Orde Charles Wingate was born in 1903 in Naini Tal India, both his parents were deeply religious Christians and members of the Plymouth Brethren a non denominational evangelical movement. He received a military education and in 1936 Orde Charles Wingate was posted to the British Mandate of Palestine with the rank of Captain in Military Intelligence.
He was an outstanding friend of the Jewish People and had an unwavering belief in the Zionist Cause. This brave and yet controversial man soon received the Hebrew nickname “Hayedid” (Friend).
At the time of his arrival in Palestine a campaign of riots and attacks against Jewish Communities and British Mandate officials, instigated by the Grand Mufti Hajj Amin Al Husseini, were taking place regularly.
Wingate learned Hebrew and a friendship began between him and Zionist leaders Chaim Weitzman and Moshe Sharett. His offers to help the Jewish leadership were met with suspicion, mainly because just about every British Official in Palestine at that time disliked Jews.
Wingate devised the concept of small units made up of elite volunteers to go into action to put an end to terrorism in Northern Palestine. In this way the offensive would be carried to the enemy by taking the initiative and keeping him off balance. Actions like this had already begun by the Haganah under the leadership of Yitzchak Sadeh who later stated that they had less skill but the same ideas as Wingate, but that on his arrival they found a leader.
Initially Wingate’s plans were completely disregarded but eventually approved by the Commander of British Forces in Palestine Archibald Wavell, then finally accepted by the rather doubtful Jewish Agency and Haganah who found it hard to believe that any British official would be interested in helping them.
Orde Wingate held strong beliefs that it was his destiny to help in the creation of a Jewish Army in Palestine. His training and skills had a deep and intense influence on the tactics and character of the Haganah which was the precursor of Israel’s Defense Forces of today.
Orde Wingate’s deep involvement with the Zionist Cause and his public statements favoring the formation of a Jewish State in Palestine resulted in his transfer back to Britain in 1939.
When World War II broke out Wingate was in Britain and a commander of an anti-aircraft unit and made a proposal to the Government to create a Jewish Army to take over the rule in Palestine on behalf of the British. Shortly afterwards he was invited to build up guerilla forces in Sudan to operated against Italian forces in Ethiopia. This was called the Gideon Force and was made up of British, Sudanese and Ethiopian Soldiers and later he invited veteran members of the Haganah to join as well.
In 1944 Orde Charles Wingate was killed, together with nine others when the plane he was in crashed in Manipur India.
There is a memorial to Orde Wingate and the Chindits (British-Indian Special force) in London near the Ministry of Defense, on the north side of the Victorian Embankment. On this memorial there is a mention of his contribution to the State of Israel.
In Israel there are a number of places that commemorate Orde Charles Wingate “Hayedid.”, some of which include the Wingate Institute (Israel’s National Centre for Physical Education and Sport), Wingate Square in Jerusalem, and the Yemin Orde Youth Village near Haifa.