London's East End Synagogues, cemeteries and more......

My personal journey through the Jewish East End of London

 e.mail thoughts & memories to: Phil

1st World War Roll of honour from the East London Synagogue, Stepney, relocated in 1990 to Waltham Abbey Jewish Cemetery1st World War Roll of Honour from the East London Synagogue, Stepney, relocated in 1990 to Waltham Abbey Jewish Cemetery, Essex


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My Grandfather was not in the Jewish Legion, but served on the Western Front in the Royal Marine Artillery.  When he came home on leave my Grandmother recalled that he was so covered in mud and grime she could hardly recognise him. Like many of his generation, he enlisted in the Home Guard (Dads' Army) in World War Two.  Phil (webmaster)

World War One 'Victory' silk embroidery - about 18 inches wide and 16 inches long

World War One 'Victory' silk embroidery - about 18 inches wide and 16 inches long

My grandfather's World War One campaign medals, with long service /good conduct medal far right

Lieutenant Charles Sayer Walker (Phil's grandfather) circa 1914. He served in the Royal Marine Artillery on the Western Front 1914-1918

My Grandfather (now a Major) joined the Home Guard in WW2 and is pictured with his unit-15th platoon-by Wallington Town Hall, Surrey, UK, early 1940's

He is seated middle front row holding his 'swagger' stick

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The story of a Jewish Legionnaire from Bonnie in the USA.   Bonnie writes:

Private Samuel AdelsonPrivate Samuel Adelson's medal record card"My great-uncle, Samuel Adelson, was in the 38th Battallion, Royal Fusilliers and fought in Palestine in 1918.   He was born in Nemajunai, Trakai , Lithuania in 1896 to David Adelson and Zlota Gordon Adelson.   He volunteered for the Jewish Battalion and was discharged in 1920.  According to his 1920 passenger record (when he immigrated to the US), my great-uncle noted that his last residence in England was with his aunt, Mrs. Adelson, at 8 Gosset St., Brick Lane, London.  He died in 1925 in Springfield , Massachusetts.  Our family has always been proud of his service." 

Private Adelson's photo is on the left, and his medal record card is on the right


Plaque from the Great Synagogue, Dukes Place, London commemorating the Jewish Legion-38th Batallion Royal FusiliersMany thanks to Jeff Kaplan from the USA for sharing his World War One family photos of his Grandfather Joseph Gladstone and his brother in law Sam Geller. Joseph Gladstone and Sam Geller joined the British Jewish Legion. The Jewish Legion were involved in fighting the Turks (Ottoman Empire) in Palestine during World War One.  Joseph Gladstone's family lived in Spitalfields in the East End of London. Detailed information about The Jewish Legion can be found here: Jewish Legion  To the left is a plaque dedicated to the Jewish Legion from the Great Synagogue in Dukes Place in the City of London.  In may 1941 he Great was destroyed by enemy action.

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Kadimah (forward) - the cap badge of the Jewish Battalions of the Royal Fusiliers

Above: Kadimah (forward) written in Hebrew - the cap badge of the Jewish Battalions of the Royal Fusiliers

Private David Gluck (born 17 April 1877 in London, died 18 Nov 1917 in Palestine), 38th Battalion Royal Fusiliers

Legionnaires in Palestine (except for the soldier in the kilt?) - friends of David Gluck

Private Samuel Adelson

Group Photo, Palestine, Jewish Legion 38th Battalion Royal Fusiliers

Joseph Gladstone of the Jewish Legion 38th Battalion Royal Fusiliers, World War One

Postcard from Joseph Gladstone serving in the Jewish Legion Palestine to his wife to be: Annie Bloom, living at 27 Tilley St, Spitalfields

Joseph Gladstone in Jewish Legion camp, Palestine

The Gladstone/Bloom family World War One

Joseph Gladstone Jewish Legion Dog Tags. The 'J' stands for 'Judean'

Sam Geller - brother in law of Joseph Gladstone, 38th Battalion Royal Fusiliers

A Group from the 38th Battalion of Fusiliers in Palestine circa 1918

Jewish Legionnaires with Lt Col John Patterson in the middle. Patterson commanded the Jewish Battalion

