ATS Recruitment Poster, British Mandate Era
This is a recruitment poster for the ATS, the Auxiliary Territorial Service that was publicised in Israel during the Second World War The poster is written in English, although it includes a quote from the Book of Isaiah (לִבְשִׁי בִּגְדֵי תִפְאַרְתֵּךְ), translated as “Put on your garments of glory”. The poster portrays a female officer, distinguished by the stripes on the sleeves of her uniform, holding out an army greatcoat. The implication, reinforced by the English, is that she is welcoming a new recruit to the army, inviting her to don the uniform of the unit.
The ATS was the women’s branch of the British Army during the Second World War. Training camps were situated in Israel, and the women were then sent to a number of locations across the Middle East and even parts of Europe as the war drew to a close.
The Haganah later benefited from the training that these women received, and the first five commanding officers of the CHEN (the Women’s Corps) had passed through the ranks of the ATS.
Many of the Yishuv (Jewish residents of pre-State Israel) were interested in fighting the British, who ruled in Israel at the time, as part of their struggle for an independent Jewish State. However, during the Holocaust, there was an overriding feeling that the Germans must be defeated at all costs, and hostilities towards the British were mainly put on hold for the duration of the war.
The most well-known female Jewish soldier in the British Army was Hannah Senesh. Hungarian-born Senesh enlisted in 1943 and began her training in Egypt as a paratrooper for the British Special Operations Executive (SOE). She parachuted into Yugoslavia to assist in the rescue of the Hungarian Jews but was captured, tortured, and shot in 1944.
Connection to Parashat Pinchas
Parashat Pinchas contains the story of the daughters of Zelophehad, who died before the Jewish People entered the Land of Israel. Zelophehad’s daughters approached Moses arguing that, even as women, they should be able to inherit their father’s land rather than it being lost to their family forever. Moses brought the argument to God who accepted their appeal and gave detailed instructions for future land inheritance. This episode is considered an early example of attempts to achieve equality between men and women.
This poster could be used in a variety of different lessons.
It could be used in Jewish History lessons as a trigger to discussions about the situation in the Yishuv during both the Second World War and the British Mandate, in particular the conflict between the need to fight the Nazis and the eagerness to be rid of the British.
The poster could also be to discuss the role of women in building the state, in the Second World War, and in war in general.
Alternatively could be to show this poster in Jewish Studies lessons, either when discussing the original Biblical source of the sentence “Put on your garments of glory” or when teaching about the Shabbat evening service and the traditional song “Lecha Dodi” which includes these words.
Who was the poster addressing?
Who printed the poster?
What is the purpose of the poster?
What text appears on the poster?
Reading Between the Lines
Why is there English and Hebrew on the poster?
Why was this poster printed in colour?
What impression does the poster give of the army unit?
What does the text mean, and why do you think it was seen as appropriate for this poster?
How do you think that the quote would have encouraged more women to sign up?
What is the original biblical context of this quote?
Would this poster encourage you to volunteer for such a unit?
At this time there was a dispute in the Yishuv about whether the Jews in Israel should fight act against the British Mandate and the British Army in order to establish a Jewish State in Israel or join the British in their fight against Nazi Germany.
What is your opinion? Do you think the Jewish people should have joined the British Army?
Can you think of a different Hebrew phrase to use on a poster like this?
Search the internet for other recruitment posters from around the world and compare it to this one.
Do you think that this poster would have been effective?
Choose another poster that you think is particularly effective and explain why you chose it.
“Put on your garments of glory” (Isaiah 52:1)