September 10, 1944

British Prime Minister Winston Churchill on Orde Wingate: A Man of Genius Who Might Have Become a Man of Destiny

  • 1
  • 2
enlarge

Aboard the Queen Mary on his way to meet Roosevelt at the second Quebec Conference, Churchill is so moved by the memory of having traveled to the first Conference with the since killed Orde Wingate, that he takes pen in hand to write to his widow. Wingate, who had risen to prominence in Palestine during the Palestine Arab Revolt by recruiting Jewish volunteers from the Haganah to defend against Arab saboteurs, had become one of the outstanding soldiers of the Second World War and here the winner of the DSO and two Bars is described by Churchill as a man of genius who might have become a man of destiny:

I have already in public expressed my sense of the grievous loss which our country suffered in your husband's sudden and untimely death.  I had recognized him as a man of genius, and I hoped he might become a man of destiny.  All that is ended now, and I can only offer you my most profound sympathy in your grief.  It was a comfort to Orde's friends that he should have left a son behind him, and I pray that this may be a lasting consolation to you.

 
Both Churchill and Wingate were, in marked contrast to the British ruling class, staunch Zionists. When posted to the British Mandate of Palestine, Wingate became so deeply involved in the Zionist cause that by 1939 he was shipped home, his passport stamped, "NOT ALLOWED TO ENTER PALESTINE."

Wingate was killed in an air crash in the Burmese Theater in March, 1944; his son was born six weeks later. The boy, as Churchill hoped, grew to be a “lasting consolation” to his mother – a military man, like his father, and a friend to Israel. Mrs. Wingate, as a way of preserving her husband's memory, traveled the world advocating the Zionist cause. Neither she nor her husband was Jewish.

Autograph Letter Signed, as Prime Minister, 2 pages, recto and verso, on the letterhead of the Prime Minister, 10 Downing Street, but datelined by Churchill “At Sea,” September 10, 1944. To Mrs. Orde Wingate.

You may also be interested in:

  • Winston Churchill Thanks Pro-Zionist Ormsby-Gore for Accepting Post to the Permanent Mandates Commission Responsible for Palestine
    Winston Churchill Thanks Pro-Zionist Ormsby-Gore for...
  • Chaim Weizmann Writes to Orde Wingate’s Widow about a Memorial for Wingate at Hebrew University in Jerusalem
    Chaim Weizmann Writes to Orde Wingate’s Widow about a...
  • Chaim Weizmann Writes to Orde Wingate’s Widow About Wingate’s Death and Memorial
    Chaim Weizmann Writes to Orde Wingate’s Widow About...
  • Chaim Weizmann Agrees to Stand as Godfather to Orde Wingate’s Son
    Chaim Weizmann Agrees to Stand as Godfather to Orde...
  • 1
  • 2
enlarge

Transcript

Prime Minister

10, Downing Street,
Whitehall.

At Sea

September 10th, 1944

My Dear Mrs Wingate

All these weary months I have been seeking an opportunity to write to you.  We are approaching Halifax in the Queen Mary and this brings before me again vividly the memories of our voyage last year when you and Orde were happy together on board and in Canada.

I have already in public expressed my sense of the grievous loss which our country suffered in your husband's sudden and untimely death.  I had recognised him as a man of genius, and I hoped he might become a man of destiny.  All that is ended now, and I can only offer you my most profound sympathy in your grief.  It was a comfort to Orde's friends that he should have left a son behind him, and I pray that this may be a lasting consolation to you.

Believe me,
Yours sincerely,

WINSTON S. CHURCHILL