Hershon Towia Zyto

Driver, 462 General Transport Coy.
Service number PAL/30610
Died 1 May 1943
Commemorated on Brookwood 1939-1945 Memorial, United Kingdom & Mount Herzl, Jerusalem
Age 21

Hershon was born on 25 September 1921 in Lukov, Poland to Avraham and Chava-Sarah. His father was an enthusiastic about the Hebrew language and dreamed of moving to Israel. At the age of fifteen, Hershon immigrated with his family to Eretz Israel. The family settled in Haifa and Hershon began studying in the evenings to pass his matriculation exams, but his father’s sudden death forced him to stop his studies and start working to help support the family. Gershon was an active and beloved member of the Maccabi movement and devoted a lot of time to activity, organization and guiding youth. טוראי גרשון-טוביה זוטא – אתר יזכור (izkor.gov.il)

At the end of 1940, Hershon and some of his friends decided to volunteer for the British Army to fight the Nazis. Hershon enlisted in the Royal Air Force, even though he was not yet eighteen. Together with his unit, he was transferred to Greece, and when the Nazis entered Greece and his unit was taken prisoner, Gershon managed to slip away and reach back Israel. A year later, at the beginning of 1943, he enlisted again, this time in the transport corps. He joined 462 Company, which was transferred to Egypt and was engaged in building army camps. When the Nazi invasion of North Africa began, Hershon, as part of his unit, moved to Tripoli and the El Alamein line. On 29 April 1943, he was onboard the ship S S Erinpura which sailed from the port of Alexandria towards the island of Malta as part of a maritime convoy of 27 ships carrying equipment and supplies for the British Army and 11 warships. Two days after the convoy’s departure, on 1 May 1943, the convoy was attacked and bombed by 12 German bombers thirty miles north of Benghazi. The Erinpura was bombed directly leading it to sink within four minutes. Of the 1,215 men on board the ship, two junior engineers, 54 Indian seamen, three gunners, 600 Basuto Pioneer Troops from South Africa, and 140 Palestinian Jewish soldiers serving in the 462 transport company of the British Army were lost.

Photo courtesy of Izkor.gov.il
© Cathie Hewitt