Category Archives: War

The Tomb of The Unknown Warrior

The Unknown Warrior

unknown soldier blog header

 

The British grave of The Unknown Warrior (often known as ‘The Tomb of The Unknown Warrior’) holds an unidentified British soldier killed on a European battlefield during the First World War.

He was buried in Westminster Abbey, London on 11 November 1920, simultaneously with a similar interment of a French unknown soldier at the Arc de Triomphe in France, making both graves the first to honour the unknown dead of the First World War. It is the first example of a tomb of the Unknown Soldier.

 

History of the Unknown Warrior

 

Origins

David railton

David Railton

The idea of a Tomb of the Unknown Warrior was first conceived in 1916 by the Reverend David Railton, who, while serving as an army chaplain on the Western Front, had seen a grave marked by a rough cross, which bore the pencil-written legend ‘An Unknown British Soldier’.

He wrote to the Dean of Westminster in 1920 proposing that an  unidentified British soldier from the battlefields in France be buried with due ceremony in Westminster Abbey “amongst the kings” to represent the many hundreds of thousands of Empire dead.

The idea was strongly supported by the Dean and the Prime Minister David Lloyd George

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Funeral of the Unknown Warrior

 

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Selection, arrival and ceremony

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Lord Curzon of Kedleston 

Arrangements were placed in the hands of Lord Curzon of Kedleston who prepared in committee the service and location. Suitable remains were exhumed from various battlefields and brought to the chapel at Saint-Pol-sur-Ternoise near Arras, France on the night of 7 November 1920. The bodies were received by the Reverend George Kendall OBE. Brigadier L.J. Wyatt and Lieutenant Colonel E.A.S. Gell of the Directorate of Graves Registration and Enquiries went into the chapel alone.

The remains were then placed in four plain coffins each covered by Union Flags: the two officers did not know from which battlefield any individual soldier had come. Brigadier Wyatt with closed eyes rested his hand on one of the coffins. The other soldiers were then taken away for reburial by Kendall.

 

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The body of the Unknown Warrior leaving France

The coffin of the unknown warrior then stayed at the chapel overnight and on the afternoon of 8 November, it was transferred under guard and escorted by Kendall, with troops lining the route, from Ste Pol to the medieval castle within the ancient citadel at Boulogne. For the occasion, the castle library was transformed into a chapelle ardente: a company from the French 8th Infantry Regiment, recently awarded the Légion d’Honneur en masse, stood vigil overnight.

The following morning, two undertakers entered the castle library and placed the coffin into a casket of the oak timbers of trees from Hampton Court PalaceThe casket was banded with iron, and a medieval crusader’s sword chosen by King George V personally from the Royal Collection was affixed to the top and surmounted by an iron shield bearing the inscription

 

‘A British Warrior who fell in the Great War 1914–1918 for King and Country’.

The casket was then placed onto a French military wagon, drawn by six black horses. At 10.30 am, all the church bells of Boulogne tolled; the massed trumpets of the French cavalry and the bugles of the French infantry played Aux Champs (the French “Last Post“).

Then, the mile-long procession—led by one thousand local schoolchildren and escorted by a division of French troops—made its way down to the harbour.

At the quayside, Marshal Foch saluted the casket before it was carried up the gangway of the destroyer, HMS Verdun, and piped aboard with an admiral’s call. The Verdun slipped anchor just before noon and was joined by an escort of six battleships.

As the flotilla carrying the casket closed on Dover Castle it received a 19-gun Field Marshal‘s salute. It was landed at Dover Marine Railway Station at the Western Docks on 10 November. The body of the Unknown Warrior was carried to London in South Eastern and Chatham Railway General Utility Van No.132, which had previously carried the bodies of Edith Cavell and Charles Fryatt.

 

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Plaque at Victoria Station

The van has been preserved by the Kent and East Sussex RailwayThe train went to Victoria Station, where it arrived at platform 8 at 8.32 pm that evening and remained overnight. (A plaque at Victoria Station marks the site: every year on 10 November, a small Remembrance service, organised by The Western Front Association, takes place between platforms 8 and 9.)

On the morning of 11 November 1920, the casket was placed onto a gun carriage of the Royal Horse Artillery and drawn by six horses through immense and silent crowds. As the cortege set off, a further Field Marshal’s salute was fired in Hyde Park.

The route followed was Hyde Park CornerThe Mall, and to Whitehall where the Cenotaph, a “symbolic empty tomb”, was unveiled by King-Emperor George V. The cortège was then followed by The King, the Royal Family and ministers of state to Westminster Abbey, where the casket was borne into the West Nave of the Abbey flanked by a guard of honour of one hundred recipients of the Victoria Cross

 

coffin of the unknown soldier

The guests of honour were a group of about one hundred women. They had been chosen because they had each lost their husband and all their sons in the war.

 “Every woman so bereft who applied for a place got it”.

 

The coffin was then interred in the far western end of the Nave, only a few feet from the entrance, in soil brought from each of the main battlefields, and covered with a silk pall. Servicemen from the armed forces stood guard as tens of thousands of mourners filed silently past. The ceremony appears to have served as a form of catharsis for collective mourning on a scale not previously known.

The grave was then capped with a black Belgian marble stone (the only tombstone in the Abbey on which it is forbidden to walk) featuring this inscription, composed by Herbert Edward Ryle, Dean of Westminster, engraved with brass from melted down wartime ammunition:

Beneath this stone rests the body
Of a British warrior
Unknown by name or rank
Brought from France to lie among
The most illustrious of the land
And buried here on Armistice Day
11 Nov: 1920, in the presence of
His Majesty King George V
His Ministers of State
The Chiefs of his forces
And a vast concourse of the nation

Thus are commemorated the many
Multitudes who during the Great
War of 1914 – 1918 gave the most that
Man can give life itself
For God
For King and country
For loved ones home and empire
For the sacred cause of justice and
The freedom of the world

They buried him among the kings because he
Had done good toward God and toward
His house

Around the main inscription are four New Testament quotations:

The Lord knoweth them that are his (top; 2 Timothy 2:19)
Unknown and yet well known, dying and behold we live (side; 2 Corinthians 6:9)
Greater love hath no man than this (side; John 15:13)
In Christ shall all be made alive (base; 1 Corinthians 15:22)

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The Actual “Unknown Soldier” – Remembrance Day – WW

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Later history

A year later, on 17 October 1921, the unknown warrior was given the United States’ highest award for valour, the Medal of Honor, from the hand of General John Pershing; it hangs on a pillar close to the tomb. On 11 November 1921, the American Unknown Soldier was reciprocally awarded the Victoria Cross.

Princess Elizabeth's wedding bouquet on the Tomb of the Unknown Warrior, a tradition started by her mother in 1923..JPG

Princess Elizabeth’s wedding bouquet on the Tomb of the Unknown Warrior, a tradition started by her mother in 1923.

When Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon married the future King George VI on 26 April 1923, she laid her bouquet at the Tomb on her way into the Abbey, as a tribute to her brother Fergus who had died at the Battle of Loos in 1915 (and whose name was then listed among those of the missing on the Loos Memorial, although in 2012 a new headstone was erected in the Quarry Cemetery, Vermelles).

Royal brides married at the Abbey now have their bouquets laid on the tomb the day after the wedding and all of the official wedding photographs have been taken. It is also the only tomb not to have been covered by a special red carpet for the wedding of Prince Albert, Duke of York, and Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon.

The bridal bouquet rests on the grave

Kate Middleton’s bridal bouquet 

Meghan follows royal traditional as her bridal bouquet

Meghan follows royal traditional as her bridal bouquet is laid on the tomb of The Unknown Warrior. 

Before she died in 2002, Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother (the same Elizabeth who first laid her wedding bouquet at the tomb) expressed the wish for her wreath to be placed on the Tomb of the Unknown Warrior. Her daughter, Queen Elizabeth II, laid the wreath the day after the funeral.

The British Unknown Warrior came 76th in the 100 Great Britons poll. The LMS-Patriot Project a charitable organisation, is building a new steam locomotive that will carry the name The Unknown Warrior. The new loco has been endorsed by the Royal British Legion as the new National Memorial Engine. A public appeal to build the locomotive was launched in 2008. The Unknown Warrior is expected to be complete by January 2019—one year late of the 100th Anniversary of the Armistice.

Heads of state from over 70 countries have lain wreaths in memoriam of the Unknown Warrior.

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Great War Tour Ep 2 – Identifying the Unknown Soldier

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Source :  Wikipedia – The Unknown Warrior

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Telegraph Story

Kate Middleton’s bridal bouquet placed at Grave of Unknown Warrior

Kate Middleton's bridal bouquet placed at Grave of Unknown Warrior.jpg

As tradition dictates, Kate Middleton’s bridal bouquet was laid at the Grave of the Unknown Warrior inside Westminster Abbey after the Royal wedding ceremony was completed.
It is understood that the bouquet was placed at the grave, which is located at the nave in the west end of the Abbey, by a royal official after the official wedding photographs were completed.
The tradition began in 1923 following the wedding of Lady Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon – the future Queen Elizabeth – to the Duke of York, who later became George VI.
Lady Elizabeth, who became the Queen Mother in 1952, left her bouquet at the grave in memory of her brother Fergus, a young officer who was killed on the Western Front in 1915.
The grave is one of the most sacred places in the Abbey and is the only part of the floor upon which the congregations are not allowed to walk.

It is thought that the idea to commemorate the unknown war dead of the 1914-18 conflict, which saw a generation perish on Western Front, came from the Rev David Railton who served as a chaplain during the conflict.

Legend has it that in 1916, while serving in Armentieres, Rev Railton noticed a grave in the garden with a rough hand-made cross bearing the inscription “An unknown British Soldier”.

In 1920, Rev Railton wrote to Herbert Ryle, the Dean of Westminster with the suggestion that all of those who died in the trenches and whose bodies were never be found should be remembered.

The body of a soldier was exhumed from a mass grave in France after the First World War and was buried on 11 November 1920.

The grave which contains soil from France, is covered by a slab of black Belgian marble from a quarry near Namur and contains an inscription composed by Herbert Ryle, who at the time was the Dean of Westminster.

In the week after the unknown soldier was laid to rest, more than 1.2 million people visited the Abbey and the site is now one of the world’s most visited graves.

The body was chosen from four unknown British servicemen exhumed from four battle areas, the Aisne, the Somme, Arras and Ypres.

The remains were brought to the chapel at St. Pol on the night of 7 November 1920. The General Officer in charge of troops in France and Flanders, Brigadier General L.J.Wyatt, with Colonel Gell, went into the chapel alone, where the bodies on stretchers were covered by Union Flags. General Wyatt selected one and the two officers placed it in a plain coffin and sealed it.

The other bodies were reburied. The destroyer HMS Verdun, whose ship’s bell now hangs near the grave in the Abbey, transported the coffin to Dover and it was then taken by train to Victoria station in London where it rested overnight.

On the morning of 11 November the coffin was placed on a gun carriage drawn by six black horses and began its journey through the crowd-lined streets.

The coffin to the Nave through a guard of honour of 100 holders of the Victoria Cross, During the shortened form of the Burial Service, after the hymn “Lead kindly light”, the King stepped forward and dropped a handful of French earth onto the coffin as it was lowered into the grave.

Among the daughters-in-law of Queen Elizabeth II, only Sarah Ferguson, Duchess of York had laid her bouquet on the tomb as her wedding to the Queen’s second son, Prince Andrew, the Duke of York, in July 1986 was held at Westminster Abbey.

Diana and Charles were married at St. Paul’s Cathedral in July 1981, the Queen’s youngest son, Prince Edward, the Earl of Wessex and Sophie Rhys-Jones were married at St. George’s Chapel in Windsor Castle in June 1999 while Prince Charles’s church’s blessing with Camilla Parker-Bowles happened also at St. George’s chapel.

Read more : Telegraph 

 

 

 

The Ulster Tower – Lest We Forget

The Ulster Memorial Tower

ulster tower with text

Lest We Forget!

Image result for Ulster Tower, Thiepval, the Somme

The Ulster Tower is Northern Ireland’s national war memorial. It was one of the first Memorials to be erected on the Western Front and commemorates the men of the 36th (Ulster) Division and all those from Ulster who served in the First World War.

The memorial was officially opened on 19 November 1921 and is a very close copy of Helen’s Tower which stands in the grounds of the Clandeboye Estate, near Bangor, County DownNorthern Ireland. Many of the men of the Ulster Division trained in the estate before moving to England and then France early in 1916.

The Tower (plus a small cafe nearby) is staffed by members of the Somme Association, which is based in Belfast.

 

1916 Battle

The Division attacked the Schwaben Redoubt, which is near the Ulster Tower, on 1 July 1916. The Schwaben Redoubt was a little to the north-east of where the tower stands, and was a triangle of trenches with a frontage of 300 yards, a fearsome strongpoint with commanding views. It is also located close to the Thiepval Memorial to the Missing of the Somme.

The front lines were at the edge of Thiepval Wood which lies to the south-west of the road between the Thiepval Memorial and the Ulster Tower. Troops of the 109th Brigade crossed about 400 yards of no man’s land, and kept on going. They entered the Schwaben Redoubt, and advanced on towards Stuff Redoubt, gaining in all around a mile, though not without losses. To their left, the 108th Brigade were successful in advancing near Thiepval, but less so nearer the River Ancre.

The 107th Brigade supported them, but although men of the 36th Division held out for the day the Germans mounted counterattacks, and as their stocks of bombs and ammunition dwindled, many fell back with small parties remaining in the German front lines. The casualties suffered by the 36th Division on 1 July totalled over 5,000.

 

Memorial

At the entrance to the tower is a plaque commemorating the names of the nine men of the Division who won the Victoria Cross during the Somme. There is also a memorial here commemorating the part played by members of the Orange Order during the battle. The inscription on this memorial reads:

“This Memorial is Dedicated to the Men and Women of the Orange Institution Worldwide, who at the call of King and country, left all that was dear to them, endured hardness, faced danger, and finally passed out of the sight of man by the path of duty and self sacrifice, giving up their own lives that others might live in Freedom. Let those who come after see to it that their names be not forgotten.”

Commemorations

The Inscription on the Memorial Reads : “This Memorial is Dedicated to the Men and Women of the Orange Institution Worldwide, who at the call of King and country, left all that was dear to them, endured hardness, faced danger, and finally passed out of the sight of man by the path of duty and self sacrifice, giving up their own lives that others might live in Freedom. Let those who come after see to it that their names be not forgotten.”

There are 5 known Orangemen who were awarded the Victoria Cross .

  • Private George Richardson (VC) from Cavan who was awarded the Victoria Cross for bravery during the Indian Mutiny and was recommended on 3 other occasions for the same award. He served in the 34th Regiment of Foot, later the Border Regiment. Private Richardson later emigrated to Canada.
  • Robert Hill Hanna, born in Kilkeel, Co. Down, emigrated to Canada, member of Ontario LOL 2226, he was awarded the Victoria Cross for gallantry at Lens, France, 21 September 1917, during the WW1, when serving with the Canadian Army.
  • Rev John Weir Foote, was a Captain, later Colonel, in the Canadian Chaplain Service, attached to the Royal Hamilton Light Infantry. A member of Fraserville LOL Ontario. He was with the Canadians during the Dieppe Raid, and stayed on to minister to wounded, subsequently captured by the Germans. Weir was awarded the VC in February 1946 for services above and beyond the call of duty during World War II.
  • Riflemen Robert Quigg from Bushmills was awarded the medal for his courage on the Somme on 1 July 1916.
  • Englishman Abraham Acton, from Whitehaven, Cumberland, was awarded the Victoria Cross for conspicuous bravery at Rouge Bances, 21 December in 1914. Acton was killed in action at Ypres in 1915 at the age of 22, and he has no known grave.

Orangemen Robert Dixon I2442 Toronto serving with the Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry and Lieutenant J McCormick from Canada were recommended for the Victoria Cross

 

See: 36th (Ulster) Division

 

Doomsday Clock – IT IS TWO AND A HALF MINUTES TO MIDNIGHT Folks

 Doomsday Clock

 

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For the last two years, the minute hand of the Doomsday Clock stayed set at three minutes before the hour, the closest it had been to midnight since the early 1980s.

In its two most recent annual announcements on the Clock, the Science and Security Board warned:

Image result for global catastrophe

“The probability of global catastrophe is very high, and the actions needed to reduce the risks of disaster must be taken very soon.”

In 2017, we find the danger to be even greater, the need for action more urgent. It is two and a half minutes to midnight, the Clock is ticking, global danger looms. Wise public officials should act immediately, guiding humanity away from the brink. If they do not, wise citizens must step forward and lead the way.

See the full statement from the Science and Security Board on the 2017 time of the Doomsday Clock.

Doomsday Clock

The Doomsday Clock is a symbol which represents the likelihood of a man-made global catastrophe. Maintained since 1947 by the members of the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists Science and Security Board, the Clock represents an analogy for the threat of global nuclear war. Since 2007, it has also reflected climate change and new developments in the life sciences and technology that could inflict irrevocable harm to humanity.

The Clock represents the hypothetical global catastrophe as “midnight” and The Bulletins opinion on how close the world is to a global catastrophe as a number of “minutes” to midnight. Its original setting in 1947 was seven minutes to midnight. It has been set backward and forward 22 times since then, the smallest-ever number of minutes to midnight being two (in 1953) and the largest seventeen (in 1991).

Image result for North Korea nuclear war

As of January 2017, the Clock is set at two and a half minutes to midnight, due to a

“rise of ‘strident nationalism‘ worldwide, United States President Donald Trump‘s comments over North Korea, Russia, and nuclear weapons.”

 This setting is the Clock’s second-closest approach to midnight since its introduction.

