosworth, a study of the War of the Roses. He is a columnist for the Sunday Herald and is an Honorary Fellow at Edinburgh University's School of History. He was born in India in 1945.

Orde Wingate was a lauded and controversial officer,forever associated with his Chindit force in the jungles of Burma in WW2. Even now his personal and military legacy can be nearly as decisive as Haig and the First World War.An innovative genius achieving results out of all proportion,or a madman profligate with scarce ives and scarcer material?Both arguments have been made. Frontline's reissue of Trevor Royle's 1995 biography"Orde Wingate:A Man of Genius"(355pp£16.99)perhaps gives us an indication from the get-go(it was perhaps better subtitled'Irregular Soldier'on origianl publication) but of the vast literature this stands out as one of the best.Well worth acquiring if you do not have the earlier addition.

Softnam Newsletter Spring 2011

Wingate has a tendency to appear out of nowhere in books on the Burma campaign, or after a brief summary of his career in books on the Chindits, so it's very valuable to learn in more detail about his previous career. The sections on the Special Night Squads in Palestine in the immediate pre-war period and on his part in the liberation of Abyssinia are of particular interest, helping to show how his theories on irregular warfare and long range penetration raids developed.

Royle has produced a well-balanced biography of Wingate, attempting to look at both sides of the case in many of Wingate's bigger arguments with his superiors, and often finding good arguments on both sides (something Wingate himself rarely seems to have done!). The result is a superb biography.

www.historyofwar.org

As something of a maverick, who was- same people argue- bordering on the insane, Wingate was seen as something of a loose cannon by his superiors,especially due to his often scathing criticism of fellow officers, and the fact that his tactics often lead to great numbers of casualties amongst his own men. However, he did nonetheless orchestrate some impressive offensives, and this biography does much to restore the reputation of his martial prowess

Scottish field

As something of a Maverick, who was - some people argue - bordering on insane, Wingate was seen as something of a loose cannon by his superiors, especially due to his often scathing criticism of fellow officers, and the fact his tactics often lead to great numbers of casualties amongst his own men. However, he did nonetheless orchestrate some impressive offensives, and this biography does much to restore the reputation of his martial prowess.

www.scottishfield.co.uk

Renowned for being an unorthodox soldier, and inclined to ignore more conventional patterns of military thought, Winston Churchill once described Wingate as "a man of genius who might well have become a man of destiny". In this biography, Trevor Royle brings to life the actions of this complex, but ultimately admirable, general.

Bookstore

Royle's book is an insightful look at the controversies which have dogged Wingate's reputation over the years. All in all this book is strongly recommended to anyone interested in irregular warfare and counterinsurgency operations.

African Armed Forces Journal, Oct 2010

A lucid and convincing account.

Frank McLynn

Winston Churchill described Wingate as a man of genius who might well have become a man of destiny. Tragically, he died in a jungle aircraft crash in 1944.

Like his famous kinsman Lawrence of Arabia, Wingate was renowned for being an unorthodox soldier, inclined to reject received patterns of military thought. He was a fundamentalist Christian with a biblical certainty in himself and his mission.

He is best-remembered as the charismatic and abrasive leader of the Chindits. With the support of Archibald Wavell, he was responsible for a strategy of using independent groups deep behind enemy lines, supported only by air drops.

Wingate was responsible for leading the charge of 2,000 Ethiopians and the Sudan Defence Force into Italian-occupied Abyssinia. Remarkably, he defeated a 40,000 strong enemy that was supported by aircraft and artillery, which Wingate did not possess.

Despite his achievements, Wingate suffered from illness and depression and in Cairo attempted suicide. He was not universally liked: his romantic Zionism contrasted with the traditional British Arabist notions. He did, however, lead from the front and marched, ate and slept with his men. In this authoritative biography, Royle expertly brings to life a ruthless, complex, arrogant but ultimately admirable general.


Top reviews from India

Top reviews from other countries

This is a good book and I am happy that I bought it. I learned a lot from it and I think it gives a very complete vision of Orde Wingate as a brilliant but troubled and controversial human being.

Author certainly worked hard to compile the information contained in this book and his writing style is pretty skillful and pleasant to read. The book stays with facts and, although at 356 pages pretty long, contains virtually no filler. It is a good, real story, chronologically ordered, very clear, well written and containing lots of data.

Please be aware however, that this book focus more on Wingate as a human being, than as a soldier. Now, considering that he was a professional soldier, of course his military career is very meticulously described, including all his fighting campaigns (Palestine, Ethiopia, Burma), but if you are looking for a detailed history of Chindits, you should definitely buy another book. Contrary to the title, in this one it is the man who is the main focus - not the soldier.

Trevor Royle did an excellent job with this book - maybe even better than he intended. As one can see by looking on amazon site, in a later version of this book he changed the title to "Orde Wingate, a man of genius" and therefore I think it is right to say, that author really admires Wingate as a great man and soldier, who was maybe prevented by his untimely death from achieving even greater things. But by reading this book I saw clearly something different.

