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"Yank" Levy

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"Yank" Levy

For other uses, see Albert Levy (disambiguation).

Albert Levy
Nickname Yank
Born (1897-10-05)5 October 1897
Hamilton, Ontario
Died 9 February 1965(1965-02-09) (aged 67)
Allegiance Internationalism

World War I

Other work Guerrilla warfare instructor/advocate

Albert "Yank" Levy (5 October 1897 – 9 February 1965)[1][unreliable source?] was a soldier, military instructor and author of a manual on guerrilla warfare.[2] He served with irregular forces in several parts of the world in the 1920s and 1930s and was a significant figure at the Osterley Park training school for the British Home Guard during World War II.


Levy was born in Hamilton, Ontario; but his family moved to Cleveland, Ohio when he was just three months old. He grew up on the streets and claimed that his "real education was in the school of hardknocks".[2] In 1916 he joined the Merchant Navy working as a deck hand.

Military career

From 1918 to 1919 Levy served with the 39th Battalion, Royal Fusiliers (part of the Jewish Legion) in Palestine and Transjordan. In 1920-21 he was, in his own (attributed) words "mixed up in Mexico" towards the end of the revolution there. Subsequently he was involved in gun-running in Nicaragua, where he served under General Sandino.[2]

Perhaps his most significant military experience was in Spain during the civil war of 1936-39. He served with the International Brigade as an officer in the Saklatava Battalion, under Tom Wintringham, from 1937. He was captured at the Battle of Jarama and spent six months in a Francoist gaol until he was released in a prisoner exchange. Even after all that, he still had to be prevented by friends from re-enlisting and returning to the fray.

In 1940, with the outbreak of World War II he tried to enlist with the Canadian army, but was refused on medical grounds.[2]

Lecturing career

Following this refusal, Levy worked his passage to Britain. There he rejoined Wintringham and was involved in establishing the private training school for Home Guard volunteers at Osterley Park.

It was whilst lecturing there that Wintringham helped Levy write his book Guerrilla Warfare as a practical manual. This was published in mass market paperback in Britain and the U.S. and ran to several editions. Levy advocated guerrilla warfare as a democratic means of combatting fascism, frequently attacking the military establishment who overlooked the lessons born of such commanders as Lawrence of Arabia and their experience in irregular war. He also recounts some of his adventures as a guerrilla, such as the time he and his companions trapped cats' tails in mouse traps as a means of distracting sentries.[2]

Subsequently he returned to lecture in America as an advance party when Wintringham was invited to start an Osterley style school in San Bernardino. The school was abandoned when the two local Home Guard commanders shot each other during an argument. Levy gave a successful US lecture tour and had his face pictured on the cover of Life Magazine proclaiming him to be an: Ace Guerrilla.[3][4] before returning to the UK to form part of Wintringham's occasional 'flying squads' - mobile training units which toured provincial Home Guard units in temporary, often unofficial, training camps.

See also


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