Sharing Our History 8
The eighth article in this series has been made possible by Gideon Remez, Aharon's son:
My father, Aharon Remez, was born in the then-new city of Tel Aviv in 1919. While still in high school he became active in a Zionist youth movement, and in 1939 was sent to the United States as an emissary to the counterpart movement there. His mission was also to learn to fly, in anticipation that the Jewish community in Palestine -- then under British mandate -- would someday need and air force. Close to the airfield in New Jersey where he took flying lessons, the movement had an agricultural-training farm -- where he met my mother, one of the trainees. Stranded in America by the outbreak of war, he volunteered for the RAF and was sent for flight training in Canada. He married my mother before shipping out to Britain.
My father's "diary" begins in America; I have excerpted and translated here the entries following his assignment to 41 Squadron in early 1945. The book was evidently collated from my father's letters home by his father David Remez, who was a leader of the Jewish labor-union federation and Labor Party in Palestine. It was published by the party as Mi-Yomano shel Tayyas (Hebrew: From a Pilot's Journal) as part of a book series, "From the Front Lines." Though undated, it apparently came out before V-E day as the entries stop just before that date.
The text reflects the tension felt by my father, like tens of thousands of Palestinian-Jewish servicemen who volunteered for British forces in World War II, between their commitment to Britain's struggle against Nazism and their opposition to the almost-total restrictions that Britain imposed on Jewish immigration to Palestine, at the very time when the Holocaust made it most vital. Returning to Palestine upon his discharge in the summer of 1946, he took part in the establishment of Israel's fledgling air force and commanded it during the country's War of Independence in 1948.
My father never forgot and always cherished the friendship and support of his RAF mates. Among his later positions, he felt especially honored to serve as Israel's ambassador in London (1965-1970), when he had the opportunity to reunite with several of them.
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