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Harry Walter Jassby

Born:
1896
Died:
2 Kislev 5679 (06 November 1918)

Basic Information

Unique reference:
JAS9810

Birth

Date of birth:
1896
Place of birth:
Montreal Canada

Death

Date of death:
2 Kislev 5679 (06 November 1918)
Died in combat?:
No
Place of death:
Fairlop Aerodrome
Cause of death:
Plane Crash
Burial place:
St. Peter's Church

Places

Addresses

Parents' Home:
4143 Oxford Avenue Montreal, Canada

Schools

Name:
McGill University
Year left:
1917
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Harry Walter Jassby
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Enlisting, 1917

Growing up in Montreal, Canda, Harry Jassby dreamt of learning to fly. During the War he left his studies at University to enlist in the war effort. He lied about his age stating that he was 22 in order to be posted abroad and join the RFC in Britain as Canada had no flying corps at that point. He trained in Toronto before being posted to the RFC in Fairlop and subsequently the RAF when it was formed in 1918.

Wanting to serve abroad

In a letter to his younger brother, Abe, Jassby mentions that he was eager to be moved to a base where he could do more fighting. He says that he had initially wanted to fight in France, but was now hoping to be sent to Egypt where he heard the weather was nicer. It seems however that the RAF wanted to keep him in Fairlop working in the training school rather than on the front line.

Letters Home

In his letter to his younger brother Jassby gives an interesting insight into the experience and atmosphere on the RAF base in the First World War. He thanks his brother for sending some chocolate in a care package earlier and mentions that the British pilots were very grateful, some of them having not tasted chocolate for several years. He also states that he is 'keen to get into a scrap with the hun' but also jokes that he may not make it home alive, made all the more tragic as he was in fact killed a few months later. He mentions he gets little word from home but is hoping he will be granted leave in the future, perhaps even transferring to the newly formed Canadian Air Force as a flight instructor.

Death, 06 November 1918

Towards the end of the war it became clear the conflict was coming to an end and preparations began to be made for a British victory. It seems that Harry Jassby was selected to fly in a V formation for Victory once the Armistice was announced. On the Sixth of November this manoeuvre was practiced, it's unclear exactly what happened but it seems that another plane's engine failed causing it to crash into Jassby's resulting in a fatal crash. Having lied about his age he is mistakenly listed as being 22 when he died when he was in fact just 20. In a cruel twist due to the delay in getting a message to Jassby's family in Canada they were informed of his death a few hours after the armistice was announced on the 11th of November.

Legacy

As the practice was to bury fallen Airmen in the nearest graveyard Harry Jassby was buried in St. Peter's Churchyard in Essex. The Reverend allowed the Star of David to be displayed on the gravestone, one of the earliest known cases of non-Christian symbols being displayed in a Christian churchyard. Additionally a rare display of interfaith co-operation took root as the Reverend invited the local Rabbi of South-West Essex Reform Synagogue to attend and say prayers over his grave. This community spirit has continued as a service is held at his grave every year with both members of the local Christian and Jewish community attending. Local children produce art and poems dedicated to Jassby which is sent to his surviving family. His grave is still maintained and visited by members of the local community and great pride is taken in making sure he is not forgotten.

Family

Siblings

Abraham Jassby "Abe" (male)
9 unknown siblings

Parents

Father: Louis Jassby (male)
Mother: Minerva Jassby "Minnie" (female)

Military Record

Military service:
Royal Air Force
Military record no.:
C.68363
Date enlisted/conscripted:
1917
Date discharged/death:
06 November 1918
Rank at discharge/death:
Second Lieutenant
Assignments
Regiment:
RAF
Battalion/unit:
54 Training Depot

Commonwealth Graves Commission

Rank:
Second Lieutenant
Date of Death:
06/11/1918
Age:
22
Regiment / service:
Cemetery:
Aldborough Hatch (st. Peter) Churchyard
Grave reference:
Additional information:

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London Jews in the First World War - We Were There Too

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