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Remembered Today:

Jewish soldiers fighting in the British army during WW1


Ladysmith
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Dear All,

I have become particularly intersted in investgating further the role of Jewish servicemen in the British Army during World War One, could anybody advise a particulary good starting point to take this further, I am particulary interested in the London area.

Many thanks

East Kent

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Dear All,

I have become particularly intersted in investgating further the role of Jewish servicemen in the British Army during World War One, could anybody advise a particulary good starting point to take this further, I am particulary interested in the London area.

Many thanks

East Kent

The number of enlisted Jews in the First World War was estimated at around 50,000, and a high proportion of them were either foreign-born (including those who had arrived in Britain as children) or, if British-born, had foreign-born parents.

Five Jewish soldiers won the Victoria Cross. One of these men was Sergeant Issy Smith (Shmulevitch) who was the son of immigrants from Eastern Europe. Others who were the sons of immigrants from Eastern Europe included Lieutenant Frank Alexander de Pass, Private J White (Weiss) and Leonard Keysor. Fifty Jewish soldiers received the Distinguished Service Order.

In addition, Jews formed their own unit, the Zion Mule Corps, fighting at Gallipoli and the Dardanelles in 1915. The Jewish Chronicle published an article in November 1921 to commemorate the Zion Mule Corps and the Jewish Battalion who fought in Palestine.

The Royal Fusiliers (a London regiment) formed three Jewish battalions in Jan. 1918. The 38th Bn was composed of Jewish immigrants from Russia. The 39th was composed of US and Canadian volunteers. The 40th was actually formed in Palestine when the battalions arrived there in June. Many of the 40th Bn had served in the Ottoman Jewish police, and therefore the 40th Bn appropriated the latter's "Hashomar standard". Collectively the three battalions were known as the "Jewish Legion". The badge of all three battalions was a menorah on a scroll inscribed in Hebrew "Kadima" (Forward). The battalions disbanded in Palestine in 1919, and most of the soldiers settled there.

Many Eastern European Jews were in the Pioneer Corps, working as labourers on the trenches. The number of foreign Jews in the Labour Corps is estimated (from the British Jewry Book of Honour) at over 4,600, including those who served in the Middlesex Alien Companies and the Egyptian Labour Corps.

The men undertook any labouring task required of them, they:

Built and repaired roads and railways

Built defences

Laid electricity and telephones cables

Moved ammunition and stores

Worked in forestry or quarrying

Guarded Prisoners of War

Buried the dead

Others looked after services in the towns and camps where front line soldiers were sent for rest. In parts of France and Belgium the men of the Labour Corps worked unarmed within the range of German guns.

Paul

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Dear All,

I have become particularly intersted in investgating further the role of Jewish servicemen in the British Army during World War One, could anybody advise a particulary good starting point to take this further, I am particulary interested in the London area.

Many thanks

East Kent

My half great granduncle Leon Asscher joined the 25th Labour Company Army Service Corps [sS/17580] on the 6th October 1915 - killed 9th December 1915 the the Balkans theatre of war - buried in Salonika (Lembet Road) Military Cemetery

He was a diamond polisher by trade and born in 1862 to Dutch Jewish family from Amsterdam - what I dont understand is why at the age of 53 he joined up? On his Short Service - B2505 show his age at 45 and occupation Labourer!

Paul

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The number of enlisted Jews in the First World War was estimated at around 50,000, and a high proportion of them were either foreign-born (including those who had arrived in Britain as children) or, if British-born, had foreign-born parents.

Five Jewish soldiers won the Victoria Cross. One of these men was Sergeant Issy Smith (Shmulevitch) who was the son of immigrants from Eastern Europe. Others who were the sons of immigrants from Eastern Europe included Lieutenant Frank Alexander de Pass, Private J White (Weiss) and Leonard Keysor. Fifty Jewish soldiers received the Distinguished Service Order.

In addition, Jews formed their own unit, the Zion Mule Corps, fighting at Gallipoli and the Dardanelles in 1915. The Jewish Chronicle published an article in November 1921 to commemorate the Zion Mule Corps and the Jewish Battalion who fought in Palestine.

The Royal Fusiliers (a London regiment) formed three Jewish battalions in Jan. 1918. The 38th Bn was composed of Jewish immigrants from Russia. The 39th was composed of US and Canadian volunteers. The 40th was actually formed in Palestine when the battalions arrived there in June. Many of the 40th Bn had served in the Ottoman Jewish police, and therefore the 40th Bn appropriated the latter's "Hashomar standard". Collectively the three battalions were known as the "Jewish Legion". The badge of all three battalions was a menorah on a scroll inscribed in Hebrew "Kadima" (Forward). The battalions disbanded in Palestine in 1919, and most of the soldiers settled there.

Many Eastern European Jews were in the Pioneer Corps, working as labourers on the trenches. The number of foreign Jews in the Labour Corps is estimated (from the British Jewry Book of Honour) at over 4,600, including those who served in the Middlesex Alien Companies and the Egyptian Labour Corps.

