David Ben-Gurion and Yitzhak Ben-Zvi will be among more than 1,000 men remembered when the 100th anniversary of the Jewish Legion will be commemorated in May and September 2018 in Windsor, Nova Scotia, Canada.
The prominent leaders in the global Jewish community, who later became the first Prime Minister and second President of the State of Israel respectively, joined the Legion, approved by the British War Office as a Jewish military contingent for active duty during the First World War.
Jewish recruits from across Canada and the United States assembled at the Imperial Recruits Depot, located at Fort Edward, in Windsor, Nova Scotia, Canada, in 1918. Fort Edward served as a basic training center and point of departure for all North American recruits of the Jewish Legion.
Despite their later destiny, Ben-Gurion and Ben-Zvi, as members of the training squad, earned 50 cents a day and slept in a bell tent on Nova Scotia earth.
Once their training was complete, the recruits went to England where they joined other Jewish Battalions for the last phases of the campaign against the Ottoman Turks. This Jewish fighting force, which included the 38th, 39th, 40th and 42nd Battalions of the Royal Fusiliers, would become known as the Jewish Legion.
In a letter to Windsor’s mayor in 1966, Ben-Gurion wrote, “In Windsor, one of the great dreams of my life, to serve as a soldier in a Jewish unit to fight for the liberation of Israel, became a reality. I will never forget Windsor where I received my first training as a soldier and where I became a corporal.”
Indeed, this diverse group of Jewish soldiers would unite to become the foundation of Jewish national aspirations in both Israel and North America.
A small, but enthusiastic committee, chaired by former Atlantic Jewish Council (AJC) executive director, Jon Goldberg, and guided by Sara Beanlands, principal of Boreas Heritage Consulting Inc., is commemorating the centennial of the training of the Legion in Windsor.
In conjunction with the town of Windsor, West Hants Historical Society, and the Atlantic Jewish Council, events are planned for the town in May and September 2018.
A distinct earthworks Centennial Pavilion will be built, with considerable private funding, near Fort Edward. Names of the more than 1,000 North American Jewish trainees will be listed on a Wall of Honor at the Pavilion.
The committee, called the Jewish Legion Centennial Society, is collecting names of men who served in the Jewish Legion at Fort Edward. For the public to help, respond to the committee members listed below with names of Jewish Legion soldiers of whom you may have knowledge.
To donate to the Centennial Pavilion or for further information, contact Jon Goldberg: e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or cell phone 902-221-2174.
For historical information or to include a name of a Jewish Legion soldier, contact: Sara Beanlands: e- mail email@example.com Phone: 902-483-7999