Maybe unwillingly Trevor Royle showed in this book that Orde Wingate without a shadow of doubt suffered from some kind of psychiatric problem, which made his full succesful integration with the society impossible. Not being a psychiatrist I can not of course diagnose this famous man, but the sum of all his - sometimes deeply embarassing - eccentric behaviours seems indicate that he suffered from something similar to Asperger syndrom, with also some bipolar disorder (alternating overdrives and depressions) and adult ADHD elements and CERTAINLY also from some kind of OCD (his obsession with carrying raw onions and eating them in most inappropriate moments).

Now, even when combined with high intelligence, great courage and a disregard for personal comfort and safety, for a military man this kind of troubled mind was a considerable problem and it is small wonder that Wingate made his career almost completely by leading autonomous operations of irregular formations in extreme conditions. In those kinds of circumstances his strong points (brilliance, courage, endurance) could be optimised when his weaknesses (inability to cooperate with others, pigheaded obstination, childish tantrums, lack of discipline) couldn't do too much harm.

Author certainly makes a lot of famous Churchill words said after Wingate's death "a man of genius who might well have become a man of destiny", without seemingly realising that they were a polite and mostly a void formula. Wingate certainly had a kind of genius, but after meeting him at Quebec conference Churchill, although initially pretty taken by this eccentric general, clearly realised that he was too unstable to do other things that those autonomous irregular operations. Therefore, instead of bringing him to the main war theater, to lead the airborne assault on Festung Europa, he send him back to Burma, a secondary front, to let him do the one thing he could do right. Orde Wingate was indeed an "irregular soldier", a very great one and in fact maybe one of the greatest ever - but he was no more, and Trevor Royle showed it very clearly in this book.

Bottom line, this is a very good book, which, although initially intended as a hagiography of this brilliant but controversial man, ultimately managed to show the truth about him, which is somehow different than what author wanted to show. Therefore, in my opinion, this is a recommended reading for anybody interested in the unique career of one of the greatest "irregular soldiers" in the history.


Orde Wingate: Friend Under Fire

The new historians take aim at the father of the IDF.

W hile conducting research in Washington recently, I took a break and looked up an old friend. A cab brought me to his &ldquoneighborhood&rdquo&mdashthe Arlington National Cemetery &mdashwhere the information center provided me with his exact address: section 12, grave number 288. This was the final resting place of Maj.-Gen. Orde Wingate, a British officer widely regarded as the father of modern guerrilla warfare. A brilliant tactician and a daring innovator, Wingate was credited by many with turning the tide against Axis forces in Ethiopia and Burma during World War II. Winston Churchill hailed him as &ldquoa man of genius who might well have become also a man of destiny.&rdquo 1 Yet Wingate had his share of detractors, as well if some admired him as a hero and a visionary, others denigrated him as an egotist, an eccentric, even a madman.

On one point all his observers agree: Wingate was a Zionist. An implacable advocate for Jewish statehood in the late 1930s, when the British had all but abandoned their promise to create a homeland for the Jews, he formed and led the Special Night Squads (SNS), a Jewish fighting force that saved dozens of settlements from destruction during the Arab Revolt (1936-1939) and trained military leaders such as Yigal Allon and Moshe Dayan, who would later form the core of the Israel Defense Forces. Wingate dreamed of one day commanding the first Jewish army in two thousand years, and of leading the fight to establish an independent Jewish state in the land of Israel .

A vivid literature has grown up around Wingate. The earliest books about him were penned by war correspondents and comrades-in-arms, mostly those who served with him during the campaigns in Burma and Ethiopia . Slender works by Charles Rolo , Bernard Fergusson, Wilfred Burchett, Leonard Mosley and many others told of Wingate&rsquos dash and endurance, his coolness under fire and his unflagging leadership. 2 But for every favorable account of Wingate, another emerged assailing him. Particularly censorious were Britain &rsquos official military historians, I.S.O. Playfair and Woodburn Kirby. 3 Though bound by tradition to be dispassionate and fair, these writers went out of their way to denounce Wingate as solipsistic, unstable and impudent.

So contrasting were these portraits that additional works were later written&mdashmost notably Peter Mead&rsquos Orde Wingate and the Historians and David Rooney&rsquos Wingate and the Chindits &mdashto reconcile them. A more nuanced Wingate also emerged from a number of biographies, which went beyond specific military campaigns to cover his entire life. Orde Wingate by Christopher Sykes highlighted the pivotal place that Zionism held in Wingate&rsquos thinking. Exhaustive in its details, scrupulously balanced, the book remained ambivalent about its subject, much as Sykes was about Zionism in general. Wingate becomes more categorical and sympathetic in Trevor Royle&rsquos biography, Orde Wingate: Irregular Soldier, published in 1995. Though Royle provides few additional facts beyond those put forth by Sykes, by adopting a less academic tone he makes Wingate more accessible. 4

These biographies continued what was essentially an internal British debate. In Israel , on the other hand, history books and school texts have always lauded Wingate as a heroic, larger-than-life figure to whom the Jewish people owed a deep and enduring debt. Israel Carmi, who had fought under Wingate in the SNS, portrayed his contribution to the Zionist effort in glowing terms in a memoir, In the Path of Fighters, while Avraham Akavia , another SNS veteran, sympathetically depicted his commander&rsquos full career in Orde Wingate: His Life and Works. 5

