Orde Wingate, born in India to a family of devoutly religious Bible-reading Christians, was sent by his parents to England for his education. Deeply committed to reading and memorizing whole chapters of the Bible, he became in his youth a devotee of the Jews, especially to the Books of the Prophets.
Early in his young life, he saw the vision of a return of the Jewish people to their ancestral home in Palestine. He entered the British military service and he excelled as an officer at the British Royal Military Academy.
In 1936 he was posted as a senior officer, Major General Orde Wingate, to serve as an intelligence officer in the British mandatory government in Palestine.
From his very first days in Palestine he declared himself to be a Zionist and encouraged the work of the Jewish pioneers in the development of a future homeland.
He opposed British policy which favored the Arabs and he found secret ways to train future leaders of the soon-to-be Israeli army. The brightest of his pupils was Moshe Dayan who attributed all his military skills to Wingate’s training.
He provided them with weapons which he “borrowed” from military supply depots. It was because he viewed the Arabs as Canaanites and Philistines, enemies of the biblical Hebrews, and viewed the Jews who tilled the soil and worked to build their homeland as descendants of the early judges and prophets of Israel.
His love for Zionism was the essence of his life and the fulfillment of the ancient Jews to return to their homeland after two thousand years in exile. He called his group of Jewish followers the “Gideon”, named after a Hebrew judge by that name who led his people into battle against their enemies.
He engaged in night raids with his newly trained Hebrew soldiers, raiding Arab villages known to be loyal to Hitler’s partner, Haj Amin el-Husseini, the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem. Wingate considered his efforts as holy work, God’s work, as a divine mission. And he was loved and idolized by all the Jews with whom he worked and trained.
Regrettably, Major General Orde Wingate died as a young man in India and was not privileged to see the rebirth of the Jewish state which was so dear to his heart.
The Orde Wingate Institute for Physical Education in Israel was named in his honor. Several streets in Israel are called Rehov Wingate. All Israel pays tribute to the memory of the unordinary Orde.
May his memory be for a blessing and an inspiration.