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Colonel Patterson, soldier and Zionist

Cecil Bloom

<plain_text><page sequence="1">Colonel Patterson, soldier and Zionist* CECIL BLOOM Lieutenant-Colonel John Henry Patterson DSO played a not insignificant role in modern Jewish history, but is a figure whom history has passed by. His contribution to Jewish and Zionist affairs from 1915 until his death in California in 1947 is now almost unknown to all except keen students of Jewish history. I shall review his career in the First World War as commander, firstly of the Zion Mule Corps in Gallipoli and secondly of the first Jewish battalion to serve in the British Army in Palestine in 1918, and I shall then turn to his Zionist activities as a close associate of Jabotinsky. I hope to throw some light on the reasons for the treatment he has received from historians. John Henry Patterson was born in 1867 in Dublin to a Protestant family. He started professional life as a railway engineer in South Africa, and later, in about 1900, was employed as an engineer on the Uganda railway. He was a much-travelled man, visiting the United States, Canada, Spain, Belgium and Germany as well as Africa. While in Uganda he killed the famous man-eating lions, the Tsavos, about which he wrote a book1 which was a huge bestseller in pre-paperback days, and he became an eminent big-game hunter - eminent enough to be invited to the White House by another big-game hunter, President Theodore Roosevelt. He served with distinction in the Boer War in which he was decorated with the Distinguished Service Order and was thrice mentioned in despatches. Patterson was, from his early days, a keen student of Jewish affairs - its laws, its history, its customs - and as a boy spent much time reading the Old Testament, especially those sections chronicling battles, murders and sudden deaths. He rejoined the British Army on the outbreak of war in 1914 and in March 1915 was appointed commander of the Zion Mule Corps. Patterson's involvement in Jewish affairs arose through Jabotinsky's campaigning from the start of the war for the formation of a Jewish force to fight for the Allies. Vladimir (or Ze'ev) Jabotinsky was a brilliant Russian journalist and a gifted writer, who had attracted the attention of men such as Gorki and Tolstoy. Deeply assimilated into Russian culture, an impressive orator, master of half-a-dozen languages, he had been converted to Zionism following the 1903 pogroms in Russia. Chaim Weizmann has Paper presented to the Society on 26 April 1990. 231</page><page sequence="2">Cecil Bloom written that he came to the Zionist movement as a 'boy wonder'.2 He soon became deeply immersed in Zionist politics, but always acted in a highly individualistic manner. The pogroms had kindled his enthusiasm for Jewish self-defence, an ideal that persisted throughout his life, and he believed that a Jewish fighting force, under British command, would further the establishment of a Jewish National Home in Palestine. In November 1914, Ben Gurion and Ben Zvi, living in Palestine, had submitted a proposal to the Turks that a Jewish legion attached to the Turkish Army be formed. The Turks originally approved the idea, but it fizzled out as the Turks initiated severe persecution of Palestinian Jews. Many were imprisoned and about 18,000 deported, of whom some 11,000 arrived in Alexandria.3 Jabotinsky reached Alexandria in December 1914 to urge the refugees to form themselves into a legion to fight alongside the Allies and so liberate Palestine from Turkey. Victor Trumpeldor, a Russian Zionist who had been a captain in the Russian Army, was among the refugees and supported Jabotinsky. In March 1915, 500 refugees gathered to start training, and some leading Egyptian Jews, including the Grand (or Chief) Rabbi of Alexandria, lent their support. One key factor in the favour shown to the proposed unit was the fear that the refugees, who were Russian nationals, would be forced back to Russia to join the army there. The Russian consul in Alexandria, Petrov, actually demanded this, and as he had extraterritorial jurisdiction over all Russian subjects in Egypt under the terms of the treaty with Britain, there were fears that the British Administration would accede to the demand.4 General Maxwell, commander of the small British force in Egypt, however, dampened the enlistees' spirits by saying that a Palestine offensive was doubtful, and, in any case, regulations did not allow foreign nationals to serve in the British Army. He did, however, suggest that they act as a detachment for mule transport on a sector of the Turkish front. Jabotinsky, predictably, rejected this, but Trumpeldor was in favour on the basis that any anti-Turkish front would lead to Zion. It was at this point that Patterson stepped into Jewish history. He had arrived in Egypt at the precise time that Maxwell was looking for a suitable officer to command the Zion Mule Corps, or the Assyrian Jewish Refugee Mule Corps, which was its official title. Why he was appointed to this command is not known, although a friend, Major-General. Godley, did recommend him to Maxwell. Patterson himself thought Maxwell's choice curious, because Maxwell was unaware of his Jewish sympathies;5 it is worth speculating whether he would have been given the command had these been known. Patterson was remarkably Judeophile, as we shall see over and over again. 