Ranger Harold Monash
Army Serial Number:
by Theodore (Ted) Fleser
Ranger Battalion, 1D
First Special Service Force, Cannon Co
This is a story about a WW II Army Ranger who had a way with words.
Prior to joining the US Army, Ranger Harold Monash was a German Jew from Berlin, whose parents sent him to the U.S. in the early to mid 1930’s. I first met him in the Cannon Company of Darby’s Rangers on the Anzio Beachhead after Cisterna. I missed the fighting at Cisterna due to having been a casualty at Venafro, just prior to the Rangers going in to Cisterna. In Cisterna, the Ranger 1st and 3rd Battalions were wiped out on the Anzio Beachhead and the 4th Battalion was decimated. Later, the Ranger Cannon Company was absorbed into the First Special Service Force (FSSF) as a unit.
While in Italy, as part of a Ranger Rifle Co. and before becoming a part of the Ranger Cannon Company, the Rangers detected a German scout patrol. Ranger Monash spoke to them in his native Berlin accent. The distinctive Berlin accent demonstrated that Monash was a native German, not someone just speaking German. After some discussion, he was able to convince the Patrol to surrender without any casualties on either side. The patrol just gave themselves up.
In Southern France, while part of the FSSF Cannon Company, Monash had an opportunity to repeat the performance on a larger scale. A German Company would not surrender to the French Partisans. The French Partisans (French Underground) passed word to the FSSF Cannon Co., who went to see what they could do about the Germans. After we had taken up our positions, Monash spoke to the German forces, and again, his Berlin accent facilitated the surrender of the entire company of Germans. Again, no casualties on either side.
After WW II, Harold Monash was active in bringing people into what is now called Israel. When the United Nations created the State of Israel in 1948, he joined the Israeli forces. With his Ranger background, he went into the Palmach (Israeli Commandos).
It was while we were visiting Israel for its 50th anniversary that my wife, Miriam, and I, learned more about his postwar activities. We were visiting a fort called Latrun, overlooking a highway near Jerusalem. Latrun had been a British Forces Base when the area was a British Territory from 1917 through 1948, when Israel became a State. When the British left in 1948, Latrun was occupied by the Transjordanian Arab Legion until the 1967 war. In the 1967 war, after severe combat, the Israelis gained territory that included Latrun. After the 1967 war, the Israelis erected a memorial wall at this site, similar to our Vietnam Wall. I asked the tour guide if he could find the name Monash on the wall. His name was there, and the guide was able to provide me with a printout of Monash’s background, where I learned about his activities after WWII. He was killed in the Israeli War of Liberation in 1948, and was posthumously awarded the rank of Lieutenant.
Honored by Ranger & FSSF Buddy
Ranger Ted Fleser