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Book Notes: Fighting Back: British Jewry's Military Contribution in the Second World War, Martin Sugarman

S. Bernard Spencer

<plain_text><page sequence="1">Fighting Back: British Jewry's Military Contribution in the Second World War, Martin Sugarman (Vallentine Mitchell 2010) isbn 978 0853039105, pp. 474, Pbk ?28.30 This is a most rewarding book for anyone with an interest in the role of British Jews in the Second World War and the events leading up to it. Mr Sugarman must be congratulated for the in-depth research which took place over a considerable number of years, and for the work and effort that has gone into producing this book. The section on the Spanish Civil War, the first real fight against Fascism, which began in the mid-i930s, is of particular interest. The British Battalion (known as the Major Attlee Battalion, in honour of Clement Attlee MP, later the Prime Minister) sent more than two thousand volunteers, of whom three hundred were Jewish. Many were killed in action in some of the bloodiest battles; of those who returned, a number served again in the Second World War. The section on Jewish pilots who served in the Battle of Britain showed the large number who took part in the air battles of 1940. Many were killed, while of those who lived, Stamford Tuck went on to become a wing com? mander, and by the end of the war had become one of the top air aces. Bomber Command also had its heroes, such as Arthur Aaron, VC, DFM, who lost his life after returning his aircraft to base, although he was dying of his wounds. The City of Leeds erected a statue in the centre of town to its famous son. It is also interesting to see that many Jewish men and women served in the Fire Services during the Blitz, both in London and the provinces, many of whom lost their lives. The notes on anti-Semitic attitudes among some of their colleagues in the Services reveal that such views were not unusual. The Dieppe raid in August 1942, which turned out to be a disaster, included many Canadian Jewish soldiers, a number of whom were killed in action or taken prisoner. Sugarman's book also pays tribute to the many 239</page><page sequence="2">Book Notes Jewish soldiers who landed at Arnhem, both paratroopers and glider pilots. Other branches fighting the war were the Code-Breaking Section at Bletchley Park, which had many Jewish members, and the Resistance service, in which many Jewish men and women served behind enemy lines, their knowledge of other languages proving useful. Tribute is also paid to the Palestinian Jews who served in the British Army in the fight against the Germans. In the Far East many Jewish soldiers served with Orde Wingate in the Chindits, harassing the Japanese behind enemy lines in Burma. It was said of Wingate, a non-Jewish committed Zionist, that if he had survived the War, he might have become one of the military leaders of the State of Israel. The final chapter is on the war in Korea in 1953 where, again, numerous Jewish men and women served in the Armed Forces, many during their two years' National Service. This is a fascinating book, and anyone interested in the Jewish contribu? tion to the war will find it most rewarding reading. S. Bernard Spencer 240</page></plain_text>