'When as a boy', he wrote, 'I eagerly devoured the records of the 232</page><page sequence="3">Colonel Patterson, soldier and Zionist glorious deeds of Jewish military captains such as Joshua, Joab, Gideon and Judas Maccabeus, I little dreamt that one day I myself would, in a small way, be a captain of a host of the Children of Israel.'6 Assisted by Trumpeldor, he formed a 650-strong unit of which about 500 men with 750 mules went to the Gallipoli front in April 1915. He had with him 5 British and 8 Jewish officers.7 Patterson had never met a Jew until 19158 but he clearly had considerable understanding of Jewish national aspirations. He personally chose the Magen David as the badge of the Mule Corps; 'a shield such as David used when, as champion of Israel, he went out to fight Goliath of Gath'.9 He wrote graphically of his participation in a Passover Seder with the Grand Rabbi and his family, and he could hardly believe he was there, for he seemed to be living again in the days of Moses.10He clearly had a strong affinity for the Jewish heritage even if he had not met a Jew until shortly before this Seder. The Zion Mule Corps served a useful purpose in that it was responsible for carrying supplies and ammunition to the front line on mules. There were severe disciplinary problems, and punishments such as public floggings were meted out. But the Corps distinguished itself, 3 members receiving honours, while 8 men were killed and 55 wounded.11 One story, which may be apocryphal, relates how the men refused on principle to unload sides of bacon from the jetty to the stores until they received special dispensation from the Grand Rabbi to do this job.12 The account continues to tell how the Grand Rabbi gave them a dispensation to eat bacon as well, and they applied unsuccessfully for their previously rejected rations. It was due to Patterson's humanity and understanding of his men that the unit was successful, until it was disbanded in March 1916 after the collapse of the Gallipoli campaign. General Sir Ian Hamilton, Commander-in-Chief of the Mediterranean Expeditionary Force, praised the Corps: 'From the outset, I have been interested in the Zion Mule Corps. I like the look of the men and have always taken special trouble to keep the unit on its legs . .. The men have done extremely well, working their mules calmly under heavy shell [fire] . . . and thus showing a more difficult type of bravery than the men in the front line who had the excitement of the battle to keep them going.'13 This same general, interestingly, wrote in his diary that the idea of a Corps was a good one because 'it may serve as ground bait to entice the big Jew journalists and bankers to our cause, the former will lend us colour, the latter the coin. Anyway, so far as I can, I mean to give the Chosen People a chance.'14 Sidney Moseley, a War Office representative in Gallipoli, also complimented the Mule Corps, saying that they were an indispensable unit in that campaign.15 Soon afterwards, Patterson published his book, With the Zionists in 233</page><page sequence="4">Cecil Bloom Gallipoli, in which he wrote with pride of his unit. He said his objective in writing it was to interest Jews worldwide in the fortunes of the Zionists and to show world Jewry what their Russian brothers could do.16 This, remarkably, was a year before the Balfour Declaration, when the establishment of a National Home must have seemed a long way off. But Patterson was, by this date, clearly a Zionist. Leopold Amery once wrote that as soon as Patterson came into contact with fiery spirits like Jabotinsky and Trumpeldor he became as ardent a Zionist as he had previously been an Ulster diehard,17 but he met his future close associate, Jabotinsky, only after he left Gallipoli. In his book he makes crystal clear his great sympathy and admiration for the people who 'had given to the world some of its greatest men, not to mention the Man who had so profoundly changed the world outlook.'18 He also recognized some shortcomings, and he was able to draw a striking parallel between Moses' Children of Israel and some of his men, who would occasionally murmur and hanker after the fleshpots of Egypt.19 He found 'the racial characteristics of the Israelite made it necessary to hold him in with a thread light as silk but strong as steel and it required a tremendous amount of tact and personal influence to weather the various storms which sometimes threatened to wreck our family's life.'20 There is a beautiful passage in his book: 'Never since the days of Judas Maccabeus had such sights been seen and heard in a military camp. Indeed, had that redoubtable general paid us a surprise visit, he might have imagined himself with his own legions because he would have found a great camp with the tents of the Children of Israel pitched round about. He would have heard the Hebrew tongue spoken on all sides and seen a little host of the Sons of Judah drilling to the same words of command that he himself used to those gallant soldiers who so nobly fought under his banner.'21 His book, incidentally, has an Appendix consisting of Hatikvah, with musical notation and the Hebrew words in English transliteration. The Mule Corps' fame spread as far as the United States, because Patterson was to receive a friendly letter from ex-President Roosevelt, anxious to learn whether his Jews had made as good soldiers as those in the US Army.22 Jabotinsky, meanwhile, had left for Europe to continue his fight for a Jewish legion. Patterson also became involved because he put the same idea before General Bird wood, the commanding officer in Gallipoli, whom he convinced of its merit.23 Although he only met Jabotinsky later, when on convalescent leave in London, Patterson wrote to him from Gallipoli supporting the idea of a new Jewish fighting force, and suggesting it be called 'The Maccabean Brigade'.24 Bird wood sent Patterson to London to 234</page><page sequence="5">Colonel Patterson, soldier and Zionist work on this, and while he was there Patterson saw and wrote to many people. As did Jabotinsky. Leopold Amery, then serving on the General Staff, was converted to the cause, and wrote to Lord Robert Cecil, Under Secretary of State at the Foreign Office, stating: 'In view of the fact that anti-Russian feeling has rather lobbed Jewry at large to the Boches, to form a Jewish fighting unit might be a useful demonstration in the opposite sense.'25 Amery suggested Cecil see Patterson, which he did. The Foreign Office saw disadvantages, and Kitchener at the War Office was opposed to any sort of 'fancy regiment'.26 His private secretary was perceptive enough to point out that such a force would, in some way, be brought into contact with the Zionist movement.27 Eventually a Jewish regiment in the British Army was established, an event without precedent. When 120 ex-members of the Mule Corps came to England and volunteered for the Army28 they were all assigned, through Patterson's intercession and with Amery's assistance, to the same battalion (20th London). Jabotinsky joined them as a private soldier29 and from there continued his fight for the legion. His opportunity came when Amery moved to the War Office, and it was through him that a memorandum written