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Our Committee is raising funds to create a lasting legacy telling the story of Lemnos' link to Gallipoli and Australia's Anzac story. Our projects include the Lemnos Gallipoli Memorial in Albert Park, the publication of a major new historical and pictorial publication and more. To make a donation you can also deposit directly by direct debit into the Committee's bank account: Account Name: Lemnos Gallipoli Commemorative Committee Inc; Bank: Delphi Bank; Account No: 204299-020 BSB No: 941300; Include your surname in the reference section. For further information on our legacy projects or to make a donation please contact either Lee Tarlamis 0411553009 or Jim Claven 0409402388M

Monday, 15 May 2017

The Jewish War Memorial at Ripponlea - Remembering the Jewish Anzacs who came to Greece - Lest We Forget

Yesterday I visited the Jewish War Memorial which stands in the gardens next to Ripponlea Railway Station.
It commemorates all those Australians of Jewish faith who served and gave their lives in the First and Second World War, as well as those civilians killed in the Holocaust.
Jewish diggers fought at Gallipoli and served on Lemnos. And they later would served in the defence of Greece in 1941. Below and above are some photographs I took of the memorial.


Lemnos and Gallipoli 1915
The Jewish Anzacs who served at Gallipoli included Eliazar Margolin, Samuel Weingott, Sidney Diamond (who won the DCM for his service at the Anzac landing), Harley Cohen. The first Jewish Anzac killed at Gallipoli was 24 year old Private Godfrey Sherman of the 9th Battalion. His body was never found and his name would be etched on the list of the missing at Helles. Also killed on that the 25th was Carlton's 23 year old Corporal Leslie Marks. Ballarat's Herbert Bloustein of the 5th Battalion was wounded on the same day. And of course, there was Colonel John Monash.
All of these men - and many others - would have come to Lemnos to prepare for the landings.
And these men served alongside Jewish members of the Zion Mule Corps who served on the Gallipoli peninsula supporting the Allied forces.

Brunswick's Private Leslie Oldham Hart - A Jewish Anzac on Lemnos
One of the digger's listed on this memorial is Leslie O Hart.
In 2015 I was able to visit the small beach cemetery located near the very spot the Anzac's came ashore on the 25th April 1915.
In this little cemetery and not far from the grave of the famous Private Simpson of donkey fame is the grave of Private 267 Leslie Oldham Hart - a plot 11, row A, grave 17.
He served with the A Company of the 7th Australian Infantry Battalion and died of wounds on the 4th May 1915. The 7th Battalion was commanded by Lieutenant Colonel H. E. "Pompey" Elliott.
Leslie had been a 19 year old shop assistant, living at Brunswick, when he departed Australia aboard the troopship Hororata from Port Melbourne on 19th October 1914.
The Battalion arrived at Lemnos on the 11th April and stayed on the Island, completing its training and preparing for the landings at Gallipoli on the 25th.
It later took part in the ANZAC landing on 25 April 1915, as part of the second wave.The Battalion Unit Diary records that it sustained 400 casualties at the landing - killed, wounded and missing. Even its commander, Pompey Elliot was wounded.
Leslie's service file records him being promoted to Lance Corporal on the 30th April, barely a few days before he would sustain wounds and die. Sadly, this promotion is not recorded on his grave stone or Commonwealth War Grave Commission records.
The Battalion Unit Diary records that on the 1st and 2nd of May, the Battalion was in position at Happy Valley at Anzac.
One of Leslie's comrades in the A Company - Private 189 F.W. Short of Coburg - recorded that Leslie sustained a gun shot wound to the head while in these trenches , on or about the 1st or 2nd of May. He was carried away towards the beach a few minutes after he fell and was recorded dead on the 4th May. Another digger in the A Company - Private 207 Bromley - wrote that Leslie was hit with an "explosive bullet" and that he had dressed Leslie's head wounds - which were severe. He writes that Leslie never regained consciousness and died 24 hours after being hit.
He was buried on the "side of hill, near the landing", the service conducted by Reverend Faires of the British Royal Naval Division.
Initially the Australian Army was unable to contact Leslie's mother regarding the death of her only child - as she had moved. A notice was placed in the press and she contacted the Army only to discover the death of her son.
Strangely enough Leslie's embarkation documents record his religion as "Methodist" yet his grave stone has a Star of David. The Commonwealth War Grave Commission documents show the word "Cross" having been corrected in red with the word "Jewish." And he is also recorded as Jewish in Mark Dapin's Jewish Anzacs.
CWGC burial document extract regarding Private Hart. NAA

Private L Hart grave stone, Beach Cemetery, Gallipoli. Photo Jim Claven 2015

Ballarat's Private Louis William Jacobs

Another of the Victorian Jewish Anzac's who would also have served on Lemnos and who was killed at Gallipoli was Ballarat's Private Louis Jacobs.

Private L W Jacobs grave stone, Ari Burnu Cemetery, Gallipoli Peninsula. Photo Jim Claven 2015
On the eve of the Centenary of Anzac in 2015 I visited the Ari Burnu Cemetery near landings at Anzac - I noticed the graves of one Jewish Anzac - 22 year old Private 1772 Louis William Jacobs.
Louis served with the 7th Battalion and died in December 1915. I placed a stone in remembrance on his grave stone.
He had been a storeman before the war and was unmarried. His parents - Isaac and Rachel - lived in Perth, Western Australia.
We don't know where Louis was born but we do know that he was living in Ballarat when he enlisted. Maybe this is why he is not recorded on the Memorial at Ripponlea.
He had sailed from Melbourne on the HMAT Wiltshire in April 1915. He had died days before the evacuation of the peninsula and the end of the campaign. The Commonwealth War Graves Commission records that it was his mother Rachel who submitted his epitaph - "May his soul rest in peace."

The Greek Campaign of 1941

The Australian Jewish Anzac's who fought in the Greek campaign also served alongside Jewish members of the Palestine Labour Corps.
Below are listed a few of the Jewish Anzac's who served in the Greek campaign:
  • Paul Cullen (Cohen), from Sydney, served in the Greek campaign - including taking part in battle of Tempe Gorge - and was eventually evacuated from Sphakia on the southern coast of Crete. He would go on to distinguished service in New Guinea and rise to the rank of Lieutenant Colonel.
  • Wolfe Greenstein, a printer from Sydney, served in the 2/1st Australian Infantry Battalion in Greece in 1941 and was captured. He was held in Thessaloniki POW camp for a time.
  • Robert Patkin, a salesman from Caulfield, served in the 2/6th Australian Infantry Battalion in the Greek campaign - including taking part in the defence of Brallos Pass and Corinth Canal. It was here that he was captured along with many of the 2/6th. He would have been incarcerated in both the Corinth and Thessaloniki POW camps for a time.
  • Mark Phillips, from Paddington NSW, served in the 2/1st Australian Infantry Battalion in Greece in 1941 and was captured. He was held in Thessaloniki POW camp for a time.
  • Hal Finkelstein, from Western Australia, served in the Greek campaign of 1941 and was captured on Crete. He was held in the Thessaloniki POW camp for a time.
Jewish members of the Palestine Labour Corps aboard HMS Kimberely on being evacuated from Greece, 1941. Photograph by Australian Private Syd Grant 1941. Reproduced with permission.
For more information on these and other Jewish diggers see Mark Dapin's recently published Jewish Anzacs and Peter Monteith's POW - Australian Prisoners of War in Hitlers Germany.
Lest we forget

Jim Claven
Lemnos Gallipoli Commemorative Committee

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