In recent years, however, as the heroes of the Zionist movement have been increasingly criticized by Israel &rsquos &ldquonew historians,&rdquo the figure of Wingate has come under fire in the Jewish state. Taking the lead has been the journalist-historian and best-selling author Tom Segev . In March 1999, in reviewing Yigal Eyal&rsquos The First Intifada , a study of the Arab Revolt, Segev described Wingate as &ldquoquite mad, and perhaps a sadist, too,&rdquo and reproved Eyal for &ldquoturn[ ing ] a blind eye to the war crimes committed by Orde Wingate and his men.&rdquo 6 In his own book published a few months later, Days of the Anemones: Palestine During the Mandatory Period, Segev portrays Wingate as delusional and homicidal, &ldquoa madman&rdquo who &ldquoemployed terror against terror.&rdquo Though he does cite praise for Wingate from David Ben-Gurion, Chaim Weizmann and Moshe Sharett , Segev refuses to grant him any redeeming qualities, even as a military commander. 7

One might have expected the wholesale disparagement of a man who had until now been universally revered by Israelis to spark a wave of criticism. Instead, Segev&rsquos revisionist view has hardly been noticed by the Israeli press. One prominent exception was Gideon Levy, a columnist for the daily Ha&rsquoaretz , who wrote an article in July 1999 praising Segev&rsquos exposure of Wingate as &ldquoan oddball with sadistic tendencies&rdquo and a &ldquovillain&rdquo who &ldquotortured Arabs.&rdquo Segev has performed an invaluable service by exposing &ldquothe dark sides&rdquo of the Wingate myth, Levy wrote, and called for the inclusion of those &ldquodark sides&rdquo in the public school curriculum. 8 So successful was Segev in recasting Wingate&rsquos image that a month later, in reviewing a new biography of Israel&rsquos first Sephardi chief rabbi for Ha&rsquoaretz , Yehiam Padan noted regretfully that Wingate &ldquowas, until this year, considered a friend of Israel.&rdquo 9 Though calls to change the way Israelis are taught about Wingate have not yet been heeded&mdashmost textbooks continue to portray him glowingly&mdashthe Education Ministry&rsquos recently published history text, A World of Changes (1999), is the first government-sponsored textbook covering this period to ignore Wingate&rsquos contributions to Zionism entirely. 10

It is significant, then, that just as Wingate has come under fire in Israel , a new biography by British authors has appeared casting him in a positive light. Fire in the Night: Wingate of Burma, Ethiopia and Zion by John Bierman and Colin Smith, is the most comprehensive biography to date. Here, Wingate appears in his full complexity, his pugnaciousness and peculiarities, his brilliance and courage. It is a book that must be read by anyone who wishes to understand this influential Zionist figure.

Journalists stationed in Cyprus , Bierman and Smith have extensive experience covering the Middle East, and show no particular affection for Israel . On the contrary, their text bristles with barbs against the Jewish state (&ldquonot quite the &lsquolight unto nations&rsquo&rdquo that Wingate intended) and its army (a tool of &ldquoterritorial expansion,&rdquo demolishing Arab houses " con brio on the occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip&rdquo). 11 But despite their feelings for Israel, and despite their failure to consult the wealth of Hebrew-language sources about Wingate&mdashsurely the book&rsquos greatest flaw&mdashFire in the Night captures the nature of Wingate&rsquos Zionism, and the impact it had on his actions in Palestine. Wingate, the authors realize, saw Jewish independence in the land of Israel as more than just a historical imperative. It was the driving force of his life.


C
harles Orde Wingate was born in 1903, one of seven children in a strict Protestant family. &ldquoOn Sundays,&rdquo write Bierman and Smith, &ldquothe entire family dressed in black, attended&hellip prayer meetings&hellip in the morning, and devoted the rest of the day to Bible studies and other &lsquoimproving&rsquo pastimes.&rdquo 12 Both his father and grandfather were army officers who became missionaries, and were devoted, among other pursuits, to converting the Jews. Though often poor, the Wingates came from distinguished Norman and Scottish stock, and among Orde&rsquos prominent cousins were Sir Reginald Wingate, the governor of Sudan, and T.E. Lawrence, who gained fame for his exploits in Arabia during World War I.

As a student, Wingate proved to be unexceptional, disinterested in sports and socially inept. Though often discouraged and depressed, Wingate harbored a strong sense of his own destiny, a conviction that he was fated to do great things, lead armies, liberate nations. After graduating from military academy in 1923, he mastered Arabic at London &rsquos School of Oriental Studies and secured a post with the Sudan Defense Force. Fighting bandits, he developed the hit-and-run and night-fighting tactics he would later use, to such devastating effect, in much larger battles. &ldquoA most successful expedition conducted with great dash and judgment,&rdquo the force&rsquos commander commented on one long-range patrol which Wingate commanded. 13 Yet Wingate also experienced prolonged bouts of depression&mdash&ldquonervous attacks,&rdquo he called them, which he was able to endure only by ceaseless repetition of the phrase &ldquoGod is good&rdquo&mdashand began exhibiting some of the eccentricity that later became his trademark: Eating raw onions, steeping tea through his socks, greeting guests in the nude.

