This photograph shows a female technician dressed in overalls with a machine gun slung over her shoulder. In the background, there is an airplane with the cockpit visible in the right-hand side of the photo. Underneath the cockpit, the two white circles demonstrate that the airplane is British and that the photograph was been taken during the Second World War. The female Jewish soldier is a machine gun technician attached to the British Air Force.
Female soldiers played a key role in the British Army as part of the ATS (Auxiliary Territorial Service) or the WAAF (Women’s Auxiliary Air Force). The women served as clerks, auxiliary personnel in the medical corps, drivers (also in heavy vehicles), paratroopers, navigators, and more. In Israel, despite the conflict between the Yishuv and the British Mandate, many young Israelis volunteered to take part in the war against the common Nazi enemy. David Ben-Gurion is quoted as saying: “We will fight the war as if there were no White Paper, and we will fight the White Paper as if there were no war.”(The White Papers were the British policy papers limiting immigration to Israel and the building of Jewish settlements in the country.)
This photograph was part of a collection edited by Emmanuel Novogrubelski and one of hundreds included in his book המגבית, ההתגייסות וההצלה (Fundraising, mobilization, and rescue) which was published in 1950. The photos in the book include images from the ghettos and Nazi concentration camps, Aliyah Bet, recruitment projects in Palestine, and military training activities. Photographers whose work featured in the book include Zoltan Kluger, Haim Fine, and Walter Tzedek.
Would You Like to Know More?
Emanuel the Russian - Emanuel Novogrubelski, better known by his pen name Emanuel the Russian, was a writer, poet, and Zionist activist. Some of his chants, especially for children, were written on the basis of Hasidic melodies. Novogrubelski was born in the city of Nikolaev, today in Ukraine. His first writings were included in a pamphlet entitled “The Little Zionist” and included poems and stories in Hebrew. He became involved in Zionist activities from an early age and was a member of the Socialist Zionist Party). In 1924 he was arrested and sentenced to exile in Siberia but nonetheless succeeded in immigrating to Palestine. He began his life there as a farm labourer but then moved to Tel Aviv where he began writing for the newspapers Davar and Ha’aretz as well as for the theatre.