 

Timeline of the Doomsday Clock
Year Minutes to midnight Change (minutes) Reason
1947 7  — The initial setting of the Doomsday Clock. Doomsday Clock 7 minute mark.jpg
1949 3 −4 The Soviet Union tests its first atomic bomb, the RDS-1, officially starting the nuclear arms race. Doomsday Clock 3 minute mark.jpg
1953 2 −1 The United States tests its first thermonuclear device in November 1952 as part of Operation Ivy, before the Soviet Union follows suit in August. This is the Clock’s closest approach to midnight since its inception. Doomsday Clock 2 minute mark.jpg
1960 7 +5 In response to a perception of increased scientific cooperation and public understanding of the dangers of nuclear weapons (as well as political actions taken to avoid “massive retaliation“), the United States and Soviet Union cooperate and avoid direct confrontation in regional conflicts such as the 1956 Suez Crisis. Scientists from various countries help establish the International Geophysical Year, a series of coordinated, worldwide scientific observations between nations allied with both the United States and the Soviet Union, and the Pugwash Conferences on Science and World Affairs, which allow Soviet and American scientists to interact. Doomsday Clock 7 minute mark.jpg
1963 12 +5 The United States and the Soviet Union sign the Partial Test Ban Treaty, limiting atmospheric nuclear testing. Doomsday Clock 12 minute mark.jpg
1968 7 −5 The involvement of the United States in the Vietnam War intensifies, the Indo-Pakistani War of 1965 takes place, and the Six-Day War occurs in 1967. France and China, two nations which have not signed the Partial Test Ban Treaty, acquire and test nuclear weapons (the 1960 Gerboise Bleue and the 1964 596, respectively) to assert themselves as global players in the nuclear arms race. Doomsday Clock 7 minute mark.jpg
1969 10 +3 Every nation in the world, with the notable exceptions of India, Israel, and Pakistan, signs the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. Doomsday Clock 10 minute mark.jpg
1972 12 +2 The United States and the Soviet Union sign the first Strategic Arms Limitation Treaty (SALT I) and the Anti-Ballistic Missile (ABM) Treaty. Doomsday Clock 12 minute mark.jpg
1974 9 −3 India tests a nuclear device (Smiling Buddha), and SALT II talks stall. Both the United States and the Soviet Union modernize multiple independently targetable reentry vehicles (MIRVs). Doomsday Clock 9 minute mark.jpg
1980 7 −2 Unforeseeable end to deadlock in American–Soviet talks as the Soviet–Afghan War begins. As a result of the war, the U.S. Senate refuses to ratify the SALT II agreement. Doomsday Clock 7 minute mark.jpg
1981 4 −3 The Clock is adjusted in early 1981.[15] The Soviet war in Afghanistan toughens the U.S. nuclear posture. U.S. PresidentJimmy Carter withdraws the United States from the 1980 Summer Olympic Games in Moscow. The Carter administration considers ways in which the United States could win a nuclear war. Ronald Reagan becomes President of the United States, scraps further arms reduction talks with the Soviet Union, and argues that the only way to end the Cold War is to win it. Tensions between the United States and the Soviet Union contribute to the danger of the nuclear annihilation. Doomsday Clock 4 minute mark.jpg
1984 3 −1 Further escalation of the tensions between the United States and the Soviet Union, with the ongoing Soviet–Afghan War intensifying the Cold War. U.S. Pershing II medium-range ballistic missile and cruise missiles are deployed in Western Europe.[15] Ronald Reagan pushes to win the Cold War by intensifying the arms race between the superpowers. The Soviet Union and its allies (except Romania) boycott the 1984 Olympic Games in Los Angeles, as a response to the U.S-led boycott in 1980. Doomsday Clock 3 minute mark.jpg
1988 6 +3 In December 1987, the Clock is moved back three minutes as the United States and the Soviet Union sign the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty, to eliminate intermediate-range nuclear missiles, and their relations improve.[16] Doomsday Clock 6 minute mark.jpg
1990 10 +4 The Fall of the Berlin Wall and the Iron Curtain, along with the reunification of Germany, mean that the Cold War is nearing its end. Doomsday Clock 10 minute mark.jpg
1991 17 +7 The United States and Soviet Union sign the first Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START I), and the dissolution of the Soviet Union on December 26. This is the furthest from midnight the Clock has been since its inception. Doomsday Clock 17 minute mark.jpg
1995 14 −3 Global military spending continues at Cold War levels amid concerns about post-Soviet nuclear proliferation of weapons and brainpower. Doomsday Clock 14 minute mark.jpg
1998 9 −5 Both India (Pokhran-II) and Pakistan (Chagai-I) test nuclear weapons in a tit-for-tat show of aggression; the United States and Russia run into difficulties in further reducing stockpiles. Doomsday Clock 9 minute mark.jpg
2002 7 −2 Little progress on global nuclear disarmament. United States rejects a series of arms control treaties and announces its intentions to withdraw from the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty, amid concerns about the possibility of a nuclear terrorist attack due to the amount of weapon-grade nuclear materials that are unsecured and unaccounted for worldwide. Doomsday Clock 7 minute mark.jpg
2007 5 −2 North Korea tests a nuclear weapon in October 2006,[17] Iran’s nuclear ambitions, a renewed American emphasis on the military utility of nuclear weapons, the failure to adequately secure nuclear materials, and the continued presence of some 26,000 nuclear weapons in the United States and Russia.[18] After assessing the dangers posed to civilization, climate changewas added to the prospect of nuclear annihilation as the greatest threats to humankind.[19] Doomsday Clock 5 minute mark.jpg
2010 6 +1 Worldwide cooperation to reduce nuclear arsenals and limit effect of climate change.[4] New START agreement is ratified by both the United States and Russia, and more negotiations for further reductions in the American and Russian nuclear arsenal are already planned. The 2009 United Nations Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen results in the developing and industrialized countries agreeing to take responsibility for carbon emissions and to limit global temperature rise to 2 degrees Celsius. Doomsday Clock 6 minute mark.jpg
2012 5 −1 Lack of global political action to address global climate change, nuclear weapons stockpiles, the potential for regional nuclear conflict, and nuclear power safety.[20] Doomsday Clock 5 minute mark.jpg
2015 3 −2 Concerns amid continued lack of global political action to address global climate change, the modernization of nuclear weapons in the United States and Russia, and the problem of nuclear waste.[21] Doomsday Clock 3 minute mark.jpg
2017 212 12 Rise of nationalism, United States President Donald Trump‘s comments over nuclear weapons, the threat of a renewed arms race between the U.S. and Russia, and the expressed disbelief in the scientific consensus over climate change by the Trump Administration.[5][22][23][24][25] This is the first use of a fraction in the time, and the Clock’s closest approach to midnight since 1953. Doomsday Clock- 2.5 minutes.svg

In popular culture

History

 

Related image

Cover of the 1947 Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists issue, featuring the Doomsday Clock at “seven minutes to midnight”.

The Doomsday Clock’s origin can be traced to the international group of researchers called the Chicago Atomic Scientists, who had participated in the Manhattan Project.[6] After the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, they began publishing a mimeographed newsletter and then the magazine, Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, which, since its inception, has depicted the Clock on every cover.

The Clock was first represented in 1947, when The Bulletin co-founder Hyman Goldsmith asked artist Martyl Langsdorf (wife of Manhattan Project research associate and Szilárd petition signatory Alexander Langsdorf, Jr.) to design a cover for the magazine’s June 1947 issue. As Eugene Rabinowitch, another co-founder of The Bulletin, explained later,

The Bulletin’s clock is not a gauge to register the ups and downs of the international power struggle; it is intended to reflect basic changes in the level of continuous danger in which mankind lives in the nuclear age…

 

In January 2007, designer Michael Bierut, who was on The Bulletins Governing Board, redesigned the Clock to give it a more modern feel. In 2009, The Bulletin ceased its print edition and became one of the first print publications in the U.S. to become entirely digital; the Clock is now found as part of the logo on The Bulletin‘s website. Information about the Doomsday Clock Symposium, a timeline of the Clock’s settings, and multimedia shows about the Clock’s history and culture  can also be found on The Bulletins website.

The 5th Doomsday Clock Symposium was held on November 14, 2013, in Washington, D.C.; it was a daylong event that was open to the public and featured panelists discussing various issues on the topic “Communicating Catastrophe”. There was also an evening event at the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden in conjunction with the Hirshhorn’s current exhibit,

“Damage Control: Art and Destruction Since 1950”.

The panel discussions, held at the American Association for the Advancement of Science, were streamed live from The Bulletins website and can still be viewed there. Reflecting international events dangerous to humankind, the Clock has been adjusted 22 times since its inception in 1947, when it was set to “seven minutes to midnight”.

Changes

“Midnight” has a deeper meaning to it besides the constant threat of war, There are various things taken into consideration when the scientists from The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists decide what Midnight and Global catastrophe really mean a particular year, They might include “Politics, Energy, Weapons, Diplomacy, and Climate science.” 

Members of the board judge Midnight by discussing how close they think humanity is to the end of civilization. In 1947, during the Cold War, the Clock was started at seven minutes to midnight. The Clock’s setting is decided without a specified starting time. The Clock is not set and reset in real time as events occur; rather than respond to each and every crisis as it happens, the Science and Security Board meets twice annually to discuss global events in a deliberative manner.

The closest nuclear war threat, the Cuban Missile Crisis in 1962, reached crisis, climax, and resolution before the Clock could be set to reflect that possible doomsday.

 

The Time and Today

The lowest point for the Doomsday Clock was 1953, when the clock was set to 2 minutes until midnight after the U.S. and the Soviet Union began testing hydrogen bombs. In the years after, the clock’s time has fluctuated from 17 minutes in 1991 to 3 minutes in 2016.

In January 2017, the clock was set at 2½ minutes to midnight, meaning that the clock’s status today is the second-closest to midnight since the clock’s start in 1947. When discussing the changes, Krauss, one of the scientists from the Bulletin, warned that our political leaders must make decisions based on facts, and those facts

“must be taken into account if the future of humanity is to be preserved.”

In an announcement from the Bulletin about the status of the clock, they went as far to call for action from “wise” public officials and “wise” citizens to make an attempt to steer human life away from catastrophe while we still can.

Doomsday Clock graph, 1947–2017. The lower points on the graph represent a higher probability of technologically or environmentally-induced catastrophe, and the higher points represent a lower probability.

 

Who Dares Wins ?

Who Dares, Wins

Who Dares, Wins (LatinQui audet adipisciturFrenchQui ose gagneItalianChi osa vincePortugueseQuem ousa, venceGermanWer wagt, gewinnt) is a motto made popular by the British Special Air Service. It is normally credited to the founder of the SAS, David Stirling.

The Special Air Service (sas) in North Africa during the Second World War E21340.jpg

David Stirling

Among the SAS themselves it is sometimes humorously corrupted to:

“Who cares [who] wins?”.

 May have a much earlier attribution from a medieval Arabic source recently translated:

The catchphrase “He Who Dares, Wins” was commonly used by Del Boy in British sitcom Only Fools and Horses.

only fools and horses he who dares win.jpg

The motto has been used by twelve elite special forces units around the world that in some way have historical ties to the British SAS.

An early statement of the idea is ‘τοῖς τολμῶσιν ἡ τύχη ξύμφορος’ (“fortune favours the bold”) from the Ancient Greek soldier and historian Thucydides.

 

War Grave from Jimmy Hall-Les Ormes

(Yonne, France)

 

 

Nation Unit Notes
 United Kingdom Special Air Service
 Australia Special Air Service Regiment
 New Zealand New Zealand Special Air Service
 Hong Kong Special Duties Unit
 Tunisia Unité Spéciale – Garde Nationale
 France 1st Marine Infantry Parachute Regiment French1er Régiment de Parachutistes d’Infanterie de Marine, 1er RPIMa: Former WWII French SAS squadrons (the 3rd & the 4th)
 Rhodesia Rhodesian Special Air Service . ‘C Squadron (Rhodesia) Special Air Service’ Mil. Abbrev. ‘C Sqn SAS’. Later ‘Rhodesian Special Air Service Regiment’ in Kabrit Barracks, Salisbury (now Harare)
 Greece 1st Raider/Paratrooper Brigade Ο τολμών νικά (pronounced O tolmon nika)
 Greece Mountain Raider Companies Ο τολμών νικά (pronounced O tolmon nika)
 Cyprus LOK Ο τολμών νικά (pronounced O tolmon nika)
 Israel Sayeret Matkal, Shachak Armored Battalion (196th Battalion/460th Armored Brigade) Hebrew: המעז מנצח. HaMe’ez Menatzeakh
 Belgium 1st Parachutist Battalion During the Second World War, many of its personnel were part of the British 5th Special Air Service and retained the SAS badge, motto and traditions.

 

See:  Loughgall ambush – SAS kill 8 Republican Terrorists

See:  Black SAS war Hero -Talaiasi Labalaba

See:   British SAS Special Forces (Full Documentary)

Fallen Hero’s – L/Cpl James Ashworth

Lest We Forget

Cpl James Ashworth 1st Battalion Grenadier Guards killed in Action Afghanistan 13 June 2012

L/Cpl James Ashworth

1st Battalion Grenadier Guards

Killed in Action Afghanistan 13th June 12

James Thomas Duane Ashworth, VC (26 May 1989 – 13 June 2012) was a British soldier and posthumous recipient of the Victoria Cross, the highest award for gallantry in the face of the enemy that can be awarded to British and Commonwealth forces. He was killed in Afghanistan on 13 June 2012 as he led his fire team in an attack on an enemy-held compound. The award was gazetted on 22 March 2013, having been confirmed by the British Army earlier in the week.  Ashworth is the 14th recipient of the award since the end of the Second World War.

James Thomas Duane Ashworth
Born 26 May 1989
Died 13 June 2012 (aged 23)
Nahr-e Saraj District, Helmand Province, Afghanistan
Buried at Corby, Northamptonshire
Allegiance United Kingdom
Service/branch British Army
Years of service 2006–12 
Rank Lance Corporal
Unit Grenadier Guards
Battles/wars War in Afghanistan

Awards Victoria Cross

Early life

Ashworth lived and grew up in Corby, Northamptonshire, where he attended Lodge Park Technology College. A keen sportsman, he represented his school at both football and basketball.

In 2006, aged 17, Ashworth joined the British Army following his father who had previously served in the Grenadier Guards.[3]Ashworth trained at the Infantry Training Centre in Catterick before being posted to Nijmegen Company Grenadier Guards, which is focused on public duties and state ceremonial events in London.

He was identified as being capable of becoming a paratrooper and was assigned to the Guards’ Parachute Platoon, which is part of 3rd Battalion, Parachute Regiment. In his three years in the platoon, he took part in Operation Herrick 8 and was deployed to exercises overseas on three occasions. He was deployed to Canada before joining the Reconnaissance Platoon for Operation Herrick 16.

Death

Related image

 

Victoria Cross

Despite the ferocity of the insurgent’s resistance, Ashworth refused to be beaten. His total disregard for his own safety in ensuring that the last grenade was posted accurately was the gallant last action of a soldier who had willingly placed himself in the line of fire on numerous occasions earlier in the attack. This supremely courageous and inspiring action deserves the highest recognition.

 

Victoria Cross citation for James Ashworth VC

On 13 June 2012, Ashworth was serving as part of the Reconnaissance Platoon, 1st Battalion Grenadier Guards. He was on a patrol in the Nahri Saraj District of Helmand Province, Afghanistan. He was leading a fire-team, clearing out compounds, when his team came under fire from Taliban armed with rifles and rocket-propelled grenades from several mud huts. Ashworth charged the huts, providing cover for his team who followed in single file behind him.

After his fire-team took out most of the insurgents, Ashworth pursued the final remaining member. He crawled forward under cover of a low wall while his team provided covering fire and acted as a diversion. When he got within 5 metres (16 ft) of the enemy, he was killed as he attempted to throw a grenade.

Captain Michael Dobbin, commander of the platoon, who was awarded the Military Cross for repeated courage throughout the operational tour, said about Ashworth,

“His professionalism under pressure and ability to remain calm in what was a chaotic situation is testament to his character. L/Cpl Ashworth was a pleasure to command and I will sorely miss his calming influence on the battlefield. Softly spoken, he stepped up to every task thrown in his direction.”

After his death, his body was taken to Camp Bastion and was then repatriated to the United Kingdom.

On 16 March 2013, British media reported that Ashworth was to be posthumously awarded the Victoria Cross for bravery and this was confirmed by the Ministry of Defence on 18 March 2013.

His citation was read out at the Grenadier Guard barracks in Aldershot. He was only the second person to be awarded the medal during the Taliban insurgency, after Bryan Budd for his actions in 2006. Ashworth is the 14th person to be awarded the Victoria Cross since the end of the Second World War.

The Victoria Cross was first awarded for actions in the Crimean War of 1854–56, and is the highest British military award for bravery.

Image result for L/Cpl James Ashworth

Lance Corporal James Ashworth (right) with a colleague in Afghanista

Victoria Cross citation

The announcement and accompanying citation for the decoration was published in supplement to the London Gazette on 22 March 2013, reading

St James’s Palace, London SW1

22 March 2013 The Queen has been graciously pleased to approve the award of the Victoria Cross to the under-mentioned:

ARMY

Lance Corporal James Thomas Duane Ashworth, Grenadier Guards, 25228593 (killed in action).

On the 13th June 2012 the conspicuous gallantry under fire of Lance Corporal Ashworth, a section second-incommand in 1st Battalion Grenadier Guards Reconnaissance Platoon, galvanised his platoon at a pivotal moment and led to the rout of a determined enemy grouping in the Nahr-e-Saraj District of Helmand Province.

The two aircraft inserting the Reconnaissance Platoon on an operation to neutralise a dangerous insurgent sniper team, were hit by enemy fire as they came into land. Unflustered, Ashworth – a young and inexperienced noncommissioned officer – raced 300 metres with his fire-team into the heart of the insurgent dominated village. Whilst two insurgents were killed and two sniper rifles recovered in the initial assault, an Afghan Local Police follow-up attack stalled when a patrolman was shot and killed by a fleeing enemy. Called forward to press-on with the attack, Ashworth insisted on moving to the front of his fire team to lead the pursuit. Approaching the entrance to a compound from which enemy machine gun fire raged, he stepped over the body of the dead patrolman, threw a grenade and surged forward. Breaking into the compound Ashworth quickly drove the insurgent back and into an out-building from where he now launched his tenacious last stand.

The village was now being pressed on a number of fronts by insurgents desperate to relieve their prized sniper team. The platoon needed to detain or kill the final sniper, who had been pinned down by the lead fire team, and extract as quickly as possible. Ashworth realised that the stalemate needed to be broken, and broken quickly. He identified a low wall that ran parallel to the front of the outbuilding from which the insurgent was firing. Although only knee high, he judged that it would provide him with just enough cover to get sufficiently close to the insurgent to accurately post his final grenade. As he started to crawl behind the wall and towards the enemy, a fierce fire fight broke out just above his prostrate body. Undaunted by the extraordinary danger – a significant portion of his route was covered from view but not from fire – Ashworth grimly continued his painstaking advance. After three minutes of slow crawling under exceptionally fierce automatic fire he had edged forward fifteen metres and was now within five metres of the insurgent’s position. Desperate to ensure that he succeeded in accurately landing the grenade, he then deliberately crawled out from cover into the full view of the enemy to get a better angle for the throw. By now enemy rounds were tearing up the ground mere centimetres from his body, and yet he did not shrink back. Then, as he was about to throw the grenade he was hit by enemy fire and died at the scene. Ashworth’s conspicuous gallantry galvanised his platoon to complete the clearance of the compound.

Despite the ferocity of the insurgent’s resistance, Ashworth refused to be beaten. His total disregard for his own safety in ensuring that the last grenade was posted accurately was the gallant last action of a soldier who had willingly placed himself in the line of fire on numerous occasions earlier in the attack. This supremely courageous and inspiring action deserves the highest recognition.

Personal life

Ashworth played football both for his regiment, and for a local team near his home. He was a supporter of Tottenham HotspurHe has two sisters and two brothers, one of whom is also a soldier

 

 

 

 

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Six-Day War – Arab–Israeli war 1967

Six-Day War

Six days that changed the Middle East

Image result for Six-Day War

The Six-Day War (Hebrew: מלחמת ששת הימים, Milhemet Sheshet Ha Yamim; Arabic: النكسة, an-Naksah, “The Setback” or حرب ۱۹٦۷, Ḥarb 1967, “War of 1967”), also known as the June War, 1967 Arab–Israeli War, or Third Arab–Israeli War, was fought between June 5 and 10, 1967 by Israel and the neighboring states of Egypt (known at the time as the United Arab Republic), Jordan, and Syria.

Six Day War Territories.svg

Territory held by Israel before and after the Six Day War. The Straits of Tiran are circled, between the Gulf of Aqaba to the north and the Red Sea to the south.

Relations between Israel and its neighbours had never fully normalised following the 1948 Arab–Israeli War. In the period leading up to June 1967, tensions became dangerously heightened. Israel reiterated its 1950s statement that the closure of the straits of Tiran to its shipping would be a casus belli and in late May Nasser announced the straits would be closed to Israeli vessels.

Egypt then mobilised its forces along its border with Israel, and on 5 June Israel launched what it claimed were a series of preemptive airstrikes against Egyptian airfields. Claims and counterclaims relating to this series of events are one of a number of controversies relating to the conflict.

The Egyptians were caught by surprise, and nearly the entire Egyptian air force was destroyed with few Israeli losses, giving the Israelis air superiority. Simultaneously, the Israelis launched a ground offensive into the Gaza Strip and the Sinai, which again caught the Egyptians by surprise. After some initial resistance, Egyptian leader Gamal Abdel Nasser ordered the evacuation of the Sinai. Israeli forces rushed westward in pursuit of the Egyptians, inflicted heavy losses, and conquered the Sinai.

Nasser induced Syria and Jordan to begin attacks on Israel by using the initially confused situation to claim that Egypt had defeated the Israeli air strike. Israeli counterattacks resulted in the seizure of East Jerusalem as well as the West Bank from the Jordanians, while Israel’s retaliation against Syria resulted in its occupation of the Golan Heights.

On June 11, a ceasefire was signed. Arab casualties were far heavier than those of Israel: fewer than a thousand Israelis had been killed compared to over 20,000 from the Arab forces. Israel’s military success was attributed to the element of surprise, an innovative and well-executed battle plan, and the poor quality and leadership of the Arab forces. Israel seized control of the Gaza Strip and the Sinai Peninsula from Egypt, the West Bank and East Jerusalem from Jordan, and the Golan Heights from Syria. Israeli morale and international prestige was greatly increased by the outcome of the war and the area under Israeli control tripled.

Badge of the Israel Defense Forces.svg

Israel Defense Forces emblem

However, the speed and ease of Israel’s victory would lead to a dangerous overconfidence within the ranks of the Israel Defense Forces (IDF), contributing to initial Arab successes in the subsequent 1973 Yom Kippur War. The displacement of civilian populations resulting from the war would have long-term consequences, as 300,000 Palestinians fled the West Bank and about 100,000 Syrians left the Golan to become refugees. Across the Arab world, Jewish minority communities were expelled, with refugees going to Israel or Europe.