Legionnaires training at Portsmouth

Jewish Legionnaires changing the guard at El Arish

Jabotinsky and volunteers

Lt Vladimir Jabotinsky

Fusiliers in Palestine 1918

Lt Colonel John Patterson

Theatre of operations of Jewish Legion and various corps badges

Recruitment poster for Jewish Legionnaires

Bayonet drill - sculptor Jacob Epstein is in the centre

Senior commanders of the Fusiliers

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My thanks to Harry Gluck for sending photos of his Grandfather - Private David Gluck. Meanwhile, Harry writes the following about his Grandfather: Private David Gluck:

"When the armistice was declared, David Gluck's family were looking forward to his return home.  They didn't know if they would get a letter, or if he would just turn up.  To get a death notice two weeks after the war was over was devastating.  David Gluck died of dysentery, which was another disappointment, not even a war hero.  The effect on my father, less than one year before his bar mitzvah, was profound.  Towards the end of my father's life he said that he still expected his father to walk through the door at any time.  My father rarely spoke of his father, he came to believe that wars were the inevitable consequence of capitalism, and that his father's premature death was futile.  He totally honoured his mother and father and respected their decisions. His criticism was reserved for the political/economic system. 

David Gluck left a widow and four young children (ages 12, 11, 9 and 6 years).  He is buried in the Cairo cemetery.  I have a couple of badly worn letters sent from Palestine (nearly but not fully transcribed).  I have given myself the task of finding out more about David Gluck's death ()like whereabouts did he die) but this is a slog.  Patterson  lists those who died in the Jewish Legion, this list  does not include David Gluck. In Martin Gilbert's book, "Israel", he gives a number for those who died in the Jewish Legion.  This number is not the same as Patterson's.  I wrote to Professor Gilbert asking where he got his figures from.  In his reply Professor Gilbert said he could no longer remember his source of information.

Towards the end of WWI the British government raised the age of conscription to 41 years.  David Gluck was 41 in April 1918. Did he volunteer, or was he conscripted?  If he volunteered, was it to avoid being conscripted.  His wife received a short letter, dated 25th February 1918, saying his wallet had been found in the Jordan Valley  The sender expressed his sympathy for the death of her husband.  This must have been unsettling.  After a while she received letters from her husband post dating the Jordan Valley letter. 

Patterson's 38th battalion arrived in Alexandria, Egypt on 28th February 1918.  After  training, the 38th left for Palestine, arriving on 6th June 1918.  This implies that David Gluck was in Palestine before Patterson.  One possibility that occurs to me is that David Gluck left for Palestine sometime in 1917/early 1918 and joined up with Patterson's 38th in Egypt.  If this surmise is correct then there might be something about volunteers leaving for Palestine in the Jewish Chronicle for the years 1917/1918." - Harry Gluck May 2005

EMBROIDERED POSTCARDS SENT BETWEEN LOVED ONES DURING WORLD WAR ONE - the small gallery of postcards below are not representative of any one group of serviceman, but are evocative of an era.  Messages such as 'Forget me not', 'Thinking of you', 'Friendship' etc are the poignant reminders of the tender feelings and fears existing between loved ones during a time of great peril.  I am grateful to my late friend Betty Parr z'l of South London Liberal Synagogue, for giving me these mementos of postcards sent between members of her family during World War One.  The original postcards are now in the Imperial War Museum.

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'Forget me not'


'Souvenir de Belgique'

I'm thinking of you'

'United we stand'

'Souvenir de Belgique'

'Souvenir de Belgique'

Chronology of the British Jewish Legion Battalions (“Judeans”) of World War One

  • 1914/10                   British War Office inaugurates recruitment movement to a raise a battalion consisting entirely of Jews. Recruiting began in the East End of London but shortly was abandoned due to lack of interest.

  • 1917/07/27              Jabotinsky convinces the War Office to recruit Russian Jews for a Jewish Battalion.  The formation of the first Jewish unit begins in London.

  • 1917/07/27              Jabotinsky convinces the War Office to recruit Russian Jews for a Jewish Battalion.  The formation of the first Jewish unit begins in London.

  • 1917/08/23              Official Jewish Legion formation noted in London Gazette.

