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Archive for November, 2019

This week at the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month (Monday 11 November), colleagues from across the Department for International Trade (DIT) came together once again to give thanks to those former Civil Service colleagues who have paid the ultimate sacrifice.

This year as well as being joined by both our Permanent Secretaries – Antonia Romeo and Crawford Faulkner – we were also honoured for the wreath on behalf of families to be laid by David Hertz, great nephew of Abraham Hertz (1895 – 1917). Other wreaths were laid by Air Vice-Marshal (AVM) Nigel Maddox (laying the wreath in memory of those with no known grave), Captain James Coates, an army reservist (laying the wreath in memory of fallen colleagues), Ashley Manton (laying the wreath in memory of Retired Service Personnel), Riccardo Belgrave (laying the wreath in memory of Black, Asian and Caribbean service personnel) and Edwina Osborne (laying the wreath on behalf of the War Memorial Research Group and Jill Knight, author of the book “All Bloody Gentlemen” about the Civil Service Rifles regiment).

Additionally, for the second year running, we were also delighted to welcome the Civil Service Choir who movingly sang the “Long Day Closes”.

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Wreath layers at DIT’s annual Remembrance Commemoration 2019

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After the ceremony, a charity bake sale was held in aid of the Royal British Legion, which raised an impressive £364.57. The Royal British Legion, which was founded in 1921, is a national charity which provides financial, social and emotional support to members and veterans of the British Armed Forces, their families and dependants and the money raised will go to help their much needed work.

BoTwarmemorialimageAs previously, the annual Remembrance commemoration was organised by the department’s War Memorial Research Group, which is a very small group of about five colleagues. Whilst the visible focus of the group’s year is organising the department’s annual Remembrance Commemoration, behind the scenes there is much more that happens outside this annual event – in particular ongoing historical and family research. 

Why does DIT’s War Memorial Research Group and many other similar amateur historians and groups do what they do in researching the past? Isn’t all that it is possible to know about World War One and other conflicts already known?

We are motivated to put a spotlight on the stories of each individual because each person’s story is fascinating and unique – and we are the storytellers of the tribe. Through telling each man’s story we are not just dwelling on the past but connecting to the future and respecting the lives of all who died regardless of nationality on both sides.

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Storytellers of the tribe

The World War One Centenary might have ended, but 101 years on, the work of this group and others continues to uncover fascinating stories about the war and the individuals involved. Many other historians and groups continue to research this era – like Summerstown 182 group, Men of Worth group , Mart Lambo (Beat 2 Battlefield Historian), HMS Vanguard group who are searching for photos of over 800 HMS Vanguard sailors killed in 1917 explosion.

A huge part of the group’s ongoing work is to try and tell the stories and identify photos (#morethanjustaname project) of the men, where possible. We were therefore delighted to track down 100 photos in conjunction with 100 years since the Armistice in November 2018. Since then we’ve been blessed to locate even more photos – and so far have found 120 photos which is outstanding given that retaining family photos is not always guaranteed through the passage of time.

We are still keen to reach out to connect with a number of relatives of the men – read this Facebook blog post – so if you are related to any of the men please get in touch with the group via war.memorial@trade.gov.uk

We can’t tell each story without a bit of help and that’s where the families and descendants of the men come in. Over the past year we have been blessed to be in touch online or to even meet several relatives face to face. It is an absolute honour and delight to be in touch with each one and to hear their stories and maintain the connections between the department, the Civil Service and the families. This year, as well as the great nephew of Abraham Hertz being able to join us, we were also joined by the great nephew of Richard William Buttle. Many thanks to them both for taking the time to join us. 

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Images of the Board of Trade War Memorial men (120 of 305 men identified)

The group is also starting on researching former colleagues who might have served in WW2. This is a huge challenge for the group since there are no surviving staff records.

One of our group and an inspiration to those who follow him was Alan Humphries, the former webmaster for the Board of Trade War Memorial, who sadly passed away in a few days ago in early November 2019.

Alan undertook a great deal of the research into the 305 men commemorated on the memorial and brought many of their stories back to life

Last year, for example, Alan lent us some of his collection of artefacts for the accompanying exhibition to our Great War centenary ceremony.

