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Jewish Officers in the British Forces in the First World War, by Martin Sugarman

Introduction by Paula Kitching

In the article below (PDF download), Martin Sugarman explores the problem faced by immigrant British Jews who wanted to support their new country and its allies in the war effort, but were unwilling to support an anti-Semitic Russia.  One way the issue was handled is through coverage in the Jewish Chronicle.

Sugarman describes men who were part of regular British forces before the war, such as Lt Ronald Lucas Quixano Henriques, Queen’s Royal Regiment, as well as those who joined up in response to recruitment posters and peer group pressure. 

He explores some of the issues around anti-Semitism in the British forces and wider British society, raising the questions of whether the war helped to integrate Jews into British life and/or forced an end to some traditional customs. 

The article studies in depth the backgrounds from which Jewish officers came and what difference that may have made to their commissions. Information is drawn from the British Jewry Book of Honour and supported by other research, creating a useful picture of Jews from across the UK who served, and, in particular, many of those who were killed. 

This breakdown of information about backgrounds and regiments will be of particular interest to those wishing to find out who the Jewish men were and what their lives may have been like prior to the First World War.

Importantly, the article poses a central question; did the war end some of the division and historical privilege felt by the older Jewish families, due to high officer casualties on the battlefield?  - a question that also plays out in the non- Jewish world; did the First World War destroy the middle classes and create the Lost Generation?

Download Martin Sugarman full article

 

Contributors

Martin Sugarman is an independent researcher and writer. He has worked extensively with the archives of the Jewish Military Museum and AJEX. He specialises in Jewish Military history

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

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