by Jabotinsky and Trumpeldor was sent to Lloyd George, the Prime Minister, on 24 January 1917.30 Jabotinsky was unquestionably the prime motivator for a Jewish regiment, legion or brigade, as it was variously called, and much of the credit for the establishment of a Jewish fighting force must be given to him.31 He called a Jewish legion 'the alpha and omega of Zionism',32 although Weizmann, disparagingly, had referred to it as Jabotinsky's idee fixe?2 While serving as a private soldier in the 20th London Battalion, he was very much involved in the negotiations in Whitehall, and it must have been bizarre to have seen this Russian Jew in private soldier's uniform in conference with War Office 'brass'. In his The Story of the Jewish Legion, Jabotinsky tells of a letter he received while a private soldier from General Woodward, the Director of Organisation at the War Office, summoning him and Trumpeldor to see Lord Derby, the Secretary of State. The letter begins with the appellation 'Sir ...', and Jabotinsky's commanding officer told him that his conversation with Lord Derby was a breach of all War Office tradition and was the first time in history that such an adventure had happened to a private soldier.34 Not all Jews were in favour of a Jewish regiment. The Anglo-Jewish leaders who said they would do anything to help the Government recruit foreign Jews into the army were apprehensive because they thought a legion could lead to all sorts of complications, fearing, correctly as it 235</page><page sequence="6">Cecil Bloom turned out, that it would lead to manifestations of Jewish nationalism.35 Edwin Montagu, an arch enemy of Zionism, objected to the formation of a Jewish regiment since it would force a nationality on people who had nothing in common,36 and his views and those of his friends were sufficient to have the idea of a Jewish regiment, known by that name, to be dropped.37 It would be a de facto Jewish unit but would form a battalion of the Royal Fusiliers. The Zionist Executive, guided by the principle of strict neutrality, thought the position of Palestinian Jews would be gravely compromised, but Weizmann, Joseph Cowan and David Eder, three leading members of the Executive, dissociated themselves from official policy. Patterson, in fact, told Weizmann only a few days before the issue of the Balfour Declaration that the time was ripe for the Zionist organization to associate itself with the regiment.38 Jabotinsky's campaign was nevertheless denounced as a stab in the back39 and an unforgiveable breach of neutrality,40 while Ahad Ha'am, the eminent philosopher, dismissed the plan for a legion as an 'empty demonstration'.41 There was hostility in the Jewish East End. Refugees from Russian oppression had little taste for serving as comrades-in-arms with Russian troops, but one important factor in favour of a regiment was that British public opinion was beginning to be aroused against the 'Russian foreigners' who were making no contribution to the war effort. Some thought it was a scandal that there were some 30,000 young men, mostly Russian subjects, who would not volunteer, nor could be forced to do so under the new conscription laws introduced early in 1916.42 When Patterson was called to the War Office to be given command of the Jewish unit that was eventually established, a high-ranking general told him that a Jewish army of at least 100,000 men would have been formed but for the opposition of Jewish leaders.43 This must have been an exaggeration, because the total Jewish population in Britain was then only about 250,000.u Jabotinsky must have been impressed by Patterson's enthusiasm. Both men had separately come to the conclusion that the Jews needed to defend themselves, and they struck up a good rapport from their first meeting. Jabotinsky, intuitively as events turned out, must have recognized a man after his own heart because he recommended Patterson to the War Office as a suitable soldier to lead the Jewish battalion.45 This in itself is remarkable - that a Russian Jew, and a private soldier at that, who was certainly not part of the Jewish establishment in Britain or elsewhere, could have had so much influence in Whitehall. Patterson had told Jabotinsky that, in the Jewish national interest, there should be a Jewish commander,46 and this is again significant because it shows Patterson, even at this early stage, to have been especially sensitive to Zionist ideals. 236</page><page sequence="7">Colonel Patterson, soldier and Zionist Patterson was then ordered to organize a Jewish force, and the 38th Battalion of the London Royal Fusiliers was officially formed on 23 August 1917. Jabotinsky, incidentally, was soon commissioned in this battalion. Weizmann's opinion of Patterson, in the light of the direction Patterson's career subsequently took, unfortunately does not appear to be on record, but they were on very cordial terms for some years after 1917, certainly up to 1929. Early in 1918, Weizmann was writing that Patterson was a splendid man, who was putting his soul into the Jewish brigade.47 His wife Vera, too, has written of Patterson as a great sympathizer with the Zionist cause.48 On 4 February 1918, Patterson led his men in full kit and with fixed bayonets behind the Band of the Coldstream Guards through London's East End prior to embarking for Egypt the following day.49 'The battalion', wrote Jabotinsky, 'marched from the City to Whitehall.' There the Adjutant General, Sir Nevil Macready, was waiting for us with his staff. Tens of thousands of Jews were on the streets, in the windows and on the roofs. People and white flags were on every shop. Women wept with joy, old Jews shook their gray beards and murmured prayers. High on his horse with a rose in his hand thrown to him by a girl from an upper window was Colonel Patterson, commander of the legion smiling and sending greetings. "Hail to you and to you, tailor from Whitechapel and Soho, from Manchester and Leeds! You were good tailors. You found in the dust the tattered rags of Jewish honour and out of it you made a holy flag.'"50 We must take it, by the way, that the outbreak of the Russian Revolution had changed Jewish thinking about a fighting unit. There is an interesting anecdote of General Macready, who took the salute. In his memoirs he mentions the Jewish battalion: 