Alan was also instrumental in making the case for a Commonwealth War Grave over 10 years ago to recognise the sacrifice of Lawson Akhurst Smith who died in London on 13 May 1918 and is buried in Orpington, Kent. Lawson Akhurst Smith suffered from mental health issues and tragically committed suicide. The story of Lawson’s life shows the changing attitudes to mental health in the UK. Alan participated in the group’s work until very recently. Only a few weeks ago, he shared our collective excitement at finally tracking down a photo of Lawson Akhurst Smith (thanks to hearing from a relative now living in the United States). 

At this year’s Board of Trade wreath laying ceremony, at our offices in Whitehall, Alan was very much in our thoughts as coming back for the commemoration each year was always very important to him.

In the words of the memorial scroll in honour of Sergeant Abraham Hertz (who died aged just 21 years of age), “LET THOSE WHO COME AFTER SEE TO IT THAT HIS NAME BE NOT FORGOTTEN”.

Thank you to everyone who has helped the group, past, present and future.

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If you are inspired to do your own historical research, check out the links to trace your World War 1 family history. The War Memorial Research Group are always pleased to hear from others with a shared interest in the War Memorial whether based in the UK or overseas. You can get in touch with the group via war.memorial@trade.gov.uk

Board of Trade War Memorial Research Group
15 November 2019

 

 

 

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Name recorded on Board of Trade Memorial: A. Hertz
Born: 5 September 1895
Date of Death: 3 July 1917
Age at death: 21
Service, Regiment, Corps, etc: London Regiment
Unit, Ship, etc: 1st/15th Battalion (Civil Service Rifles)
Enlisted: February 1915 in London
Rank: Sergeant (Service no. 531269)
Decorations: Victory Medal and British War Medal
War (and theatre): WW1 (France and Flanders)
Manner of Death: Killed in action
Family Details: Son of Isaac and Annie Hertz of 1 Cranley Buildings, Holborn, London
Residence: 40 Wenlake Buildings, Old Street, London
Home Department: Board of Trade – Labour Department (Central Office)
Civilian Rank: Assistant Clerk (Abstractor)
Cemetery or Memorial: Menin Gate (Panel 54); Civil Service Rifles Memorial, Somerset House, London; Memorial to Staff of the Ministry of Labour (located in Caxton House, Tothill Street, London); and the Board of Trade War Memorial (now located at 3 Whitehall Place, London); British Jewry Book of Honour

Biography:

“LET THOSE WHO COME AFTER SEE TO IT THAT HIS NAME BE NOT FORGOTTEN” (Memorial Scroll in memory of Abraham Hertz) 

The Board of Trade War Memorial contains men of all faiths and from diverse social backgrounds. A handful of the men were of Jewish descent and one of those was Abraham Hertz, who was born on 5 September 1895 in Whitechapel, London.

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British Jewry Book of Honour (first published in 1922 (Araham Hertz is one of approximately 50,000 men named in the book)

The contribution of the Jewish community to the First World War effort in the UK, until recent years has not been widely known or studied. This is changing thanks to the “We Were There Too” community research project and other insights (for instance in a 2014 exhibition For King and Country? held at the Jewish Museum, Camden). The experience of the war from a Jewish perspective mirrored that amongst the wider British population but was also in many ways very different, especially due to changing attitudes to “aliens” and outsiders. For instance at the start of WW1, there was a level of anti-German feeling which resulted in London East End Jewish shops with German sounding names being attacked and Yiddish speakers confronted. Within days of the declaration of war, the Aliens Restriction Act was passed by Parliament on 5 August 1914 which impacted on all foreign nationals.

Forty to fifty thousand British Jews served in Britain’s armed forces in the First World War. Thousands more were also involved in war work and support roles behind the front line and on the Home Front. Per capita, more British Jews were involved in the war effort than the wider population. When the call came, the Jewish community stood up to be counted. Abraham was one of those.

The Board of Trade War Memorial Research Group is very fortunate to be in contact with one of the relatives of Abraham Hertz, his great nephew, David Hertz. The following biography is mainly based on information pulled together by David, with much thanks.

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Abraham Hertz (copyright: David Hertz) 

“Abraham’s parents were Isaac Hertz (1869 – 1939)  and Annie Fanny Sophia Sharp (1876 – 1936). He was the eldest of their seven children. Like many other people of Jewish origin living in London’s East End, his father worked in the tailoring business as a tiemaker (cutter). An insight into the tiemaking business in Spitalfields can be found in an article about ‘Drakes of London, Tiemakers‘.  Abraham was named after his grandfather, who was originally from Amsterdam in Holland and who had emigrated to London with his whole family in 1852, moving to 2 Artillery Passage in Spitalfields, London.