Background

On 22 May 1967, President Nasser addressed his pilots at Bir Gafgafa airbase in Sinai:
“The Jews are threatening war – we say to them ahlan wa-sahlan (welcome)!”

After the 1956 Suez Crisis, Egypt agreed to the stationing of a United Nations Emergency Force (UNEF) in the Sinai to ensure all parties would comply with the 1949 Armistice Agreements. In the following years there were numerous minor border clashes between Israel and its Arab neighbors, particularly Syria. In early November 1966, Syria signed a mutual defense agreement with Egypt.

Soon thereafter, in response to Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO) guerilla activity,[24][25] including a mine attack that left three dead, the Israeli Defence Force (IDF) attacked the village of as-Samu in the Jordanian-occupied West Bank.

Jordanian units that engaged the Israelis were quickly beaten back. King Hussein of Jordan criticized Egyptian President Gamal Abdel Nasser for failing to come to Jordan’s aid, and “hiding behind UNEF skirts”.

In May 1967, Nasser received false reports from the Soviet Union that Israel was massing on the Syrian border. Nasser began massing his troops in two defensive lines  in the Sinai Peninsula on Israel’s border (May 16), expelled the UNEF force from Gaza and Sinai (May 19) and took up UNEF positions at Sharm el-Sheikh, overlooking the Straits of Tiran.

Israel reiterated declarations made in 1957 that any closure of the Straits would be considered an act of war, or justification for war, and Nasser declared the Straits closed to Israeli shipping on May 22–23. The U.S. President at the time, Lyndon Johnson, later had this to say about closure of these straits being a cause of the war:

If a single act of folly was more responsible for this explosion than any other, it was the arbitrary and dangerous announced decision that the Straits of Tiran would be closed. The right of innocent, maritime passage must be preserved for all nations.

On May 30, Jordan and Egypt signed a defense pact. The following day, at Jordan’s invitation, the Iraqi army began deploying troops and armoured units in Jordan. They were later reinforced by an Egyptian contingent. On June 1, Israel formed a National Unity Government by widening its cabinet, and on June 4 the decision was made to go to war. The next morning, Israel launched Operation Focus, a large-scale surprise air strike that was the opening of the Six-Day War.

Military preparation

Before the war, Israeli pilots and ground crews had trained extensively in rapid refitting of aircraft returning from sorties, enabling a single aircraft to sortie up to four times a day (as opposed to the norm in Arab air forces of one or two sorties per day). This enabled the Israeli Air Force (IAF) to send several attack waves against Egyptian airfields on the first day of the war, overwhelming the Egyptian Air Force, and allowed it to knock out other Arab air forces on the same day.

This has contributed to the Arab belief that the IAF was helped by foreign air forces (see Controversies relating to the Six-Day War). Pilots were extensively schooled about their targets, and were forced to memorize every single detail, and rehearsed the operation multiple times on dummy runways in total secrecy.

The Egyptians had constructed fortified defenses in the Sinai. These designs were based on the assumption that an attack would come along the few roads leading through the desert, rather than through the difficult desert terrain. The Israelis chose not to risk attacking the Egyptian defenses head-on, and instead surprised them from an unexpected direction.

James Reston, writing in The New York Times on May 23, 1967, noted,

“In discipline, training, morale, equipment and general competence his [Nasser’s] army and the other Arab forces, without the direct assistance of the Soviet Union, are no match for the Israelis. … Even with 50,000 troops and the best of his generals and air force in Yemen, he has not been able to work his way in that small and primitive country, and even his effort to help the Congo rebels was a flop.”

On May 26, 1967, the CIA estimated:

“The Israelis … If they attack now they … would still be able to drive the Egyptians away from the entrance to the Strait of Tiran, but it would certainly cost them heavy losses of men and materiel.”

On the eve of the war, Israel believed it could win a war in 3–4 days. The United States estimated Israel would need 7–10 days to win, with British estimates supporting the U.S. view.

Armies and weapons

Armies

Image result for The Israeli army six day war

The Israeli army had a total strength, including reservists, of 264,000, though this number could not be sustained, as the reservists were vital to civilian life.

Against Jordan’s forces on the West Bank, Israel deployed about 40,000 troops and 200 tanks (eight brigades). Israeli Central Command forces consisted of five brigades. The first two were permanently stationed near Jerusalem and were called the Jerusalem Brigade and the mechanized Harel Brigade. Mordechai Gur‘s 55th Paratroopers Brigade was summoned from the Sinai front. The 10th Armored Brigade was stationed north of the West Bank. The Israeli Northern Command provided a division (three brigades) led by Major-General Elad Peled, which was stationed in the Jezreel Valley to the north of the West Bank.

On the eve of the war, Egypt massed approximately 100,000 of its 160,000 troops in the Sinai, including all of its seven divisions (four infantry, two armoured and one mechanized), four independent infantry brigades and four independent armoured brigades. No fewer than a third of them were veterans of Egypt’s continuing intervention into the North Yemen Civil War and another third were reservists. These forces had 950 tanks, 1,100 APCs, and more than 1,000 artillery pieces.

Syria’s army had a total strength of 75,000 and was deployed along the Syrian border.

Emblem of the Jordanian Armed Forces

Emblem of the Jordanian Armed Forces

The Jordanian Armed Forces included 11 brigades, totalling 55,000 troops and equipped with some 300 modern Western tanks, 250 of which were U.S. M48 Pattons. Nine brigades (45,000 troops, 270 tanks, 200 artillery pieces) were deployed in the West Bank, including the elite armoured 40th, and two in the Jordan Valley. They possessed sizable numbers of M113 APCs, a new battalion of mechanized infantry, and a paratrooper battalion trained in the new U.S.-built school.

They also had 12 battalions of artillery and six batteries of 81 mm and 120 mm mortars. The Jordanian Army, then known as the Arab Legion, was a long-term-service, professional army, relatively well-equipped and well-trained. Furthermore, Israeli post-war briefings said that the Jordanian staff acted professionally as well, but was always left “half a step” behind by the Israeli moves. The small Royal Jordanian Air Force consisted of only 24 British-made Hawker Hunter fighters, six transports, and two helicopters. According to the Israelis, the Hawker Hunter was essentially on par with the French-built Dassault Mirage III – the IAF’s best plane.

100 Iraqi tanks and an infantry division were readied near the Jordanian border. Two squadrons of fighter-aircraft, Hawker Hunters and MiG 21s, were rebased adjacent to the Jordanian border.

The Arab air forces were aided by volunteer pilots from the Pakistan Air Force acting in an independent capacity, and by some aircraft from Libya, Algeria, Morocco, Kuwait, and Saudi Arabia to make up for the massive losses suffered on the first day of the war. PAF pilots shot down several Israeli planes.

Weapons

With the exception of Jordan, the Arabs relied principally on Soviet weaponry. Jordan’s army was equipped with American weaponry, and its air force was composed of British aircraft.

Egypt had by far the largest and the most modern of all the Arab air forces, consisting of about 420 combat aircraft, all of them Soviet-built and with a heavy quota of top-of-the-line MiG-21s. Of particular concern to the Israelis were the 30 Tu-16 “Badger” medium bombers, capable of inflicting heavy damage on Israeli military and civilian centers.

Israeli weapons were mainly of Western origin. Its air force was composed principally of French aircraft, while its armoured units were mostly of British and American design and manufacture. Some infantry weapons, including the ubiquitous Uzi, were of Israeli origin.

Type Arab armies IDF
AFVs Egypt, Syria and Iraq used T-34/85, T-54, T-55, PT-76, and SU-100/152 World War II-vintage self-propelled guns. Jordan used M-47, M-48, and M-48A1 Patton tanks. Panzer IV (used by Syria) M50 and M51 Shermans, M48A3 Patton, Centurion, AMX-13. The Centurion was upgraded with the British 105 mm L7 gun prior to the war. The Sherman also underwent extensive modifications including a larger 105 mm medium velocity, French gun, redesigned turret, wider tracks, more armour, and upgraded engine and suspension.
APCs/IFVs BTR-40, BTR-152, BTR-50, BTR-60 APCs M2, / M3 Half-track, Panhard AML
Artillery M1937 Howitzer, BM-21, D-30 (2A18) Howitzer, M1954 field gun, M-52 105 mm self-propelled howitzer (used by Jordan) M50 self-propelled howitzer and Makmat 160 mm self-propelled mortar, Obusier de 155 mm Modèle 50, AMX 105 mm Self-Propelled Howitzer
Aircraft MiG-21, MiG-19, MiG-17, Su-7B, Tu-16, Il-28, Il-18, Il-14, An-12, Hawker Hunter used by Jordan and Iraq Dassault Mirage III, Dassault Super Mystère, Sud Aviation Vautour, Mystere IV, Dassault Ouragan, Fouga Magister trainer outfitted for attack missions, Nord 2501IS military cargo plane
Helicopters Mi-6, Mi-4 Super Frelon, Sikorsky S-58
AAW SA-2 Guideline, ZSU-57-2 mobile anti-aircraft cannon MIM-23 Hawk, Bofors 40 mm
Infantry weapons Port Said submachinegun, AK-47, RPK, RPD, DShK HMG, B-10 and B-11 recoilless rifles Uzi, FN FAL, FN MAG, AK-47, M2 Browning, Cobra, Nord SS.10, RL-83 Blindicide anti-tank infantry weapon, Jeep-mounted 106 mm recoilless rifle

Fighting fronts

Preemptive air attack

Israeli troops examine destroyed Egyptian aircraft.

Dassault Mirage at the Israeli Air Force Museum. Operation Focus was mainly conducted using French built aircraft.

Israel’s first and most critical move was a surprise attack on the Egyptian Air Force. Initially, both Egypt and Israel announced that they had been attacked by the other country.

On June 5 at 7:45 Israeli time, as civil defense sirens sounded all over Israel, the IAF launched Operation Focus (Moked). All but 12 of its nearly 200 operational jets  launched a mass attack against Egypt’s airfields. The Egyptian defensive infrastructure was extremely poor, and no airfields were yet equipped with hardened aircraft shelters capable of protecting Egypt’s warplanes. Most of the Israeli warplanes headed out over the Mediterranean Sea, flying low to avoid radar detection, before turning toward Egypt. Others flew over the Red Sea.

Meanwhile, the Egyptians hindered their own defense by effectively shutting down their entire air defense system: they were worried that rebel Egyptian forces would shoot down the plane carrying Field Marshal Abdel Hakim Amer and Lt-Gen. Sidqi Mahmoud, who were en route from al Maza to Bir Tamada in the Sinai to meet the commanders of the troops stationed there. In any event, it did not make a great deal of difference as the Israeli pilots came in below Egyptian radar cover and well below the lowest point at which its SA-2 surface-to-air missile batteries could bring down an aircraft.

Although the powerful Jordanian radar facility at Ajloun detected waves of aircraft approaching Egypt and reported the code word for “war” up the Egyptian command chain, Egyptian command and communications problems prevented the warning from reaching the targeted airfields. The Israelis employed a mixed-attack strategy: bombing and strafing runs against planes parked on the ground, and bombing to disable runways with special tarmac-shredding penetration bombs developed jointly with France, leaving surviving aircraft unable to take off. The runway at the Arish airfield was spared, as the Israelis expected to turn it into a military airport for their transports after the war. Surviving aircraft were taken out by later attack waves. The operation was more successful than expected, catching the Egyptians by surprise and destroying virtually all of the Egyptian Air Force on the ground, with few Israeli losses. Only four unarmed Egyptian training flights were in the air when the strike began.

A total of 338 Egyptian aircraft were destroyed and 100 pilots were killed,although the number of aircraft lost by the Egyptians is disputed.

Among the Egyptian planes lost were all 30 Tu-16 bombers, 27 out of 40 Il-28 bombers, 12 Su-7 fighter-bombers, over 90 MiG-21s, 20 MiG-19s, 25 MiG-17 fighters, and around 32 assorted transport planes and helicopters. In addition, Egyptian radars and SAM missiles were also attacked and destroyed. The Israelis lost 19 planes, including two destroyed in air-to-air combat and 13 downed by anti-aircraft artillery.

One Israeli plane, which was damaged and unable to break radio silence, was shot down by Israeli Hawk missiles after it strayed over the Negev Nuclear Research Center. Another was destroyed by an exploding Egyptian bomber.

The attack guaranteed Israeli air superiority for the rest of the war. Attacks on other Arab air forces by Israel took place later in the day as hostilities broke out on other fronts.

The large numbers of Arab aircraft claimed destroyed by Israel on that day were at first regarded as “greatly exaggerated” by the Western press. However, the fact that the Egyptian Air Force, along with other Arab air forces attacked by Israel, made practically no appearance for the remaining days of the conflict proved that the numbers were most likely authentic. Throughout the war, Israeli aircraft continued strafing Arab airfield runways to prevent their return to usability. Meanwhile, Egyptian state-run radio had reported an Egyptian victory, falsely claiming that 70 Israeli planes had been downed on the first day of fighting.

Gaza Strip and Sinai Peninsula

 

Conquest of Sinai. June 5–6, 1967

People in a bomb shelter at Kfar Maimon

The Egyptian forces consisted of seven divisions: four armoured, two infantry, and one mechanized infantry. Overall, Egypt had around 100,000 troops and 900–950 tanks in the Sinai, backed by 1,100 APCs and 1,000 artillery pieces. This arrangement was thought to be based on the Soviet doctrine, where mobile armour units at strategic depth provide a dynamic defense while infantry units engage in defensive battles.

Israeli forces concentrated on the border with Egypt included six armoured brigades, one infantry brigade, one mechanized infantry brigade, three paratrooper brigades, giving a total of around 70,000 men and 700 tanks, who were organized in three armoured divisions. They had massed on the border the night before the war, camouflaging themselves and observing radio silence before being ordered to advance.

The Israeli plan was to surprise the Egyptian forces in both timing (the attack exactly coinciding with the IAF strike on Egyptian airfields), location (attacking via northern and central Sinai routes, as opposed to the Egyptian expectations of a repeat of the 1956 war, when the IDF attacked via the central and southern routes) and method (using a combined-force flanking approach, rather than direct tank assaults).

Northern (El Arish) Israeli division

On June 5, at 7:50 a.m., the northernmost Israeli division, consisting of three brigades and commanded by Major General Israel Tal, one of Israel’s most prominent armour commanders, crossed the border at two points, opposite Nahal Oz and south of Khan Yunis. They advanced swiftly, holding fire to prolong the element of surprise. Tal’s forces assaulted the “Rafah Gap”, a seven-mile stretch containing the shortest of three main routes through the Sinai towards El-Qantarah el-Sharqiyya and the Suez Canal.

The Egyptians had four divisions in the area, backed by minefields, pillboxes, underground bunkers, hidden gun emplacements and trenches. The terrain on either side of the route was impassable. The Israeli plan was to hit the Egyptians at selected key points with concentrated armour.

Tal’s advance was led by the 7th Armored Brigade under Colonel Shmuel Gonen. The Israeli plan called for the 7th Brigade to outflank Khan Yunis from the north and the 60th Armored Brigade under Colonel Menachem Aviram would advance from the south. The two brigades would link up and surround Khan Yunis, while the paratroopers would take Rafah. Gonen entrusted the breakthrough to a single battalion of his brigade.

Initially, the advance was met with light resistance, as Egyptian intelligence had concluded that it was a diversion for the main attack. However, as Gonen’s lead battalion advanced, it suddenly came under intense fire and took heavy losses. A second battalion was brought up, but was also pinned down. Meanwhile, the 60th Brigade became bogged down in the sand, while the paratroopers had trouble navigating through the dunes. The Israelis continued to press their attack, and despite heavy losses, cleared the Egyptian positions and reached the Khan Yunis railway junction in little over four hours.

Gonen’s brigade then advanced nine miles to Rafah in twin columns. Rafah itself was circumvented, and the Israelis attacked Sheikh Zuweid, eight miles to the southwest, which was defended by two brigades. Though inferior in numbers and equipment, the Egyptians were deeply entrenched and camouflaged. The Israelis were pinned down by fierce Egyptian resistance, and called in air and artillery support to enable their lead elements to advance. Many Egyptians abandoned their positions after their commander and several of his staff were killed.

The Israelis broke through with tank-led assaults. However, Aviram’s forces misjudged the Egyptians’ flank, and were pinned between strongholds before they were extracted after several hours. By nightfall, the Israelis had finished mopping up resistance. Israeli forces had taken significant losses, with Colonel Gonen later telling reporters that “we left many of our dead soldiers in Rafah, and many burnt-out tanks.” The Egyptians suffered some 2,000 casualties and lost 40 tanks.

Advance on Arish

 

Israeli reconnaissance forces from the “Shaked” unit in Sinai during the war.

On June 5, with the road open, Israeli forces continued advancing towards Arish. Already by late afternoon, elements of the 79th Armored Battalion had charged through the seven-mile long Jiradi defile, a narrow pass defended by well-emplaced troops of the Egyptian 112th Infantry Brigade. In fierce fighting, which saw the pass change hands several times, the Israelis charged through the position. The Egyptians suffered heavy casualties and tank losses, while Israeli losses stood at 66 dead, 93 wounded and 28 tanks.

Emerging at the western end, Israeli forces advanced to the outskirts of Arish.As it reached the outskirts of Arish, Tal’s division also consolidated its hold on Rafah and Khan Yunis.

The following day, June 6, the Israeli forces on the outskirts of Arish were reinforced by the 7th Brigade, which fought its way through the Jiradi pass. After receiving supplies via an airdrop, the Israelis entered the city and captured the airport at 7:50 am. The Israelis entered the city at 8:00 am. Company commander Yossi Peled recounted that “Al-Arish was totally quiet, desolate. Suddenly, the city turned into a madhouse. Shots came at us from every alley, every corner, every window and house.” An IDF record stated that “clearing the city was hard fighting.

The Egyptians fired from the rooftops, from balconies and windows. They dropped grenades into our half-tracks and blocked the streets with trucks. Our men threw the grenades back and crushed the trucks with their tanks.” Gonen sent additional units to Arish, and the city was eventually taken.

Brigadier-General Avraham Yoffe‘s assignment was to penetrate Sinai south of Tal’s forces and north or Sharon’s. Yoffe’s attack allowed Tal to complete the capture of the Jiradi defile, Khan Yunis. All of them were taken after fierce fighting. Gonen subsequently dispatched a force of tanks, infantry and engineers under Colonel Yisrael Granit to continue down the Mediterranean coast towards the Suez Canal, while a second force led by Gonen himself turned south and captured Bir Lahfan and Jabal Libni.

Mid-front (Abu-Ageila) Israeli division

 

Major-General Ariel Sharon during the Battle of Abu-Ageila.

 

Further south, on June 6, the Israeli 38th Armored Division under Major-General Ariel Sharon assaulted Um-Katef, a heavily fortified area defended by the Egyptian 2nd Infantry Division under Major-General Sa’adi Nagib, and consisting of some 16,000 troops. The Egyptians also had a battalion of tank destroyers and a tank regiment, formed of Soviet World War II armour, which included 90 T-34-85 tanks, 22 SU-100 tank destroyers, and about 16,000 men. The Israelis had about 14,000 men and 150 post-World War II tanks including the AMX-13, Centurions, and M50 Super Shermans (modified M-4 Sherman tanks).

Two armoured brigades in the meantime, under Avraham Yoffe, slipped across the border through sandy wastes that Egypt had left undefended because they were considered impassable. Simultaneously, Sharon’s tanks from the west were to engage Egyptian forces on Um-Katef ridge and block any reinforcements. Israeli infantry would clear the three trenches, while heliborne paratroopers would land behind Egyptian lines and silence their artillery. An armoured thrust would be made at al-Qusmaya to unnerve and isolate its garrison.

 

Israeli Armor of the Six Day War: pictured here the AMX 13

As Sharon’s division advanced into the Sinai, Egyptian forces staged successful delaying actions at Tarat Umm, Umm Tarfa, and Hill 181. An Israeli jet was downed by anti-aircraft fire, and Sharon’s forces came under heavy shelling as they advanced from the north and west. The Israeli advance, which had to cope with extensive minefields, took a large number of casualties. A column of Israeli tanks managed to penetrate the northern flank of Abu Ageila, and by dusk, all units were in position.