In the Sudan in 1933 Wingate became fascinated, as were many explorers at the time, by the prospects of finding the mythic oasis of Zerzura . Planning an expedition to locate it, he corresponded with Count Laudislaus Almasy , the renowned Hungarian archaeologist who would later serve as the model for The English Patient. Though Wingate never found Zerzura , he conducted pioneering cartographic research that was hailed by the Royal Geographic Society. En route to present his findings in London , he met a beautiful, independent-minded and outspoken young woman, Lorna Patterson, whom he married soon afterward.

In September 1936, Wingate was assigned to an intelligence post with the British Mandatory forces in Palestine , and given the rank of captain. Previously, he had had no close relations with Jews and no direct knowledge of Zionism. This would change radically, as would the course of his life, over the following weeks. Though his linguistic training and military experience predisposed him to accept the pro-Arab views of most British officials, Wingate began to read intensively about the history of Palestine and the yishuv (the pre-state Jewish community) and emerged a committed Zionist. He visited Jewish settlements around the country, taught himself Hebrew, and earned the trust and friendship of Zionist leaders Chaim Weizmann and Moshe Sharett . Critiquing British policy in Palestine in a letter to his cousin Reginald, Wingate wrote:

The Jews are loyal to the empire. The Jews are men of their word&mdashthey have always been so&mdashin fact it is the gentile&rsquos main complaint against them. There are fifteen million Jews in the world. Palestine will take over a million within seven years. You can have no idea of what they have already done here. You would be amazed to see the desert blossom like a rose intensive horticulture everywhere&mdashsuch energy, faith, ability and inventiveness as the world has not seen. I have seen the young Jews in the kvutzot [kibbutzim]. I tell you that the Jews will provide soldiery better than ours. We have only to train it. They will equip it. 14


W
ingate urged Britain to &ldquoadvance the foundation of an autonomous Jewish community with all the means in its power,&rdquo adding portentously: &ldquoFor pity&rsquos sake, let us do something just and honorable before it [world war] comes. Let us redeem our promises to Jewry and shame the devil of Nazism, Fascism and our own prejudices.&rdquo 15

Wingate was eager to dedicate his talents to this cause, and he did not have far to look. The grand mufti of Jerusalem had recently launched a coordinated military and economic rebellion aimed at ousting the British from Palestine and bringing the Zionist enterprise to an end. This insurrection was then at its apogee, with Jewish settlements cut off and thrown on the defensive. Wingate proposed to create units of swift-moving, hard-hitting commandos who would take the initiative and strike Arab guerrillas in the villages that hosted them. The notion of arming Jews against the Arabs appalled the British authorities, but Wingate outflanked them, taking his plan to the commander of Britain &rsquos Middle East forces, Gen. Archibald Wavell, who would remain his mentor throughout the campaigns of Palestine , Ethiopia and Burma .

With Wavell&rsquos approval, Wingate set up the Special Night Squads, a mixed force of British officers and Jewish supernumeraries. Headquartered at Kibbutz Ein Harod in the Jezreel Valley , close to the spring where the biblical Gideon&mdashWingate&rsquos hero&mdashhad his camp, the SNS succeeded in all but ending Arab attacks in the north. An entire generation of future IDF commanders would learn their tactics from Wingate, adopt his disregard for rank and protocol, and accept his demand that officers set an example by leading their men into battle&mdashthe origin of the legendary IDF battle cry aharai (&ldquoafter me&rdquo). &ldquoYou are the first soldiers of the Jewish army,&rdquo he would remind his men before embarking on a mission, and he would declaim to them passages from the Bible describing the country they would pass through and prophesying their victory. 16 For them, Wingate was never Orde , or even &ldquocommander,&rdquo but simply hayedid &mdashthe friend.

Wingate&rsquos comrades and subordinates, Christians and Jews alike, would remember him as a man of unlimited stamina, with an uncanny sense of direction and a total absence of fear. &ldquoA most extraordinary man,&rdquo said Lt. Rex King-Clark. Capt. John Hackett painted him as a &ldquopuritanical, fire-eating, dedicated, Round Head type Cromwellian soldier with a Bible in one hand and an alarm clock in the other.&rdquo &ldquoWe were amazed,&rdquo recalled SNS veteran Tzvi Brenner, describing his first patrol with Wingate. &ldquoOnly he was capable of leading us in such territory and with such confidence.&rdquo 17 In a skirmish at Dabburiya in July 1938, Wingate was struck by a number of bullets early on and was bleeding profusely, but continued to give orders until his men had won the battle&mdashan act of heroism for which the British army awarded him one of its highest honors, the Distinguished Service Order.