  • 1917/08/24              Official formation of the 38th Battalion Royal Fusiliers.

  • 1918/02                   The Maccabaean magazine notes Jewish battalion in west of England in final training – [possibly the Depot at Saltash, Cornwall or Eggbuckland].

  • 1918/02/01              The first eight American volunteers for the Jewish Battalion.

  • 1918/02/02              The 38th Battalion Whitechapel march.

  • 1918/02/27              The first American group is ready to go to camp in Windsor, Nova Scotia.

  • 1918/02/28              Jabotinsky/38th Royal Fusiliers onboard the ship “Leasoe” arrive in Alexandria Egypt. This group was kept in Egypt for over 3 months; then left on 1918/06/05 for the front.

  • 1918/02/28              The first American group leaves for camp - 200 volunteers. This group, known as Group 1 traveled 1918/02/28-1918/03/01 via NYC-Fall River, Mass. by boat- then by train to Boston – then by train through Portland/Bangor Maine to St. Johns, New Brunswick to Windsor, Nova Scotia - Camp Fort Edward and then to England on 1918/04/06.

  • 1918/03/05              The call for more American volunteers.

  • 1918/03/14              Group 2 volunteers NYC-Boston-Windsor, Nova Scotia.

  • 1918/04                   The 38th Battalion is attached to the 10th Irish division.

  • 1918/04/10              Group 3 volunteers NYC-Boston-Bangor (largest group of men).

  • 1918/04/29              The first contingent of the 39th Battalion Royal Fusileers arrives at Helmiye.

  • 1918/05                   Group 4 formation.

  • 1918/05/29              Groups 4/5 leave for Windsor., Nova Scotia with arrival on 1918/06/01.

  • 1918/06/05              The 38th Battalion leaves Egypt for Palestine.

  • 1918/06                   The 38th Battalion is transferred to the New Zealand division and moved to the front at Nablus.

  • 1918/07/17              The 38th Battalion is attached to the 60th division.

  • 1918/07/22              The 39th Battalion ocean voyage - arrival at Tilbury Docks - by train to Hounslow Barracks - train to Plymouth -  to a camp 3 miles outside of town called Eggbuckland.

  • 1918/08                   The last of the 39th companies leaves Helmiye for the front.

  • 1918/08/09              The 38th Battalion leaves Samaria and marches to Ramallah.

  • 1918/08/15              1,800 men in the 39th Battalion travel on train to Southampton - by transport through France/Italy.

  • 1918/08/28              The 39th Battalion arrives in Port Said, Egypt.

  • 1918/09/15              The 39th Royal Fusiliers moves to the front.

  • 1918/09/18              The “Great Offensive” begins – final campaign with Viscount Allenby

  • 1918/10/09              The remnants of the various Battalions move from Jerusalem to Ludd (Lod).

  • 1918/10/31              Armistice with Turkey.

  • 1918/11                   2000 Legionnaires still in England.

  • 1918/11/07              Deployed units arrive at Rafa for recuperation and reorganization.

  • 1918/11/09              Camp Edward at Windsor closes.

  • 1919/01                   Half of the men arrive in Palestine for a reorganized 38th and 39th.

  • 1919                        5,000 Legionnaires in Palestine.

  • 1919/05                   Troops leave Rafa for Bir Salem.

  • 1919/06                   Most of the 38th Battalion demobilized - sent back to England.

  • 1919/11                   Many of the remaining Legionnaires leave Palestine for USA.

Sources:  British Jewry Book of Honour – Adler – Caxton, London 1922, The Story of the Jewish Legion – Jabotinsky - Bernard Ackerman, Inc., NY 1945,  With the Judeans in the  Palestine Campaign - Patterson J.H. – Macmillan, NY 1922,  War and Hope - A History of the Jewish Legion - Gilner - Herzl Press, NY 1969, London Men in Palestine - Coldiciott, Rowlands – Edward Arnold, London 1919, Soldiers in Judea – Freulich, Roman – Herzl Press, NY 1964

The body of the unknown warrior arrived at Platform 8 on the 10 Nov 1920 and lay here overnight before internment at Westminster Abbey on 11 Nov 1920


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website copyright of Philip Walker


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