A Generation Ago
collecting covers bearing the markings of the Jewish Legion was a respected niche area in Palestine Philately. F. W. Pollack, editor of the Holy Land Philatelist gave article space to the history and legends of the Legion. He also promoted items available in postal auctions, which he sponsored. Time effaces all things and this area has passed from view. With the recent relocation of the San Diego Philatelic Library and the culling of excess material from the Israel holdings, these gems have come to light again.
Legion Post Cards
The card in Figure 1 is from the January 2008 issue of Israel philatelic magazine the Shovel (p. 13) and includes two of the three known distinguishing features for the Legion: the Menorah inscribed “Kadima” (Forward) along its base and the hand stamp in English capitals: “The Jewish Legion.” The sender, N. J. Teitelbaum, identifies his unit as the 39th Battalion, Royal Fusiliers, one of the three battalions to which Legionnaires were assigned by the British Army.
Two other interesting features to note. It is addressed in French for delivery by the Swiss authorities while the destination is inscribed in English for the convenience of the postal authorities in Palestine. The recipient was an arm of the International Red Cross, which carried the burden of amassing and dispensing information on the missing in action during the Great War, World War I.
The Figure 2 post card is from the Michael Bass collection and displays the Menorah insignia. It bears the rare R.M.S.I.E.F. cancellation of Railroad Mail Service Indian Expeditionary Forces. There is an OAS (On Active Service written by the cancel so it went postage free to the United States.
This last item is found in the Holy Land Philatelist (p. 1245) and is a picture post card with a map of Palestine on the reverse. (Editor’s note: The card could not be copied to picture here.) The obverse contains an imprinted insignia with Hebrew inscription in bold lettering meaning “Headquarters of the Hebrew Command”; the three Jewish battalions of the Royal Fusiliers had adopted this insignia. On the card the spelling of Palastine is quite unique, with what seems like an umlaut over the second “a” in “Palästai(e)n.
1. Shoval January 2008, p. 13.
2. Agron, Gershon, “The Jewish Battalions,” Holy Land Philatelist, No. 60/61, October/November 1959, Vol. V/VI, p. 1244.
Randy Fadem, December 2013,The Israel Philatelist, Vol LXIV, no. 6 pp. 236 – 237..