THE RECORD OF HONOUR 1939 ONWARD
BY JACK LEWIS
Immediately after the first World War a committee set about producing a Jewish Roll of Honour which was published in 1922 with a foreword, amongst others, by Winston Churchill who was Secretary of State for War at the time and Lt. General Sir John Monash, the Australian Jewish hero.
It is a huge volume containing the names of most of the Jewish Men and Women who served from 1914 to 1918.
No such action was taken after the Second World War 1939-1945.
In the year 2000 AJEX, under the auspices of Gerry Bean, a vice president, undertook the task of creating a computerised Record of Honour of all who served in the British Forces since 1939. The basis for the research was from a vast card index scheme which the Jewish Chaplains maintained during the Second World War and the period of conscription that followed.
He enthusiastically set about creating such a record with the help of three young men with experience in the modern form of documentation - the computer. It was an enormous task to not only record the details from the hand written Chaplains cards, but also to match them up. where possible, with the AJEX membership records. Gerry literally spent all his time on this task, to the extent that he was wired up to the records in his home and utilised his study solely for this assignment.
Being a perfectionist, Gerry was loathe to go public with the record until he was satisfied it was accurate - a goal which it is now thought will never be reached. The Chaplains cards were at times duplicated and one particular failing was the non recording of a date of birth. Service numbers were also not always recorded and on occasions two different men were recorded, in error, with the same number. Gerry was at times put under pressure from colleagues who thought that the final record would never appear. They didn't realise the difficulties in its production. He had reached the stage of finally going public when unfortunately he took ill. He had the task so much at heart, that he even up-dated the record from his hospital bed. Too soon after, his illness rapidly brought his demise in August 2006. After all the work that he had put into the scheme, it could not be abandoned. I took over this task and it has now been brought to the stage where it can be viewed in a limited form on the AJEX web-site (www.ajex.org.uk).
The record is on show, warts and all. Many comments and communications are expected from ex-service personnel or their families and friends who will report possible corrections, duplications and additional information. All are welcome so that it can eventually be refined to, as, an accurate degree as possible - the Jewish Record of Honour 1939 onward. The redeeming factor is that because it is computer based, details can be constantly up-dated.
Certain enhancements have been introduced to the Record. There is a facility for including a photograph in uniform and where applicable, a supplementary record, such as an obituary. An example of both these can be seen on the record for Gerald Sonnie Bean. Service number 2568604.
We are suggesting a voluntary donation for including a photograph in uniform, which will go toward the cost of the enhancement as well as support for the Museums that will maintain the Record in the future. The invitation for inclusion of a photograph in uniform is not only being directed to current AJEX members, veterans, or currently serving personnel, but also to relatives of those who have passed on.
The inclusion of photographs of those who died on active service is made with a significant black border.
There could be a number of Records yet to be included. There would not be any record for those who were not seen by a Jewish Chaplain and did not become members of AJEX. Likewise, those who have served since 1961, when conscription ended have not yet been included. In order to include such persons, application should be made to - AJEX (Record of Honour) Shield House, Harmony Way, London NW4 2BZ, when the necessary form giving the details required, will be provided.