Gandt, Robert. “Angels in the Sky: How a Band of Volunteer Airmen Saved the New State of Israel”, W.W. Norton, 2017.
Israel’s War of Independence
In 1948, just three years after the Holocaust, Israel was founded and immediately came under siege from a coalition of Arab states. These Arab nations vowed to annihilate the tiny country and its 600,000 settlers. It seemed that a second Holocaust was in the making. Israelis were outnumbered sixty to one, with no allies, no regular army, no air force, and no superpower to intercede on their behalf. The United States, Great Britain, and most of Europe enforced a strict embargo on the shipment of arms to Israel and in the first few days, the Arab armies overran Israel. The Egyptian air force held the sky and conducted continuous air attacks on Israeli cities and army positions. Israel seemed to be on the verge of extinction.
But then help came with a group of volunteer airman from the United States, Canada, Britain, France and South Africa. Most were World War II veterans who were young, idealistic and courageous. Two-thirds of them were Jews. Most of them knowingly violated their nations’ embargoes on the shipment of arms and aircraft to Israel. They smuggled in Messerschmitt fighters from Czechoslovakia, painting over swastikas with Stars of David. They not only defied own countries’ strict laws, they risked everything to fight for Israel.
There were less than 150 of them. They flew, fought, died, and, against all odds, helped save a new nation. This is a story that most of us are unaware of and the book is a military thriller and a piece of Israeli history. It was as if David was once again facing Goliath. There are 8 pages of illustrations.