The Israelis then brought up ninety 105 mm and 155 mm artillery guns for a preparatory barrage, while civilian buses brought reserve infantrymen under Colonel Yekutiel Adam and helicopters arrived to ferry the paratroopers. These movements were unobserved by the Egyptians, who were preoccupied with Israeli probes against their perimeter.

As night fell, the Israeli assault troops lit flashlights, each battalion a different color, to prevent friendly fire incidents. At 10:00 pm, Israeli artillery began a barrage on Um-Katef, firing some 6,000 shells in less than twenty minutes, the most concentrated artillery barrage in Israel’s history.

Israeli tanks assaulted the northernmost Egyptian defenses and were largely successful, though an entire armoured brigade was stalled by mines, and had only one mine-clearance tank. Israeli infantrymen assaulted the triple line of trenches in the east. To the west, paratroopers commanded by Colonel Danny Matt landed behind Egyptian lines, though half the helicopters got lost and never found the battlefield, while others were unable to land due to mortar fire.

Those that successfully landed on target destroyed Egyptian artillery and ammunition dumps and separated gun crews from their batteries, sowing enough confusion to significantly reduce Egyptian artillery fire. Egyptian reinforcements from Jabal Libni advanced towards Um-Katef to counterattack, but failed to reach their objective, being subjected to heavy air attacks and encountering Israeli lodgements on the roads. Egyptian commanders then called in artillery attacks on their own positions. The Israelis accomplished and sometimes exceeded their overall plan, and had largely succeeded by the following day. The Egyptians took heavy casualties, while the Israelis lost 40 dead and 140 wounded.

Yoffe’s attack allowed Sharon to complete the capture of the Um-Katef, after fierce fighting. The main thrust at Um-Katef was stalled due to mines and craters. After IDF engineers had cleared a path by 4:00 pm, Israeli and Egyptian tanks engaged in fierce combat, often at ranges as close as ten yards. The battle ended in an Israeli victory, with 40 Egyptian and 19 Israeli tanks destroyed. Meanwhile, Israeli infantry finished clearing out the Egyptian trenches, with Israeli casualties standing at 14 dead and 41 wounded and Egyptian casualties at 300 dead and 100 taken prisoner.

Other Israeli forces

Emblem of the 8th Brigade

Further south, on June 5, the 8th Armored Brigade under Colonel Albert Mandler, initially positioned as a ruse to draw off Egyptian forces from the real invasion routes, attacked the fortified bunkers at Kuntilla, a strategically valuable position whose capture would enable Mandler to block reinforcements from reaching Um-Katef and to join Sharon’s upcoming attack on Nakhl. The defending Egyptian battalion, outnumbered and outgunned, fiercely resisted the attack, hitting a number of Israeli tanks. However, most of the defenders were killed, and only three Egyptian tanks, one of them damaged, survived. By nightfall, Mendler’s forces had taken Kuntilla.

With the exceptions of Rafah and Khan Yunis, Israeli forces had initially avoided entering the Gaza Strip. Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Dayan had expressly forbidden entry into the area. After Palestinian positions in Gaza opened fire on the Negev settlements of Nirim and Kissufim, IDF Chief of Staff Yitzhak Rabin overrode Dayan’s instructions and ordered the 11th Mechanized Brigade under Colonel Yehuda Reshef to enter the Strip. The force was immediately met with heavy artillery fire and fierce resistance from Palestinian forces and remnants of the Egyptian forces from Rafah.

By sunset, the Israelis had taken the strategically vital Ali Muntar ridge, overlooking Gaza City, but were beaten back from the city itself. Some 70 Israelis were killed, along with Israeli journalist Ben Oyserman and American journalist Paul Schutzer. Twelve members of UNEF were also killed. On the war’s second day, June 6, the Israelis were bolstered by the 35th Paratroopers Brigade under Colonel Rafael Eitan, and took Gaza City along with the entire Strip. The fighting was fierce, and accounted for nearly half of all Israeli casualties on the southern front. However, Gaza rapidly fell to the Israelis.

Meanwhile, on June 6, two Israeli reserve brigades under Yoffe, each equipped with 100 tanks, penetrated the Sinai south of Tal’s division and north of Sharon’s, capturing the road junctions of Abu Ageila, Bir Lahfan, and Arish, taking all of them before midnight. Two Egyptian armoured brigades counterattacked, and a fierce battle took place until the following morning. The Egyptians were beaten back by fierce resistance coupled with airstrikes, sustaining heavy tank losses. They fled west towards Jabal Libni.

The Egyptian Army

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Egyptian Air Force emblem

During the ground fighting, remnants of the Egyptian Air Force attacked Israeli ground forces, but took losses from the Israeli Air Force and from Israeli anti-aircraft units. Throughout the last four days, Egyptian aircraft flew 150 sorties against Israeli units in the Sinai.

Many of the Egyptian units remained intact and could have tried to prevent the Israelis from reaching the Suez Canal or engaged in combat in the attempt to reach the canal. However, when the Egyptian Field Marshal Abdel Hakim Amer heard about the fall of Abu-Ageila, he panicked and ordered all units in the Sinai to retreat. This order effectively meant the defeat of Egypt.

 

President Nasser, having learned of the results of the air strike, decided together with Field Marshal Amer to pull out the troops from Sinai within 24 hours. No detailed instructions were given concerning the manner and sequence of withdrawal.

Next fighting days

As Egyptian columns retreated, Israeli aircraft and artillery attacked them. Israeli jets used napalm bombs during their sorties. The attacks destroyed hundreds of vehicles and caused heavy casualties. At Jabal Libni, retreating Egyptian soldiers were fired upon by their own artillery. At Bir Gafgafa, the Egyptians fiercely resisted advancing Israeli forces, knocking out three tanks and eight half-tracks, and killing 20 soldiers. Due to the Egyptians’ retreat, the Israeli High Command decided not to pursue the Egyptian units but rather to bypass and destroy them in the mountainous passes of West Sinai.

Therefore, in the following two days (June 6 and 7), all three Israeli divisions (Sharon and Tal were reinforced by an armoured brigade each) rushed westwards and reached the passes. Sharon’s division first went southward then westward, via An-Nakhl, to Mitla Pass with air support. It was joined there by parts of Yoffe’s division, while its other units blocked the Gidi Pass. These passes became killing grounds for the Egyptians, who ran right into waiting Israeli positions and suffered heavy losses. According to Egyptian diplomat Mahmoud Riad, 10,000 men were killed in one day alone, and many others died from hunger and thirst. Tal’s units stopped at various points to the length of the Suez Canal.

Israel’s blocking action was partially successful. Only the Gidi pass was captured before the Egyptians approached it, but at other places, Egyptian units managed to pass through and cross the canal to safety. Due to the haste of the Egyptian retreat, soldiers often abandoned weapons, military equipment, and hundreds of vehicles. Many Egyptian soldiers were cut off from their units had to walk about 200 kilometers on foot before reaching the Suez Canal with limited supplies of food and water and were exposed to intense heat. Thousands of soldiers died as a result. Many Egyptian soldiers chose instead to surrender to the Israelis. However, the Israelis eventually exceeded their capabilities to provide for prisoners. As a result, they began directing soldiers towards the Suez Canal and only taking prisoner high-ranking officers, who were expected to be exchanged for captured Israeli pilots.

During the offensive, the Israeli Navy landed six combat divers from the Shayetet 13 naval commando unit to infiltrate Alexandria harbour. The divers sank an Egyptian minesweeper before being taken prisoner. Shayetet 13 commandos also infiltrated into Port Said harbour, but found no ships there. A planned commando raid against the Syrian Navy never materialized. Both Egyptian and Israeli warships made movements at sea to intimidate the other side throughout the war, but did not engage each other. However, Israeli warships and aircraft did hunt for Egyptian submarines throughout the war.

On June 7, Israel began the conquest of Sharm el-Sheikh. The Israeli Navy started the operation with a probe of Egyptian naval defenses. An aerial reconnaissance flight found that the area was less defended than originally thought. At about 4:30 am, three Israeli missile boats opened fire on Egyptian shore batteries, while paratroopers and commandos boarded helicopters and Nord Noratlas transport planes for an assault on Al-Tur, as Chief of Staff Rabin was convinced it was too risky to land them directly in Sharm el-Sheikh.

However, the city had been largely abandoned the day before, and reports from air and naval forces finally convinced Rabin to divert the aircraft to Sharm el-Sheikh. There, the Israelis engaged in a pitched battle with the Egyptians and took the city, killing 20 Egyptian soldiers and taking 8 prisoner. At 12:15 pm, Defense Minister Dayan announced that the Straits of Tiran constituted an international waterway open to all ships without restriction.

On June 8, Israel completed the capture of the Sinai by sending infantry units to Ras Sudar on the western coast of the peninsula.

Several tactical elements made the swift Israeli advance possible: first, the surprise attack that quickly gave the Israeli Air Force complete air superiority over the Egyptian Air Force; second, the determined implementation of an innovative battle plan; third, the lack of coordination among Egyptian troops. These factors would prove to be decisive elements on Israel’s other fronts as well.

West Bank

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Jordan was reluctant to enter the war. Nasser used the confusion of the first hours of the conflict to convince King Hussein that he was victorious; he claimed as evidence a radar sighting of a squadron of Israeli aircraft returning from bombing raids in Egypt, which he said was an Egyptian aircraft en route to attack Israel. One of the Jordanian brigades stationed in the West Bank was sent to the Hebron area in order to link with the Egyptians. Hussein decided to attack.

The IDF’s strategic plan was to remain on the defensive along the Jordanian front, to enable focus in the expected campaign against Egypt.

Intermittent machine-gun exchanges began taking place in Jerusalem at 9:30 am, and the fighting gradually escalated as the Jordanians introduced mortar and recoilless rifle fire. Under the orders from General Narkis, the Israelis responded only with small-arms fire, firing in a flat trajectory to avoid hitting civilians, holy sites or the Old City. At 10:00 am on June 5, the Jordanian Army began shelling Israel. Two batteries of 155mm Long Tom cannons opened fire on the suburbs of Tel Aviv and Ramat David Airbase. The commanders of these batteries were instructed to lay a two-hour barrage against military and civilian settlements in central Israel. Some shells hit the outskirts of Tel Aviv.

By 10:30 am, Eshkol had sent a message via Odd Bull to King Hussein promising not to initiate any action against Jordan if it stayed out of the war. King Hussein replied that it was too late, “the die was cast“.

At 11:15 am, Jordanian howitzers began a 6,000-shell barrage at Israeli Jerusalem. The Jordanians initially targeted kibbutz Ramat Rachel in the south and Mount Scopus in the north, then ranged into the city center and outlying neighborhoods. Military installations, the Prime Minister’s Residence, and the Knesset compound were also targeted. Israeli civilian casualties totalled 20 dead and about 1,000 wounded. Some 900 buildings were damaged, including Hadassah Ein Kerem Hospital.

At 11:50 am, sixteen Jordanian Hawker Hunters attacked Netanya, Kfar Sirkin and Kfar Saba, killing one civilian, wounding seven and destroying a transport plane. Three Iraqi Hawker Hunters strafed civilian settlements in the Jezreel Valley, and an Iraqi Tupolev Tu-16 attacked Afula, and was shot down near the Megiddo airfield. The attack caused minimal material damage, hitting only a senior citizens’ home and several chicken coops, but sixteen Israeli soldiers were killed, most of them when the Tupolev crashed.

Israeli cabinet meets

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Yigal Allon

When the Israeli cabinet convened to decide what to do, Yigal Allon and Menahem Begin argued that this was an opportunity to take the Old City of Jerusalem, but Eshkol decided to defer any decision until Moshe Dayan and Yitzhak Rabin could be consulted.  Uzi Narkiss made a number of proposals for military action, including the capture of Latrun, but the cabinet turned him down. Dayan rejected multiple requests from Narkiss for permission to mount an infantry assault towards Mount Scopus. However, Dayan sanctioned a number of more limited retaliatory actions.

Initial response

Shortly before 12:30 pm, the Israeli Air Force attacked Jordan’s two airbases. The Hawker Hunters were refueling at the time of the attack. The Israeli aircraft attacked in two waves, the first of which cratered the runways and knocked out the control towers, and the second wave destroyed all 21 of Jordan’s Hawker Hunter fighters, along with six transport aircraft and two helicopters. One Israeli jet was shot down by ground fire.

Israeli aircraft also attacked H-3, an Iraqi Air Force base in western Iraq. During the attack, 12 MiG-21s, 2 MiG-17s, 5 Hunter F6s, and 3 Il-28 bombers were destroyed or shot down. A Pakistani pilot stationed at the base shot down an Israeli fighter and a bomber during the raid. The Jordanian radar facility at Ajloun was destroyed in an Israeli airstrike. Israeli Fouga Magister jets attacked the Jordanian 40th Brigade with rockets as it moved south from the Damiya Bridge. Dozens of tanks were knocked out, and a convoy of 26 trucks carrying ammunition was destroyed. In Jerusalem, Israel responded to Jordanian shelling with a missile strike that devastated Jordanian positions. The Israelis used the L missile, a surface-to-surface missile developed jointly with France in secret.

Jordanian battalion at Government House

A Jordanian battalion advanced up Government House ridge and dug in at the perimeter of Government House, the headquarters of the United Nations observers, and opened fire on Ramat Rachel, the Allenby Barracks and the Jewish section of Abu Tor with mortars and recoilless rifles. UN observers fiercely protested the incursion into the neutral zone, and several manhandled a Jordanian machine gun out of Government House after the crew had set it up in a second-floor window. After the Jordanians occupied Jabel Mukaber, an advance patrol was sent out and approached Ramat Rachel, where they came under fire from four civilians, including the wife of the director, who were armed with old Czech-made weapons.

Israeli paratroopers flush out Jordanian soldiers from trenches during the Battle of Ammunition Hill.

Silhouette of Israeli paratroops advancing on Ammunition Hill.

 

The immediate Israeli response was an offensive to retake Government House and its ridge. The Jerusalem Brigade’s Reserve Battalion 161, under Lieutenant-Colonel Asher Dreizin, was given the task. Dreizin had two infantry companies and eight tanks under his command, several of which broke down or became stuck in the mud at Ramat Rachel, leaving three for the assault. The Jordanians mounted fierce resistance, knocking out two tanks.

The Israelis broke through the compound’s western gate and began clearing the building with grenades, before General Odd Bull, commander of the UN observers, compelled the Israelis to hold their fire, telling them that the Jordanians had already fled. The Israelis proceeded to take the Antenna Hill, directly behind Government House, and clear out a series of bunkers to the west and south.

The fighting, often conducted hand-to-hand, continued for nearly four hours before the surviving Jordanians fell back to trenches held by the Hittin Brigade, which were steadily overwhelmed. By 6:30 pm, the Jordanians had retreated to Bethlehem, having suffered about 100 casualties. All but ten of Dreizin’s soldiers were casualties, and Dreizin himself was wounded three times.

Israeli invasion

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During the late afternoon of June 5, the Israelis launched an offensive to encircle Jerusalem, which lasted into the following day. During the night, they were supported by intense tank, artillery and mortar fire to soften up Jordanian positions. Searchlights placed atop the Labor Federation building, then the tallest in Israeli Jerusalem, exposed and blinded the Jordanians. The Jerusalem Brigade moved south of Jerusalem, while the mechanized Harel Brigade and 55th Paratroopers Brigade under Mordechai Gur encircled it from the north.

A combined force of tanks and paratroopers crossed no-man’s land near the Mandelbaum Gate. One of Gur’s paratroop battalions approached the fortified Police Academy. The Israelis used bangalore torpedoes to blast their way through barbed wire leading up to the position while exposed and under heavy fire. With the aid of two tanks borrowed from the Jerusalem Brigade, they captured the Police Academy. After receiving reinforcements, they moved up to attack Ammunition Hill.

The Jordanian defenders, who were heavily dug-in, fiercely resisted the attack. All of the Israeli officers except for two company commanders were killed, and the fighting was mostly led by individual soldiers. The fighting was conducted at close quarters in trenches and bunkers, and was often hand-to-hand. The Israelis captured the position after four hours of heavy fighting. During the battle, 36 Israeli and 71 Jordanian soldiers were killed.

The battalion subsequently drove east, and linked up with the Israeli enclave on Mount Scopus and its Hebrew University campus. Gur’s other battalions captured the other Jordanian positions around the American Colony, despite being short on men and equipment and having come under a Jordanian mortar bombardment while waiting for the signal to advance.

At the same time, the mechanized Harel Brigade attacked the fortress at Latrun, which the Jordanians had abandoned due to heavy Israeli tank fire. The brigade attacked Har Adar, but seven tanks were knocked out by mines, forcing the infantry to mount an assault without armoured cover. The Israeli soldiers advanced under heavy fire, jumping between stones to avoid mines. The fighting was conducted at close-quarters, often with knives and bayonets.

The Jordanians fell back after a battle that left two Israeli and eight Jordanian soldiers dead, and Israeli forces advanced through Beit Horon towards Ramallah, taking four fortified villages along the way. By the evening, the brigade arrived in Ramallah. Meanwhile, the 163rd Infantry Battalion secured Abu Tor following a fierce battle, severing the Old City from Bethlehem and Hebron.

Meanwhile, 600 Egyptian commandos stationed in the West Bank moved to attack Israeli airfields. Led by Jordanian intelligence scouts, they crossed the border and began infiltrating through Israeli settlements towards Ramla and Hatzor. They were soon detected and sought shelter in nearby fields, which the Israelis set on fire. Some 450 commandos were killed, and the remainder escaped to Jordan.

From the American Colony, the paratroopers moved towards the Old City. Their plan was to approach it via the lightly defended Salah al-Din Street. However, they made a wrong turn onto the heavily defended Nablus Road. The Israelis ran into fierce resistance. Their tanks fired at point-blank range down the street, while the paratroopers mounted repeated charges. Despite repelling repeated Israeli charges, the Jordanians gradually gave way to Israeli firepower and momentum. The Israelis suffered some 30 casualties – half the original force – while the Jordanians lost 45 dead and 142 wounded.

Meanwhile, the Israeli 71st Battalion breached barbed wire and minefields and emerged near Wadi Joz, near the base of Mount Scopus, from where the Old City could be cut off from Jericho and East Jerusalem from Ramallah. Israeli artillery targeted the one remaining route from Jerusalem to the West Bank, and shellfire deterred the Jordanians from counterattacking from their positions at Augusta-Victoria. An Israeli detachment then captured the Rockefeller Museum after a brief skirmish.

Afterwards, the Israelis broke through to the Jerusalem-Ramallah road. At Tel al-Ful, the Israelis fought a running battle with up to thirty Jordanian tanks. The Jordanians stalled the advance and destroyed a number of half-tracks, but the Israelis launched air attacks and exploited the vulnerability of the external fuel tanks mounted on the Jordanian tanks. The Jordanians lost half their tanks, and retreated towards Jericho. Joining up with the 4th Brigade, the Israelis then descended through Shuafat and the site of what is now French Hill, through Jordanian defenses at Mivtar, emerging at Ammunition Hill.

 

An Israeli airstrike near the Augusta-Victoria Hospital

With Jordanian defenses in Jerusalem crumbling, elements of the Jordanian 60th Brigade and an infantry battalion were sent from Jericho to reinforce Jerusalem. Its original orders were to repel the Israelis from the Latrun corridor, but due to the worsening situation in Jerusalem, the brigade was ordered to proceed to Jerusalem’s Arab suburbs and attack Mount Scopus. Parallel to the brigade were infantrymen from the Imam Ali Brigade, who were approaching Issawiya. The brigades were spotted by Israeli aircraft and decimated by rocket and cannon fire. Other Jordanian attempts to reinforce Jerusalem were beaten back, either by armoured ambushes or airstrikes.

Fearing damage to holy sites and the prospect of having to fight in built-up areas, Dayan ordered his troops not to enter the Old City. He also feared that Israel would be subjected to a fierce international backlash and the outrage of Christians worldwide if it forced its way into the Old City. Privately, he told David Ben-Gurion that he was also concerned over the prospect of Israel capturing Jerusalem’s holy sites, only to be forced to give them up under the threat of international sanctions.

