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Remembered Today:

Jewish Officers and Men in the Territorial Force


Charles Fair
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Hello All,

Just wondered if anyone had any thoughts on something that I have been working on. I have been studying the composition of the officer corps of the Regiment that I have been researching, the 19th London Regt (St Pancras). I have been trying to get a handle on how it compares with the other London Battalions.

One source that I have found useful is the British Jewry Book of Honour which lists 163 who were commissioned into the London Regt. This table shows how many were in each Battalion, with the battalions ranked in descending order:

Battalion Name No. of Jewish officers

19th St. Pancras 18

13th Kensington 16

10th Hackney 14

6th 'Cast Iron' Sixth 12

12th The Rangers 8

17th Poplar & Stepney R 8

3rd Royal Fusiliers 8

1st Royal Fusiliers 7

23rd Clapham 7

2nd Royal Fusiliers 7

7th 'Shiny' Seventh 6

8th Post Office Rifles 6

16th Queen's Westminster 5

11th Finsbury Rifles 4

21st First Surrey Rifles 4

24th The Queens 4

4th Royal Fusiliers 4

9th Queen Victoria's R 4

15th Civil Service Rifles 3

18th London Irish Rifles 3

5th London Rifle Brigade 3

22nd The Queens 2

25th London Cyclists 2

20th Blackheath & Woolwich 1

14th London Scottish 0

28th Artists Rifles 0

not stated n/s 7

------------------------------------------------------------

TOTAL 163

[source: British Jewry Book of Honour pp. 459-460]

Somewhat to my surprise, the 19th came top of the table with 18 listed. (In addition I know of another Jewish officer in the 19th who is not listed in BBJ, and one of those commissioned into the 10th was also attached to the 1/19th.)

I am trying to explain this distribution. Whilst there is inevitably a random element, the table must also reflect where they lived and worked, as well as ties of kinship and education. On looking at the service records and entries in the 1918 AVL of those in the 19th I have a partial explanation as to why the 19th might have been top. Many of these officers lived in Hampstead and Highate. Many also worked in banking or insurance companies (such as the Prudential in Holborn). The 19th's HQ in Camden Town would have been perfectly situated between work and home.

I would be interested to hear thoughts about the other battalions.

The other suprise about the officers of the 19th is that about 25% of those commissioned into the 19th in 1917 and 1918 were Glaswegian. But that's another story....

Are there similar patterns in the TF (or indeed New Army) units of other cities?

Charles

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As the Forum software doesn't seem to support tables, or allow Excel attachments, the above table is attached here in Word format.

Jewish_Officers_in_the_London_Regiment_191418.doc

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Hello Charles,

This is a very interesting piece of research, but what the stats do not show, and which I'm sure you have already considered, is the number of Jews who either changed their religion and names, or those who were basically rejected when applying to certain units. Leeds is a good example, and while there appears a higher number in the officer class of the Leeds Pals, there is a much higher percentage of ORs in those battalions which were not locally-raised. The T.F. battalions provide another example, and I think the feeling that Jews were somehow not wanted unless officer material was often the case when recruiting. I'd be interested to know what the situation was in Manchester or Liverpool, or for that matter, other towns and cities with a large Jewish population, such as Glasgow or even Hull. There was the advantage, though, of those men and officers who spoke Yiddish or Hebrew, and maybe this is reflected in some of the battalions and units you are researching.

Kind Regards,

Dave

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Dave - good points, thank you. Almost all of these Jewish officers in the 19th were pre-war or 1914-15 enlistments. They were very much 'establishment' Jewry i.e. middle / upper middle class - public school educated professional men or gentlemen. The same social class as the Sassoons for example.

In contrast I have found very few Jewish ORs in the 19th Londons. However, a few do appear in 1917/18 as conscripts and appear to have been drawn from the most recent immigrants. These men were poor working class men who could barely speak English. In terms of social class a million miles from the Jewish officers.

I suspect that the 17th Londons may have had the highest concentration of Jewsh ORs in London given its catchment area, but given that these East London Jewish communities were often not well integrated as they contained many recent immigrants the absolute number was probably low. From the data I have the 17th did find it harder to recruit thn most other London TF battalions in the 1908-Aug 1914 period.

