Moshe Dayan Documents
Relating to the Loss of His Eye in Battle
Collection. Four items, Jerusalem and Paris. 1941 – 1947. 7 pp.
While fighting Vichy French forces in Syria, 26-year-old Moshe Dayan was scanning enemy positions with his binoculars when he was struck by a sniper’s bullet, causing the loss of his left eye. Dayan initially resented his black eye patch and the attention it drew to him, but it became his trademark. These four items relate directly to that loss, and to Dayan’s return to the armed forces despite his injury.
1. Autograph Letter Signed, “Moshe Dayan” with postscript signed “M.D.,” in English, 2 pp., [Jerusalem, 1941].
Dayan asks “the General Officer Commanding His Majesties Forces in Palestine.” to reassign him to duty “although I have lost one of my eyes while on active service with our British Forces.” He attaches a typed report, with some autograph corrections.
“Now that I have almost finished my medical treatment, I feel I am quite fit again to serve in the Army and I ask therefor[e] to be considered as if I were wounded while being a registered soldier and to give me the opportunity to carry on till the end. I believe I shall be able, after the required training to get a commission. During the disturbances in Palestine (1936-1940) I served as a guide to the British troops....I do not wish to ask any special favours except that I shall be allowed to pass the medical examination. The rest I shall try and fulfill to my abilities.”
2. “Report,” 3 pp., In Hebrew with full English translation. Ink additions, some by Dayan. Dayan’s detailing of the events leading up to his injury on June 7, 1941.
“On June 1, I was called by my immediate superior and it was proposed that I join the unit slated to operate on behalf of and together with the British Army. My immediate superior told me that I was to serve as an Officer of the unit, and to be responsible for the activities of thirty men (?) who were to operate in the area of Bint-Jneil – Iskandaroun. I was told that whatever uniforms we would be wearing, we would be considered (Members of the British Forces) and we would undertake the same duties and rights as members of British Forces. After receiving the explanation of the value and nature of the assignment, I accepted it willingly. I was given a weapon and the necessary documentation for my men and from June 1 to June 7, my men and I patrolled the area allocated to me, in accordance with the orders given to me by my superiors.... Upon approaching village...we observed the movement of French troops...The Australian Officers and their men opened fire over the stone wall...and I, together with two of my men, jumped over to the balcony...located about 1½ meters above ground level...I threw a bomb into the building through one of the open doors. After it exploded, we stormed the building...”
3. Typed Letter Signed, from unknown British officer to Dayan, October 29, 1941. 1 p. “you have been considered suitable as a candidate for this [officer’s] course. You must however, first enlist into the ranks at Sarafand and serve a period in such as is the usual procedure.”
4. Hospital Bill, Paris, France. January 28, 1947. 1 p., 6¾ x 9¼ in. In French. On “Maison de Chirurgie” [House of Surgery] stationery. The total bill was 12,389 francs for eye surgery six years after his injury.