Memorial day 1979

  • Issue: April 1979
  • Designer: Z. Narkiss
  • Stamp size: 40 x 25.7 mm
  • Plate no.: 566
  • Sheet of 15 stamps Tabs: 5
  • Printers: Government Printers
  • Method of printing: Photogravure

On the afternoon of Saturday, 21st October 1967, disaster fell on the people of Israel. The naval vessel "Flat", sister ship to the "Yafo", was hit by four Egyptian Styx missiles fired from Port Said and sank. The tragedy claimed 47 officers and men of whom 16 were listed as missing.

A monument to the victims was erected at Ashdod which was later converted into a memorial to all naval personnel.

The "Flat", a "Z" class destroyer, was built in England and commissioned on the 28 February 1944 as H.M.S. Zealous. In 1956 the destroyer together with a sister ship was transferred to the Israel Navy and the two vessels were renamed "Flat" and "Yafo".

The "Flat" reached Israel on the eve of the Sinai campaign in the course of which it participated in the interception of the Egyptian destroyer "Ibrahim El Awal" which was en route to bombard Haifa.

For the crew of the "Flat" there followed days of battle, voyages, manoeuvres, courtesy visits to foreign ports, cruises, and routine watches. The men and their ship were welded into a single entity and a close bond developed between them.

The end came on the 21st October 1967. As the "Flat" was patrolling the cease fire line between Israel and Egypt close to Port Said, it came under attack. It was only four months since the end of the 6-Day War. At 17.32 hours a shiny, brown object was seen winging its way towards the ship from the direction of Port Said. Within a matter of seconds the object was identified as a missile. The missile hit the "Flat" amid-ships, causing heavy damage. As the crew was occupied with tending the injured and preparing to abandon ship, three more missiles struck home. The fourth missile exploded in the sea near the men who were swimming around the vessel after they had jumped from the ship on the orders of their captain. The survivors were picked up by the Israel Air Force but 47 of the ship's complement were missing. At the end of the week of mourning a spontaneous meeting of members of the naval reserve attached to the "Elat" was held in Tel Aviv at which it was decided to form a committee charged with the erection of a monument to the memory of the victims of the "Elat".

The committee, together with Yehuda Berkovitz, a naval reserve officer whose son Moshe was among the victims, approached the reserve officers and men of the "Elat", naval personnel and public institutions to contribute towards the erection of a memorial. The required funds were soon collected and the committee proceeded to make arrangements for the erection of a monument in Ashdod. The architect, Carmeli Feldman, who was himself a member of the naval reserve, planned a living memorial designed so that children could play in it and thus make contact with the "Elat".

The contractor who erected the monument, Moti Zerubavel, also a member of the naval reserve attached to the "Elat", was among the initiators of the project and had served as a member of the original crew that had been sent to England in 1956 to take over the ship. So that the monument would symbolise the ship and life at sea, it was constructed in the form of a ship with its mast and command bridge.

The memorial was officially consecrated on the fourth anniversary of the loss of the "Elat" in the presence of the then Prime Minister, the late Golda Meir who said "This is the first monument that requires no explanation.., one sees at a glance what it commemorates... it is as if it sprouts from the ground on the most fitting of all sites".

At a later date, the Committee for Perpetuating the Memory of the Victims of the "Elat", with the support of the then Commander-in-Chief of the Navy, Benny Telem, initiated the conversion of the monument into a general naval memorial and it now stands as a memorial to all those members of the Israel Navy who fell on duty.

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Memorial day 1979