The men undertook any labouring task required of them, they:

Built and repaired roads and railways

Built defences

Laid electricity and telephones cables

Moved ammunition and stores

Worked in forestry or quarrying

Guarded Prisoners of War

Buried the dead

Others looked after services in the towns and camps where front line soldiers were sent for rest. In parts of France and Belgium the men of the Labour Corps worked unarmed within the range of German guns.

Paul

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The number of enlisted Jews in the First World War was estimated at around 50,000, and a high proportion of them were either foreign-born (including those who had arrived in Britain as children) or, if British-born, had foreign-born parents.

Five Jewish soldiers won the Victoria Cross. One of these men was Sergeant Issy Smith (Shmulevitch) who was the son of immigrants from Eastern Europe. Others who were the sons of immigrants from Eastern Europe included Lieutenant Frank Alexander de Pass, Private J White (Weiss) and Leonard Keysor. Fifty Jewish soldiers received the Distinguished Service Order.

In addition, Jews formed their own unit, the Zion Mule Corps, fighting at Gallipoli and the Dardanelles in 1915. The Jewish Chronicle published an article in November 1921 to commemorate the Zion Mule Corps and the Jewish Battalion who fought in Palestine.

The Royal Fusiliers (a London regiment) formed three Jewish battalions in Jan. 1918. The 38th Bn was composed of Jewish immigrants from Russia. The 39th was composed of US and Canadian volunteers. The 40th was actually formed in Palestine when the battalions arrived there in June. Many of the 40th Bn had served in the Ottoman Jewish police, and therefore the 40th Bn appropriated the latter's "Hashomar standard". Collectively the three battalions were known as the "Jewish Legion". The badge of all three battalions was a menorah on a scroll inscribed in Hebrew "Kadima" (Forward). The battalions disbanded in Palestine in 1919, and most of the soldiers settled there.

Many Eastern European Jews were in the Pioneer Corps, working as labourers on the trenches. The number of foreign Jews in the Labour Corps is estimated (from the British Jewry Book of Honour) at over 4,600, including those who served in the Middlesex Alien Companies and the Egyptian Labour Corps.

The men undertook any labouring task required of them, they:

Built and repaired roads and railways

Built defences

Laid electricity and telephones cables

Moved ammunition and stores

Worked in forestry or quarrying

Guarded Prisoners of War

Buried the dead

Others looked after services in the towns and camps where front line soldiers were sent for rest. In parts of France and Belgium the men of the Labour Corps worked unarmed within the range of German guns.

Paul

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The number of enlisted Jews in the First World War was estimated at around 50,000, and a high proportion of them were either foreign-born (including those who had arrived in Britain as children) or, if British-born, had foreign-born parents.

Five Jewish soldiers won the Victoria Cross. One of these men was Sergeant Issy Smith (Shmulevitch) who was the son of immigrants from Eastern Europe. Others who were the sons of immigrants from Eastern Europe included Lieutenant Frank Alexander de Pass, Private J White (Weiss) and Leonard Keysor. Fifty Jewish soldiers received the Distinguished Service Order.

In addition, Jews formed their own unit, the Zion Mule Corps, fighting at Gallipoli and the Dardanelles in 1915. The Jewish Chronicle published an article in November 1921 to commemorate the Zion Mule Corps and the Jewish Battalion who fought in Palestine.

The Royal Fusiliers (a London regiment) formed three Jewish battalions in Jan. 1918. The 38th Bn was composed of Jewish immigrants from Russia. The 39th was composed of US and Canadian volunteers. The 40th was actually formed in Palestine when the battalions arrived there in June. Many of the 40th Bn had served in the Ottoman Jewish police, and therefore the 40th Bn appropriated the latter's "Hashomar standard". Collectively the three battalions were known as the "Jewish Legion". The badge of all three battalions was a menorah on a scroll inscribed in Hebrew "Kadima" (Forward). The battalions disbanded in Palestine in 1919, and most of the soldiers settled there.

Many Eastern European Jews were in the Pioneer Corps, working as labourers on the trenches. The number of foreign Jews in the Labour Corps is estimated (from the British Jewry Book of Honour) at over 4,600, including those who served in the Middlesex Alien Companies and the Egyptian Labour Corps.

The men undertook any labouring task required of them, they:

Built and repaired roads and railways

Built defences

Laid electricity and telephones cables

Moved ammunition and stores

Worked in forestry or quarrying

Guarded Prisoners of War

Buried the dead

Others looked after services in the towns and camps where front line soldiers were sent for rest. In parts of France and Belgium the men of the Labour Corps worked unarmed within the range of German guns.

Paul

Dear Paul,

Many thanks for the above information, particulary the reference to the Royal Fusiliers, apologies for the previous blank replies, still getting used to using the forum.

Best

Adrian

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Google for a copy of the British Jewry Book of Honour, should be a good starting point for you.