'The raising of these units was not without its humorous side. The East End Jew was by no means over-anxious to risk his skin for the land of his adoption and a good many made themselves scarce as soon as they were called up. Then the fun began. The police were given the name of the absentee, for example Isaac Cohen, but when they searched the locality they found perhaps a hundred Isaac Cohens, all very much alike as regards features, colouring and hair, and it took a long time to run down the particular Isaac that was wanted.' He also went on: 'I forget what particular tune was selected as the march past of these units but remembered that one proposal was "There is a happy Land far, far away" rather an ironical suggestion seeing that many of the rank and file had no desire to leave London.'51 You will see shortly that Patterson complained bitterly of anti-Semitism, and what Macready is prepared to put into print adds point to this accusation. In a speech at a lunch following the parade, Patterson said: 'Those 237</page><page sequence="8">Cecil Bloom responsible for the Judean regiment were the true friends of Israel. The enterprise which had taken long had produced not a mouse but the lion of Judah' and he saw 'the whelps all around him ready to acquit themselves like men'.52 The Jewish battalion was now seen as a Zionist force, because the luncheon room was decorated with Zionist flags and, extending across the room in bold Hebrew characters was the motto ^fcOttT nvb 'nnttP p? 'The Land of Israel for the People of Israel'. By now, the Zionist leadership supported the Jewish force, and the wives of nearly all the leading Zionists helped the Jewish Regiment Care and Comforts Committee which was created by Mrs Patterson and Mrs Weizmann.53 Non-Jewish detractors of the battalion claimed its motto was 'No advance without security',54 but the battalion was affectionately known as 'The King's Own Schneiders'.55 It fought in Samaria and the Jordan Valley and, supported by subsequent battalions, the 39th and the 40th, played a key role in the capture of a bridgehead across the Jordan and the city of Es Salt (the ancient city of Ramoth Gilead) and the East Bank. As a result, the British advance up the hills of Moab was made easy, because the battalion overcame the Turkish rearguard. The three battalions together totalled some 10,000 men, of whom over three-quarters were volunteers.56 Of these 5000 served in Palestine and between them collected many decorations. The 38th Battalion won one DSO, five Military Crosses, one DCM and six Military Medals.57 Two future Prime Ministers and one future President of Israel, Ben Gurion, Levi Eshkol and Yitzhak Ben Zvi, served in the ranks of the 40th Battalion, which consisted largely of Palestinians. The 39th Battalion was largely made up of American and Canadian Jews. General Allenby, in his despatches to London, went out of his way to praise 'the good fighting qualities shown by the 38th and 39th (Jewish) Battalions of the Royal Fusiliers'.58 There are, however, always two sides to the coin, since the chief French diplomatic representative in Cairo reported back to Paris: 'The Zionist regiment . . . has finally arrived in Egypt. It is composed of about 1000 men most of whom [to judge by their] physical characteristics seem to belong to the class of street pedlars, rather than the solid race customarily seen in British uniform. Small, of poor bearing, these soldiers are for the most part of the Polish Jewish type. By the same token, the parade through the streets of Cairo yesterday was not as impressive as the British authorities and the Zionist Federation doubtless had hoped although nothing had been neglected to obtain such a result.'59 In contrast, a junior in the French Foreign Office reported more favourably on the battalion's arrival in Cairo, its service at the front and the success of its campaign to recruit young men of the Yishuv.60 The Jewish 238</page><page sequence="9">Colonel Patterson, soldier and Zionist community in Palestine had become quite excited about the Jewish battalions and they regarded them as a strong manifestation of the Jewish national spirit.61 There had been promises of a larger force than just three battalions. Before embarking for Egypt, Patterson had been told by General Macready that he was recommending to Allenby that he form a complete Jewish brigade as soon as two Jewish battalions had established themselves in Egypt.62 Patterson believed that a Jewish legion of about 25,000 men was a viable proposition for the Palestine front, and he lost no time on this when he arrived in Egypt with his 38th Battalion. He wrote to Allenby requesting permission to recruit Jews in Egypt and Palestine for a new battalion.63 For this purpose he wanted to send one of his Hebrew-speaking officers to Palestine, and to open recruiting offices in Cairo and Alexandria. Allenby sent for him to tell him that he was not in sympathy with the War Office's policy of sending Jewish battalions to Palestine - he did not want any more of these units. 'Alas!', wrote Patterson later, 'it seemed that another Pharaoh had arisen who knew not Joseph; and once again we would be expected to make bricks without straw'.64 Patterson wrote another book, published in 1922, With the Judeans in the Palestine Campaign,65 which certainly incurred the wrath of the War Office. He was very critical of the authorities in the Middle East. At pains to stress the good treatment received while in Britain, he deplored the treatment meted out to his battalion on active service in Palestine. 'It did not receive . . . that measure of justice and fair play that was its due', he wrote, and he charged that many senior officers of the Egyptian Expeditionary Force were 'troublers of Israel' and instead of helping, put every obstacle in its way.66 He vividly contrasts this treatment with that given to the Zion Mule Corps. If Patterson's account is trustworthy (and there is no reason to believe otherwise), we have a clear picture of the attitude of government and military figures in the Middle East to Jewish troops and civilians in Palestine and to the Zionist movement generally. He repeatedly made complaints about the way his men were 'persecuted', and he believed that if an Australian, English, Irish or Scottish battalion had been treated like his, Divisional HQ would have gone up in flames and 'the General himself would have been lucky to escape'.67 He quoted letters from Jewish officers pleading to be allowed to resign their commissions (this was in 1919) because of anti-Semitism.68 Every indignity was poured on the local Jews in Palestine and he believed the Balfour Declaration was being made a laughing stock by the military administration.69 Patterson's record shows his intense love of Israel. On its way to Egypt, 239</page><page sequence="10">Cecil Bloom the 38th Battalion stopped in Italy, and Patterson personally organized the purchase of an Ark of the finest wood to hold the Scroll which he ordered to be paraded every Sabbath. 