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Mike Flanagan

Mike Flanagan, a warm-hearted Irishman who after liberating the concentration camp Bergen Belsen, fought in the British Army in the land of Israel/Palestine and deserted in order to join Jewish fighters in the war of Independence (1948).

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The most famous deserters from the British Army were Harry MacDonald, a Scottish tank commander, and Mike Flanagan, an Irish mechanic, who stole Cromwell tanks and burst through the gate of the British base in Haifa. The two tanks became the “core” of the IDF’s first tank battalion, and the two deserters took part in the War of Independence in IDF uniform.

MacDonald later immigrated to Canada. Flanagan stayed in Israel, converted to Judaism, supervised the tank repair unit at the Armored Corps base in Julis, and married and raised a family there. The remains of the two Cromwells are on view in the Armoured Corps Museum at Latrun, on the way between Jerusalem and Tel-aviv.

According to the historian Yoav Gelber, 53 British soldiers deserted to the Arab side, while only a few joined the Jewish side.

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This archive has been established after my own relative, Reg Price, took part in the liberation and subsequent humanitarian effort of Bergen Belsen in April 1945. Reg produced this famous sign at Belsen. As part of the 113th DLI, Reg and his comrades were at Belsen for 5 weeks and left when the last hut was empty and ceremonially burnt down. This archive compiles all available resources to build a lasting tribute to all the men and women who helped - any unit, any nationality. If you have a relative, or any info, on the relief effort at Belsen, we’d love you to please get in touch. Email us: liberator@belsen.co.ukThank you Nick Price CreativesFacebookTwitter