But there was also a less heroic side to Wingate: An irascible, moody, mercurial side. He was known to strike soldiers who disappointed him, and to employ collective punishment against Arab villagers suspected of aiding guerrillas. Bierman and Smith describe how, after learning of the murder of his close friend, Ein Harod leader Haim Sturmann (&ldquoA great Jew,&rdquo Wingate eulogized him, &ldquoa friend of the Arabs, who was killed by the Arabs&rdquo 18 ), the commander of the SNS led his men in a rampage in the Arab section of Beit Shean , the rebels&rsquo suspected base. During the raid, Wingate&rsquos forces damaged property and wounded several people&mdasha number of them mortally, according to some accounts. 19

F or the British army, though, it was not Wingate&rsquos excesses that proved insufferable but his advocacy of, and success with, the Jews. Thus, when Wingate requested home leave to London a few weeks after he was wounded at Dabburiya (and in the wake of narrowly escaping assassination at the hands of Arab assailants), his superiors were only too happy to comply. It was October 1938, the time of the Munich Conference and Britain &rsquos sellout of Czechoslovakia , and of the beginning of Britain &rsquos final retreat from the promises of the Balfour Declaration. Wingate took advantage of his time in London to lobby tirelessly for the Zionist cause. He urged the Zionist leadership to present Britain with an ultimatum&mdasheither honor its pledges or forfeit the Jews&rsquo loyalty&mdashand argued the Zionist case in the press and before Colonial Secretary Malcolm MacDonald. Returning to Palestine in December, he found himself barred from further contact with the SNS, which was disbanded soon thereafter, and transferred back to Britain .

In May 1939, the notorious White Paper was issued, imposing crippling restrictions on Jewish immigration and land purchases in Palestine . Wingate, however, remained undeterred. With the outbreak of World War II, he campaigned for the immediate creation of a Jewish state in Palestine and a Jewish army, which he saw as &ldquoa necessity of the moral strategy of this war&hellip for human justice and freedom.&rdquo 20 He nearly fell out with the Zionist leadership, which he found insufficiently aggressive in pressing these demands. Further friction was averted when Wavell ordered Wingate to Ethiopia , there to apply his guerrilla tactics to defeating the Italian fascists.

Wingate&rsquos efforts in Ethiopia were crowned with success. With a meager assemblage of British officers and mountain tribesmen&mdashGideon Force, he called it&mdashWingate, now a lieutenant colonel, succeeded in tricking an enemy column fourteen thousand strong into surrendering, and then rode a white horse into newly liberated Addis Ababa .

Willing though he was to die for it, Ethiopia was for Wingate merely a means of returning to Palestine with a higher rank and greater influence in the army. Throughout the campaign, he insisted on keeping an SNS veteran, Avraham Akavia , as his aide-de-camp, and on using doctors from Jewish Palestine to treat his wounded. On Passover, Wingate held a field seder for his Jewish troops, delivering what Akavia called &ldquoa moving Zionist speech.&rdquo 21

As in Palestine , Wingate alienated his superiors in Ethiopia with his arrogance, his disdain for hierarchy and his support for the country&rsquos independence from all empires, whether Italian or British. &ldquoTo give the black races of Africa a chance to realize a free civilization,&rdquo he wrote at the height of the battles there, &ldquois a worthy cause for which to die and more worthy than a mere defense of one&rsquos own midden.&rdquo 22 And while Wingate was again commended for bravery for his efforts in Ethiopia , the army leadership never forgave him for his insolence and his support for native independence. Posted to Cairo to await reassignment, Wingate languished there for months while the battle for North Africa raged. Idle, depressed and suffering from severe malaria, he took a knife to his own throat one night in July 1941. He survived the attempt, and during his long and painful convalescence, shunned by fellow officers, he received a long line of visitors from Palestine , including David Ben-Gurion.

Wingate&rsquos saga might have ended there had Wavell not again intervened. Now commander of the Far East Theater, the general accepted Wingate&rsquos plan for a &ldquolong-range penetration unit&rdquo to work behind enemy lines in Burma . The Japanese, whom the British believed to be invincible in the jungle, were at the time poised to invade India . Wingate&rsquos raiders&mdash&ldquo Chindits ,&rdquo he later called them, after the mythic Burmese lion&mdashwere something of a last hope. Though the army continued to resist his efforts, Wingate managed to construct his force and, in January 1943, march it across the Chinese Himalayas into Burma .

The fighting was brutal. A third of Wingate&rsquos men were lost, and most of the remainder rendered unfit for service. Yet the Chindits succeeded in thwarting Japan &rsquos invasion plans, and in shattering the myth of Japanese supremacy. Wingate returned to find himself a celebrity and a favorite of Prime Minister Churchill, who took him and Lorna to meet President Roosevelt at the Allied summit in Quebec . There, before the leaders of the free world, he presented his plan for using light, mobile forces to defeat the Japanese in Burma , and it was accepted. After years of vilification by his superiors in the army, Wingate was at last vindicated. But for him, the impact of his success was to be measured not in Burma but in Palestine . His dream remained to return to &ldquo Eretz Israel ,&rdquo as he referred to it, and to farm the soil until called upon to lead the Jewish army to victory and independence. In one of his last letters to Lorna, who was no less ardent a Zionist, Wingate wrote a transliteration of the Hebrew verse &ldquoIf I forget thee, Jerusalem , let my right hand lose its strength,&rdquo adding his prayer that &ldquoour lot takes us there together, to the place and the work we love.&rdquo 23

By early 1944, Wingate, now a major general, commanded a Chindit force four times as large as the first. He led his men back into Burma , but on March 24, while flying to a forward position, the Mitchell bomber carrying him crashed in the jungle. No identifiable remains of Wingate were ever found, save for his trademark pith helmet. Charges of foul play were later raised and never conclusively settled. Since five out of the nine men aboard the Mitchell bomber were Americans, their common remains-several pounds of bones-were interred at Arlington National Cemetery , far from the places in which Wingate was revered as a hero.