The Old City (June 7)

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On June 7, heavy fighting ensued. Dayan had ordered his troops not to enter the Old City; however, upon hearing that the UN was about to declare a ceasefire, he changed his mind, and without cabinet clearance, decided to capture it. Two paratroop battalions attacked Augusta-Victoria Hill, high ground overlooking the Old City from the east. One battalion attacked from Mount Scopus, and another attacked from the valley between it and the Old City. Another paratroop battalion, personally led by Gur, broke into the Old City, and was joined by the other two battalions after their missions were complete. The paratroopers met little resistance. The fighting was conducted solely by the paratroopers; the Israelis did not use armour during the battle out of fear of severe damage to the Old City.

In the north, one battalion from Peled’s division was sent to check Jordanian defenses in the Jordan Valley. A brigade belonging to Peled’s division captured the western part of the West Bank. One brigade attacked Jordanian artillery positions around Jenin, which were shelling Ramat David Airbase. The Jordanian 12th Armored Battalion, which outnumbered the Israelis, held off repeated attempts to capture Jenin. However, Israeli air attacks took their toll, and the Jordanian M48 Pattons, with their external fuel tanks, proved vulnerable at short distances, even to the Israeli-modified Shermans. Twelve Jordanian tanks were destroyed, and only six remained operational.

 

David Rubinger‘s famed photograph of IDF paratroopers at Jerusalem‘s Western Wall shortly after its capture. From left to right: Zion Karasenti, Yitzhak Yifat, and Haim Oshri.

Just after dusk, Israeli reinforcements arrived. The Jordanians continued to fiercely resist, and the Israelis were unable to advance without artillery and air support. One Israeli jet attacked the Jordanian commander’s tank, wounding him and killing his radio operator and intelligence officer. The surviving Jordanian forces then withdrew to Jenin, where they were reinforced by the 25th Infantry Brigade. The Jordanians were effectively surrounded in Jenin.

Jordanian infantry and their three remaining tanks managed to hold off the Israelis until 4:00 am, when three battalions arrived to reinforce them in the afternoon. The Jordanian tanks charged, and knocked out multiple Israeli vehicles, and the tide began to shift. After sunrise, Israeli jets and artillery conducted a two-hour bombardment against the Jordanians. The Jordanians lost 10 dead and 250 wounded, and had only seven tanks left, including two without gas, and sixteen APCs. The Israelis then fought their way into Jenin, and captured the city after fierce fighting.

After the Old City fell, the Jerusalem Brigade reinforced the paratroopers, and continued to the south, capturing Judea and Gush Etzion. Hebron was taken without any resistance. Fearful that Israeli soldiers would exact retribution for the 1929 massacre of the city’s Jewish community, Hebron’s residents flew white sheets from their windows and rooftops, and voluntarily gave up their weapons.

The Harel Brigade proceeded eastward, descending to the Jordan River.

On June 7, Israeli forces seized Bethlehem, taking the city after a brief battle that left some 40 Jordanian soldiers dead, with the remainder fleeing. On the same day, one of Peled’s brigades seized Nablus; then it joined one of Central Command’s armoured brigades to fight the Jordanian forces; as the Jordanians held the advantage of superior equipment and were equal in numbers to the Israelis.

Again, the air superiority of the IAF proved paramount as it immobilized the Jordanians, leading to their defeat. One of Peled’s brigades joined with its Central Command counterparts coming from Ramallah, and the remaining two blocked the Jordan river crossings together with the Central Command’s 10th. Engineering Corps sappers blew up the Abdullah and Hussein bridges with captured Jordanian mortar shells, while elements of the Harel Brigade crossed the river and occupied positions along the east bank to cover them, but quickly pulled back due to American pressure. The Jordanians, anticipating an Israeli offensive deep into Jordan, assembled the remnants of their army and Iraqi units in Jordan to protect the western approaches to Amman and the southern slopes of the Golan Heights.

No specific decision had been made to capture any other territories controlled by Jordan. After the Old City was captured, Dayan told his troops to dig in to hold it. When an armoured brigade commander entered the West Bank on his own initiative, and stated that he could see Jericho, Dayan ordered him back. It was only after intelligence reports indicated that Hussein had withdrawn his forces across the Jordan River that Dayan ordered his troops to capture the West Bank.

According to Narkis:

First, the Israeli government had no intention of capturing the West Bank. On the contrary, it was opposed to it. Second, there was not any provocation on the part of the IDF. Third, the rein was only loosened when a real threat to Jerusalem’s security emerged. This is truly how things happened on June 5, although it is difficult to believe. The end result was something that no one had planned.

Golan Heights

The Battle of Golan Heights, June 9–10.

In May–June 1967, the Israeli government did everything in its power to confine the confrontation to the Egyptian front. Eshkol and his colleagues took into account the possibility of some fighting on the Syrian front.

Syria’s attack

False Egyptian reports of a crushing victory against the Israeli army and forecasts that Egyptian forces would soon be attacking Tel Aviv influenced Syria’s decision to enter the war. Syrian artillery began shelling northern Israel, and twelve Syrian jets attacked Israeli settlements in the Galilee. Israeli fighter jets intercepted the Syrian aircraft, shooting down three and driving off the rest.

In addition, two Lebanese Hawker Hunter jets, two of the twelve Lebanon had, crossed into Israeli airspace and began strafing Israeli positions in the Galilee. They were intercepted by Israeli fighter jets, and one was shot down.

 

People in a bomb shelter at Kibbutz Dan

A minor Syrian force tried to capture the water plants at Tel Dan (the subject of a fierce escalation two years earlier), Dan, and She’ar Yashuv. These attacks were repulsed with the loss of twenty soldiers and seven tanks. An Israeli officer was also killed. But a broader Syrian offensive quickly failed. Syrian reserve units were broken up by Israeli air attacks, and several tanks were reported to have sunk in the Jordan River.

Other problems included tanks being too wide for bridges, lack of radio communications between tanks and infantry, and units ignoring orders to advance. A post-war Syrian army report concluded:

Our forces did not go on the offensive either because they did not arrive or were not wholly prepared or because they could not find shelter from the enemy’s planes. The reserves could not withstand the air attacks; they dispersed after their morale plummeted.

The Syrians abandoned hopes of a ground attack and began a massive bombardment of Israeli communities in the Hula Valley instead.

Israeli Air Force attacks the Syrian airfields

On the evening of June 5, the Israeli Air Force attacked Syrian airfields. The Syrian Air Force lost some 32 MiG 21s, 23 MiG-15 and MiG-17 fighters, and two Ilyushin Il-28 bombers, two-thirds of its fighting strength. The Syrian aircraft that survived the attack retreated to distant bases and played no further role in the war. Following the attack, Syria realised that the news it had received from Egypt of the near-total destruction of the Israeli military could not have been true.

Israelis debate whether the Golan Heights should be attacked

On June 7 and 8, the Israeli leadership debated about whether to attack the Golan Heights as well. Syria had supported pre-war raids that had helped raise tensions and had routinely shelled Israel from the Heights, so some Israeli leaders wanted to see Syria punished. Military opinion was that the attack would be extremely costly, since it would entail an uphill battle against a strongly fortified enemy. The western side of the Golan Heights consists of a rock escarpment that rises 500 meters (1,700 ft) from the Sea of Galilee and the Jordan River, and then flattens to a gently sloping plateau.

Dayan opposed the operation bitterly at first, believing such an undertaking would result in losses of 30,000 and might trigger Soviet intervention. Prime Minister Eshkol, on the other hand, was more open to the possibility, as was the head of the Northern Command, David Elazar, whose unbridled enthusiasm for and confidence in the operation may have eroded Dayan’s reluctance.

Eventually, the situation on the Southern and Central fronts cleared up, intelligence estimated that the likelihood of Soviet intervention had been reduced, reconnaissance showed some Syrian defenses in the Golan region collapsing, and an intercepted cable revealed that Nasser was urging the President of Syria to immediately accept a cease-fire. At 3 am on June 9, Syria announced its acceptance of the cease-fire. Despite this announcement, Dayan became more enthusiastic about the idea and four hours later at 7 am, “gave the order to go into action against Syria” without consultation or government authorisation.

8th Armored Brigade

The Syrian army consisted of about 75,000 men grouped in nine brigades, supported by an adequate amount of artillery and armour. Israeli forces used in combat consisted of two brigades (the 8th Armored Brigade and the Golani Brigade) in the northern part of the front at Givat HaEm, and another two (infantry and one of Peled’s brigades summoned from Jenin) in the center. The Golan Heights’ unique terrain (mountainous slopes crossed by parallel streams every several kilometers running east to west), and the general lack of roads in the area channeled both forces along east-west axes of movement and restricted the ability of units to support those on either flank.

Thus the Syrians could move north-south on the plateau itself, and the Israelis could move north-south at the base of the Golan escarpment. An advantage Israel possessed was the excellent intelligence collected by Mossad operative Eli Cohen (who was captured and executed in Syria in 1965) regarding the Syrian battle positions. Syria had built extensive defensive fortifications in depths up to 15 kilometers, comparable to the Maginot Line.

As opposed to all the other campaigns, IAF was only partially effective in the Golan because the fixed fortifications were so effective. However, the Syrian forces proved unable to put up effective defense largely because the officers were poor leaders and treated their soldiers badly; often officers would retreat from danger, leaving their men confused and ineffective. The Israelis also had the upper hand during close combat that took place in the numerous Syrian bunkers along the Golan Heights, as they were armed with the Uzi, a submachine gun designed for close combat, while Syrian soldiers were armed with the heavier AK-47 assault rifle, designed for combat in more open areas.

Israeli attack: first day

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On the morning of June 9, Israeli jets began carrying out dozens of sorties against Syrian positions from Mount Hermon to Tawfiq, using rockets salvaged from captured Egyptian stocks. The airstrikes knocked out artillery batteries and storehouses and forced transport columns off the roads. The Syrians suffered heavy casualties and a drop in morale, with a number of senior officers and troops deserting. The attacks also provided time as Israeli forces cleared paths through Syrian minefields. However, the airstrikes did not seriously damage the Syrians’ bunkers and trench systems, and the bulk of Syrian forces on the Golan remained in their positions.

About two hours after the airstrikes began, the 8th Armored Brigade, led by Colonel Albert Mandler, advanced into the Golan Heights from Givat HaEm. Its advance was spearheaded by Engineering Corps sappers and eight bulldozers, which cleared away barbed wire and mines. As they advanced, the force came under fire, and five bulldozers were immediately hit.

The Israeli tanks, with their maneuverability sharply reduced by the terrain, advanced slowly under fire toward the fortified village of Sir al-Dib, with their ultimate objective being the fortress at Qala. Israeli casualties steadily mounted. Part of the attacking force lost its way and emerged opposite Za’ura, a redoubt manned by Syrian reservists.

With the situation critical, Colonel Mandler ordered simultaneous assaults on Za’ura and Qala. Heavy and confused fighting followed, with Israeli and Syrian tanks struggling around obstacles and firing at extremely short ranges. Mandler recalled that “the Syrians fought well and bloodied us. We beat them only by crushing them under our treads and by blasting them with our cannons at very short range, from 100 to 500 meters.” The first three Israeli tanks to enter Qala were stopped by a Syrian bazooka team, and a relief column of seven Syrian tanks arrived to repel the attackers.

The Israelis took heavy fire from the houses, but could not turn back, as other forces were advancing behind them, and they were on a narrow path with mines on either side. The Israelis continued pressing forward, and called for air support.

A pair of Israeli jets destroyed two of the Syrian tanks, and the remainder withdrew. The surviving defenders of Qala retreated after their commander was killed. Meanwhile, Za’ura fell in an Israeli assault, and the Israelis also captured the ‘Ein Fit fortress.

In the central sector, the Israeli 181st Battalion captured the strongholds of Dardara and Tel Hillal after fierce fighting. Desperate fighting also broke out along the operation’s northern axis, where Golani Brigade attacked thirteen Syrian positions, including the formidable Tel Fakhr position. Navigational errors placed the Israelis directly under the Syrians’ guns. In the fighting that followed, both sides took heavy casualties, with the Israelis losing all nineteen of their tanks and half-tracks.

The Israeli battalion commander then ordered his twenty-five remaining men to dismount, divide into two groups, and charge the northern and southern flanks of Tel Fakhr. The first Israelis to reach the perimeter of the southern approach laid bodily down on the barbed wire, allowing their comrades to vault over them. From there, they assaulted the fortified Syrian positions. The fighting was waged at extremely close quarters, often hand-to-hand.

On the northern flank, the Israelis broke through within minutes and cleared out the trenches and bunkers. During the seven-hour battle, the Israelis lost 31 dead and 82 wounded, while the Syrians lost 62 dead and 20 captured. Among the dead was the Israeli battalion commander. The Golani Brigade’s 51st Battalion took Tel ‘Azzaziat, and Darbashiya also fell to Israeli forces.

By the evening of June 9, the four Israeli brigades had all broken through to the plateau, where they could be reinforced and replaced. Thousands of reinforcements began reaching the front, those tanks and half-tracks that had survived the previous day’s fighting were refueled and replenished with ammunition, and the wounded were evacuated. By dawn, the Israelis had eight brigades in the sector.

Syria’s first line of defense had been shattered, but the defenses beyond that remained largely intact. Mount Hermon and the Banias in the north, and the entire sector between Tawfiq and Customs House Road in the south remained in Syrian hands. In a meeting early on the night of June 9, Syrian leaders decided to reinforce those positions as quickly as possible, and to maintain a steady barrage on Israeli civilian settlements.

Israeli attack: the next day

Throughout the night, the Israelis continued their advance. Though it was slowed by fierce resistance, an anticipated Syrian counterattack never materialized. At the fortified village of Jalabina, a garrison of Syrian reservists, leveling their anti-aircraft guns, held off the Israeli 65th Paratroop Battalion for four hours before a small detachment managed to penetrate the village and knock out the heavy guns.

Meanwhile, the 8th Brigade’s tanks moved south from Qala, advancing six miles to Wasit under heavy artillery and tank bombardment. At the Banias in the north, Syrian mortar batteries opened fire on advancing Israeli forces only after Golani Brigade sappers cleared a path through a minefield, killing sixteen Israeli soldiers and wounding four.

On the next day, June 10, the central and northern groups joined in a pincer movement on the plateau, but that fell mainly on empty territory as the Syrian forces retreated. At 8:30 am, the Syrians began blowing up their own bunkers, burning documents and retreating. Several units joined by Elad Peled’s troops climbed to the Golan from the south, only to find the positions mostly empty. When the 8th Brigade reached Mansura, five miles from Wasit, the Israelis met no opposition and found abandoned equipment, including tanks, in perfect working condition. In the fortified Banias village, Golani Brigade troops found only several Syrian soldiers chained to their positions.

During the day, the Israeli units stopped after obtaining manoeuvre room between their positions and a line of volcanic hills to the west. In some locations, Israeli troops advanced after an agreed-upon cease-fire to occupy strategically strong positions. To the east, the ground terrain is an open gently sloping plain. This position later became the cease-fire line known as the “Purple Line“.

Time magazine reported:

“In an effort to pressure the United Nations into enforcing a ceasefire, Damascus Radio undercut its own army by broadcasting the fall of the city of Quneitra three hours before it actually capitulated. That premature report of the surrender of their headquarters destroyed the morale of the Syrian troops left in the Golan area.”

Conclusion

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By June 10, Israel had completed its final offensive in the Golan Heights, and a ceasefire was signed the day after. Israel had seized the Gaza Strip, the Sinai Peninsula, the West Bank of the Jordan River (including East Jerusalem), and the Golan Heights. About one million Arabs were placed under Israel’s direct control in the newly captured territories. Israel’s strategic depth grew to at least 300 kilometers in the south, 60 kilometers in the east, and 20 kilometers of extremely rugged terrain in the north, a security asset that would prove useful in the Yom Kippur War six years later.

Speaking three weeks after the war ended, as he accepted an honorary degree from Hebrew University, Yitzhak Rabin gave his reasoning behind the success of Israel:

Our airmen, who struck the enemies’ planes so accurately that no one in the world understands how it was done and people seek technological explanations or secret weapons; our armoured troops who beat the enemy even when their equipment was inferior to his; our soldiers in all other branches … who overcame our enemies everywhere, despite the latter’s superior numbers and fortifications—all these revealed not only coolness and courage in the battle but … an understanding that only their personal stand against the greatest dangers would achieve victory for their country and for their families, and that if victory was not theirs the alternative was annihilation.

In recognition of contributions, Rabin was given the honour of naming the war for the Israelis. From the suggestions proposed, including the “War of Daring”, “War of Salvation”, and “War of the Sons of Light”, he “chose the least ostentatious, the Six-Day War, evoking the days of creation”.

Dayan’s final report on the war to the Israeli general staff listed several shortcomings in Israel’s actions, including misinterpretation of Nasser’s intentions, overdependence on the United States, and reluctance to act when Egypt closed the Straits. He also credited several factors for Israel’s success: Egypt did not appreciate the advantage of striking first and their adversaries did not accurately gauge Israel’s strength and its willingness to use it.

In Egypt, according to Heikal, Nasser had admitted his responsibility for the military defeat in June 1967.According to historian Abd al-Azim Ramadan, Nasser’s mistaken decisions to expel the international peacekeeping force from the Sinai Peninsula and close the Straits of Tiran in 1967 led to a state of war with Israel, despite Egypt’s lack of military preparedness.

After the 1973 Yom Kippur War, Egypt reviewed the causes of its loss of the 1967 war. Issues that were identified included “the individualistic bureaucratic leadership”; “promotions on the basis of loyalty, not expertise, and the army’s fear of telling Nasser the truth”; lack of intelligence; and better Israeli weapons, command, organization, and will to fight.

Casualties

Between 776  and 983 Israelis were killed and 4,517 were wounded. 15 Israeli soldiers were captured. Arab casualties were far greater. Between 9,800 and 15,000 Egyptian soldiers were listed as killed or missing in action. An additional 4,338 Egyptian soldiers were captured.

Jordanian losses are estimated to be 6,000 killed or missing and 533 captured, though Gawrych cites a number of some 700 killed in action with another 2,500 wounded.The Syrians were estimated to have sustained between 1,000 and 2,500 killed in action. Between 367 and 591 Syrians were captured.

Controversies

Preemptive strike v. unjustified attack

At the commencement of hostilities, both Egypt and Israel announced that they had been attacked by the other country. The Israeli government later abandoned its initial position, acknowledging Israel had struck first, claiming that it was a preemptive strike in the face of a planned invasion by Egypt.

On the other hand, the Arab view was that it was unjustified to attack Egypt. Many commentators consider the war as the classic case of anticipatory attack in self-defense.

Allegations of atrocities against Egyptian soldiers

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It has been alleged that Nasser did not want Egypt to learn of the true extent of his defeat and so ordered the killing of Egyptian army stragglers making their way back to the Suez canal zone. There have also been allegations from both Israeli and Egyptian sources that Israeli troops killed unarmed Egyptian prisoners.

Allegations of military support from the US, UK and Soviet Union

There have been a number of allegations of direct military support of Israel during the war by the US and the UK, including the supply of equipment (despite an embargo) and the participation of US forces in the conflict. Many of these allegations and conspiracy theories have been disputed and it has been claimed that some were given currency in the Arab world to explain the Arab defeat. It has also been claimed that the Soviet Union, in support of its Arab allies, used its naval strength in the Mediterranean to act as a major restraint on the US Navy.

America features prominently in Arab conspiracy theories purporting to explain the June 1967 defeat. Mohamed Hassanein Heikal, a confidant of Nasser, claims that President Lyndon B. Johnson was obsessed with Nasser and that Johnson conspired with Israel to bring him down. The reported Israeli troop movements seemed all the more threatening because they were perceived in the context of a US conspiracy against Egypt. Salah Bassiouny of the Foreign ministry, claims that Foreign Ministry saw the reported Israeli troop movements as credible because Israel had reached the level at which it could find strategic alliance with the United States.

During the war, Cairo announced that American and British planes were participating in the Israeli attack. Nasser broke off diplomatic relations following this allegation. Nasser’s image of the United States was such that he might well have believed the worst. However Anwar Sadat implied that Nasser used this deliberate conspiracy in order to accuse the United States as a political cover-up for domestic consumption.

Lutfi Abd al-Qadir, the director of Radio Cairo during the late 1960s, who accompanied Nasser to his visits in Moscow, had his conspiracy theory that both the Soviets and the Western powers wanted to topple Nasser or to reduce his influence.

