Menu JTA Search

Lord Allenby, Conqueror of Palestine, Dies at 75

Field Marshal Viscount Edmund H. H. Allenby, World War conqueror of Palestine and British statesman, died suddenly today. He was seventy-five years old on April 23.

Lord Allenby led the British expeditionary forces in the Palestine campaign of 1917 that broke the Turkish resistance. When he entered Jerusalem on the first day of Chanukah after victories in Beer Sheba and Jaffa the Jews greeted him as the liberator of Palestine from the Turkish yoke.

During the military occupation of Palestine, Lord Allenby’s attitude toward Zionism was regarded as negative, but later, under the influence of Dr. Chaim Weizmann, he came to regard the Zionist ideal highly, and finally, when he delivered an address at the opening of the Hebrew University in Jerusalem April 2, 1935, he declared himself a fervent friend of Zionism.

Jewish soldiers throughout the world remember him as the leader of the Jewish Legion–the first organized Jewish force since the dispersion. On many occasions Lord Allenby paid tribute to his Jewish battalions. At a dinner in New York in 1928 he said:

“I had the honor of commanding several Jewish battalions and I also had, before these Jewish battalions were raised, many Jewish soldiers under my command. Judas Maccabaeus could not have fought better than they did. Their courage and patriotism to the cause for which they fought was distinguished. They realized it was not only the cause of Judaism but of humanity.”

To the Jews the names of Lord Allenby and Lord Balfour are always linked–the one for liberating Palestine, the other for making possible a Jewish homeland. Many streets have been named after the Soldier-statesman in the Holy Land, including Allenby Square in the center of the all-Jewish city of Tel Aviv.

After the Palestine occupation, Lord Allenby became in 1919 High Commissioner in Egypt and served in this position until 1925. Afterward, he was no longer as active as he had been. He was hailed by the Jews when he visited the United States in 1928, and toured Canada in 1926 and again in 1934.

NEXT STORY