Sunday, September 21, 2014

Orde Wingate



For the benefit of everyone, and especially those readers interested in irregular warfare, today's focus is on the remarkable, if unconventional, Orde Wingate.

Born in 1903, Wingate secured a Commission in the British Army as a Gunner and went on to learn Arabic at London's School of Oriental Studies (SOAS). This took him to secondment with the Sudan Defence Force and the command of 300 troops which he trained to ambush Muslim slavers and poachers. 


After being recalled to England in 1933, Wingate was assigned to the Palestinian Mandate in 1936, where he went on to form irregular units of British and Jewish Haganah volunteers, called Special Night Squads. The SNS attacked Arab terrorists with effective ferocity; Moshe Dayan claimed that Wingate "taught us everything we know", and while not a Jew, Wingate, who was an ardent Zionist, became a celebrated figure of the Jewish community.



At the outbreak of World War II, Wingate was invited by General Wavell to assist with operations to drive the Italians from Ethiopa. He did just that, creating and training the guerrilla-style Gideon Force, which succeeded in restoring Emperor Haile Selassie to his throne in Addis Abbaba. Awarded a DSO for his efforts, Wingate returned to England and went overseas again, to the Far East, where the sudden Japanese takeover of Burma forced him to India.




From India, he gained permission to create a "deep penetration" strike force, the Chindits, who operated far behind Japanese lines. These fought with controversial success until Wingate's untimely death in March, 1944, when his transport plane crashed into the jungle. He is buried in Arlington cemetery.

Wingate was undoubtably eccentric and didn't much like wearing clothes. One British Officer was surprised to discover him naked and crying on the floor (through frustration? grief?) after an SNS operation and he would often give orders in a state of "undress". This confused some of his more staid colleagues.



The pioneering Chindit commander can be credited for laying some of the groundwork for the Israeli Defense Force's later success, and I have an odd feeling that when I was younger I met some of the people he trained. 

We could do with a few Wingates to launch against ISIS.

God bless,

LSP


12 comments:

LL said...

I have an original copy of "Small Wars" by Callwell that I keep on a shelf next to the poetry by Robert W. Service and Kipling's Definitive Edition: 1888-1932.

Wingate and those like him, which could include luminaries such as Fairbairn and T. E. Lawrence (the famous ones) and many who were never illuminated by pen and such, operated in a world without a 24 hour news cycle.

Today, they exist in small numbers, mostly misfits, forgotten heroes from forgotten wars. I know some of them personally, though most are dead.

None of them are in Iraq fighting ISIL because nobody cares about that one.

LSP said...

Curious character, Lawrence, and I can imagine little love lost between him and Wingate. Icy silence sort of thing.

Misfits for sure and our age seems to have little time for that.

RIP to your friends and respect.

As for ISIL, we need to get with the program.

LL said...

ISIL - The savages will tear each other apart until strong men emerge (like Assad the Elder and Saddam Hussein) and return the place to an orderly hell hole, the way it was before we invaded.

jenny said...

Quite liked this little lesson. Fascinating!

LSP said...

Look him up, Jenny. Interesting character.

LSP said...

I fear you're right, LL.

Brighid said...

I had never heard of Wingate, will be reading up on him! Thanks Padre.

LSP said...

Sure thing -- Wingate's one of these rare people that rise up out of history. One dismayed headshrinker diagnosed him as "borderline insane"! Remarkable man.

Michael Peterson said...

Wingate was a crazy-assed bastard and a model soldier, albeit from the unorthodox section of the book. We celebrate the whole mystique of Special Forces today while mostly forgetting that it was pioneered by tough and eccentric men like him. Good post.

LSP said...

Thanks, Padre. I thought you might like it.

lukeya said...

My RE teacher at the Langton was a Chindit under Wingate. Some great stories about detaching leeches from the male member.....

LSP said...

I see your religious education was, ahem, up to speed...

Interesting man, Wingate.