Orde Wingate, who had just turned forty-one when he was killed, never saw his son Jonathan who was born two months later, nor did he see the birth of the Jewish state he so longed for. That state would memorialize him, though, in the Wingate sports village near Netanya and the Yemin Orde immigrants&rsquo school near Haifa , and in the names of dozens of streets and squares throughout the country.

T he Wingate of Fire in the Night is an astounding, quirky and poignantly human figure, who stands in utter contrast to the cold and one-dimensional killer depicted by Tom Segev in Days of the Anemones. It is tempting to explain the difference on the grounds that Segev had access to material from Hebrew-speaking soldiers and politicians who presumably observed Wingate&rsquos defects up close. Yet the Hebrew sources are overwhelmingly flattering to Wingate. The answer lies, rather, in the perspective that Segev brought to his writing, and in the way he used these sources.

For example, one of Segev&rsquos principal aims is to demonstrate that opposition to Wingate came not only from British higher-ups, but also from the Jewish leadership in Palestine . To this end, he quotes a senior yishuv leader, Moshe Shertok (later Sharett ), telling the Jewish Agency Executive that Wingate&rsquos SNS efforts had encountered &ldquoserious obstacles from some of our best people,&rdquo who claimed that operations of this sort &ldquoare not appropriate for us.&rdquo Segev then paraphrases Shertok , writing: &ldquoThey feared that it would spoil forever any chance of coexistence with the Arabs.&rdquo 24 But what Shertok really said was:

They [the operations] will invariably spoil relations with the neighboring Arab villages. These operations, they believe, can only be carried out by an army, and not by our settlements. The reason is that in many cases these operations do not receive the necessary support, not in their initial pioneering phases and not even later, when the operations are approved by the authorities. 25

In other words, the reason &ldquosome of our best people&rdquo opposed the SNS was not, as Segev claims, because they threatened Arab-Jewish harmony, but because the British were unwilling to back up the operations with sufficient firepower, leaving the settlements exposed. The problem was not that the SNS were too strong, but that they were not strong enough. Segev also chooses to omit Shertok&rsquos call, made in the same speech, for &ldquoexpanding the range of operation and enhancing the offensive element in our defense power,&rdquo as well as his depiction of Wingate as &ldquothat officer so committed to us in heart and soul.&rdquo 26

Similarly, Segev claims that Wingate&rsquos Jewish soldiers in the SNS accused him of being insane: &ldquoBehind his back, they said he was crazy,&rdquo Segev writes. 27 A footnote to that assertion leads the reader to the testimony in the Central Zionist Archives of Haim Levkov , a member of the SNS who reported that another SNS fighter, Israel Carmi, had on one occasion referred to Wingate as &ldquocrazy&rdquo after an argument. 28 As it turns out, &ldquoThey&rdquo did not call Wingate crazy behind his back. Only a single man did so, once, and that man, Israel Carmi, later became one of Wingate&rsquos most devoted followers, even writing a book filled with praise for his former commander.

Indeed, an inspection of the sources on which Segev draws to show that Wingate&rsquos men disapproved of their commander reveals repeated expressions of admiration for Wingate from those who served under him. Thus, Segev quotes from Zion Cohen&rsquos From Teheran and Back to buttress his allegations about Wingate&rsquos cruelty , 29 but he sidesteps Cohen&rsquos praise of Wingate as &ldquoa great and loyal friend of the Jewish people and of the Jewish yishuv &hellip [who] laid the foundations of the Israel Defence Forces &hellip. " 30 Nor is Segev interested in Haim Levkov&rsquos testimony when he speaks in admiration of Wingate: &ldquoEverything about his demeanor&mdashhis ability to advance without scouts, without fear&mdashinstilled in me a sense of confidence, that we were marching with a man who knew what lay ahead.&rdquo 31 Segev cites the testimony of another SNS member, identified only as &ldquo Efraim ,&rdquo to show that Wingate occasionally concocted harebrained battle plans that he never carried out , 32 yet ignored Efraim&rsquos observations about Wingate when they were positive, including the following:

It is difficult to gauge the impact of his [i.e., Wingate&rsquos] deeds and operations for the sake of our security, for the benefits he brought to our enterprise were great in such a short life. There is no real expression that can convey our feelings and respect for the man and his actions. All we can say, in our humble way, is that his example and his faith will stand before us forever, and that by their light we will continue to build and defend this land. 33

