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Windsor linked to Israel’s history


HANTS COUNTY — During the First World War, several battalions of a unique fighting force, the Jewish Legion, were stationed in Windsor.

Earlier this year, John Wilson, the president of the West Hants Historical Society, showed several artifacts of this time to a group of people driving across Canada supporting Israel-based charities.

“This is a photo of the Jewish Legion that came here to train at Fort Edward in 1917 under the British Expeditionary Force to fight in Palestine,” Wilson said to the crowd. “It was their dream to one day establish the state of Israel.”

One of the soldiers in a photograph presented, a private at the time, was David Ben-Gurion, who ultimately became the first prime minister of Israel when it was formed in 1948.

Wilson showed more photographs of the Jewish Legion and a letter that Ben-Gurion wrote to the former mayor of Windsor in the 1960s thanking the town for their hospitality during the time he was stationed there.

Another photo showed the Jewish Legion stationed at Fort Edward in Windsor on Yom Kippur in 1918.

Many of the volunteers in the Jewish Legion came from the United States. Wilson said it was unusual for the U.S. to allow the British to recruit members on their soil, but it was an extraordinary time.

About 600 soldiers from New York, Boston, Montreal and other areas came and trained in Windsor under the British Expeditionary Force bound for Palestine and other parts of the Ottoman Empire.

The Jewish Legion, which existed between 1917 until 1921 was the unofficial name given to five battalions of Jewish volunteers in the British Army — the 38th to the 42nd Battalions of the Royal Fusiliers.

Members hailed from Russia, the United States, Canada and some came from Palestine and other parts of the Middle East.

Earlier this year, John Wilson, the president of the West Hants Historical Society, showed several artifacts of this time to a group of people driving across Canada supporting Israel-based charities.

“This is a photo of the Jewish Legion that came here to train at Fort Edward in 1917 under the British Expeditionary Force to fight in Palestine,” Wilson said to the crowd. “It was their dream to one day establish the state of Israel.”

One of the soldiers in a photograph presented, a private at the time, was David Ben-Gurion, who ultimately became the first prime minister of Israel when it was formed in 1948.

Wilson showed more photographs of the Jewish Legion and a letter that Ben-Gurion wrote to the former mayor of Windsor in the 1960s thanking the town for their hospitality during the time he was stationed there.

Another photo showed the Jewish Legion stationed at Fort Edward in Windsor on Yom Kippur in 1918.

Many of the volunteers in the Jewish Legion came from the United States. Wilson said it was unusual for the U.S. to allow the British to recruit members on their soil, but it was an extraordinary time.

About 600 soldiers from New York, Boston, Montreal and other areas came and trained in Windsor under the British Expeditionary Force bound for Palestine and other parts of the Ottoman Empire.

The Jewish Legion, which existed between 1917 until 1921 was the unofficial name given to five battalions of Jewish volunteers in the British Army — the 38th to the 42nd Battalions of the Royal Fusiliers.

Members hailed from Russia, the United States, Canada and some came from Palestine and other parts of the Middle East.

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