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July 03 , 2010

Fire in the Night

Wingate of Burma, Ethiopia and Zion


Orde Charles Wingate. Winston Churchill thought him a military genius; others considered him greatly over-rated; a few even thought him mad. His overriding passion was for Zionism, a cause which he embraced when posted to British-ruled Palestine in 1936. There he raised the Special Night Squads, an irregular force which decimated Arab rebel bands and taught a future generation of Israeli generals (including Moshe Dayan and Yitzhak Rabin) how to fight. In 1941, Wingate led another guerrilla-style force into Italian-occupied Ethiopia and was instrumental in restoring Emperor Haile Selassie to his throne. But his most famous campaign was conducted behind enemy lines in Burma, where his Chindits shattered the myth of Japanese invincibility in jungle fighting. A brilliant maverick, Wingate was a difficult if not impossible subordinate. He was also - as this riveting new study reveals - an inspiring leader.

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