Lieutenant Zwi Greengold is recognised as the greatest tank commander of contemporary tank history, for his service during the potentially devastating Yom Kippur War of 1973. Following the devastating losses of the Six Day War in 1967, Arab armies rallied against Israel in a surprise attack. 6 October 1973 coincided with the Jewish festival of Yom Kippur, during which the armies of Egypt and Syria had hoped to catch Israel unawares. In the initial attack, the Egyptians successfully seized the Sinai, while the Syrians retook control of the Golan Heights. However, within days, an Israeli counterattack decisively shifted the war’s momentum.
Upon hearing news of the surprise attack, Zwi Greengold hitchhiked his way to the northern front. While there were no tanks for his immediate use, he tended to the wounded and casualties, of which there were many. Once a pair of Centurion tanks had been repaired, he was handed their command and sent into battle against the Syrians on the northern front.
In a move comprised of daring, tactical nous and technical guile, Greengold took on the Syrian Army’s 51st Independent Tank Brigade with just two tanks. After one was damaged, he sent it back for repairs, fending off the Syrians with just one lone tank.
Thereafter, after spotting the Syrian 452nd Tank Battalion, Greengold took advantage of the darkness and fooled the Syrians into believing they were facing a sizeable contingent of tanks. After singlehandedly damaging, destroying and debilitating ten Syrian tanks, Greengold’s ingenuity forced the enemy to withdraw from battle. At the time the Zvika Force commanded by Greengold was down to one solitary tank, he was forced to conceal this from his superiors, fearing enemy interception of his communications. Thus, there was no help forthcoming. During a battle which continued for more than twenty hours, Greengold hopped from one damaged tank to another. He was only forced to withdraw from the offensive, when Syrian T-62 tanks advanced on Nafekh.