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History & Archeology

Israeli War Hero Moshe Dayan’s Personal Archive of Letters Related to the Loss of his Eye to be Auctioned

The auction by Nate D. Sanders Includes the Hospital Bill for Surgery.

Moshe-Dayan1970

 

An archive of prominent Israeli military general Moshe Dayan’s personal letters related to the loss of his eye, will be auctioned by Nate D. Sanders Auctions on July 30.

Dayan oversaw the liberation of Jerusalem during the Six Day War in 1967 and also served a prominent role in the 1973 Yom Kippur War. Dayan also served as Israel’s Minister of Defense under the Labor regime. Dayan famously wore a black patch over his left eye, which he lost after being hit by a sniper’s bullet in 1941, while fighting in Syria against Vichy French troops for the Australian 7th Division of the British army during World War II.

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Among the documents being auctioned, is Dayan’s 1941 letter to British to Lieutenant General Sir Henry Maitland Wilson, in which he describes how he lost his eye. In the letter, Dayan pleaded to be restored to active duty.

The letter reads in full:

”To the General Officer Commanding His Majesties Forces in Palestine / I wish to beg of you to help me to be received to the Cadre Squad of the Palestinian Forces in Sarafend although I have lost one of my eyes while on active service with our British Forces on the invasion of Syria (a full report is herein enclosed). Now that I have almost finished my medical treatment, I feel I am quite fit again to serve in the Army and I ask therefore to be considered as if I were wounded while being a registered soldier and to give me the opportunity to carry on til the end. I believe I shall be able, after the required training to get a commission. During the disturbances in Palestine (1936-1940) I served as a guide to the British troops, passed a military course for N.C.O.’s and became a Sgt. in the J.S.P. I do not wish to ask any special favours except that I shall be allowed to pass the medical examination. The rest I shall try and fulfill to my abilities. I shall be very grateful if you consider my case and give me your decision.” Dayan signs the letter ”Yours faithfully – Moshe Dayan” and initials a postscript reading, ”P.S. The enclosed report I sent to Jewish Agency to be forwarded to the right authorities, as I was called up by them for that special service. M.D.”

The report Dayan references is included in the archive of auctioned documents.

Also included in the auction is Dayan’s typed incident report on the loss of his eye. The report is written in Hebrew, with handwritten edits in both Hebrew and English. The translated report reads,

“On June 1, I was called by my immediate superior and it was proposed that I join the unit slated to operate on behalf of and together with the British Army. My immediate superior told me that I was to serve as an Officer of the unit, and to be responsible for the activities of thirty men who were to operate in the area of Bint-Jneil – Iskandaroun. I was told that whatever uniforms we would be wearing, we would be considered (Members of the British Forces) and we would undertake the same duties and rights as members of British Forces. After receiving the explanation of the value and nature of the assignment, I accepted it willingly. I was given a weapon and the necessary documentation for my men and from June 1 to June 7, my men and I patrolled the area allocated to me, in accordance with the orders given to me by my superiors…On Saturday, June 7, 1941, my immediate superior introduced me to Clyfen, Allan of the A.I.F. [Australian Imperial Forces] and told me I was to take a detachment of my men with them and carry out the following.”

At this point in the letter, Dayan listed seven assignments including cutting specific telephone lines and dispatching guides to lead British Army units. The letter continues with a detailed description of his action.

Also included is Dayan’s hospital bill for follow-up surgery on his eye. The invoice for 12.389 francs, from a Paris hospital’s surgery department, is dated January 28, 1947. Also included is a typed letter addressed to Dayan from an unidentified British officer, informing Dayan of his acceptance as a student in an officer’s cadre course in Jerusalem.

Bidding for the archive begins at $75, 000.

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