During the summer of 1947 and early 1948, five attacks were launched against ships in Italian ports; leaving one “a total loss,” while two others were damaged. Two more Limpet mines were discovered before they went off. Operation Embarrass also considered blowing up the “President Warfield,” which later became famous in Israeli history as “Exodus 47”– the ship that launched a nation.
There is irrefutable evidence of a sabotage attempt against one of my ships, the Abril, and I suspect there were at least two more. The “Abril” was an Irgun (i.e., “terrorist”) ship, therefore of special concern to the Brits. A raging dockside fire next to her berth in New York’s Gowanus Canal could have been the work of Operation Embarrass. Luckily, the blaze was extinguished by a fireboat before the Abril caught fire. A large dockside fire in Varna, Bulgaria also threatened my second ship, the “Paducah.”
These fires could have been incidental, but there was no ambiguity regarding the sabotage attempt against the Abril in Port-Du-Bouc, France. We were leaving the French coast on the way to Palestine with 650 refugees aboard, when our starboard diesel engine suddenly broke down. Inspection revealed that a fuel pump connecting rod had been almost completely hack sawed through in the shipyard, puncturing the engine sump as it broke. Motor oil poured into the bilges, leaving the engine without lubrication. The damage also left the Abril afloat on the mine-thick waters of the post-war Mediterranean with only one unreliable engine.
Presumably, the Brits assumed that we would have to turn back. But we didn’t. Instead, Lilleby and Sorenson, our two Norwegian diesel engineers, worked three days straight, fabricating from deck plates a patch for the sump – a repair that got us to our rendezvous with the Royal Navy off Palestine. That patch was still in place when the Abril eventually joined the new Israeli navy.
The Brits closed the gates to Palestine, thereby helping Hitler trap the Jews of Europe. Despite bearing much indirect responsibility for the Holocaust, the Brits did not relent: they penned up the post-war survivors in stinking prison camps. And now, the Brits continue to evade responsibility by accusing the Jews of committing their sins – mounting a punitive blockade against a captive population. They are beginning to adopt the manners and rhetoric of their terrorist enemies.
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