The Zion Mule Corps

October 1, 1915: The Jewish Chronicle reported that Private Abraham Lippman of the Zion Mule Corps “was in the 3rd Northern General Hospital in Sheffield suffering from an eye wound where he was met by British Army Jewish Chaplain Rabbi Barnett I. Cohen."

In February 1915, a small committee in Alexandria approved a plan of Zeev Jabotinsky and Joseph Trumpeldor to form a military unit from Russian Jewish émigrés from Palestine that would participate in the British effort to “liberate” Palestine from the Ottoman Empire.[1] The British commander General Maxwell met a delegation, led by Jabotinsky, on 15 March. The General said he was unable, under the Army Act, to enlist foreign nationals as fighting troops, but that he could form them into a volunteer transport Mule Corps.[2][1] Jabotinsky rejected the idea and left for Europe to seek other support for a Jewish unit, but Trumpeldor accepted it and began recruiting volunteers from among the Jews in Egypt who had been deported there by the Ottomans in the previous year.[1] The British Army formed 650 of them into the Zion Mule Corps, of which 562 served in the Gallipoli Campaign.

The need on the Gallipoli peninsula for means to carry water to the troops was considered so urgent that in mid-April, a request was forwarded to Egypt for the Zion Mule Corps to be sent immediately, regardless of its lack of equipment. Its Commanding Officer was Lieutenant-ColonelJohn Henry Patterson, DSO, an Irish Protestant, and Captain Trumpeldor was Second-in-command; Jabotinsky served as an officer. The Zion Mule Corps landed at Cape Helles from 27–28 April, four weeks after being raised, having been stranded at Mudros when its ship ran aground. The corps was embarked in the same ship as the Indian 9th Mule Corps bound for Gaba Tepe and so a detour to Helles was ordered. The Zion Mule Corps was disembarked under artillery fire from the Asiatic shore, with help of volunteers from the 9th Mule Corps and began carrying supplies forward immediately.

The postage stamp shown here was issued by Israel Post in April 2015.

zion mule corps

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