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Mike Flanagan


Mike Flanagan was an Irish born soldier who fought for the British Army during World War 2.  He participated in the liberation of the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp and is famous for deserting the British Army and joining the Israeli troops during the War of Independence. 

After World War 2 Flanagan was stationed in British Mandate Palestine as an army technician. In late June 1948 Flanagan and his friend Harry McDonald snuck into a British military base after dark near the Haifa airport.  They then proceeded to steal two British Cromwell tanks and drive them to Tel Aviv where they were recieved by operatives from the Hagannah.  These two tanks were hidden in Givatyam and were crucial to the fledgeling Israeli military, becoming the Israeli militaries first tank batallion.  Flanagan and McDonald participated in the Israeli War of Independence in the Mahal volunteer unit wearing IDF uniforms, and provided a strategic advantage that allowed the Israelis to be victorious. 

After the war he fell in love with a fellow soldier Ruth Levy and converted to Judaism to marry her.  They stayed in Israel following the war, and Flanagan lived there until his wife's death after which he moved to Canada.  Mike Flanagan died on January 31 2014 at the age of 85.  His body was returned to Israel and he was buried with his wife and son in the Sha'ar HaAmakim cemetary.  The Israeli Defense Forces honored Flanagan for his immense and critical contributions to the formulation of the IDF. 


Sources: Haaretz, Front Page Magazine, Times of Israel