'With this talisman on board, we need have no fear of German submarines', he declared.70 The battalion had a very fine concert orchestra, formed from professional musicians, and he ordered that every concert should be concluded with the playing of Hatikvah.71 He also fought a successful battle to ensure that Saturday and not Sunday was the battalion's rest-day, and obtained Kosher food for his men whenever possible. Colonel Meinertzhagen, a non-Jew who was Chief Political Officer in Palestine, wrote in his book, Middle East Diary, of the rank 'Hebraphobia' he met at GHQ in Cairo, and referred to a remarkable incident which was a turning point in Patterson's career. It occurred when his brigadier, a 'peppery anti-Semite' according to Meinertzhagen, inspected the battalion. The brigadier found a man with dirty buttons and referred to him as a 'dirty little Jew'. Patterson at once ordered the battalion to fix bayonets and form a square around the brigadier. He refused to let him out until he apologized - which he did. The brigadier then reported Patterson to Allenby who asked Meinertzhagen to investigate. As a result, the brigadier was dispatched to India, but the battalion was merged with the 39th to form the 1st Judean Regiment under Colonel Margolin, the Jewish commanding officer of the 39th.72 What I find particularly intriguing is that a man with his background - upper-class Irish Protestant, a big-game hunter of eminence and a military figure of some standing, a man of 51 years of age - would have exhibited this behaviour; would, in front of his troops, have shown openly such insubordination to his military superior. But did Patterson have some skeletons in his closet which I have failed to unearth? He had held the rank of Lieutenant-Colonel since 1903 and his DSO was awarded in 1900, but he went completely through the war without further promotion or decoration even though his units had distinguished themselves and they were in themselves unique. I am forced to the conclusion that he must have had important enemies in high places, although if this were the case, the question why he was given command of not one but two Jewish units needs answering. It is likely the rot set in during his service in Palestine, because some of the actions described in his book show that he may have been seen at Army HQ as a troublemaker. Allenby's Chief of Staff, General Bols, eventually forbade him to address Allenby directly,73 which provides us with a clue. His book is full of complaints of anti-Semitism. Patterson's postwar career was bound closely to Jabotinsky, and his wartime experiences may have played a major part in his espousal of Revisionist and therefore extreme Zionist politics, which, as we shall see, 240</page><page sequence="11">Colonel Patterson, soldier and Zionist were adopted in no moderate a fashion. He was overwhelmed by Jabotinsky's magnetism, and in many instances pays tribute to him in exaggerated terms. It is remarkable how closely Patterson's life was bound to Jabotinsky's from 1916 to 1940 when Jabotinsky died. They had a deep affinity with each other. Even when he wrote With the Judeans in the Palestine Campaign, in 1922, Patterson was expressing strong admiration for Jabotinsky, being bound to him spiritually and politically.74 Jabotinsky, on his side, referred to Patterson as one of the most remarkable figures the Jews had encountered.75 He wrote that Patterson made Jewish (i.e. Zionist) ideals his own, and that the harmony of British and Jewish war aims became an article of Patterson's creed. 'Colonel Patterson's name', he wrote, 'will be remembered and revered in Palestine for ever'.76 Patterson was a man of strong opinions and was unafraid to speak his mind. Shortly after the Armistice he read in the Egyptian papers that Allenby's Chief of Staff, General Bols, would be appointed Chief Administrator of Palestine. Bols was, he contended, 'the most rabid anti Semite I have ever met'.77 In his opinion Bols had regularly used his position to prejudice the interests of the Jewish battalions and to turn Allenby against Zionism, and he was so incensed at what he read that he immediately took a train to Cairo to see Weizmann. He told him: 'If Bols is appointed, he will get every anti-Semite he can lay his hands on and fill the administration with them. If you give him this much of a start, you will never see your National Home'.78 Powerful words indeed, but they left Weizmann unmoved, and Bols was appointed. His words were prophetic, as later events demonstrated. He blamed Bols for the April 1920 pogroms in Jerusalem, when murder, rape and pillage occurred as British troops stood by.79 It was this event that finally convinced the Yishuv leadership that the military government was anti-Zionist and more than slightly anti-Semitic.80 Did Bols, who had a very distinguished career, subsequently play a part in Patterson's fall from grace? Had they crossed swords earlier, perhaps even before Patterson's Zionist days? They were born in the same year, so they may have been associates earlier in the Army - Bols also served in the Boer War - but I have been unable to find a connection. Patterson had strong opinions on many individuals involved in the politics of Palestine. He had, strangely, good words to say of various British Cabinets which, on the whole he believed, fought rearguard actions against the real decision makers, the permanent officials in the Colonial Office.81 Viscount Samuel, the first High Commissioner in Palestine and of course a Jew, comes in for special criticism. One of Samuel's eyes (the one turned towards Palestine) was blind, while