History and museums
Yad La-Shiryon (officially: The Armored Corps Memorial Site and Museum at Latrun; Hebrew: יד לשריון) is Israel's official memorial site for fallen soldiers from the armored corps, as well as one of the most diverse tank museums in the world. The cornerstone for Yad La-Shiryon was laid on December 14, 1982 (1982-12-14).
The site was created through the initiative of veteran officers of the armored corps. The outdoor display includes 110 tanks and other armored fighting vehicles, both Israeli and captured enemy examples including the Merkava and T-72 tanks, as well as vehicles purchased from allied nations specifically for diversifying the collection. Other notable items include: an M4 Sherman tank successfully mounted high atop a former British water tower; a collection of mobile bridges constructed by the IDF (Israeli Defense Forces) which can be carried by tanks and erected while under fire; captured enemy vehicles, most of which Israel has modified and updated; a tank with a blown up gun; and a long, engraved commemorative wall bearing the names of Armored Corps soldiers killed in defense of the country.
The main building, a mandate era, Tegart fortress, houses a library with a publicly accessible computerized record of every fallen Israeli tank soldier, and a synagogue. The deeply pocked outer walls of the fort are a reminder of the building's wartime past and its use by the Arab Legion. The tower of the fortress has been converted into a Tower of Tears by Israeli artist, Danny Karavan. The inside of the tower is covered by steel taken from a tank and water circulating from a pool underneath the installation trickles down the walls.
The museum also features a large amphitheater, an auditorium, and has photos, poetry, paintings and cartoons on display. Screenings are held regularly, showing both historical film footage and more recent tributes to Israelis injured and fallen.
The Wall of Names, erected outside, displays the names of all the soldiers from the Armored Corps killed in the 1948 Arab-Israeli War and later wars.
The most famous sight at Yad La-Shiryon is most likely that of a tank on top of a tower, which serves as the museum's logo. In 1979, by decision of late Major General (Ret.) Moshe Peled, the tank was hoisted on top of a tower on the site, which was originally used as a water tower. The tank that was chosen is an American M4 Sherman, one of the first tanks that fought in the service of the Israel Defense Forces. Since the water tower was only designed to support 25 tons and the tank weighed 34 tons, both the engine and transmission gears had to be removed.
Yad La-shiryon is famous worldwide for its unique and diverse collection of tanks and armored vehicles. There are over a hundred different vehicles in the collection.
Some of the tanks and military vehicles included are:
A monument was constructed as a tribute to the Allies of World War II, led by the United States, Great Britain and The Soviet Union. The monument is composed of a rock pile, on top of which the three main battle tanks that served in the armies of the Allied Forces on different fronts: a British Cromwell, an American Sherman, and the Soviet T-34. The monument is surrounded by the flags of 19 countries and organizations that actively participated in the struggle, including the flag of the Jewish Brigade, which fought within the ranks of the British army. It is being reconstructed as of December 2011.
The museum includes several exhibits dedicated to the history of armored combat in general, including:
The site also has a large outdoor theater where various ceremonies and performances take place, as it is one of the largest theaters in the country and centrally located. There is also a birdwatching facility equipped with a radar to track migratory birds.