We can trace the younger Abraham’s story through historical records. For instance, in both the 1901 and 1911 censuses, Abraham is recorded as living at the family home at 2 Artillery Passage, Spitalfields with his parents and his younger siblings.

We also know thanks to surviving school admission records that Abraham started primary school aged 3 on 3 July 1899 at Gravel Lane School. From 1907 to 1911, he attended the University College School, Hampstead, an independent school which was originally founded in 1830. The school relocated to its current located in Hampstead in 1907. There is a possibility that Abraham might have been present when the school’s new purpose-built buildings were opened by King Edward VII and the Archbishop of Canterbury on 27 July 1907. The school was highly prestigious and was in the tradition of other schools, colleges and educational institutions which were open to those from diverse religious beliefs. It would however have been a very different environment from the East End of London and also a great foundation and experience for Abraham, who was clearly talented and who the family were keen to support in succeeding in life.

After leaving school, he left to work at the Board of Trade, Labour Department. The London Gazette (dated October 1911) records his appointment as a Temporary Boy Clerk.and then in May 1913 his promotion to Assistant Clerk (Abstractor).

He enlisted in February 1915 and joined the 1st/15th Battalion of the London Regiment (also known as the “Civil Service Rifles”).

He was promoted to Sergeant Instructor, specialising in musketry.

He was posted to serve in France in February 1917. The regiment’s first major military engagement was at the Battle of Messines in June 1917. This action is described in “The History of the Prince of Wales Own Service Rifles” (pages 140 – 144).

After Messines, the Division spent 12 days resting and recuperating in Ebblinghem near St Omer. On 28 June 1917 the men marched back to the front line, staying overnight at Meteren and Voormezeele on their way.

At the beginning of July 1917, according to the Battalion War Diary, the men were at Spoilbank in Oak trench which had been captured during the attack on 7 June. The regimental history describes this period as “three very unlucky days”.

The Civil Service Rifles history states, “The weather was bad, the trenches were in a perfectly rotten state of repair and the men had no protection against persistent shelling……Three unlucky days were spent here, during which time the losses from shell fire amounted to about forty all ranks……”. These events are also described in Jill Knight’s book, “The Civil Service Rifles in the Great War“. (The late  and much missed, Jill Knight, was the founder of the Board of Trade War Memorial Research Group).

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Civil Service Rifles War Diary – includes reference to the casualties in month of July 1917 (including Abraham Hertz) 

Abraham was one of eight other casualties on 3 July 1917. He died aged only 21 years old.

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Menin Gate, Ypres, France

He has no known grave and is commemorated on the Ypres (Menin Gate) Memorial (panel 54). This memorial, designed by Sir Reginald Blomfield, records the names of more than 54,000 soldiers who like Abraham died before 16 August 1917 and have no known grave. He is also commemorated on the scroll stored within the Civil Service Rifles Memorial located at Somerset House, London (which was the Civil Service Rifles regimental parade and drill ground). Additionally he is named on two Civil Service War Memorials – the memorial to staff of the Ministry of Labour (located at Caxton House, Tothill Street, London) and the Board of Trade War Memorial (located at 3 Whitehall Place, London). He is also named in the Roll of Honour and War List 1914-1918 of University College School, Hampstead (on page 48a along with a photograph) and in the British Jewry Roll of Honour. Sadly the University College School war memorial was destroyed in a fire so no longer survives.”

In 2018, the Board of Trade War Memorial Research Group were delighted and fortunate to meet Abraham Hertz’s relatives. Together we collectively continue to remember his sacrifice. Abraham’s story is one of integration and he is a symbol of how war impacts on all communities and individuals in all their diversity.

Remembrance cuts across all faiths, beliefs and origins. It is not about jingoism or blind patriotism. It is a time for quiet reflection, the giving of thanks and an open-ended invitation to reflect, pray, meditate, and contemplate.

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“Let those who come after see to it that his name be not forgotten” – Memorial Scroll in honour of Sergeant Abraham Hertz (copyright: David Hertz)

 

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