Segev likewise goes to extreme lengths to prove that Wingate was ruthless and cruel. One passage has Wingate storming into the Arab village of Danna , ordering the adult males to strip, and then whipping them. &ldquoIt was a horrifying sight,&rdquo recalls an SNS veteran in a testimony cited by Segev and filed in the Central Zionist Archives. 34 Yet a look at the file reveals that the SNS veteran never attributes these actions to Wingate, but rather to an unnamed &ldquoBritish officer.&rdquo He describes the cold and rainy conditions in Danna that day, which would hardly accord with the two operations Wingate did conduct in the village, both in the summer. Finally, the testimony places the whipping incident at a time after October 1938, when Wingate was no longer in command of the SNS. 35

This is not to say that Wingate was incapable of committing excesses. The Arab Revolt was a particularly brutal conflict in which it was rarely possible to distinguish combatants from civilians, and atrocities were commonplace on both sides. Indeed, one of the rampages Segev attributes to Wingate occurred immediately after the slaughter of nineteen Jews in Tiberias , eleven of whom were children burned to death in their beds. Moreover, as depicted in Fire in the Night, Wingate himself was continually tormented by the moral implications of his military actions, and sought to prevent innocent people from being harmed whenever possible. &ldquoWingate had always stressed that the squads must not mistreat Arab prisoners or civilians,&rdquo Bierman and Smith write, even if he &ldquodid not always practice what he preached.&rdquo 36 The authors quote Tzvi Brenner, who worked closely under Wingate in the SNS, as observing:

The problem of punishment and&hellip the morality of battle was something which concerned Wingate greatly. On the one hand, he demanded that the innocent not be harmed. On the other hand, he knew that he faced a dilemma: Can one observe this rule in battle against gangs which receive assistance from the residents of the villages ? 37

This, of course, has been a central moral question facing military officers around the world, including in Israel , from Wingate&rsquos time until today: How is one to fight an enemy bent on blurring the lines between the military and civilian, and using that ambiguity to its advantage? To dismiss all operations on what appear to be &ldquocivilian&rdquo targets as morally indefensible, as Segev appears to do, is as unfair as it is simplistic in the context of a vicious guerrilla war such as the one in which Wingate was engaged.

Y et even if one grants that Wingate&rsquos behavior occasionally crossed the line of what was morally appropriate, there is still something misguided about placing these errors, as Segev and others do, at the heart of an overall assessment of the man&rsquos life and work. A clear example is a letter to the editor written by Tel Aviv University historian and geographer Dan Yahav , in reaction to a balanced and judicious review of Fire in the Night in February of this year by Benny Landau of Ha&rsquoaretz. 38 Yahav accused Landau of underemphasizing Wingate&rsquos negative features, and denounced Wingate as a man who &ldquoviewed reality through the sight of a gun,&rdquo who &ldquodealt in collective punishments, in harming innocent people, in looting, in arbitrary killing&hellip and in unrestrained degradation.&rdquo 39

Such critics of Wingate ignore the fact that the British commander devoted himself to bringing independence to the Jews at a time when the use of force was an indispensable part of achieving this goal&mdashand when virtually no one else was willing or able to give Palestinian Jewry the assistance they needed to achieve it. It is not as if there were dozens of brilliant British military men who, after the rise of Hitler, extended a hand to the Jews to help them. In fact, there was only one.

Viewed in this context, it is clear that Wingate&rsquos contribution to the cause of the Jewish state was decisive and enduring. Indeed, in spite of the criticism now being leveled against him, supporters of Zionism the world over continue to view Wingate much as he is portrayed in Fire in the Night: A complex figure, but one deserving of respect and gratitude.

That esteem was evident during my visit to the Arlington National Cemetery . Locating a particular grave among the endless and indistinguishable rows can prove daunting, but I was able to find Wingate&rsquos easily. His tomb, alone, was adorned with a number of the small stones that Jews traditionally leave after visiting a gravesite. And under one of those stones, I found a handwritten note. Crumpled, washed out by rain, only a single word of it was still legible. Layedid , it said in Hebrew. To the Friend.

Michael B. Oren is &rsquos Ambassador to the . He was formerly a Distinguished Fellow at the in Jerusalem, an academic and research institute, and a contributing editor of A ZURE .

1.­ John Bierman and Colin Smith, Fire in the Night: Wingate of Burma , Ethiopia and Zion (New York: Random House, 1999).

2.­ Charles Rolo , Wingate&rsquos Raiders (London: Harrap , 1944) Bernard Fergusson, Beyond the Chindwin (London: Collins, 1945) Bernard Fergusson, The Wild Green Earth (London: Collins, 1946) Wilfred G. Burchett, Wingate&rsquos Phantom Army (Bombay: Thacker, 1944) Leonard Mosley, Gideon Goes to War (London: Barker, 1955).

3.­ I.S.O. Playfair , ed., The Mediterranean and the Middle East (London: H.M. Stationery Office, 1954), vol. i S. Woodburn Kirby, ed., The War Against Japan (London: H.M. Stationery Office, 1957).