the 241</page><page sequence="12">Cecil Bloom other looked out to the Prime Ministership of Britain. He believed Samuel bent over backwards to show no prejudice in favour of his own people.82 The third High Commissioner, Sir John Chancellor, was a worthy successor to General Bols, and General Wauchope, High Commissioner from 1931 until 1938, while a cultured and kindly man, was feeble.83 Despite his favourable regard to Patterson, Weizmann also received his censure - he was obsessed with wanting to be too moderate. He and his colleagues wanted to build a Jewish state under the protection of Arab policemen and English soldiers.84 He was scathing in his denunciation of those Jews who were against the raising of a Jewish fighting force, people he referred to, alluding to the Book of Nehemiah, as the modern Sanballats.85 He said that Lord Derby, when Secretary of State for War, had made a grave mistake in thinking that a few rich men on a deputation could represent the Jewish masses.86 He also attacked the Inner Actions Committee of the Zionist Organization whose members, with the exception of Weizmann, looked on the concept of a brigade with suspicion.87 They were inept in not recognizing the free gift being offered by the British Government. Much invective went into his criticisms. Soon after he left the Army, Patterson became associated politically with Jabotinsky. Jabotinsky had become more and more convinced that the Jews in Palestine had to defend themselves by forming their own defence units, and after the April 1920 pogroms and other Arab attacks on Jewish settlements, he set himself the task of organizing Jewish self-defence; which was the beginning of Haganah. Patterson's views naturally coincided with Jabotinsky's, and in May 1921, following more Arab rioting, Patterson wrote to Leopold Amery pleading support for such a defence force in Palestine.88 Amery passed on a letter to Edward Marsh, private secretary to the Colonial Secretary, Winston Churchill, which indicated that the Zionists (without specifying which group he had in mind) were prepared to find soldiers and money for such a force. There had been much talk in Government circles on a possible joint Jewish-Arab force to keep the peace, but Patterson opposed this on the grounds that 'every Jew trained to arms is so much to the good of our side whilst every Arab so trained may be a menace'. Amery annotated Patterson's letter with the comment 'Patterson is a very good fellow',89 so it seems that, despite his increasingly radical views, he still had influential friends. Amery, in fact, was responsible for sending him on a mission to Palestine in 1926 to take a letter to Lord Plumer, the second High Commissioner.90 There had been discussions on the desirability of creating a Jewish militia, but Plumer was against this on the basis that conditions at that time were quiet. Weizmann agreed with Plumer. 242</page><page sequence="13">Colonel Patterson, soldier and Zionist In November 1921 a Keren Hayesod delegation headed by Nahum Sokolow was sent to the United States with the task of building a permanent bridge between the Zionist World Organization and American Jewry; and Patterson, with Jabotinsky, was a member of what Weizmann called a representative delegation.91 The two men usually travelled together while in the States, and an American newspaper reported that 'with their appearance together, an element of romance had come into the more or less prosaic life of the Jews in the large centers of the Middle West . . . These two men represent the aggressive and militant aspect of Jewish national restoration'.92 Patterson was now firmly in the Jabotinsky camp. Menachem Begin, in his book The Revolt, writes that Patterson went into exile.93 There is no evidence for this. Sometime in the 1930s he emigrated to La Jolla in Southern California, but he maintained a home in Buckinghamshire and continued to work strenuously on behalf of Jabotinsky's party of Revisionist Zionism, which he had formed in 1925. He visited Palestine on many occasions. In 1934 a luncheon was held in his honour in Johannesburg, at which he said that he had just returned from Palestine, having seen things which to his 'Goyischer Kop' did not seem right. Despite the obstacles, however, he believed the country was moving ahead and his faith in the Children of the Book increased with every visit.94 He was very positive about the ability of Palestine to support a much larger population. 'There is plenty of room in Palestine', he wrote, 'for both Jew and Arab and, in fact, one is the complement of the other. At present, there are about 650,000 Arabs in the country, but when Palestine is watered and tilled and made a fruitful country once again, it will support a population of five or six millions of people ... With Jewish brains, Jewish labour, and Jewish capital, Palestine will be made to flourish like the proverbial bay tree ... and all of this will naturally bring increased wealth and comfort to the Arab as well as to the Jew.'95 He went to Palestine in 1934 on Jabotinsky's behalf, personally to seek information on the Arlosoroff murder. Chaim Arlosoroff, a leading Labour politician, had been assassinated in Tel Aviv and three Revisionists had been accused of his murder. While two were acquitted, the third, Abraham Stavsky, was found guilty. Much controversy surrounded the case and Stavsky's conviction was eventually set aside on appeal. Jabotinsky gave Patterson the credit for this. Two years later, on 27 April 1936, he was at an East End mass meeting to protest at the 1936 Arab riots, and addressed the meeting with these words: 243</page><page sequence="14">Cecil Bloom What has happened in Palestine is only symptomatic of the general weakness and uncertainty of British policy generally and until Britain returns to a clear and resolute policy, it will suffer, not only in Palestine but elsewhere ... It must be made clear that what was promised to the Jews must be given to them. Let the Arabs do what they like with their own Arab countries but Palestine, the whole of Palestine, is a Jewish country in which they must be allowed to work out their own salvation. The Jews must be given every opportunity of defending themselves and assuring their security. Once you have an adequate Jewish armed force in the country, affairs