Liverpool would be interesting. I have just been reading Helen MacCartney's book on the Liverpool TF which is about the middle class 1/6th and 1/10th Kings Liverpool battalions, but this is not a topic she touches on.

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Thankyou Charles,

I wasn't aware of Helen McCartney's work, and I'll be sure to give it a look, though 'Cotton Town Comrades' is a priority when the price comes down. :D I also look forward to further analysis, and contributions to this thread.

Kind Regards,

Dave

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Charles (Hello!)

I may be missing a point, but I think it is because my brain is still partly deep frozen after my attempt to recreate Capt. Oates' last walk on the way into work. (I may not have been a 'very gallant gentleman', but I was a wet, fuming and cold one)...

What about the dedicated Jewish Battalions of the RF? Would they have not acted as a recruting pool drawing candidates away? Just a thought.

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Battalion Name No. of Jewish officers

19th St. Pancras 18

13th Kensington 16

10th Hackney 14

6th 'Cast Iron' Sixth 12

------------------------------------------------------------

Hello Charles

Again a most fascinating post, one may conclude the obvious from your research this being a high proportion of middle /upper class Jewish families living and working in Hampstead & the west end is reflected in the stats regarding Jewish officers serving with 13th & 19th battalions the London Regt. The 10th Battalion may have had a C.O of Jewish decent named Cohen pre war, again reflecting the Jewish composition in N.W London & Eastern parts of the N.Western London boroughs that hover above the city..

It would seem during the war the most recent migrants & poorer Jewish communities were in the working class areas viewed by there British counterparts with some distain. the general feeling being they were slackers and never volunteered for service. This is a touchy subject .......... but i must say the military cemeteries in France and Flanders hold many Jewish soldiers. Worthy of note some of these are German in decent and there are again very many more Jews buried in the German military cemeteries

I have in-part researched an individual (a Jewish soldier) who served during the Great War with the Middlesex Regt his battalion thus far is unidentified to me but certainly seems to have been made up exclusively from soldiers with Jewish names as you now there is an affiliation between the middx Regt & the 19th London’s, interestingly the family believe the soldier in question went on to serve with the black & tans in Ireland after the war. His service number was G/80034 .

best

Tom.

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I hope this is some help to you. Judaism was not recognised by QRs as an official Army Religion until 1889. This gave the information that there were 15 observant Jews in the Regular Army and just under 100 non-religious. The first Jewish Chaplain was appointed in 1892.

This was Rabbi Francis Cohen of the Borough Synagogue of South London. The small number of observant Jews did not justify a full time appointement, but Rabbi Cohen was a keen Pastor. His work focused on Aldershot Command where he had been introduced to the GOC, Sir Evelyn Wood, by Lord Rothschild. Special services for Jewish soldiers were held at the Aldershot Synagogue on Sundays from 1892 to 1899 as it was not possible to release the men on the Sabbath. He was a good choice as he had a keen interest in army matters dating back to his boyhood in Aldershot where he was born in 1862.

Rabbi Cohen was also Jewish Chaplain to the Volunteer Force. He saw it as part of his duties to encourage Jews to join the army as he believed that their prescence in the ranks should be proportionate to their numbers in the general population. To this end he wrote to the Jewish Chronicle calling for 500 Jewish recruits. The Boer War saw an increase in the number of Jews in the Army.

As part of his Chaplaincy duties he gave a return of the number of Jews serving and the names of every Jewish officer in the Empire each year for the Jewish Year Book until 1904 when he moved to Sydney, Australia. He was a Jewish Chaplain to the Australian Military Forces until his death in 1934

It would be interesting to see if his successors kept up the return to the Jewish year book and what this would have to tell us.

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Thanks for contributions.

Dave, I will post a review of Helen MacCartney's book in due course. Well worth borrowing.

Phil, that is a good point. I have a the impression that the Jewish officers listed in BJBH under the London Regt were mainly pre-war or 1914-15 enlistments. I am sure that the Jewish bns of the RF would have had an impact.

Tom, thanks, I didnt know that about the 10th. Yes, the various bns of the Middx Regt which were filled entirely from German and E European immigrants would certainly have included many Jewish men.