USS Liberty incident

On June 8, 1967, USS Liberty, a United States Navy electronic intelligence vessel sailing 13 nautical miles (24 km) off Arish (just outside Egypt’s territorial waters), was attacked by Israeli jets and torpedo boats, nearly sinking the ship, killing 34 sailors and wounding 171. Israel said the attack was a case of mistaken identity, and that the ship had been misidentified as the Egyptian vessel El Quseir.

Israel apologized for the mistake, and paid compensation to the victims or their families, and to the United States for damage to the ship. After an investigation, the U.S. accepted the explanation that the incident was friendly fire and the issue was closed by the exchange of diplomatic notes in 1987. Others however, including the then United States Secretary of State Dean Rusk, Chief of Naval Operations at the time, Admiral Thomas Moorer, some survivors of the attack and intelligence officials familiar with transcripts of intercepted signals on the day, have rejected these conclusions as unsatisfactory and maintain that the attack was made in the knowledge that the ship was American.

Aftermath

The political importance of the 1967 War was immense; Israel demonstrated that it was able and willing to initiate strategic strikes that could change the regional balance. Egypt and Syria learned tactical lessons and would launch an attack in 1973 in an attempt to reclaim their lost territory.

After following other Arab nations in declaring war, Mauritania remained in a declared state of war with Israel until about 1999.

The United States imposed an embargo on new arms agreements to all Middle East countries, including Israel. The embargo remained in force until the end of the year, despite urgent Israeli requests to lift it.

Israel and Zionism

 

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Following the war, Israel experienced a wave of national euphoria, and the press praised the military’s performance for weeks afterward. New “victory coins” were minted to celebrate. In addition, the world’s interest in Israel grew, and the country’s economy, which had been in crisis before the war, flourished due to an influx of tourists and donations, as well as the extraction of oil from the Sinai’s wells.

The aftermath of the war is also of religious significance. Under Jordanian rule, Jews were expelled from Jerusalem and were effectively barred from visiting the Western Wall (even though Article VIII of the 1949 Armistice Agreement demanded Israeli Jewish access to the Western Wall).

Jewish holy sites were not maintained, and Jewish cemeteries had been desecrated. After the annexation to Israel, each religious group was granted administration over its holy sites. For the first time since 1948, Jews could visit the Old City of Jerusalem and pray at the Western Wall, the holiest site where Jews are permitted to pray.

Despite the Temple Mount being the most important holy site in Jewish tradition, the al-Aqsa Mosque has been under sole administration of the Jordanian Muslim Waqf, and Jews are barred from praying on the Temple Mount, although they are allowed to visit it.[156][157] In Hebron, Jews gained access to the Cave of the Patriarchs (the second most holy site in Judaism, after the Temple Mount) for the first time since the 14th century (previously Jews were allowed to pray only at the entrance).

Other Jewish holy sites, such as Rachel’s Tomb in Bethlehem and Joseph’s Tomb in Nablus, also became accessible.

The war inspired the Jewish diaspora, which was swept up in overwhelming support for Israel. According to Michael Oren, the war enabled American Jews to

“walk with their backs straight and flex their political muscle as never before. American Jewish organizations which had previously kept Israel at arms length suddenly proclaimed their Zionism.”

Record numbers of Jewish immigrants arrived from Western countries after the war, although many of them would later return to their countries of origin

.Most notably, the war stirred Zionist passions among Jews in the Soviet Union, who had by that time been forcibly assimilated. Many Soviet Jews subsequently applied for exit visas and began protesting for their right to immigrate to Israel. Following diplomatic pressure from the West, the Soviet government began granting exit visas to Jews in growing numbers. From 1970 to 1988, some 291,000 Soviet Jews were granted exit visas, of whom 165,000 immigrated to Israel and 126,000 immigrated to the United States.

Jews in Arab countries-Pogroms and expulsion

In the Arab nations, populations of minority Jews faced persecution and expulsion following the Israeli victory. According to historian and ambassador Michael B. Oren:

Mobs attacked Jewish neighborhoods in Egypt, Yemen, Lebanon, Tunisia, and Morocco, burning synagogues and assaulting residents. A pogrom in Tripoli, Libya, left 18 Jews dead and 25 injured; the survivors were herded into detention centers. Of Egypt’s 4,000 Jews, 800 were arrested, including the chief rabbis of both Cairo and Alexandria, and their property sequestered by the government. The ancient communities of Damascus and Baghdad were placed under house arrest, their leaders imprisoned and fined. A total of 7,000 Jews were expelled, many with merely a satchel.

Antisemitism against Jews in Communist countries

Following the war, a series of antisemitic purges began in Communist countries. Some 11,200 Jews from Poland immigrated to Israel during the 1968 Polish political crisis and the following year.

Peace and diplomacy

Following the war, Israel made an offer for peace that included the return of most of the recently captured territories. According to Chaim Herzog:

On June 19, 1967, the National Unity Government [of Israel] voted unanimously to return the Sinai to Egypt and the Golan Heights to Syria in return for peace agreements. The Golans would have to be demilitarized and special arrangement would be negotiated for the Straits of Tiran. The government also resolved to open negotiations with King Hussein of Jordan regarding the Eastern border.

The June 19 Israeli cabinet decision did not include the Gaza Strip, and left open the possibility of Israel permanently acquiring parts of the West Bank. On June 25–27, Israel incorporated East Jerusalem together with areas of the West Bank to the north and south into Jerusalem’s new municipal boundaries.

The Israeli decision was to be conveyed to the Arab nations by the United States. The U.S. was informed of the decision, but not that it was to transmit it. There is no evidence of receipt from Egypt or Syria, and some historians claim that they may never have received the offer.

In September, the Khartoum Arab Summit resolved that there would be “no peace, no recognition and no negotiation with Israel”. However, as Avraham Sela notes, the Khartoum conference effectively marked a shift in the perception of the conflict by the Arab states away from one centered on the question of Israel’s legitimacy, toward one focusing on territories and boundaries. This was shown on November 22 when Egypt and Jordan accepted United Nations Security Council Resolution 242.

Nasser forestalled any movement toward direct negotiations with Israel. In dozens of speeches and statements, Nasser posited the equation that any direct peace talks with Israel were tantamount to surrender.

After the war, the entire Soviet bloc of Eastern Europe (with the exception of Romania) broke off diplomatic relations with Israel.

The 1967 War laid the foundation for future discord in the region, as the Arab states resented Israel’s victory and did not want to give up territory.

On November 22, 1967, the United Nations Security Council adopted Resolution 242, the “land for peace” formula, which called for Israeli withdrawal “from territories occupied” in 1967 and “the termination of all claims or states of belligerency”. Resolution 242 recognized the right of “every state in the area to live in peace within secure and recognized boundaries free from threats or acts of force.” Israel returned the Sinai to Egypt in 1978, after the Camp David Accords, and disengaged from the Gaza Strip in the summer of 2005. Its army frequently re-enters Gaza for military operations and still retains control of the seaports, airports and most of the border crossings.

Captured territories and Arab displaced populations

There was extensive displacement of populations in the captured territories: of about one million Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza, 300,000 (according to the United States Department of State)  either fled, or were displaced from their homes, to Jordan, where they contributed to the growing unrest.

The other 700,000 remained. In the Golan Heights, an estimated 80,000 Syrians fled. Israel allowed only the inhabitants of East Jerusalem and the Golan Heights to receive full Israeli citizenship, applying its law, administration and jurisdiction to these territories in 1967 and 1981, respectively. The vast majority of the populations in both territories declined to take citizenship. See also Israeli–Palestinian conflict and Golan Heights.

In his book Righteous Victims (1999), Israeli “New HistorianBenny Morris writes:

In three villages southwest of Jerusalem and at Qalqilya, houses were destroyed “not in battle, but as punishment … and in order to chase away the inhabitants … contrary to government … policy,” Dayan wrote in his memoirs. In Qalqilya, about a third of the homes were razed and about 12,000 inhabitants were evicted, though many then camped out in the environs. The evictees in both areas were allowed to stay and later were given cement and tools by the Israeli authorities to rebuild at least some of their dwellings.

But many thousands of other Palestinians now took to the roads. Perhaps as many as seventy thousand, mostly from the Jericho area, fled during the fighting; tens of thousands more left over the following months. Altogether, about one-quarter of the population of the West Bank, about 200–250,000 people, went into exile. … They simply walked to the Jordan River crossings and made their way on foot to the East Bank. It is unclear how many were intimidated or forced out by the Israeli troops and how many left voluntarily, in panic and fear. There is some evidence of IDF soldiers going around with loudspeakers ordering West Bankers to leave their homes and cross the Jordan. Some left because they had relatives or sources of livelihood on the East Bank and feared being permanently cut off.

Thousands of Arabs were taken by bus from East Jerusalem to the Allenby Bridge, though there is no evidence of coercion. The free Israeli-organized transportation, which began on June 11, 1967, went on for about a month. At the bridge they had to sign a document stating that they were leaving of their own free will. Perhaps as many as 70,000 people emigrated from the Gaza Strip to Egypt and elsewhere in the Arab world.

On July 2, the Israeli government announced that it would allow the return of those 1967 refugees who desired to do so, but no later than August 10, later extended to September 13. The Jordanian authorities probably pressured many of the refugees, who constituted an enormous burden, to sign up to return. In practice only 14,000 of the 120,000 who applied were allowed by Israel back into the West Bank by the beginning of September. After that, only a trickle of “special cases” were allowed back, perhaps 3,000 in all. (328–29)

In addition, between 80,000 and 110,000 Syrians fled the Golan Heights, of which about 20,000 were from the city of Quneitra. According to more recent research by the Israeli daily Haaretz, a total of 130,000 Syrian inhabitants fled or were expelled from the territory, most of them pushed out by the Israeli army. 

Long term

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Israel made peace with Egypt following the Camp David Accords of 1978 and completed a staged withdrawal from the Sinai in 1982. However, the position of the other occupied territories has been a long-standing and bitter cause of conflict for decades between Israel and the Palestinians, and the Arab world in general.

Jordan and Egypt eventually withdrew their claims to sovereignty over the West Bank and Gaza, respectively. (The Sinai was returned to Egypt on the basis of the Camp David Accords of 1978.) Israel and Jordan signed a peace treaty in 1994.

After the Israeli conquest of these newly acquired ‘territories’, it launched a large settlement effort in these areas to secure a permanent foothold. There are now hundreds of thousands of Israeli settlers in the West Bank. They are a matter of controversy within Israel, both among the general population and within different political administrations, supporting them to varying degrees. Palestinians consider them a provocation.

The Israeli settlements in Gaza were evacuated and destroyed in August 2005 as a part of Israel’s unilateral disengagement plan of that time.

The sinking of HMS Coventry by Argentine missiles -25th May 1982

The sinking of HMS Coventry

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1982 Dozens killed as Argentines hit British ships

Dozens of men are feared dead in the seas around the Falkland Islands after the container ship Atlantic Conveyor and the destroyer HMS Coventry were hit by Argentine missiles.

HMS Coventry managed to destroy two Argentine Skyhawk planes with Sea Dart missiles. Another wave of Skyhawks hit her four times with 1,000 bombs. She capsized, losing 21 of her crew.

An explosion and a fireball swept through the operations room. The ship listed to port and the crew and wounded made their way to the upper decks from where they were rescued.

It is thought the Atlantic Conveyor, owned by Cunard, was mistaken for the aircraft carrier HMS Hermes.

She was attacked by two Super Etendards which fired French-built Exocets like the ones that sunk the Coventry’s sister ship HMS Sheffield on 4 May.

See BBC ONTHISDAY for more details

 

HMS Coventry

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HMS Coventry was a Type 42 (Sheffield-class) destroyer of the Royal Navy. Laid down by Cammell Laird and Company, Limited, at Birkenhead on 29 January 1973, she was launched on 21 June 1974 and accepted into service on 20 October 1978 at a cost of £37,900,000.

She was sunk by Argentine Air Force A-4 Skyhawks on 25 May 1982 during the Falklands War.

 

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HMS Coventry
History
United Kingdom
Name: HMS Coventry
Builder: Cammell Laird
Laid down: 29 January 1973
Launched: 21 June 1974
Commissioned: 10 November 1978
Identification: Pennant number: D118
Fate: Sunk by Argentine aircraft, 25 May 1982
General characteristics
Class and type: Type 42 destroyer
Displacement: 4,820 tonnes
Length: 125 m (410 ft)
Beam: 14.3 m (47 ft)
Draught: 5.8 m (19 ft)
Propulsion: COGOG (Combined Gas or Gas) turbines, 2 shafts producing 36 MW
Speed: 30 knots (56 km/h; 35 mph)
Complement: 287
Armament:
Aircraft carried: Westland Lynx HAS.Mk.1/2

 

Background

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The principal role of these ships was to provide the fleet with mid-range anti-air warfare capability with secondary roles of anti-surface and anti-submarine. A total of sixteen Type 42s were built between 1972 and 1985, in three batches, with Coventry the last of the first batch to be commissioned.

To cut costs, the first two batches had 47 feet removed from the bow and the beam-to-length ratio reduced. These early Type 42s performed poorly during trials and were notoriously poor sea-keepers.

Type 42 destroyers were fitted with the Sea Dart surface-to-air missiles designed in the 1960s to counter threats from manned aircraft. Sea Dart was constrained by limitations on its firing capacity and reaction time, but did prove itself during the Falklands War with seven kills, three of these attributed to Coventry.

Service history

1978–1982

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Captain Christopher ‘Beagle’ Burne

Coventry was commissioned on 10 November 1978 under the command of Captain C. P. O. Burne at Portsmouth. Following post-commissioning trials, the ship was used to trial the operation of the new Westland Lynx helicopter from the Type 42 platform, to test the combination’s safe operating limits.

The ship’s first major deployment came in 1980 when she was sent to the Far East; in September of that year, alongside Antrim and Alacrity, she became the first British warship to visit the People’s Republic of China in 30 years. En route back to the UK, Coventry was diverted to the Persian Gulf following the outbreak of the Iran–Iraq War, where the ship remained on patrol for six weeks until relieved by the start of the permanent Armilla patrol consisting of Ardent and Apollo.

Throughout 1981 and into 1982, Coventry took part in various exercises in home waters, culminating in her deployment as part of Exercise Springtrain ’82 in March 1982.

 

Falklands Campaign

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See Falklands War

Coventry was taking part in the Exercise Springtrain 82 near the British base of Gibraltar, during March 1982. Along with other vessels involved in the exercise she was detailed for service in the Falklands Campaign. She had a Union Flag painted on the roof of her bridge and a black line painted through her funnel to her waterline to aid recognition, as the Argentines also operated two Type 42 destroyers.

On 27 April, Coventry, in company with Glamorgan, Glasgow, Arrow and Sheffield, entered the Total Exclusion Zone, a 200-mile cordon around the Falkland Islands. Alongside Sheffield and Glasgow, Coventry would form the air defence vanguard for the aircraft carriers following behind.

Coventrys contribution to the Falklands War was considerable. Her helicopter was the first to fire Sea Skua air-to-surface anti-ship missiles in action. Her Westland Lynx HAS.Mk.2 fired two Sea Skua missiles on 3 May at ARA Alferez Sobral, the former USS Salish. One missile missed and the other hit a small boat, knocking out the radio aerials and slightly injuring a crewman manning a 20 mm gun. Glasgows Lynx fired two more Sea Skua, and the vessel retreated, with eight crew killed, eight wounded and heavy damage.

Her damaged bridge is now on display at the Naval Museum in Tigre, Argentina. The vessel remains in service in the Argentine Navy.

Published in El Clarín. The circle with the “1” is where General Belgrano was sunk. The “2” shows the last contact with Alferez Sobral.
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Coventry was the first warship to fire Sea Dart surface-to-air missiles in anger when the ship fired three on 9 May at two Learjets of Escuadrón Fénix, just missing the aircraft. Broadsword reported that her radar tracked the missiles merging with the pair of contacts (call signs Litro and Pepe), but they missed the aircraft.

Coventrys captain, David Hart Dyke claimed that two A-4C Skyhawks of Grupo 4 were shot down by Sea Darts (C-303 and C-313). However, both were actually lost to bad weather, and both wrecks were found on South Jason Island,

one on the northwest side of the cliffs, the other in shallow waters on the southwest. Lt Casco and Lt Farias were both killed.

The first confirmed kill made by Coventry was an Aérospatiale Puma helicopter of 601 Assault Helicopter Battalion, shot down by a Sea Dart over Choiseul Sound, killing its three-man crew.

Coventry had been one of three Type 42 destroyers providing anti-aircraft cover for the fleet. With the loss of Sheffield and damage to Glasgow on 12 May, forcing her to return to the UK, Coventry was left to carry out the role alone, until other ships could arrive from the UK.

“Type 64”

HMS Cornwall (F99), May 2007

Type 22 frigates

 

Following the loss of Sheffield, a new air defence tactic was devised to try to maximise the task group’s remaining assets. This saw the two remaining Type 42s paired with the two Type 22 frigates (a pairing unofficially termed Type 64) and deployed much further ahead of the main force in an effort to draw attacking aircraft away from the carriers.

The idea was that in the event of Sea Dart being unable to function, the short range Sea Wolf advanced point defence missile fitted to the frigates could be used. In this, Coventry was paired with Broadsword.

25 May 1982

On 25 May 1982, Coventry and Broadsword were ordered to take up position to the north-west of Falkland Sound. There she would act as a decoy to draw Argentinian aircraft away from other ships at San Carlos Bay. In this position, close to land, with not enough open sea between her and the coast, her Sea Dart missiles would be less effective.[6] Broadsword was armed with the Sea Wolf missile, which is for short range anti-aircraft and anti-missile use.

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At first, the trap worked, with FAA A-4B Skyhawk C-244 of Grupo 5 shot down north of Pebble Island by a Sea Dart. Pilot Capitán Hugo Ángel del Valle Palaver was killed. Later a FAA A-4C Skyhawk coded C-304 of Grupo 4 de Caza deployed to San Julian was shot down north east of Pebble Island by another Sea Dart while returning from a mission to San Carlos Water. Capitán Jorge Osvaldo García successfully ejected but was not recovered from the water.

His body was washed ashore in a dinghy at Golding Island in 1983. Garcia’s wingman, Teniente Ricardo Lucero, was also shot down during the raid on San Carlos by a Rapier Missile from ‘T’ Battery, 12 Regiment Royal Artillery, but he was luckier, and ejected into captivity, in front of waiting news crews.

The two ships then came under attack by two waves of two Argentine A-4 Skyhawks. The first wave carried one 1,000 lb free-fall bomb while the second one carried 3 x 250 kg bombs. The four Skyhawks flew so low that Coventrys targeting radar could not distinguish between them and the land and failed to lock on. Broadsword attempted to target the first pair of attackers (Capitán Pablo Carballo and Teniente Carlos Rinke) with her Sea Wolf missile system, but her own tracking system locked down during the attack and could not be reset before the aircraft released their bombs.

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Of the bombs released, one bounced off the sea and struck Broadswords flight deck and, though it failed to explode, wrecked the ship’s Lynx helicopter. Coventry claimed to have hit the second Skyhawk (Capitán P. Marcos Carballo) in the tail with small arms fire, although the aircraft returned safely to Argentina. In fact, Carballo’s plane was hit under the right wing by a piece of shrapnel on his way in, that pierced his aircraft’s right fuel tank.

The second pair of Skyhawks (Primer Teniente Mariano A. Velasco and Ensign Alférez Leonardo Barrionuevo), headed for Coventry 90 seconds later at a 20-degree angle to her port bow. Still unable to gain a missile lock, Coventry launched a Sea Dart in an attempt to distract them and turned hard to starboard to reduce her profile. On Broadsword the Sea Wolf system had been reset and successfully acquired the attacking aircraft, but was unable to fire as Coventrys turn took her directly into the line of fire.

Coventry used her 4.5-inch gun and small arms against the attacking aircraft. The port Oerlikon 20 mm cannon jammed, leaving the ship with only rifles and machine guns to defend herself. Coventry was struck by three bombs just above the water line on the port side. One of the bombs exploded beneath the computer room, destroying it and the nearby operations room, incapacitating almost all senior officers.

The other entered the forward engine room, exploding beneath the junior ratings dining room where the first aid party was stationed, and the ship immediately began listing to port. The latter hit caused critical damage as it breached the bulkhead between the forward and aft engine rooms, exposing the largest open space in the ship to uncontrollable flooding.