Bob.

Many thanks for the info Bob....

Best

Adrian (East Kent)

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Dear Paul,

Many thanks for the above information, particulary the reference to the Royal Fusiliers, apologies for the previous blank replies, still getting used to using the forum.

Best

Adrian

Hi Adrian,

You can delete any post you make. Just look for the (funnily enough) Delete button at the bottom of the post.

Doug

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quote: "could anybody advise a particulary good starting point to take this further, I am particulary interested in the London area."

EK,

As well as the above suggestions you might also try the AJEX Museum if you are in that area

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

good luck

Michael

Hello Michael,

Many thanks for this information, looks well worth a visit

Best

Adrian (East Kent)

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My half great granduncle Leon Asscher joined the 25th Labour Company Army Service Corps [sS/17580] on the 6th October 1915 - killed 9th December 1915 the the Balkans theatre of war - buried in Salonika (Lembet Road) Military Cemetery

He was a diamond polisher by trade and born in 1862 to Dutch Jewish family from Amsterdam - what I dont understand is why at the age of 53 he joined up? On his Short Service - B2505 show his age at 45 and occupation Labourer!

Paul

Hello Paul,

Incredible story, be fascinated to know if you ever get to the bottom of it!

Best

Adrian (East Kent)

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Hello East Kent - you might find this thread of interest: Jewish officers in the London Regiment

Charles

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  • 5 years later...

I am posting for the first time and never could figure out if I am suppose to post to a thread already here or make my own (and how). So please excuse this post if it is misplaced.

Our grandfather, born in to a Jewish family in Saffed, Palestine in 1898/1899, lived in Alexandria and Cairo, Egypt in the early 1900s. He emigrated to the US in 1921. I have been trying to research his ancestry for many years and started with just a few stories that had been passed along and some old photographs.

Our grandfather, Moses Sendler, told stories of being in the British Army. He told about being an interpretter/translator (as he spoke several dialects of various Middle Eastern languages and Greek, Yiddish, French, Italian, etc.). He also was known to tell people that he did work for the British Intelligence. Some of his stories included working alongside TE Lawrence and going on mapping type expeditions in the desert. These stories were told before the "Lawrence of Arabia" movie was released.

I have an old photograph of Moses with his mother and sisters . (Story was that his father was killed "by the Arabs" around 1910.) Moses is wearing a uniform in the photograph. When I began my search I starte with the British Army--with no luck. Then I realized that his uniform disn't look like a British Army uniform. I did tons of research and came to the conclusion that he must have served in some sort of Jewish Legion unit or perhaps the Egyptian Labour Corps.

Can anyone take a look at the photograph and let me know what type of unit he served in? Based on the known age of the youngest girl in the photograph, my best estimate is that the photograph was taken in Cairo sometime between 1915-1920. Moses would have been somewhere between 15-20 years old at the time.

I realize that many times family stories are embellished--I am just using the stories I have heard as a springboard for my research. When Moses came to America he left his family behind. We never knew any specifics about our ancestry.

Any assistance or advice would be greatly appreciated! (I can't upload the photograph--so I will have to keep reading about how to do that.)

Michelle

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I have an old photograph of Moses with his mother and sisters . (Story was that his father was killed "by the Arabs" around 1910.) Moses is wearing a uniform in the photograph. When I began my search I starte with the British Army--with no luck. Then I realized that his uniform disn't look like a British Army uniform. I did tons of research and came to the conclusion that he must have served in some sort of Jewish Legion unit or perhaps the Egyptian Labour Corps.

Can anyone take a look at the photograph and let me know what type of unit he served in? Based on the known age of the youngest girl in the photograph, my best estimate is that the photograph was taken in Cairo sometime between 1915-1920. Moses would have been somewhere between 15-20 years old at the time.

I realize that many times family stories are embellished--I am just using the stories I have heard as a springboard for my research. When Moses came to America he left his family behind. We never knew any specifics about our ancestry.

Any assistance or advice would be greatly appreciated! (I can't upload the photograph--so I will have to keep reading about how to do that.)

Michelle

Michelle,

Try and post a copy of the photograph here and then perhaps one of our uniform experts can be of help. If you have difficulty posting a picture directly onto this site, then use a hosting site such as Photobucket.

The Zion Mule Corps, The Labour Corps or the Royal Fusiliers are certainly all possibilities, however a sight of the photograph will really help

good luck

Michael

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  • 3 weeks later...
  • 1 year later...

I've been researching this topic & found the information offered in this thread extremely helpful/uselful. In addition, these links might be of interest:

http://www.thejc.com/blogpost/british-soldiers-great-war-1914-1918

(what I especially found useful about the link above is that it speaks to Jewish volunteers from the East End fighting at the Battle of the Somme ----- this was exactly what I needed to confirm for the project I'm working on).

Also, check out this one:

http://jewisheastend.com/East%20London%20Synagogue%20War%20Memorial.jpg

Hope these help.

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