The armored car crew in the 79th Armored Battalion
Top to bottom: Jack Gold, Frank Perlman, Solly Ossin
Photo: Frank Perlman’s family
The three-man crew of Jack Gold’s armored car truly represented the international flavor of the two armored car companies in the 79th: Jack (29) from Canada, Frank Perlman (28) from Pittsburgh, and Solly Ossin (26) from South Africa had a collective age that set a record for the 79th, where almost all personnel ranged in age from 18 to 26.
The three men shared a vehicle peculiar to the Israel Army. It had been built in Israel on the chassis and lower body of either a World War II American M3 scout car or an American quarter-ton weapon carrier. The upper armor and turret were fabricated from steel plate in Israel, making the vehicle top-heavy and extremely hazardous to its crew on the rare occasions when it was driven off the road. The turret itself was not motor driven, and could only be rotated by the gunner using brute strength while shoving his feet on the floor of the vehicle. The rotary turret mounted a German-model heavy machine gun or Germany light machine gun called a “Spandau,” both manufactured in Czechoslovakia at the Skoda factory. The fixed machine gun port above the right front passenger seat of the armored car mounted a Spandau.
Thus, it took all three men to operate the vehicle at maximum efficiency, and they probably had interchangeable jobs. In the days before air-conditioning, the inside of the armored car was as hot and humid as a steam bath in the summer, and the noise of two machine guns firing at the same time could easily cause early deafness in all three men.
The armored cars were the closest thing we had to tanks in the North. The one Sherman and two Cromwell tanks, and a dozen tiny light French tanks, which were virtually useless, were Israel’s entire inventory of tanks of any kind. All were assigned to the 82nd Armored Battalion, which faced the Egyptians in the Negev. Even so, all of us in the motorized infantry units of the 79th were happy to have Jack, Frank, Solly and their cohorts leading us into battle in the armored cars, spraying the Arab troops and villages with machine gun fire before the infantry troops dismounted from their vehicles and charged into the fray.
Source: Ralph Lowenstein’s remembers the late Jack Gold in his obituary, AVI Newsletter Spring 2011.