will assume a different complexion. You must press for that and must demand it. The Jewish Chronicle reported that he was given a wonderful ovation, the audience rising and cheering him for several minutes.96 Soon after the outbreak of war in 1939, Patterson and Jabotinsky went knocking on the doors of the mighty, from the Prime Minister downwards, to lobby for a Jewish legion,97 but success did not come until 1944, long after Jabotinsky's death. And then, in March 1940, he was in the United States with Jabotinsky, to protest against the 1939 White Paper. At this time he wrote a series of articles entitled Behind the Palestine Betrayal,98 which is a detailed analysis of the history of the Mandate and of Britain's pro Arab stance. It is, of course, written from a strongly Revisionist standpoint, but if one removes the rhetoric, it reads today as a good defence for the State of Israel. He forcefully argued that a strong and friendly Jewish state would be a vital safeguard for the British Empire. The manner in which he attacked Winston Churchill for his comments after the assassination of Lord Moyne in Cairo in November 1944 was extraordinary. Lord Moyne, British Minister resident in the Middle East and a personal friend of Churchill, was murdered by members of the Stern Gang. The episode naturally caused a furore and seriously set back Zionist relations with the Government. Patterson wrote that Churchill was threatening to seal the Zionist coffin by driving home the last nail. He further argued that Britain's 25-year trusteeship had been one long outrage and that no people on earth except the Jews would have tolerated such injustice. He claimed to deplore acts of violence such as the Moyne assassination, but he understood why Jewish youth embarked on terrorist activities: 'they are only following the line of the British in Palestine'.99 He claimed the British were inciting the Arabs to murder. All this is very violent in tone, and had I not myself seen the appropriate papers, I might not have believed that a man with his background could have held these views. He must have had links with the underground movement in Palestine, because Begin, again in The Revolt, mentions that Patterson 244</page><page sequence="15">Colonel Patterson, soldier and Zionist once told officers of Irgun Zvei Leumi: 'Remember, the English don't like to be killed'.100 Patterson devoted time during the Second World War to appearing at mass meetings in the United States and making radio broadcasts. He wrote numerous articles, all of them strongly criticizing British policy, and was an apologist for the Stern Gang and other terrorist groups. His message was that the Jews should be looking to the American and not the British Government to get to Zion.101 He also attempted, I assume unsuccessfully, to win British Embassy officials in Washington to his side. He followed up Behind the Palestine Betrayal with The International Crime of Palestine, in which he bluntly stated that Britain's actions in Palestine were giving Hitler the green light for world conquest and genocide.102 One of his last public acts was to appeal in a broadcast, 'in the interests of humanity and for the sake of Christian decency", for a Jewish delegation to be present at the founding of the United Nations in San Francisco in 1945.103 At the time of his death in 1947, he was honorary chairman of the American League for a Free Palestine, an organization that gave propaganda support to Irgun and other underground movements. The enigma of John Henry Patterson is what attracted him to hard-line Zionism. He was, as he himself said, brought up on the Old Testament. He had a romantic streak from boyhood and had early shown himself to be a Christian with a genuine love of the Jewish people in their struggle to return to the Promised Land. He gives us a clue to his radical destiny when we learn of his special interest in the murders and sudden deaths he found in the Bible. Outside of War Office circles, he appears to have gained much respect for having commanded two Jewish units. That he, a non-Jew, was chosen for the important delegation to America in 1921 signifies the esteem in which he was then held by Jews. His behaviour towards his 'peppery' brigadier tells us a lot about the man, but, as he became more closely associated with Jabotinsky, he developed the bitterness one finds in his writings and speeches. His brushes with officialdom must have encouraged this trend. Meinertzhagen's biographer described him as 'a man of violent enthusiasms and fulminating decisions',104 and a case can be made out for the thesis that he had a chip on his shoulder. Leopold Amery hints at his character in referring to Jabotinsky's and Trumpeldor's strong influence on him. Clearly his personality meshed perfectly with Jabotinsky's own style. Jabotinsky was unquestionably a dynamic and charismatic person and Patterson fell for him. But Patterson increasingly used invective, in some cases smacking of hatred, and it is perhaps easy to understand why his reputation outside Revisionist circles correspondingly diminished. 245</page><page sequence="16">Cecil Bloom It is sad that Jewry has failed to honour him properly. Jabotinsky, with some justification, wrote that the Jewish people were ungrateful to Patterson;105 his close association over many years with Jabotinsky, the enfant terrible of Zionism, must explain this. Bet Jabotinsky, the Tel Aviv Institute devoted to Jabotinsky and Revisionist history, has much respect for Patterson, but I wonder to what extent Patterson was looked on as an Englishman, a convenient Righteous Gentile, crudely used to further their cause. There are streets in Jerusalem and Tel Aviv named after him, but I am not aware that Begin, when Prime Minister, ever honoured Patterson's memory, and this is harsh treatment from the Israeli political party he helped to create. Jabotinsky's death did not dampen his ardour for the Revisionist cause - quite the reverse. There have been many Gentiles who played important parts in the fight for the National Home - Wingate, Wedgewood, Amery, C. P. Scott, Balfour - and these men are remembered and revered by the Jewish people. So why has the Zionist movement ignored his contribution to their struggle? There are some parallels between Orde Wingate and Patterson, both Righteous Gentiles, but history has dealt more kindly with Wingate. Perhaps this is because Wingate, despite his volatility, kept more to the centre stage of Zionist politics. With his enthusiasm and dedication, I wonder how Patterson's reputation would have fared had he chosen a more moderate path. We can but speculate. ACKNOWLEDGEMENT I am grateful to the Jabotinsky Institute in Israel, 38 King George Street, Tel Aviv, for giving me access to some of Patterson's papers. NOTES 1 J. H. Patterson, The man-eaters of Tsavo (London 1907). 