‘WW1 Victoria Cross winner should be honoured like other heroes’
The honorary president of the Jewish Military Museum, Henry Morris, has said that the government is wrong in denying a tribute to a Jewish Victoria Cross winner because he was not born in Britain.
Issy Smith, who fought for the British army in the First World War, will not be among the 480 soldiers to be honoured with special paving stones. Only those born here are eligible. Sergeant Smith was born in Egypt, but lived in Manchester for a number of years.
Mr Morris, himself a war veteran, described the decision as “disappointing”.
He said: “Issy Smith should be getting a paving stone. He fought for Britain and that is good enough for me. They have adopted a criterion which is a little narrow.”
Born Ishroulch Shmeilowitz in Alexandria in 1890, Sergeant Smith joined the British army in 1904. He served for the first battalion in the Manchester regiment and was awarded a VC for carrying “a wounded soldier 250 yards to safety while exposed to heavy machine gun fire” on April 26 1915. He died in Melbourne, Australia in 1940, aged 49.
Four Jewish VC winners — Frank de Pass, Jack White, Robert Gee and Leonard Keysor — are to be commemorated with paving stones, which will be laid outside their places of birth during the next four years, marking the centenary of the war’s outbreak.
The Foreign Office said it was working on plans to recognise the bravery of VC recipients from the Commonwealth, after claims that they were being overlooked.
However, soldiers from non-Commonwealth countries, such as Egypt, would not benefit.