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Purity of Arms

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Menachem Ben Baruch (Polgar Tiber) - Artillery  E-mail

In 1948 when I volunteered for Israel's War of Liberation, my name was Polgar Tiber. In those days I lived in Paris, so I went to the office processing volunteers on Avenue de la Grande Armée. After a medical examination and blood test, they sent me to the camp near Marseilles. In 1957 I changed my name to Menachem Ben Baruch.

We trained at the camp for three weeks, then boarded the ship Kedmah. Shortly after sailing, the ship developed engine problems and we stopped in Genoa for six days until the engine was repaired.

Finally we arrived in Haifa on May 30th, 1948. In order to avoid the UN inspectors, our luggage was left aboard and we volunteers were taken to Akko (Acre) in small launches, and from there to a camp at Kiryat Chaim where our luggage was returned to us.

Next morning we underwent medical examinations at the old Technion in Haifa and from there we were sent to Beit Lid to receive uniforms. Later, another volunteer from France and I were sent to Pardess Katz, the main artillery base. There we received 3-ton trucks, which I drove at the beginning of the war.

Then I went on to Gedud 3 Field Battery of Dr Von Weisl of Gedera. He was the most famous artilleryman in the world. As a major in the Austrian army during the First World War, he prevented the Italian forces from crossing the mountains into Austria.

With 16 old guns Dr. Von Weisl also helped to stop the Egyptian advance towards Tel Aviv.*

Afterwards I was sent to fetch a new 6-wheeler GMC truck that became the official vehicle of the artillery. With it, I drove mostly in the south, then to Mivtachim, a Youth Movement Hachshara farm which was 10-kms. north-east of Raffiah, where we were stationed for about one month.

Eventually I was sent all over wherever the truck was needed – Beersheba, Latrun, Jerusalem and other places.

*Editor’s Note: Stopping the Egyptians was a joint effort – Von Weisl’s artillery, Givati infantry, and an Air Force sortie.