U-turn means World War One hero will be honoured

By Sandy Rashty, September 24, 2013
Victoria Cross winner Sergeant Issy Smith

Victoria Cross winner Sergeant Issy Smith

A Jewish First World War Victoria Cross hero will be honoured in a national tribute after a U-turn by Communities Secretary Eric Pickles.

The government had planned to commemorate all the British-born VC winners in the 1914-18 conflict with special paving stones laid in their home towns.

Although four Jewish medal recipients were included, Sergeant Issy Smith was denied the tribute as he was born in Egypt.

Now the government has changed its mind, after Mr Pickles, whose ministry is overseeing the scheme, received an appeal from the Association of Jewish Ex-Servicemen and Women (Ajex).

Jacques Weisser, chief executive of Ajex, said: “This morning we received a letter on behalf of Eric Pickles, saying that Sgt Smith will have a paving stone. We are delighted that they have taken our request seriously and responded to us.”

Born Ishroulch Shmeilowitz in Alexandria in 1890, Sgt Smith grew up in Manchester and joined the British army in 1904. He reached the rank of sergeant serving in the first battalion in the Manchester regiment.

A spokesperson from the Department of Communities and Local Government said: “We are aware that there are cases where recipients like Sgt Smith have strong ties in the UK and it will be possible, with the agreement of the relevant local authority, for Sgt Smith to have a commemorative paving stone.”

Last updated: 7:44pm, September 28 2013