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Purity of Arms

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8th Armored Brigade  E-mail

In 1948, the 82nd Tank Battalion of the 8th Armored Brigade was the only unit in the IDF to be equipped with tanks. Two British Cromwell tanks were stolen from the British at Haifa Airport by two non-Jewish deserters, Flanagan and McDonald, who were Haganah sympathizers. Both men then joined the “B” Company of the 82nd Battalion, manned by South African, British, Canadian, American, Latin American, French and Czech Machal. The “A” Company of the 82nd was equipped with lighter French Hodgekiss tanks, manned by experienced Gachalniks from East European countries.


The Haganah had wanted four Cromwell tanks, but unfortunately, only the two deserters, Flanagan and McDonald, were qualified tank drivers. Two Haganah men who were truck drivers tried unsuccessfully to drive the other two Cromwells, which had to be abandoned. As no tank transporters were available, Flanagan and McDonald had to drive their two tanks from Haifa to the Tel Aviv exhibition grounds.


The Haganah also succeeded in acquiring one Sherman tank. The British were going to scrap three Sherman tanks which were no longer operational, and the Haganah succeeded in acquiring one of them by bribing the British soldiers in charge of the tanks. After extensive repairs, the unserviceable Sherman became operational, and was attached to the 82nd Tank Battalion.


The 88th Battalion of Mortars of the 8th Brigade was manned by Machalniks from South Africa, the U.K., the U.S.A., Holland, the Belgian Congo, Switzerland, France, Brazil, China and North Africa.


The 89th Mechanized Commando Battalion was also manned by Machalniks from South Africa, the U.K., Canada and the U.S.A.