2 C. Weizmann, Trial and Error (London 1949) 85. 3 F0383/91/251. Quoted in I. Friedman, A Question of Palestine 1914-1918 (London 1973) 43. 4 V. Jabotinsky, The story of the Jewish Legion (New York 1945) 36. 5 J. H. Patterson, With the Zionists in Gallipoli (London 1916) 33. 6 Ibid. 33-4. 7 Ibid. 35-6. 8 J. H. Patterson, With the Judaeans in the Palestine Campaign (London 1922) viii. 9 J. H. Patterson (see n. 5) 40. 10 Ibid. 43-4. 11 P. Liddle, Men of Gallipoli (London 1976) 156. 12 Ibid. 156. 13 FO371/2835/18095. Letter from Hamilton to Jabotinsky, 17 November 1915. Quoted in I. Friedman (see n.3) 44. 14 Sir Ian Hamilton, Gallipoli Diary I (London 1920) 84. 15 V. Jabotinsky (see n.4) 19. 246</page><page sequence="17">Colonel Patterson, soldier and Zionist 16 J. H. Patterson (see n. 5) v. 17 L. S. Amery, My political life II (London 1953) 117. 18 J. H. Patterson (see n.5) vi. 19 Ibid. 208. 20 Ibid. 209-10. 21 Ibid. 39. 22 Ibid. 212. 23 I. Friedman (see n.3) 44. 24 FO371/2835/18095. Letter from Patterson to Jabotinsky, 10 November 1915. Quoted in I. Friedman (see n. 3) 44. 25 FO371/2835/18095. Letter from Amery to Cecil, 11 January 1916. Quoted in I. Friedman (see n. 3) 45. 26 J. B. Schechtman, Rebel and Statesman (New York 1956) 208. 27 F0371/2835/18095. Letter from Creedy to Locock, 17 January 1916. Quoted in I. Friedman (see n.3) 45. 28 V. Jabotinsky (see n.4) 78. 29 D. Vital, Zionism: The Crucial Phase (Oxford 1987) 229. 30 CAB 24/9. Letter from Jabotinsky and Trumpeldor to Lloyd George, 24 January 1917. Quoted in D. Vital (see n. 29) 230. 31 N. Goldmann, Memories (London 1970) 102. 32 M. W. Weisgal and J. Carmichael (eds) Chaim Weizmann (London 1962) 197. 33 L. Stein (ed.) The letters and papers of Chaim Weizmann VII Series A, August 1914-November 1917 (Jerusalem 1975) 329. 34 V. Jabotinsky (see n.4) 82. 35 F0371 /2835/18095. Letters from Wolf to Montgomery, 5 April 1916 and 22 May 1916. Quoted in I. Friedman (see n.3) 47. 36 CAB24/24 GT1868. 'The anti Semitism of the present Government'. Memo by E. Montagu, 23 August 1917. Quoted in I. Friedman (see n. 3) 259. 37 L. Stein, The Balfour Declaration (London 1961) 493. 38 V. Weizmann, The impossible takes longer (London 1967) 76. 39 I. Friedman (see n.3) 47. 40 I. Friedman, Germany, Turkey and Zionism 1897-1918 (Oxford 1977) 244. 41 L. Simon, Ahad Ha'am (London 1950) 256. 42 D. Vital (see n.29) 228-9. 43 V. Jabotinsky (see n.4) 19. 44 Jewish Year Book for 1916 (London 1916) 174. 45 V. Jabotinsky (see n.4) 88-9. 46 Ibid. 88. 47 D. Barzilay and B. Litvinoff (eds) The letters and papers of Chaim Weizmann VIII Series A, November 1917-October 1918 (Jerusalem 1977) 52. 48 V. Weizmann (see n. 38) 59. 49 Jewish Chronicle (hereafter JC) 8 February 1918 p.l 5. 50 M. Edelman, Ben Gurion (London 1964) 69-70. 51 Sir Nevil Macready, Annals of an active life I (London undated) 279-80. 52 /C 8 February 1918 p.15. 53 V. Jabotinsky (see n.4) 101. 54 J. Lord, Duty, Honour, Empire (London 1971) 328. 55 E. Samuel, A lifetime in Jerusalem (London 1970) 43. 56 H. C. O'Neill, The Royal Fusiliers in the Great War (London 1922) 27. 57 J. H. Patterson (see n.8) 277. 58 Dispatch of General Allenby of 31 October 1918. Quoted in J. H. Patterson (see n. 8) 189. 59 SHAT, 7N 2145. Letter from Defrance to Pichon, 11 March 1918. Quoted in D. Vital (see n.29) 344. 60 SHAT, 4N61/2 and AE, 1918-1940 Serie Y Internationale, vol. 377 fos 17-18. Letters from Coulondre (Cairo) to Foreign Ministry (Paris), 19 and 30 June 1918. Quoted in D. Vital (see n.29) 344. 61 N. Bentwich, Palestine of the Jews (London 1919) 259-60. 62 J. H. Patterson (see n.8) 42. 63 Ibid. 54-6. 64 Ibid. 57. 65 Ibid. 66 Ibid, vii and viii. 67 Ibid. 225. 68 Ibid. 233-5. 69 Ibid. 237. 70 V. Jabotinsky (see n. 4) 107. 71 Ibid. 105. 72 R. Meinertzhagen, Middle East Diary 1917-1956 (London 1959) 48. 73 J. H. Patterson (see n.8) 122. 74 V. Jabotinsky (see n.4) 20,22. 75 Ibid. 44. 76 M. Adler (ed.), British Jewry Booh of Honour (London 1922) 60. 77 J. H. Patterson, Behind the Palestine Betrayal. Published by the American Friends of a Jewish Palestine, New York, in the 1 and 15 December 1939 and 1 January 247</page><page sequence="18">Cecil Bloom 1940 issues of the American Jewish Chronicle, p.6 of the reprint of the three articles. Patterson wrote that Bols was to be appointed Governor of Palestine. The official title of the appointment was 'Chief Administrator of Occupied Enemy Territory Administration* in which position Bols served in 1919-20. 78 Ibid. 6. 79 Address by J. H. Patterson at meeting in the Pavilion Theatre, Whitechapel, London, 27 April 1936. New Zionist Organisation Press Release 28 April 1936. 80 B. Halpern, The Idea of a Jewish State (Cambridge, Mass. 1961) 294. 81 J. H. Patterson (see n.77) 8. 82 Ibid. 8. 83 Ibid. 8. 84 Ibid. 9. 85 J. H. Patterson (see n.8) 22. 86 Ibid. 24. 87 Ibid. 27. 88 C0733/17A. Letter from Patterson to Amery. Quoted in D. Ingrams (ed.), Palestine Papers 1917-1922. Seeds of Conflict (London 1972) 125. 89 C0733/17A. Letter from Amery to Marsh, 3 May 1921. Quoted in D. Ingrams (see n.88) 125. 90 P. Ofer (ed.), The letters and papers of Chaim Weizmann XIII Series A, March 1926-July 1929 (Jerusalem 1978) 18. 91 /C11 November 1921 p.35. 92 New Palestine New York, 27 January 1922. 93 M. Begin, The Revolt (London 1951) 54. 94 JC 27 June 1947 p.6. 95 J. H. Patterson (see n.8) 275. 96 JCl May 1936 p.28. 97 V. Jabotinsky (see n.4) 23. 98 J. H. Patterson (see n.77). 99 J. H. Patterson, Private Papers. 100 M. Begin (see n.93) 54. 101 J. H. Patterson, Private Papers. 102 J. H. Patterson, 'The International Crime of Palestine', Zionews New York, July 1944 p.18. 103 J. H. Patterson. Radio Broadcast on Station WHN. 7 April 1945. Private Papers. 104 J. Lord (seen. 54)328. 105 V. Jabotinsky (see n. 4) 152. 248</page></plain_text>