Given the design of the ship, with multiple watertight compartments, two hits virtually anywhere else might have been just survivable. The third bomb did not explode.

Within 20 minutes Coventry had been abandoned and had completely capsized. Coventry sank shortly after. Nineteen of her crew were killed and a further 30 injured. One of the wounded, Paul Mills, suffered complications from a skull fracture sustained in the sinking of the ship and later died on 29 March 1983; he is buried in his home town of Swavesey, Cambridgeshire.

After the ship was struck, her crew, waiting to be rescued, sang “Always Look on the Bright Side of Life” from Monty Python’s Life of Brian.[11]

Broadsword subsequently rescued 170 of Coventrys crew.

Tributes

Memorial to the dead of HMS Coventry in Holy Trinity Church, Coventry

No member of Coventry received an award for bravery. CPO Aircrewman M J Tupper of No.846 NAS was awarded a Distinguished Service Medal for his part in the rescue.

After the war, a cross to commemorate crew members who lost their lives was erected on Pebble Island.

David Hart Dyke, Coventrys commanding officer during the Falklands War, wrote about the ship’s tale in his book Four Weeks in May: The Loss of HMS Coventry. This was adapted by the BBC into a documentary Sea of Fire, with dramatised sequences and shown in June 2007.

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In 2011 it was announced that a feature-length film would be produced based on Four Weeks in May, to be written and directed by Tom Shankland. The documentary television series Seconds from Disaster featured the attack on the Coventry in the episode “Sinking the Coventry” in December 2012.

The wreck site is a controlled site under the Protection of Military Remains Act. Five months after Coventry sank, a RN Fleet Diving Team conducted an underwater survey of the wreck, which they found lying on her port side in approximately 100 metres (330 ft) of water. This survey was the beginning of “Operation Blackleg”, a series of dives to recover classified documentation and equipment and to make the remaining weapons safe by means of explosive demolition.

The dive team recovered several personal items belonging to Hart Dyke and other officers along with the ship’s battle ensign, later presented to the next Coventry, a Type 22 frigate. The divers also recovered the Cross of Nails, originally presented to the ship by Coventry Cathedral. This too was loaned to the new Coventry, until her decommissioning in 2002, when it returned to the cathedral.

The Cross is now carried on board HMS Diamond (D34), a Type 45 destroyer.

There is a memorial plaque to the dead of HMS Coventry at Holy Trinity Church, Coventry.

 

 

The Golden Division – Bringing Death to IS Scum

Iraqi Special Operations Forces

( AKA The Golden Division )

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Insignia

Special Operations Iraq SSI.svg

Active December 26, 2003 – Present
Country  Iraq
Branch Iraqi Army
Type Special Forces
Size 18,000
Part of Iraqi Counter Terrorism Service (reports directly to Prime Minister of Iraq)
Motto(s) May you sleep peacefully in your bed tonight for a mighty sword stands ready to strike fear in the hearts of those who would terrorize us!
Engagements Anti-guerrilla operations in Iraq as part of the Iraq War
Iraqi Civil War (2014–present)
Commanders
Current
commander
Major General Fadhil Jalil al-Barwari

 

Iraqi Special Operations Forces (ISOF) (Arabic: قوات العمليات الخاصة العراقية‎‎) are Iraqi special forces unit created by coalition forces after the 2003 invasion. The forces, directed by the Iraqi Counter Terrorism Service, consist of the Iraqi Counter Terrorism Command, which has three brigades subordinate to it. The Counter Terrorism Service (Jihaz Mukafahah al-Irhab, originally translated as Counter Terrorism Bureau) is funded by the Iraq Ministry of Defence.

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History

Special operations troops in the old Iraqi army were first established when Colonel Khaleel Jassim Al-Dabbagh built the first royal special units in the name of “Queen Alia Forces” in the mid 1950s. It consisted of Sunni, Shia Arabs and other components of Iraqi population. They were mainly used on an emergency basis to carry out special missions inside of Iraq and outside when the country was in war.

After the Invasion in 2003, Iraqi forces were made redundant by the Invasion forces and because of this, the current Iraqi commando force were recruited from scratch, mostly from Shia Arabs, Kurds and few Sunni.

In November 2005, after training in Jordan with Jordanian Special Forces and US Army Special Forces (“Green Berets”), the Iraqi Special Operations Force had 1,440 men trained, composed into two combat battalions, considered equal in training and combat effectiveness to an average US Army Infantry battalion, and two support battalions.

 

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In March 2008, the force consisted of a single brigade which in turn was made up of an Iraqi Counter-Terrorism Force (ICTF) battalion, three Commando battalions, a support battalion and a special reconnaissance unit.

In the Battle of Mosul that began in October 2016, the special ops forces were correctly expected to be the first division into the city of Mosul, which has been occupied by ISIL since 2014.

On 1 November 2016 the 1st Iraqi Special Forces Division fought its way into the Gogjali quarter of the city, becoming the first Iraqi unit to enter the city during the offensive.

Command structure

The 1st Special Operations Brigade is based in Baghdad and has the 1st, 2nd, and 5th Battalions, a brigade support battalion and a training battalion/Iraqi Special Warfare Center and School. The 1st Battalion is the renamed Iraqi 36th Commando Battalion.

 

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The 1st Brigade is often referred to as the Golden Division, and previously the Golden Brigade.

The 2nd Special Operations Brigade has four commando battalions [1,440 men], which were at Basra, Mosul, Diyala and Al Asad prior to the formation of the 3rd Brigade. The battalions at Basra and Mosul achieved Iraqi Operational Control (IOC) in January 2008 and conducted local operations. Regional CT Centers (RCCs), similar to Joint Interagency Task Force (JIATF) organizations, were to be established at all four regional commando bases to develop intelligence on terrorist networks in their region.

The 3rd Brigade was established in Basra by spring 2013, following an order by the prime minister in January 2012 that the forces expand by an additional brigade. It consisted of regional commando battalions in Basra, Diwaniya, Najaf, Maysan, Dhi Qar and Muthana provinces, a recce battalion, and a support battalion.

 

CT pilot training

In February 2008, the Iraqi Air Force, with Coalition Advisors, began night vision goggle (NVG) training as the basis for future counter-terrorism (CT) pilot training. Potential CT pilots and aircrew will undergo NVG flying introduction in order to select the best pilots for advanced CT aviation training as early as April 2008. Selected pilots will continue to log NVG training hours in order to attain a proficiency level that prepares them for Advanced Special Operations specific training as early as late summer 2008.

Once fielded, this special operations aviation capability will reside in the Iraqi Air Force’s 15 Squadron

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See The National for more details on Golden Division

See Skull-faced commandos bringing TERROR to ISIS DailyStar

 

Guinea Pig Club – Lest We Forget!

Guinea Pig Club

Hero’s One  & All

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The Guinea Pig Club, established in 1941, was a social club and mutual support network for British and allied aircrew injured during World War II. Its membership was made up of patients of Archibald McIndoe at Queen Victoria Hospital, East Grinstead, Sussex, who had undergone experimental reconstructive plastic surgery, generally after receiving burns injuries in aircraft. The club remained active after the end of the war, and its annual reunion meetings continued until 2007.

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Origins

The club was formed on McIndoe’s initiative in June 1941 with 39 patients, primarily as a drinking club. The members were aircrew patients in the hospital and the surgeons and anaesthetists who treated them. Aircrew members had to be serving airmen who had gone through at least two surgical procedures. By the end of the war the club had 649 members.

The name “Guinea Pig” – the rodent species commonly used as a laboratory test subject – was chosen to reflect the experimental nature of the techniques and equipment used for reconstructive work carried out at East Grinstead. The treatment of burns by surgery was in its infancy, and many casualties were suffering from injuries which, only a few years earlier, would have led to certain death.

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The original members were Royal Air Force (RAF) aircrew who had severe burns, generally to the face or hands. Most were British but other significant minorities included Canadians, Australians, New Zealanders and by the end of the war Americans, French, Russians, Czechs and Poles. During the Battle of Britain, most of the patients were fighter pilots, but by the end of the war around 80% of the members were from bomber crews of RAF Bomber Command.

Before the war the RAF had made preparations by setting up burns units in several hospitals to treat the expected casualties. At East Grinstead, McIndoe and his colleagues, including Albert Ross Tilley, developed and improved many techniques for treating and reconstructing burns victims. They had to deal with very severe injuries: one man, Air Gunner Les Wilkins, lost his face and hands and McIndoe recreated his fingers by making incisions between his knuckles.

Aware that many patients would have to stay in hospital for several years and undergo many reconstructive operations, MacIndoe set out to make their lives relaxed and socially productive. He gave much thought to the reintegration of patients into normal life after treatment, an aspect of care that had previously been neglected. They were encouraged to lead as normal a life as possible, including being permitted to wear their own clothes or service uniforms instead of “convalescent blues”, and to leave the hospital at will. Local families were encouraged to welcome them as guests, and other residents to treat them without distinction:

East Grinstead became “the town that did not stare”. The Guinea Pig Club was part of these efforts to make life in hospital easier, and to rebuild patients psychologically in preparation for life outside. There were even barrels of beer in wards to encourage an informal and happy atmosphere.

Later, many of the men also served in other capacities in RAF operations control rooms, and occasionally as pilots between the surgeries. Those unable to serve in any capacity received full pay until the last surgical operations and only then were invalided out of the service. McIndoe also later loaned some of his patients money for their subsequent entry into civilian life.

Post-war history

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The club was not disbanded at the end of the war, but continued to meet for over sixty years, offering a sense of community and practical support to former patients. Annual meetings at East Grinstead attracted visitors from all over the world. McIndoe had been elected life president at the club’s foundation: after his death in 1960, Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, became president. Geoffrey Page was the first chairman.

In 2003, there were around two hundred survivors; by 2007 there were 97 (57 in Britain; 40 elsewhere in the world), their ages ranging from 82 to 102. The last annual reunion was held in 2007, and attracted over 60 attendees, but in view of the frailty of many of the survivors the decision was then taken to wind the club down.

By April 2015, there were believed to be 29 survivors.

Legacy

Sixteen members of the club wrote books about their experiences, some of them during the war. The best known, and most influential in raising public awareness of McIndoe’s work, was Richard Hillary‘s The Last Enemy, originally published in the United States as Falling Through Space (1942).

One of the local pubs in East Grinstead adopted the name “The Guinea Pig”. The pub closed in 2008 and was demolished in 2009 to make way for a social housing development named Guinea Pig Place.

The Guinea Pig Anthem

The club anthem was adapted from the World War I song “Fred Karno’s Army“, and sung to the tune Aurelia by Samuel Sebastian Wesley (best known as the tune of the popular hymn “The Church’s One Foundation“). The final line of the second verse is an example of a mind rhyme.

We are McIndoe’s army,
We are his Guinea Pigs.
With dermatomes and pedicles,
Glass eyes, false teeth and wigs.
And when we get our discharge
We’ll shout with all our might:
Per ardua ad astra
We’d rather drink than fight.

John Hunter runs the gas works,
Ross Tilley wields the knife.
And if they are not careful
They’ll have your flaming life.
So, Guinea Pigs, stand ready
For all your surgeon’s calls:
And if their hands aren’t steady
They’ll whip off both your ears.

We’ve had some mad Australians,
Some French, some Czechs, some Poles.
We’ve even had some Yankees,
God bless their precious souls.
While as for the Canadians –
Ah! That’s a different thing.
They couldn’t stand our accent
And built a separate Wing.

We are McIndoe’s army,
(As first verse)

Notable members

Popular culture

Guinea Pig Club was the title of a play centred on McIndoe’s work produced at York Theatre Royal in 2012, and featuring Graeme Hawley as McIndoe.

Joseph Randolph Richard’s novel Incendo (2015) tells the story of a badly burned pilot and his membership of the club

The Road to Mosul – The Battle for Mosul

18th October 2016

Live Coverage

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Battle for Mosul:

Operation to retake Iraqi city from IS begins

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17th October 2016

The net is slowly closing on IS and  the news today that the Battle for Mosul has began could spell the beginning of the end of these Islamic Monsters and their twisted , wicked take Islam and Sharia Law ,which in my opinion has no place in the 21s Century anyway. See Shari Law

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An Iraqi operation to recapture the city of Mosul, the last stronghold of the so-called Islamic State (IS) in the country, has started.

Artillery began firing on the city early on Monday, in a long-awaited assault from Kurdish Peshmerga, Iraqi government and allied forces.

Tanks are now moving towards the city, which has been held by IS since 2014.

The UN has expressed “extreme concern” for the safety of up to 1.5 million people in the area.

The BBC’s Orla Guerin, who is with Kurdish forces east of Mosul, says tanks are advancing on the city, kicking up clouds of dust.

As the operation began, one Kurdish general said: “If I am killed today I will die happy because I have done something for my people.”

See BBC News for full story

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The Fall of Mosul (2016) FULL DOCUMENTARY HD

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Islamic State lost over a quarter of its territory in Iraq and Syria

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The Islamic State (ISIS) has lost more than a quarter of its territory in Syria and Iraq. According to defence analyst Information Handling Services (IHS), the group’s reach has been reduced by 28 per cent since January 2015.

IHS reported that ISIS-held territory fell from 78,000 km2 to 65,500 km2 during the first nine months of this year. However, the extremist group’s losses have decreased since last-July.

This change in tempo coincided with the launch of the Turkey-baked Euphrates Shield Operation and reduced Russian airstrikes against ISIS positions in Syria.

“Last September, President Putin said it was Russia’s mission to fight international terrorism and specifically the Islamic State,” Alex Kokcharov, principal Russia analyst at IHS, said. “Our data suggests that is not the case.”

According to Kokcharov, Moscow’s top priority is to preserve President Assad’s government through military support. Putin seeks to “transform the Syrian civil war from a multi-party conflict into a binary one between the Syrian government and jihadist groups like the Islamic State; thereby undermining the case for providing international support to the opposition.”

While ISIS appears to have a short reprieve, they continue to loose strategic territory. In August, ISIS militants lost the border pocket of Manbij to the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF). In February, the extremist group was expelled from strategic areas in Hasakah Governorate by the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) and allied SDF fighters.

The Kurdish Peshmerga and the Iraqi Army have recaptured dozens of villages and towns from ISIS over the past several months.

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Living With ISIS – Documentary 2016

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Mosul

History & Background

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Mosul (Arabic: الموصل‎‎ al-Mōṣul, local pronunciation: el-Mōṣul, Syriac: ܡܘܨܠ‎, translit. Māwṣil) is a city of normally about two and a half million people (2014 est.) in northern Iraq, occupied since 10 June 2014 by the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL).

Located some 400 km (250 mi) north of Baghdad, the original city stands on the west bank of the Tigris River on the east bank, but the metropolitan area has grown to encompass substantial areas on both the “Left Coast” (east side) and the “Right Coast” (west side) as the two banks are described in the local language.

At the start of the 21st century, the majority of Mosul’s population was Arab with Arameans, Armenian, Turkmen, Kurdish, Yazidi, Shabaki and other minorities. The city’s population grew rapidly around the turn of the millennium and by 2004 was estimated to be 1,846,500. An estimated half million persons fled Mosul in the second half of 2014, and while some returned, more fled in 2015 as ISIL violence in the city worsened.

Historically, important products of the area include Mosul marble and oil.

The city of Mosul is home to the University of Mosul and its renowned Medical College, which together was one of the largest educational and research centres in Iraq and the Middle East. The University has since been closed but at the choice of the Islamic State’s leadership in Mosul, the Medical College remains open but barely functional.

Until 2014 the city was a historic centre for the Syriac orthodox church of the indigenous Arameans, containing the tombs of several Old Testament prophets such as Jonah which was destroyed by the Islamic State occupation army in July 2014.

Etymology

The name of the city is first mentioned by Xenophon in his expeditionary logs in Achaemenid Assyria (Athura) of 401 BC, during the reign of the Persian Achaemenid dynasty in this region. There, he notes a small Assyrian town of “Mépsila” (Ancient Greek: Μέψιλα) on the Tigris somewhere about where modern Mosul is today (Anabasis, III.iv.10). It may be safer to identify Xenophon’s Mépsila with the site of Iski Mosul, or “Old Mosul”, about 30 km (19 mi) north of modern Mosul, where six centuries after Xenophon’s report, the Sasanian Persian center of Budh-Ardhashīr was built. Be that as it may, the name Mepsila is doubtless the root for the modern name.

In its current Arabic form and spelling, the term Mosul, or rather “Mawsil”, stands for the “linking point” – or loosely, the Junction City, in Arabic. Mosul should not be confused with the ancient Assyrian capital of Nineveh which is located across the Tigris from Mosul on the eastern bank, at the famed archaeological mound of Kuyunjik (Turkoman for “sheep’s hill”). This area is known today as the town of Nebi Yunus (“prophet Jonah“) and is populated largely by Kurds, which makes it the only fully-Kurdish neighborhood in Mosul. The site contains the tomb of the Biblical Jonah, as he lived and died there, in the then capital of ancient Assyria. Today, this entire area has been absorbed into the Mosul metropolitan area. The indigenous [[Arameans] still refer to the entire city of Mosul as Nineveh (or rather, Ninweh).

The ancient Nineveh gave its place to Mepsila after the fall of the Assyrian Empire between 612-599 BC at the hands of a coalition of Babylonians, Medes, Persians, Scythians Sagartians, the Arameans largely abandoning the city and building new settlements such as Mepsila nearby.

Mosul is also named al-Faiha (“the Paradise”), al-Khaḍrah (“the Green”) and al-Hadbah (“the Humped”). It is sometimes described as “The Pearl of the North”[12] and “the city of a million soldiers”.

History

Ancient era and early Middle Ages

St. Elijah’s Monastery south of Mosul, Iraq’s oldest Assyrian Christian monastery, dating from the 6th century

The area in which Mosul lies was an integral part of Assyria from as early as the 25th century BC, and after the Akkadian Empire (2335–2154 BC) and Neo-Sumerian Empire it again became a continuous part of Assyria proper from circa 2050 BC through to the fall of the Neo-Assyrian Empire between 612–599 BC.

In approximately 850 BC, King Ashurnasirpal II of Assyria chose the city of Kalhu as his capital in place of Assur (Ashur), 30 km (19 mi) from present day Mosul. In approximately 700 BC, King Sennacherib made Nineveh the new capital of Assyria. The mound of Kuyunjik in Mosul is the site of the palaces of King Sennacherib and his grandson Ashurbanipal, who established the Library of Ashurbanipal.

Mosul later succeeded Nineveh as the Tigris bridgehead of the road that linked Assyria and Anatolia with the short lived Median Empire and succeeding Achaemenid Empire (546–332 BC) where it was a part of the geo-political province of Athura (Assyria).

It became part of the Seleucid Empire after Alexander’s conquests in 332 BC. While little is known of the city from the Hellenistic period, Mosul likely belonged to the Seleucid satrapy of Syria (the Greek term for Assyria), which was conquered by the Parthian Empire circa 150 BC where it once more became a part of Athura.

The city changed hands once again with the rise of Sassanid Persia in 225 AD and became a part of Assuristan (Sassanid Persian for Assyria). Christianity was present among the indigenous Assyrian people in Mosul as early as the 1st century. It became an episcopal seat of the Assyrian Church of the East in the 6th century.

In 637 (other sources say 641), during the period of the Caliph Umar ibn al-Khattab, the city was annexed to the Rashidun Caliphate by Utba bin Farqad Al-Salami, during the Arab Islamic Conquest, after which Assyria/Athura/Assuristan was dissolved as a geo-political entity.

9th century to 1535

Rashid-al-Din Hamadani, “Siege of Mosul in 1261–63”, Jami’ al-tawarikh, Bibliothèque Nationale de France .

In the late 9th century control over the city was seized by the Turkish dynasts Ishaq ibn Kundajiq and his son Muhammad, but in 893 Mosul came once again under the direct control of the Abbasid Caliphate. In the early 10th century Mosul came under the control of the native Arab Hamdanid dynasty. From Mosul, the Hamdanids under Abdallah ibn Hamdan and his son Nasir al-Dawla expanded their control over the Jazira for several decades, first as governors of the Abbassids and later as de facto independent rulers. A century later they were supplanted by the Uqaylids.