4.­ Peter Mead, Orde Wingate and the Historians ( Braunton : Merlin, 1987) David Rooney, Wingate and the Chindits : Redressing the Balance (London: Arms and Armour , 1994) Christopher Sykes, Orde Wingate (London: Collins, 1959) Trevor Royle , Orde Wingate: Irregular Soldier (London: Weidenfeld and Nicolson, 1995).

5.­ Israel Carmi, In the Path of Fighters (Tel Aviv: Ministry of Defense, 1960) [Hebrew] Avraham Akavia , Orde Wingate: His Life and Works (Tel Aviv: Ministry of Defense, 1993). [Hebrew]

6.­ Tom Segev , &ldquoWhen the High Commissioner Had a Toothache,&rdquo Ha&rsquoaretz , March 13, 1999.

7.­ Tom Segev , Days of the Anemones: Palestine During the Mandatory Period (Jerusalem: Keter , 1999), pp. 348-349, 387. [Hebrew]

8.­ Gideon Levy, &ldquoWhen Will They Teach It in School?&rdquo Ha&rsquoaretz , June 27, 1999.

9. ­ Yehiam Padan , &ldquoThe Rabbi, the Grandson and the Angel,&rdquo Ha&rsquoaretz , August 18, 1999.

10.­ A World of Changes (Jerusalem: Ministry of Education, Culture and Sport and Ma&rsquoalot Publishers, 1999). [Hebrew]

11.­ Bierman and Smith, Fire in the Night, pp. 379, 388, 76.

12.­ Bierman and Smith, Fire in the Night, p. 11.

13.­ Bierman and Smith, Fire in the Night, p. 41.

14.­ Royle , Irregular Soldier, p. 105.

15.­ Bierman and Smith, Fire in the Night, p. 66.

16.­ Bierman and Smith, Fire in the Night, p. 113.

17.­ Bierman and Smith, Fire in the Night, pp. 102, 109, 93.

18.­ Bierman and Smith, Fire in the Night, p. 115.

19.­ Bierman and Smith, Fire in the Night, pp. 115-116.

20.­ Bierman and Smith, Fire in the Night, p. 138.

21.­ Bierman and Smith, Fire in the Night, p. 208.

22.­ Bierman and Smith, Fire in the Night, p. 190.

23.­ Akavia , Wingate, p. 240.

24.­ Segev , Days of the Anemones, p. 350.

25.­ Moshe Sharett , Political Diary: 1938 (Tel Aviv: Am Oved , 1972), vol. iii, p. 202. [Hebrew]

26.­ Sharett , Political Diary, p. 202.

27.­ Segev , Days of the Anemones, p. 348.

28.­ Central Zionist Archives (hereafter &ldquoCZA&rdquo), S25/10685, Haim Levkov&rsquos testimony, p. 2.

29.­ Segev , Days of the Anemones, p. 349.

30.­ Zion Cohen, From Teheran and Back (Tel Aviv: Ministry of Defense, 1995), p. 56. [Hebrew]

31.­ CZA, S25/10685, Haim Levkov&rsquos testimony, p. 2.

32.­ Segev , Days of the Anemones, p. 349.

33.­ CZA, S25/10685, Efraim&rsquos testimony, p. 4.

34.­ Segev , Days of the Anemones, p. 349.

35.­ CZA, S25/10685, Jonathan&rsquos testimony, p. 3.

36.­ Bierman and Smith, Fire in the Night, p. 115.

37.­ Bierman and Smith, Fire in the Night, p. 115.

38.­ Benny Landau, &ldquoRegards from a Friend,&rdquo Ha&rsquoaretz , February 25, 2000.


“A superb biography” of the controversial British Army officer who lead the 77th Indian Infantry Brigade against the Japanese in Burma during World War II (HistoryOfWar.org).

Winston Churchill described Wingate as a man of genius who might well have become a man of destiny. Tragically, he died in a jungle aircraft crash in 1944.

Like his famous kinsman Lawrence of Arabia, Wingate was renowned for being an unorthodox soldier, inclined to reject received patterns of military thought. He was a fundamentalist Christian with a biblical certainty in himself and his mission.

He is best-remembered as the charismatic and abrasive leader of the Chindits. With the support of Archibald Wavell, he was responsible for a strategy of using independent groups deep behind enemy lines, supported only by air drops.

Wingate was responsible for leading the charge of 2,000 Ethiopians and the Sudan Defence Force into Italian-occupied Abyssinia. Remarkably, he defeated a 40,000 strong enemy that was supported by aircraft and artillery, which Wingate did not possess.

Despite his achievements, Wingate suffered from illness and depression and in Cairo attempted suicide. He was not universally liked: his romantic Zionism contrasted with the traditional British Arabist notions. He did, however, lead from the front and marched, ate and slept with his men. In this authoritative biography, Royle expertly brings to life a ruthless, complex, arrogant but ultimately admirable general.

“An insightful look at the controversies which have dogged Wingate’s reputation over the years . . . strongly recommended to anyone interested in irregular warfare and counterinsurgency operations.” —African Armed Forces Journal


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