Jewish Brigade

The Infantry Band of the Jewish Brigade was a military formation of the British army that served in Europe during World War II . The brigade was created in 1944 and part of its experienced personnel was employed against the Axis Powers in Greece , the Middle East and in East Africa . More than 30,000 Palestinians from the British Mandate of Palestine volunteered to serve in the British Armed Forces , of which 734 died during the war.

The brigade and its predecessors, the Palestinian Regiment and the three infantry companies that had been formed, were mainly composed of Jews from the Middle East. The brigade was represented by Jewish soldiers of 50 nationalities. Many were refugees, displaced from countries that were occupied or controlled by Axis powers in Europe and Ethiopia . Volunteers from the UK , and the Commonwealth , and other Western democracies also contributed contingents.


The disintegration of the Ottoman Empire after the end of World War I and its replacement as pre-eminent power in the Middle East by the British and French empires , renewed to the Zionist movement the search for a Jewish state in the region that became the British Mandate of Palestine ( Eretz Israel ). The Balfour Declaration of 1917 marked the first official recognition of a proposal of this kind, which provided the impetus for an increase in Jewish emigration known as the Third Aliyah . This progressive emigration during the years 1920 and 1930 followed the sanction of the League of Nations to the Balfour Declaration, with the Jewish population having an expansion of more than 400,000 inhabitants before the beginning of World War II.

The 17 of maypole of 1939 , the British government of Neville Chamberlain published the White Paper , which abandoned the idea of the partition of the Mandate. After the outbreak of World War II in September 1939, the head of the Jewish Agency , David Ben Gurion stated: “We will fight against the White Paper as if there was no war, and fight in war as if there is no Book White.”

President of the World Zionist Organization , Chaim Weizmann , offered the British government full cooperation of the Jewish community in the British Mandate of Palestine and attempted to negotiate the creation of the brigade to identify Jewish (under Jewish flag), under the auspices of British army. His request was rejected, but equally many Palestinian Jews joined the British army. Fifteen battalions of Palestinian Jews joined the British army in September 1939 and fought in Greece in 1941 .

Palestine Regiment

In spite of the efforts made by the British in order to obtain equal numbers of Jews and Arabs in the Palestinian Regiment, the Jews offered three times more volunteers than the Arabs. As a result, the 6 of August of 1942 , three battalions of Palestinian Jews and an Arab were formed. At that time, the regiment participated primarily in watchkeeping duties in Egypt and North Africa . The British also wanted to undermine the efforts of Amin al-Husayni , who successfully obtained Arab support for the Axis Powers against the Allies .

Creation of the Jewish Brigade

The 3 of July of 1944 , the British government gave its consent to the creation of a Jewish Brigade with Jewish and non – Jewish senior officers. On September 20, 1944, an official statement by the War Office announced the creation of the Infantry Corps of the British Army Jewish Brigade . The Zionist flag was officially approved as a banner . More than 5000 British Mandate Jewish volunteers were organized into three infantry battalions and several support units.

The newspapers of the time took it like a “success” and “five years of delay”.

Battles and Berihah

Under the command of Brigadier General Ernest Benjamin , the Jewish Brigade fought against the Germans in Italy from March 1945 until the end of the war in May of that year, and was then stationed at Tarvisio , near the border between Italy , Yugoslavia and Austria . More than 400 volunteers from the brigade fought at the Battle of Bir-el Harmat in Libya . In July 1945, the brigade served in Belgium and the Netherlands .

He played a key role in the Berihah , making great efforts to help escape the Jews of Europe to the British Mandate, a role that many of its members will continue after the brigade is dissolved. His projects included education and child care for Selvino .

Of the more than 30,000 Jewish volunteers in the British Mandate of Palestine who served in the British Army during World War II, more than 700 died during service. Some of the members of the Jewish Brigade later became key participants in the new Israeli Army because of their experience in the war.

The Jewish Brigade finally disbanded in the summer of 1946 .

Fighters of the Jewish Brigade

  • Ernest Benjamin
  • Meir Zorea
  • Chaim Laskov
  • Yehuda Amichai
  • Johanan Peltz
  • Hanoch Bartov
  • Israel Carmi
  • Yosi Peled
  • Arieh Pinchuk
  • Shlomo Shamir
  • Natanel Lorch
  • David Ben-David
  • Oly Givon
  • Moshe Tavor
  • Gad Rosenbaum (Rothem)


  • With the Jewish Brigade by Bernard M Casper (Edward Goldston, London 1947. No ISBN)
  • The Brigade. An Epic Story of Vengeance, Salvation, and WWII by Howard Blum (HarperCollins Publishers, New York, 2002) ISBN 0-06-019486-3
  • The Jewish Brigade: An Army With Two Masters, 1944-45 by Morris Beckman (Sarpedon Publishers, 1999) ISBN 1-885119-56-9
  • In Our Own Hands: The Hidden Story of the Jewish Brigade in World War II (1998 video) Film resource center