I found my copy of this remarkable book in a Tel Aviv second-hand book shop about 40 years ago – one of my first acquisitions of Anglo-Judaica. There is another copy in a glass case in the Jewish Museum in London.
The British Jewry Book of Honour was edited by Reverend Michael Adler, who was the first Jewish chaplain to serve in HM Forces. It was published in 1922 and contains the names of approximately 50,000 Jews who served in British forces in the First World War – then known as the Great War. Names were supplied from military sources and lists published by the Jewish Chronicle, but it is not a complete list. For example, my grandfather, Sidney Maynard, who served in the Royal Flying Corps, which was later called the Royal Air Force, is not listed.
Perhaps even more remarkable than the lists are the photographs of about 7,000 Jewish soldiers, sent in by their families and reproduced in this book as a way of honouring them. It is a big, heavy book with hundreds of pages. It was a limited printing of just 3,000 copies, despite Chief Rabbi Hertz’s message that every Jewish family should have a copy. My copy is number 369.
The book starts with messages from prominent people, including General Sir John Monash, the highest ranking Jewish officer. Then there are the military decorations awarded, and the Roll of Honour – all the known Jewish soldiers who were killed. In all these lists, the officers come first, then the men, a clear class separation in line with the times. The officers from London mostly have addresses in fashionable areas and are mostly from that part of the Jewish community who were settled in England before the mass immigration of the 1880s. The men, on the other hand, often have unanglicised, Eastern European names, and East London addresses.
Here is the message from the Chief Rabbi:
This is the beginning of an article by Vladimir Jabotinsky:
Next comes the record of medals and honours, starting with the highest:
Here is the list of those killed, interestingly with their addresses, from which it can be seen that some were brothers:
There are a whole family of Zimmermans, four from the same address:
There now follow hundreds of pages of lists, each regiment and division separately:
In the Cyclist Battalion is my great uncle, Hyman Maidart, whose name in later life was Robert H. Maynard:
After the Commanding Officer, the first name in the Zion Mule Corps is Captain Josef Trumpeldor.
Trumpeldor is in the top middle photograph:
The following is just a small representative sample. There are thousands of photographs, taken in their uniforms for proud parents, many never to return:
The middle photograph in the bottom row is Reverend, later to be Dayan Glossop. I have his personal copy of Chief Rabbi Hertz’s Book of Jewish Thoughts. You can read about it here.
It was a mans war. There are only three pages of ladies, almost all nurses:
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