Rare Vintage Israeli Poster call woman to join the “Jewish Brigade” in the British army 1945 WW2 “Come on Help us win”


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Extremely rare Vintage Israeli Poster calls woman to join the “Jewish Brigade” in the British army 1945 WW2 “Come on Help us win”


“Come on Help us win”


Brigadier General Israela Oron, O.C Women’s Corps, and Esther Herlitz, presenter, at “Dor l’Dor Yabia Omer,” a meeting held on the occasion of a visit of Women Veterans of ATS (Auxiliary Territorial Service) and WAAF (Women’s Auxiliary Air Force) to the Chen Training Camp in Sarafand, June 19, 1996.


ATS and WAAF in World War II


by Esther Herlitz


The Yishuv regarded the war against Nazi Germany (World War II) as its own. At the behest of the Jewish Agency, thirty thousand men volunteered for the British Army between 1939 and 1946. Only when the Council of Women’s Organizations called for the recruitment of women as well was an agreement reached with the British authorities to enlist women into the forces. The first to join, on January 25, 1942, was a small group of sixty women to be trained as officers and N.C.O.s for the ATS (Auxiliary Territorial Service). Women for the WAAF (Women’s Auxiliary Air Force) were drafted only on May 25, 1943. The call was for women between twenty and forty-five years of age. Altogether 4,350 Palestinian women volunteers joined the British Armed Forces “for the duration of emergency.” Most were discharged in 1946.


The subject of women serving in the British army was initially controversial in the Yishuv. Questions were raised about the moral issue as well as the appropriateness of leaving the country at a time when German General Erwin Rommel was advancing on Egypt. Considerable effort was invested in a large-scale recruitment drive, which turned out to be successful.


Women of all walks of life and age groups, married and single, joined up. In some cases, both husband and wife joined. Some were illiterate, and some were highly educated. A great many were recent young immigrants, mostly Youth Aliyah graduates who had no permanent homes in the country.



[An ATS (Auxiliary Territorial Service) recruiting parade in Rishon Le-Zion (March 22, 1942), commemorating sixty years since the founding of the city. Esther Herlitz is in the line furthest to the right, fifth from the front. Image credit: Esther Herlitz.]


Basic training of a month took place at the central British military base at Sarafand in Palestine. The women were posted to sixteen ATS units in Palestine, Egypt, Syria, and Lebanon. Toward the end of the war, several ATS members were sent to Italy and Austria. ATS camps were separate companies under women officers. The top echelon was entirely British; only two companies were fully under “Palestinian” command. The women’s army identification numbers ran as W/Pal, and they wore the insignia “Palestine” on their sleeves.


Uniforms of the ATS were all khaki, from underwear to stockings, shirts, battle dresses, and skirts. Only the drivers wore trousers. The heavy material did not suit the Middle East climate. The blue WAAF uniforms were the envy of all, as were those of the United States and South African women contingents.



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