How the Canadians of Harrogate are remembered every year

By Jessica Elgot, November 18, 2010
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A Leeds man who says kaddish at the graves of seven Jewish Canadian airmen killed during the war has begun a meticulous search to find their relatives.

Alan Caplan, 76, from Alwoodley, visits, with 30 members of his local AJEX branch, the graves of the seven men at Stonefall Cemetery in Harrogate every year to place poppies etched with magen Davids on the graves.

He said: "They were stationed in the north of England during the war - and they gave their lives to save this
country.

"I thought the families would like to know they are visited at least once a year. These lads were only in their 20s.

"I contacted a friend in Canada and a Jewish newspaper there and we've traced three of the families."

The seven men are Jack Tass, Harry Ratner, Ernest Israel Glass, Robert Sirluck, Morley Bernard Stock, RP Marks and Joseph Zareikin. Relatives have been found in Toronto, Regina and Winnipeg, but others are believed to have moved to the US.

Mr Caplan said he has been overwhelmed by some of the responses.

"I get phone calls in the middle of the night from Canada. I was sent a picture of one of the men, from his nephew, and he looks like he was such a lovely young boy -it breaks your heart.

"I also got one call from a man who said he was Morley Bernard Stock, and my hair stood on end - that's the name of one of the men buried in the cemetery. But it turned out he had been named after his uncle."

A member of Leeds United Hebrew Congregation, Mr Caplan was only 11 when the Second World War ended but served in the Royal Air Force in the 1950s. Now retired, he spent his career in the fur trade.

Mr Caplan said he was worried that the graves might become neglected as AJEX members dwindle. "There are not many of us left now visiting the graves - I'm one of the youngsters.

"We need to make sure the graves are not forgotten after the next few years. In the meantime, I will definitely keep up my search to find the relatives."

    Last updated: 9:53am, November 19 2010