AJEX National Remembrance Day
Date: Sunday 17th November 2019
Venue: Cenotaph on Whitehall in London
Join us marching in the parade - line up at Horse Guards for 1.30pm. Please contact Mike or the office for arrangement for meeting at WPS
Those marching need to assemble by 1.30pm at Horse Guards parade. Spectators do not require a ticket and should assemble on Whitehall between the Cenotaph and Banquesting House by 2.30pm
Remembrance is a Mitzvah
Colonel J. H. Patterson
by David Zuck
In today’s climate of anti-Semitism it comes as a surprise to find that a century ago there were British people who were actively philosemitic and pro-zionist. One of these was William Hechler, who supported and assisted Herzl, and who was memorialised in a grave-side ceremony in New Southgate Cemetery early last year, when a new headstone was consecrated; another, who will be remembered by older readers, was Col. Josiah Wedgewood M.P., who before the outbreak of WW2 worked to alleviate the persecution of German Jews, and to support refugees. A third who should be remembered was Lt. Colonel John Henry Patterson O.B.E.
Patterson had much experience of soldiering in India and South Africa, and had studied strategy and the organization of armies in Europe and America. In 1915, during the first World War, he was very critical of the way in which the attack on the Dardanelles had been managed. Soon after it had become bogged down he was posted to Egypt, ‘at the psychological moment when the Commander-in-Chief was looking for a suitable officer to raise and command a Jewish unit,’ as he later wrote. From his youth he had been a keen student of the Jewish people and their history, so it was good luck all round that the choice fell on him. With the support of the Jewish community of Alexandria a successful recruiting campaign was launched, the volunteers being mainly Palestinian Jews of Russian origin, including one who had served gallantly in the Czar’s army and been awarded the Order of St. George, Captain Joseph Trumpeldor. Thus was the Zion Mule Corps founded.
Among the British troops at Gallipoli was Captain, later Colonel, Josiah Wedgewood. He became acquainted with Trumpeldor, and it was Trumpeldor’s influence that converted Wedgewood into a firm friend of the Jews and a supporter of their aspirations. After the withdrawal of the British from Gallipoli Patterson wrote and published an account of his service,’With the Zionists in Gallipoli.’
When, in 1917, ‘in the darkest days of the War, it was decided to form a Jewish Regiment,’ Patterson was the obvious choice to found and command it. He described his problems, the antagonism of some members of the Jewish ‘establishment,’ his difficulties with the middle ranks of the army administration and the support he received from those in high command, with the exception of General Allenby, and his great admiration for his Jewish soldiers, among whom was Vladimir Jabotinsky, in his book, ‘With the Judaeans in the Palestine Campaign.’
Both Patterson’s books have very recently become available on the Project Gutenberg web site, and may be downloaded free to a computer or appropriate e-Reader. He included much social and military history, he is easy and entertaining to read, and his comments will be heart-warming to Jewish readers.