It is interesting to note that the most middle class London battalions (LRB, QWR, CSR and London Scottish) all had few Jewish officers. I will have to run some stats and see if there is an inverse correlation between class (as shown by no of commissions from te ranks) and number of Jewish officers.

Charles

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Sorry to post in two boxes, but the PC was looking flaky and I did n't want to lose all the typing

I am glad to see that there were Jewish officers in the Hackney Regiment as I had heard that this unit had a policy of turning away Jewish people, certainly many Jewish people perceived that some London TA units did not want them.

The Buckinghamshire Territorials recruited in London specifically targeting the Jewish community and there is a very interesting article on this I once read, but I am afraid I can't remember where. They maintained two recruiting offices in town. Jewish men felt welcome in the Bucks Territorials because of the Rothschilds' involvement.

As to the Jewish Legion battalions in the RF these recruited all over the Empire and beyond. Jewish men came from Canada and Shanghai to join. When the British Army reached the Holy Land even members of the small Jewish community there joined and conversely some London RF men remained as Zionist pioneers, the colours were laid up in a Synagogue in Old Jerusalem and the Menorah Club founded. There is also still existing a settlement founded by ex-RF men.

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tintin1689 - thank you for your posts which crossed with mine - very helpful info which is new to me.

Your comment:

certainly many Jewish people perceived that some London TA units did not want them
I think probably did apply to the poor marginalised recent immigrants in the East End. The middle/upper middle class 'establishment' Jewry that was officer material was perhaps the exception.

Interesting point re the Buckinghamshire TF. I will see if I can track it down. I have some of Ian Beckett's work which looks at the Bucks TF battalions so it could be in there.

Charles

Edited by Charles Fair
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Hello Charles

Just wondering if you have found if any of the 19th London men that I passed on to you from the Kensington AVL, were Jewish? There was a Synagogue in North Kensington that tended to be the place of worship for the working class Jewish community. The Jewish upper classes tended to visit the large synagogue in St Petersburg Place near Kensington Gardens. There was also a Jewish School (Samuel Wolfson) in Lancaster Road, North Kensington.

Tom

I am interested in your post regading Soloman Eintracht G/80034. I am compiling a database of those soldiers of German or Austrian paternity who served in the BEF. If you have any information regarding this soldier, that I may add to my database, please send me a pm. I have also come across another BEF Jewish soldier who became a Black & Tan and then went on to fight in the Spanish Civil War.

Myrtle

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Charles/Tintin

I believe that the tendency of turning down Jewish recruits to the Hackney Regiment stemmed from politics rather than anything else. There had been a very strong socialist movement in this part of East London in the latter part of the 19th century and in the early 20th, with the formation of Jewish Trade unions. Rothschild had donated funds to the striking workers at the time, which would explain his later involvement with Bucks TF Jewish recruitment, mentioned by Tintin. At the time of the strikes the established Jewish community who had gained their more comfortable lifestyles, tended to disassociate themselves from the revolutionary groups.

Myrtle

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Myrtle - thanks for your posts which give more useful background that is new to me. I hadn't appreciated how the labour militancy of the time was overlaid by the religious groupings. I have been through the minutes if the County of London TF Association Recruiting Committee for 1908-14 and unionism comes up as a barrier, but not specifically the religious affiliations.

It occurs to me that I should find out if any of the synagogues in Kensington or the Hampstead/Highgate area have any memorials or records.

None of the Kensington AVL men have turned in BJBH, but that (BJBH) is by no means complete. (I won't be attacking the ORs service records until they start becoming digitised, many other things to keep me busy until then.) The only Jewish officer that I have been able to identify as living in Kensington was Capt Arthur Meyer Solomon of 10th Londons attd 1/19th who died during the March Retreat and who is commemorated on the Arras Memorial. His address was 123 Holland Rd, but he is obviously not in the AVL.

regards

Charles

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Charles

The Synagogue in St Petersburg Place, that I mentioned, is in Westminster and is the main one for that West London area. It was attended by many residents of the Kensington Jewish Community and from what I have heard has very good records. The Synagogue in Kensington Park Road, North Kensington has ceased as a place of worship and became a Montessori School a few years ago.

Myrtle

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Charles

Arthur Solomon appears to have been born in Highbury and was living in Islington as a Leather dresser, at the time of 1901 census. His father Solomon Solomon was born in Spitalfields which means that Arthur does not qualify for my database, but I thought you might be interested in his details.

