Jun. 14, 2019
Non-Jewish British Soldier Who Fought for Israel in 1948 Dies at 97 – Stephen Oryszczuk (Jewish News-UK)
Tom Derek Bowden, a non-Jewish soldier from Britain who died on Monday aged 97, was one of 5,000 foreigners who volunteered to fight for the State of Israel in the 1948 War of Independence. These volunteers became known as “Machal.”
He enlisted in the British Army in 1938 at age 17 and fought in the Second World War. In 1942, he led a cavalry charge in Syria against the Vichy French, under the command of Moshe Dayan.
In 1944, he parachuted into Arnhem in The Netherlands and was captured.
After an escape and subsequent recapture, he was sent for a month to Bergen-Belsen. He spent the month piling corpses onto carts and tipping them into pits during a typhus outbreak.
The experience influenced his decision to go to Haifa in 1948 to enlist, where he was given the nom de guerre Captain David Appel.
After the War of Independence he founded the IDF Parachute School, wrote the manual of operations and helped lead the Israeli Paratrooper brigade.
See also Tom Derek Bowden (Machal Archives)