Paving the way to honour heroes of the Great War
The Jewish First World War Victoria Cross winners
The courage of four Jewish soldiers who were awarded the Victoria Cross in the First World War is to be celebrated with a special government tribute.
Frank de Pass, Jack White, Robert Gee and Leonard Keysor will be among 480 soldiers honoured with memorial paving stones to be placed in their home towns.
The idea was inspired by similar tributes to Britain’s gold medallists after the London Olympics.
The first of the stones will be laid in 2014, the centenary of the outbreak of the war. Each one will have a bar-code, which, when scanned with a smartphone, will offer details about the soldier’s act of bravery.
Communities Secretary Eric Pickles said: “Laying paving stones to mark these Victoria Cross heroes will ensure there is a permanent memorial to all the fallen who fought for our country.”
Henry Morris, honorary president of the Jewish Military Museum, said the initiative was a recognised “the outstanding part played by Jewish servicemen and women” in the Great War.
Lieutenant de Pass, from Kensington, was the first Jew to be awarded the VC, which he received for destroying an enemy trench and rescuing a comrade under heavy fire. He was killed in action the following day on November 25 1914.
Private White, who was born in Leeds, was awarded his medal for saving an officer under fire. Captain Gee, from Leicester, displayed “personal bravery and prompt action”, while Londoner Lieutenant Keysor retrieved two live bombs and threw them back at the enemy.
All three survived the war.