> The War of Independence and the different fronts > The Central Front > The Latrun Battles
> The War of Independence > The War of Independence and the different fronts > The Central Front > The Latrun Battles

The last attack on Latrun

At the end of Operation Dani, close to the second cease-fire, a frontal armoured daylight attack on Latrun Police Station was conducted, with the assistance of artillery and the only two heavy tanks that the IDF possessed. A company from the 1st Battalion of Yiftach Brigade also joined in. The tanks were unable to function properly and the operation failed.

Close to the commencement of the cease-fire Yigal Alon, the Commander of Operation Dani, decided to stage a daylight frontal armoured attack on Latrun Police Station. The main factor in the attack was the two Cromwell heavy tanks which belonged to the 8th Brigade and which were intended to defeat the enemys armour and anti-tank weapons. The force was augmented by D Company from the 1st Battalion on half-tracks, each one carrying two machine guns. The Aide to the Operations Officer, Haim Avinoam, was appointed Operation Commander together with Company C.O., Itamar Golani. According to information presented to the Operations Commander, the force at Latrun was not substantial. On the morning of the operation Avinoam carried out a reconnaissance patrol in the area and found it difficult to decide if there really was no Jordanian force in the area. Towards the start of the operation a problem in communication was discovered: they were forced to use three communication systems one with the Palmach Company, one with the armoured cars and one with the tank, which required a signaller who was fluent in English.
The force got under way at 18:00 hours, an hour before the cease-fire came into force, and managed to capture the water pumps which were in the vicinity of the Police Station. At the same time support was provided by artillery which shelled the Police Station and the area of the monastery. At 18:12 hours one of the tanks stopped by the pumping station because a shell got stuck in its barrel. At 18:27 hours it turned around to return to El-Kubab where the shell could be extricated. For some reason the second tank followed it, and the force commander, who did not understand what the English tank commander was saying, turned the armoured cars around and followed them... at 19:30 hours, when the fault had been repaired, the tank returned to the pumping station, shelled Latrun from there and at 20:08 hours was seen returning to its base. During the whole of the operation the force was under Jordanian shelling.
Haim Avinoams evidence: The force approached the pumps, by the detention camp. The plan was to capture Latrun Police Station and from there to breach the Latrun position The tank was some 500 metres in front of the armoured cars when the Legions armoured cars started to approach from the direction of Bir-Mayin and shell our forces, joined by two cannons positioned at the Police Station. The tank was given the order to open fire on them, but then it suddenly turned and moved very fast towards El-Burej. I suspected that the British commander was betraying us, perhaps he was taking the tank to strike Itamar Golanis company, or even the command headquarters at El-Kubab. I could not make contact with the tank crew and the Legions armoured cars fire was aimed at our armoured cars in the area. Just then I got an order from Mula Cohen to retreat because the operation had been called off and the cease-fire had come into operation.
Afterwards it was found that the tanks ammunition was spoiled. The shells were fished out of the water in Haifa port and were dried out. A shell had got stuck in the barrel of the tanks cannon and because the commander was unable to extricate it, he decided to go to El-Kubab to try and get it out.

The names of the fallen from the Palmach:
Eisenstadt Arieh;
Grunberg Leon;
Wag Yaakov;
Zahavi Israel;
Lampel Hadassah;
Mittelman Mordechai;
Markovitz Zeev;
Smotritch Yitzhak;
Rauch Yefet-Yehuda
(Arieh Yitzhaki notes that 12 Palmach people were killed.)

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