The Medical Corps
The ratio of physicians to population in the yishuv in 1948 was exceptionally high; but most of these doctors were no longer young, and only a few had military experience.
Seventy-four doctors came to the newly founded state as MACHAL. The largest number was from South Africa; others came from Britain, the USA, Canada, South America, Switzerland and Spanish Morocco. They served as commanders of wartime field hospitals, as specialists in trauma, orthopedics and plastic surgery, as internists and as psychiatrists. Most brigade and battalion medical officers were MACHAL. In addition to the doctors, some 25 nurses, and pharmacists, dentists, physiotherapists and bacteriologists served in the Medical Corps.
Among the outstanding MACHAL in the Medical Corps were:
Dr. Leo (Arye) Bornstein was the first MACHAL physician to arrive. As an experienced battlefront surgeon, he commanded Military Hospital No. 2 in the Galilee, before the establishment of the State, and later served as a surgeon in Military Hospital No. 10.
Dr. Menachem Brand, a Lt. Col. in the British Army, founded and commanded the Hygiene Training School of the IDF.
Dr. Norman Cohen, who had served in the RAMC (Royal Army Medical Corps), was the senior psychiatrist of Military Psychiatric Hospital No. 1.
Dr. Jack Medalie, a South African, was surgeon to the Third Battalion, and to the Palmach's Yiftach Brigade.
Dr. Lionel Meltzer, who had been a Colonel with the South African Army and was awarded the Military Cross, was in charge of planning and personnel at Medical Corps HQ.
Dr. Louis Miller, a South African, established the Israel Air Force Psychiatric Service.
Dr. Solomon Morley-Dahan, of Spanish Morocco, served as a doctor in a battalion of Druze and Circassian troops in 1948. In October 1948, he was killed by enemy fire while caring for a wounded soldier.
Dr. Isaiah Morris received the Military Cross while serving in the RAMC, and after the war, volunteered as a physician in displaced persons camps in southern France, where refugees awaited transport to Palestine. After a period of internment in Cyprus, he arrived in Israel in the spring of 1948 and was appointed Chief Medical Officer of the Golani Brigade. In June 1948, he was killed by a mortar shell while caring for wounded soldiers at Sejera.
Dr. Max Goldberg, a Swiss volunteer, was seriously wounded by the same shell. Dr. Goldberg had volunteered together with his wife Hilde, a qualified nurse, as a husband and wife team for Golani.
Mildred Schlumschlag of New York, a physiotherapist, arrived on board the Pan York. Released by the British after the establishment of the State, she set up and supervised Israel's first center for the treatment of paraplegics in Military Hospital No. 5, which later became the Tel Hashomer Medical Center.
Dr. Ellis (Eliyahu) Vior, who had extensive RAMC experience, refined the IDF's procedure for clearing casualties from the front lines.
Dr. Simon Winter, who had served in the RAMC, became the IAF's Chief Medical Officer.
The MACHAL monument at Sha'ar Hagai commemorating the 119 overseas volunteers who lost their lives in Israel's struggle for independence.
Over the years, a constant stream of volunteers from all over the world have continued to come to Israel to serve in all branches of the IDF, many in combat units; several have died in action.
MACHAL veterans living abroad maintain close ties with Israel through World MACHAL and its affiliates in many countries. World MACHAL affiliates built the MACHAL Monument at Sha'ar Hagai to commemorate the 119 overseas volunteers who lost their lives in Israel's struggle for independence. At the dedication ceremony, the late Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin acknowledged MACHAL's contribution to the successful outcome of the war. He said: "They came to us when we most needed them, during those hard and uncertain days of our 1948 War of Independence."