Myrtle

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quote: "It occurs to me that I should find out if any of the synagogues in Kensington or the Hampstead/Highgate area have any memorials or records."

Charles,

You may wish to contact the AJEX Museum

see http://www.ajex.org.uk/museum.htm

I know of their archivist, Martin Sugarman's, work in researching the ZMC at Gallipoli in 1915

and he may be able to point you the right direction

regards

Michael

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Myrtle - thanks once again for additional details.

Michael - thanks for this helpful lead, I will drop AJEX a line.

regards, Charles

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tintin1689 - very many thanks for this, some useful references in there which I will have to track down.

Charles

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Charles

Great thread. The only thing of relevance that I can think of for the Liverpool Territorials is Sir Brunel Cohen who was commissioned into the 5th King’s and whose family owned the Lewis’s department store. I don’t think his memoirs (Count Your Blessings, 1956) make any reference to his being Jewish, except perhaps in relation to contact with German ex-servicemen’s organisations in the 1930s. I think one of his brothers was also in the battalion pre-war. Brunel Cohen was severely wounded in the legs in 1917 and used a wheelchair for the rest of his life. He became an MP and campaigner for the rights of disabled people, especially ex-servicemen. He was treasurer of the Royal British Legion for most of the inter-war period and the main organiser of the Poppy Appeal. He was also one of the founders of Remploy. It is often said that members of the 5th could find work at Lewis’s after the war. A disproportionate number of men also seem to have claimed to have rescued him after he was wounded, although it was during 3rd Ypres so it may have taken a lot to carry him out. I believe he did remember a man in his will for this.

regards

Simon

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tintin1689 - very many thanks for this, some useful references in there which I will have to track down.

Charles

Charles,

:D

Good topic. Do you have a word document wih the names of the 163 men. It would be interesting to check for any family relationships between them, and use the 1901 census to find their location some years before.

Also, the schools they attended and which schools filtered into which London Regiments.

I will check the Saint Olaves Roll for any Jewish Soldiers.

Godfrey Levy of the 9th London and Evi Feben of the RFA are two that spring to mind.

Please bear in mind that Abba Eban - a very high profile Zionist, attend Saint Olaves. You may find there were other schools that took Jewish students on open scholarship as St Olaves dis.

Peter

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Peter - thanks for helpful thoughts. I dont have them on word - only as photos of the relevant pages, so could email. University College School in Hampstead springs to mind as one to look at. I will have to try and track down its roll.

Charles

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  • 1 month later...

Hello Charles,

I came across this piece while looking for obituaries for men of the 10th West Yorks, and I thought it would be a shame to let it go. It concerns Capt. Arthur Meyer Solomon of the [19th] London Regiment and is taken from the 'Times' in 1918. I think it is also illustrative of the difference between East and West, and the charitable and philanthropic work carried out in the London slums. It also speaks volumes about Arthur Solomon as a person and man.

Captain Arthur Meyer Solomon, London Regiment, who was killed on March 24, in his 34th year, was the eldest surviving son of Mr. Solomon Solomon, of Holland Road, W. For many years before the war he had devoted all his spare time to work among working boys in the East End and West Central districts of London. He was a manager at the Stepney Boys' Club, Fitzroy Square. He was an officer in the Jewish Lads' Brigade, holding the positions of dug-out of the London Regiment of the brigade and member of the headquarters committe. On the outbreak of war, in spite of considerable difficulty caused by defective eyesight, he joined the University of London O.T.C., and was given a commission in the London Regiment at the end of 1914. In 1916 he proceeded to Gallipoli, and after serving there was invalided home. On recovery he did duty with the reserve battalion of his regiment, serving at the front in 1917. The officer commanding the battalion to which he was attached when he met his death writes: "He was a gallant soldier and a gentleman, and died at his post...He was absolutely fearless, and willingly paid the great sacrifice for the sake of all we held most sacred." His elder brother, Lieutenant Alexander Solomon, of the Canadian Infantry, was killed in action in August, 1917. [The Times, Thursday, April 18, 1918. p.4]

Kind Regards,

Dave

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Dave - thank you for Capt Solomon's obituary which I had not seen before. regards, Charles

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