Mosul was conquered by the Seljuks in the 11th century. After a period under semi-independent atabeg such as Mawdud, in 1127 it became the centre of power of the Zengid dynasty. Saladin besieged the city unsuccessfully in 1182 but finally gained control of it in 1186. In the 13th century it was captured by the Mongols led by Hulegu, but was spared the usual destruction since its governor, Badr al-Din Luʾluʾ, helped the Khan in his following campaigns in Syria. After the Mongol defeat in the Battle of Ain Jalut against the Mamluks, Badr al-Din’s son sided with the latter; this led to the destruction of the city, which later regained some importance but never recovered its original splendor. Mosul was thenceforth ruled by the Mongol Ilkhanid and Jalayrid dynasties, and escaped Tamerlan‘s destructions.

During 1165 Benjamin of Tudela passed through Mosul; in his papers he wrote that he found a small Jewish community estimated as 7000 people in Mosul, the community was led by rebbi Zakhi (זכאי) presumably connected to the King David dynasty. In 1288–1289, the Exilarch was in Mosul and signed a supporting paper for Maimonides. In the early 16th century Mosul was under the Turkmen federation of the Ak Koyunlu, but in 1508 it was conquered by the Persian Safawids.

Ottomans: 1535 to 1918

In 1535, Ottoman Sultan Suleyman the Magnificent added Mosul to his empire by capturing it from his archrivals — Safavid Persia.[16] Thenceforth Mosul was governed by a pasha. Mosul was celebrated for its line of walls, comprising seven gates with large towers, a renowned hospital (maristan) and a covered market (qaysariyya), and was also famous for its fabrics and flourishing trades.

Although Mesopotamia had been conquered by the Ottoman Empire in 1533, gains which were confirmed by the Peace of Amasya (1555) until the reconquest of Baghdad in 1638, and the resulting treaty of the year after, Ottoman control over Mesopotamia was not decisive,and the city of Mosul was considered “still a mere fortress, important for its strategic position as an offensive platform for Ottoman campaigns into Iraq, as well as a defensive stronghold and (staging post) guarding the approaches to Anatolia and to the Syrian coast. Then with the Ottoman reconquest of Baghdad (1638), the liwa’ of Mosul became an independent wilaya.”:202 After the Peace of Amasya, the Safavids recaptured most of Mesopotamia one more time during the reign of king Abbas I (r. 1588-1629). Amongst the newly appointed Safavid governors of Mesopotamia during those years, was Qasem Sultan Afshar, who was appointed governor of Mosul in 1622.

Despite being a part of the Ottoman Empire, during the four centuries of Ottoman rule Mosul was considered “the most independent district” within the Middle East, following the Roman model of indirect rule through local notables.:203–4 “Mosuli culture developed less along Ottoman–Turkish lines than along Iraqi–Arab lines; and Turkish, the official language of the State, was certainly not the dominant language in the province.”:203

In line with its status as a politically stable trade route between the Mediterranean and the Persian Gulf the city developed considerably during the seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries. Similar to the development of the Mamluk dynasty in Baghdad, during this time “the Jalili family was establishing itself as the undisputed master of Mosul”, and “helping to connect Mosul with a pre-Ottoman, pre-Turcoman, pre-Mongol, Arab cultural heritage which was to put the town on its way to recapturing some of the prestige and prominence it had enjoyed under the golden reign of Badr ad-Din Lu’lu’.”203

Along with the al-Umari and Tasin al-Mufti families, the Jalilis formed an “urban-based small and medium gentry and a new landed elite”, which proceeded to displace the control of previous rural tribes. Such families proceed to establish themselves through private enterprise, solidifying their influence and assets through rents on land and taxes on urban and rural manufacturing.

As well as elected officials, the social architecture of Mosul was highly influenced by the Dominican fathers who arrived in Mosul in 1750, sent by Pope Benedict XIV (Mosul had a large Christian population, predominantly Assyrians).They were followed by the Dominican nuns in 1873. They established a number of schools, health clinics, a printing press and an orphanage. The nuns also established workshops to teach girls sewing and embroidery. A congregation of Dominican sisters, founded in the 19th century, still had its motherhouse in Mosul by the early 21st century. Over 120 Assyrian Iraqi Sisters belonged to this congregation.

In the nineteenth century the Ottoman government started to reclaim central control over its outlying provinces. Their aim was to “restore Ottoman law, and rejuvenate the military” as well as reviving “a secure tax base for the government”.:24–26 In order to reestablish rule in 1834 the Sultan abolished public elections for the position of governor, and began “neutraliz[ing] local families such as the Jalilis and their class.”:28–29 and appointing new, non-Maslawi governors directly. In line with its reintegration within central government rule, Mosul was required to conform to new Ottoman reform legislation, including the standardization of tariff rates, the consolidation of internal taxes and the integration of the administrative apparatus with the central government.:26

This process started in 1834 with the appointment of Bayraktar Mehmet Pasha, who was to rule Mosul for the next four years. After the reign of Bayraktar Mehmet Pasha, the Ottoman government (wishing still to restrain the influence of powerful local families) appointed a series of governors in rapid succession, ruling “for only a brief period before being sent somewhere else to govern, making it impossible for any of them to achieve a substantial local power base.”:29 Mosul’s importance as a trading center declined after the opening of the Suez canal, which enabled goods to travel to and from India by sea rather than by land across Iraq and through Mosul.

A coffee house in Mosul, 1914.

Mosul remained under Ottoman control until 1918 when it was taken by the British, with a brief break in 1623 when Persia seized the city, and was the capital of Mosul Vilayet one of the three vilayets (provinces) of Ottoman Iraq.

1918 to 2003

At the end of World War I in October 1918, after the signature of the Armistice of Mudros, British forces occupied Mosul. After the war, the city and the surrounding area became part of the Occupied Enemy Territory Administration (1918–20), and shortly Mandatory Iraq (1920–32). This mandate was contested by Turkey which continued to claim the area based on the fact that it was under Ottoman control during the signature of the Armistice. In the Treaty of Lausanne, the dispute over Mosul was left for future resolution by the League of Nations. Iraq’s possession of Mosul was confirmed by the League of Nations brokered agreement between Turkey and Great Britain in 1926. Former Ottoman Mosul Vilayet eventually became Nineveh Province of Iraq, but Mosul remained the provincial capital.

Mosul in 1932

The city’s fortunes revived with the discovery of oil in the area, from the late 1920s onward. It became a nexus for the movement of oil via truck and pipeline to both Turkey and Syria. Qyuarrah Refinery was built within about an hour’s drive from the city and was used to process tar for road-building projects. It was damaged but not destroyed during the Iran–Iraq War.

The opening of the University of Mosul in 1967 enabled the education of many in the city and surrounding areas.

After the 1991 uprisings by the Kurds Mosul did not fall within the Kurdish-ruled area, but it was included in the northern no-fly zone imposed and patrolled by the United States and Britain between 1991 and 2003.

Although this prevented Saddam‘s forces from mounting large-scale military operations again in the region, it did not stop the regime from implementing a steady policy of “Arabisation” by which the demography of some areas of Nineveh Governorate were gradually changed. Despite the program Mosul and its surrounding towns and villages remained home to a mixture of Arabs, Kurds, Assyrians, Armenians, Turkmens, Shabaks, a few Jews, and isolated populations of Yazidis, Mandeans, Kawliya and Circassians. Saddam was able to garrison portions of the 5th Army within the city of Mosul, had Mosul International Airport under military control, and recruited heavily from the city for his military’s officer corps; this may have been due to the fact that most of the officers and generals of the Iraqi Army were from Mosul long before the Saddam regime era.

Coalition Invasion in 2003 to 2014

Saddam Hussein’s sons Qusay and Uday were killed in a gun battle in Mosul on July 22, 2003

When the 2003 invasion of Iraq was being planned, the United States had originally intended to base troops in Turkey and mount a thrust into northern Iraq to capture Mosul. However, the Turkish parliament refused to grant permission for the operation. When the Iraq War did break out in March 2003, US military activity in the area was confined to strategic bombing with airdropped special forces operating in the vicinity. Mosul fell on April 11, 2003, when the Iraqi Army 5th Corps, loyal to Saddam, abandoned the city and eventually surrendered, two days after the fall of Baghdad. US Army Special Forces with Kurdish fighters quickly took civil control of the city. Thereafter began widespread looting before an agreement was reached to cede overall control to US forces.

On July 22, 2003, Saddam Hussein’s sons, Uday Hussein and Qusay Hussein, were killed in a gunbattle with Coalition forces in Mosul after a failed attempt at their apprehension.[26] The city also served as the operational base for the US Army‘s 101st Airborne Division during the occupational phase of the Operation Iraqi Freedom. During its tenure, the 101st Airborne Division was able to extensively survey the city and, advised by the 431st Civil Affairs Battalion, non-governmental organizations, and the people of Mosul, began reconstruction work by employing the people of Mosul in the areas of security, electricity, local governance, drinking water, wastewater, trash disposal, roads, bridges, and environmental concerns.

Other US Army units to have occupied the city include the 4th Brigade Combat Team of the 1st Cavalry Division, the 172nd Stryker Brigade, the 3rd Brigade-2nd Infantry Division, 18th Engineer Brigade (Combat), Alpha Company 14th Engineer Battalion-555th Combat Engineer Brigade, 1st Brigade-25th Infantry Division, the 511th Military Police Company, the 812th Military Police Company and company-size units from Reserve components, an element of the 364th Civil Affairs Brigade, and the 404th Civil Affairs Battalion which covered the areas north of the Green Line.

A soldier from the 1st Battalion, 24th Infantry Regiment, 25th Infantry Division, engages enemy targets with his machine gun on November 11, 2004

On June 24, 2004, a coordinated series of car-bombs killed 62 people, many of them policemen.

The memorial that stands outside the entrance to the Dining Hall on FOB Marez where the December 21, 2004 suicide attack occurred.

On December 21, 2004, fourteen US soldiers, four American employees of Halliburton, and four Iraqi soldiers were killed in a suicide attack on a dining hall at the Forward Operating Base (FOB) Marez next to the main US military airfield at Mosul. The Pentagon reported that 72 other personnel were injured in the attack carried out by a suicide bomber wearing an explosive vest and the uniform of the Iraqi security services. The Islamist group Army of Ansar al-Sunna (partly evolved from Ansar al-Islam) declared responsibility for the attack in an Internet statement.

U.S. Army soldiers patrol the streets of Mosul, January 2005

In December 2007, Iraq reopened Mosul International Airport. An Iraqi Airways flight carried 152 Hajj pilgrims to Baghdad, the first commercial flight since US forces declared a no-fly zone in 1993, although further commercial flight remained prohibited. On January 23, 2008, an explosion in an apartment building killed 36 people. The following day, a suicide bomber dressed as a police officer assassinated the local police chief, Brig. Gen. Salah Mohammed al-Jubouri, the director of police for Ninevah province, as he toured the site of the blast.

In May 2008, a military offensive of the Ninawa campaign was launched by US-backed Iraqi Army Forces led by Maj. Gen. Riyadh Jalal Tawfiq, the commander of military operations in Mosul, in the hope of bringing back stability and security to the city. Though the representatives of Mosul in the Iraqi Parliament, the intellectuals of the city, and other concerned humanitarian groups agreed on the pressing need for a solution to the unbearable conditions of the city, they still believed that the solution was merely political and administrative. They also questioned whether such a large scale military offensive would spare the lives of innocent people.

All these factors deprived the city of its historical, scientific, and intellectual foundations in the last 4 years, when many scientists, professors, academics, doctors, health professionals, engineers, lawyers, journalists, religious clergy (both Muslims and Christians), historians, as well as professionals and artists in all walks of life, were either killed or forced to leave the city under the threat of being shot, exactly as happened elsewhere in Iraq in the years following 2003.

In 2008, many Assyrian Christians (about 12,000) fled the city following a wave of murders and threats against their community. The murder of a dozen Assyrians, threats that others would be murdered unless they converted to Islam and the destruction of their houses sparked a rapid exodus of the Christian population. Some families crossed the borders to Syria and Turkey while others were given shelter in churches and monasteries. Accusations were exchanged between Sunni fundamentalists and some Kurdish groups for being behind this new exodus. For the time being the motivation of these acts is unclear, but some claims linked it to the imminent provincial elections which took place in January 2009, and the related Assyrian Christians’ demands for broader representation in the provincial councils.[

As was predicted by the DIA and others, Mosul was attacked on June 4, 2014 and after 6 days of fighting, on June 10, 2014, the Islamic State of Iraq and Levant took over the city during the 2014 Northern Iraq offensive.[39][40][41] As of August 2014, the city’s new ISIL administration was initially dysfunctional with frequent power cuts, tainted water supply, collapse of infrastructure support and failing health care.[42]

Occupation by Islamic State (IS)

Image result for islamic state flag

Further information: Fall of Mosul

On June 10, 2014, Mosul was occupied by Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL).[43][44] Troop shortages and infighting among top officers and Iraqi political leaders played into Islamic State’s hands and fueled panic that led to the city’s abandonment. Kurdish intelligence had been warned by a reliable source in early 2014 that Mosul would be attacked by ISIL and ex-Baathists (and had informed the US and UK); however, Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki and the Defence Minister turned down repeated offers of help from the peshmerga.

Half a million people escaped on foot or by car in the next 2 days. ISIL acquired three divisions’ worth of up-to-date American arms and munitions—including M1129 Stryker 120-mm mortars and at least 700 armoured Humvee vehicles from the then fleeing, or since massacred, Iraqi army. Many residents initially welcomed ISIL and according to a member of the UK Defence Select Committee Mosul “fell because the people living there were fed up with the sectarianism of the Shia dominated Iraqi government.”

On 21 January 2015, the US began coordinating airstrikes with a Kurdish-launched offensive, to help them begin the planned operation to retake the city of Mosul.

Once home to 70,000 Arameans (Syriac) Christians there are possibly none left today in Mosul, any that do remain are forced to pay a tax for remaining Christian, and live under the constant threat of violence. The indigenous Arameans who have a history in the region dating back over 4,000 years suffered their Christian churches and monasteries being vandalised and burned down,their ancient heritage sites dating back to the Iron Age destroyed, their homes and possessions stolen by ISIL, and ultimatums to convert to Islam, leave their ancient homelands, or be murdered.

During the ISIS occupation of Mosul, phone lines have been cut by ISIL and cell phone towers and internet access destroyed.The residents of the city have been de facto prisoners, forbidden to leave the city unless they post with ISIL a significant collateral of family members, personal wealth and property. They may then leave the city upon paying a significant “departure tax” on a three-day pass (for a higher fee they can surrender their home, pay the fee and leave for good) and if those with a three-day pass fail to return in that time their assets will be seized and family will be killed.

Most female Yazidis from Mosul and the greater Mosul region (Nineveh) are imprisoned and occasionally many are slaughtered because of their resistance[61] to being sold as sex slaves.[62] The Islamic State occupiers have murdered or driven out most minority groups and converted some Yazidi males and Christians to Islam. Women are required to cover their bodies from head to foot in a strict variant of Sharia rule and men are required to fully grow their beards and hair as does the members of the Islamic State. Life in Mosul is one of violent oppression where people suspected of activism against the occupiers, resistance activities, homosexuality, promiscuity or adultery are brutally and summarily tortured and murdered.

The ISIS governor of Mosul, Alian Natiq Mabroush was killed on 18 March 2016 along with ten other jihadist leaders in a U.S. airstrike.

During the occupation residents have fought back against ISIS. In one notable incident they were able to kill five ISIS militants and destroy two of their vehicles.

Women

Women must be accompanied by a male guardian and wear clothing that covers their body completely including gloves for the hands, niqab for the head and khimar for the full coverage of the body from shoulders to feet.

According to Canadian-based NGO “The RINJ Foundation” which operates medical clinics in Mosul, rape cases in the city prove a pattern of genocide and will lead to a conviction of genocide against the Islamic State, in the International Criminal Court, a permanent international tribunal to prosecute individuals for war-time rape, genocide, crimes against humanity, and aggression.

The Islamic State was in August 2015 reported to be selling captured women and girls to sex slave traders.

Persecution of religious and ethnic minorities and destruction of cultural sites

ISIL issued an edict expelling (in effect ethnically cleansing) the remaining predominantly ethnic Assyrian and Armenian Christian Mosul citizens, after the Christians failed to attend a meeting to discuss their future status. According to Duraid Hikmat, an expert on minority relationships and resident of Mosul, the Christians were fearful to attend. Emboldened ISIL authorities systematically destroyed and vandalised Abrahamic cultural artifacts such as the cross from St. Ephrem’s Cathedral, the tomb of Jonah, and a statue of the Virgin Mary. ISIL militants destroyed and pillaged the Tomb of Seth in Mosul. Artifacts within the tomb were removed to an unknown location.

Students from Muslim minorities have been abducted.

According to a UN report ISIL forces are persecuting ethnic groups in and near Mosul. The Assyrians, Kurds, Armenians, Yazidis, Turcoman, Mandeans and Shabaks are victims of unprovoked religiously motivated murders, assaults, theft, kidnappings and the destruction of their cultural sites.

  • Mosque of the Prophet Yunus or Younis (Jonah): On one of the two most prominent mounds of Nineveh ruins, used to rise the Mosque (an Assyrian Church year of Prophet Younis “Biblical Jonah“. Jonah the son of Amittai, from the 8th century BC, is believed to be buried here, where King Esarhaddon of Assyria had once built a palace. It was one of the most important mosques in Mosul and one of the few historic mosques that are found on the east side of the city. On July 24, 2014, the building was destroyed by explosives set by forces of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant.
  • Mosque of the Prophet Jerjis (Georges): The mosque is believed to be the burial place of Prophet Jerjis. Built of marble with shen reliefs and renovated last in 1393 AD it was mentioned by the explorer Ibn Jubair in the 12th century AD, and is believed also to embrace the tomb of Al-Hur bin Yousif.
  • Mashad Yahya Abul Kassem: Built in the 13th century it was on the right bank of the Tigris and was known for its conical dome, decorative brickwork and calligraphy engraved in Mosul blue marble.
  • Mosul library: Including the Sunni Muslim library, the library of the 265-year-old Latin Church and Monastery of the Dominican Fathers and the Mosul Museum Library. Among the 112,709 books and manuscripts thought lost are a collection of Iraqi newspapers dating from the early 20th century, as well as maps, books and collections from the Ottoman period; some were registered on a UNESCO rarities list. The library was ransacked and destroyed by explosives on 25 February 2015.
  • Mosul Museum and Nergal Gate: Statues and artefacts that date from the Assyrian and Akkadian empires, including artefacts from sites including the Assyrian cities of Nineveh, Ashur, Arrapha, Dur-Sharrukin and Kalhu (Nimrud) and the Neo-Assyrian site of Hatra.Their plans for uprising were accelerated when ISIL scheduled the destruction of the al-Ḥadbā[76] Many former supporters of ISIL’s Caliphate have voiced protest against ISIL online in the aftermath of destruction of ancient cultural sites.

Detention of diplomats

Turkish diplomats and consular staff were detained for over 100 days.

Human rights

Scores of people have been executed without fair trial. Civilians living in Mosul are not permitted to leave ISIS-controlled areas. ISIS has executed several civilians that were trying to flee Mosul.

Armed opposition

The urban guerrilla warfare groups may be called the Nabi Yunus Brigade after the Nabi Yunus mosque, or the Kataeb al-Mosul (Mosul Brigade). The brigade claims to have killed ISIL members with sniper fire. In the countryside around Mosul, Kurdish and Assyrian militia have also taken up arms to resist ISIL oppression.

Mosul offensive (2016)

Demography

 

A souk (traditional market) in Mosul, 1932

During the 20th century, Mosul city had been indicative of the mingling ethnic and religious cultures of Iraq. There used to be a Sunni Arab majority in urban areas, such as downtown Mosul west of the Tigris; across the Tigris and further north in the suburban areas, thousands of Arameans, Kurds, Turkmens, Shabaks, Yazidis and Armenians made up the rest of Mosul’s population. Shabaks were concentrated on the eastern outskirts of the city.

Religion

A church in Mosul in about 1850

Mosul had a Jewish population. Like their counterparts elsewhere in Iraq, most left in 1950–51. Most Iraqi Jews have moved to Israel, and some to the United States. In 2003, during the Iraq War, a rabbi in the American army found an abandoned, dilapidated synagogue in Mosul dating back to the 13th century