Great War meets WWII meets IDF

British trained (and often led) Syrian soldiers of the Arab Legion during the Battle of Jerusalem, 1948. Note the French Chauchat light machine gun of Great War infamy– likely in 8mm– to the left with a spare mag to the side of and another behind the gunner. The Syrian to the right of the frame has a German MP40 submachine gun of more recent vintage.

Founded in 1920 as a gendarme force by the British in their new Transjordan mandate, the force began with a mix of Chechen locals, former Ottoman Army troops and a smattering of Arabs still around from Lawrence’s days. Swelling to almost 2,000 by 1939, they fought with the British during WWII and by 1948 had grown to about 10,000.

It was during WWII that the Arab Legion was key in Operation Exporter, the hard-fought two month liberation of  the Vichy French-controlled Syrian Republic and French Lebanon in 1941 (where the Chauchat was likely picked up) and Operations Sabine/Regulta and Regatta, the seizure of Iraq in the face of German support (where the MP40 may have originated).

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