AKA, the first fight in Operation Nachshon
It is 0630 on 6 April 1948, and the company is going into action as part of Operation Nachshon, the Jewish operation to open the Tel Aviv-Jerusalem Road in order to bring relief to the Jewish community in Jerusalem. While the men of the company were fighting to defend their homes in the village of Mar Gush, west of Jerusalem, Arab Liberation Army forces under Abd Al-Qadr Al-Husayni completed their encirclement of Jerusalem. A convoy bound for the Jewish Quarter (in Jerusalem) was ambushed on 31 March 1948, forced back with the loss of five vehicles and seventeen dead. Plans were made to mount as much offensive power as possible in order to re-open the Tel Aviv-Jerusalem Road; the company, now more or less formally recognized as part of the Haganah (Jewish military), was included in those plans.
It is now 6 April 1948; on 3 April Jewish forces attacked the Palestinian village of Al-Qastal. Fighting has raged there for several days. The company is now being thrown into the fight, and Captain Avi Peled, the company commander, is personally leading the first action. He has maneuvered the company southeast of Al-Qastal, sneaking up behind an enemy machine gun position that has pinned down members of the Jewish Etzioni Brigade, which is trying to reinforce members of its unit cut off in Al-Qastal. Avi has Lt Baruch Eitan and his 1st Platoon with him, and they're plan is not only to eliminate the pesky Palestinian machine gun position, but then to attack into Al-Qastal itself. Following the battle of Mar Gush, Avi reorganized the company (which is actually platoon-strength), so that now each platoon (squad) has eight men (if you're not aware, casualties were pretty heavy).
Lieutenant Baruch Eitan, age 33, former member of the Palmach returned home, MP-40
Aaron Chaplin, age 44, a refugee from Belgium, Sten
Dagan Narkiss, age 17, a village youngster, Mauser
Gal Dayan, age 19, a village youngster, Sten
Guy Rabin, age 40, village metalsmith, Springfield 03
Eliyahu Rabat, age 31, former Sergeant of the Jewish Brigade, MG-34
Elijah Davidoff, age 49, a refugee from Czechoslovakia, MP-40
Abel Landau, age 54, a refugee from Germany and veteran of the German Army in WWI, Mauser
Captain Avi Peled, age 29, former Lieutenant in the Jewish Brigade and Palmach member, Sten
I really wish I could get someone over to Elijah (bottom left) and check on him, but the fighting has been too heavy.
The fight is thus concluded: the Jews were able to carry the day, but the shock of the hidden enemy position atop Balagan Hill (owing to target fixation leading to improper reconnaissance) leading to the ferocious crossfire cost the Jews dearly. While the Arab Liberation Army suffered seven men killed in action and another three captured, Avi reviewed the butcher's bill:
-Lieutenant Baruch Eitan was shot twice in the chest. Evacuated to the hospital in Tel Aviv, he survived and returned to duty in the Israeli Defense Forces, but for him, this war was over.
-Abel Landau, the German veteran of WWI and the Holocaust, died when a Palestinian plunged his bayonet into the old man's chest.
-Gal Dayan, the 19-year old kid, was lucky, however, and now sports a dramatic scar. Well, the world doesn't see the scar, it's covered by an eye patch (yeah, I couldn't help myself. If you don't get it, just ask). He should be back within the week.
In any case, the world keeps turning. Freed up by 1st Platoon knocking out the machine gun position, the Etzioni Brigade pushes into the village of Al-Qastal, taking it, but then being pushed back out. The next morning the company was holding security to the south of Al-Qastal when orders came down: Etzioni Brigde was again making a push from the east, but the Arab Liberation Army had strongpointed an old Roman fort on the outskirts of the town. High Command wanted the company to make a nighttime assault to eliminate the enemy position.
Avi turned to Danny Tzur, the leader of the 2nd Platoon: "my friend, prepare your men."