Fringe Box



Jewish Commandos’ Names Added to Brookwood Military Cemetery Memorial

Published on: 28 May, 2017
Updated on: 29 May, 2017

A moving ceremony took place at Brookwood Military Cemetery in Pirbright on Sunday morning (May 28) to commemorate 23 new names that have been added to its 1939-45 Memorial to the Missing.

The Israeli ambassador unveils the new names that have been added to the memorial.

Those who attended the ceremony included the Israeli ambassador to the UK, His Excellency Mark Regev.

The names are of Palestine Jewish volunteers who, on May 18, 1941, lost their lives in a sea-borne mission called Operation Boatswain – known in its Hebrew form as “the twenty-three who went down with the ship”.

It was undertaken for Britain’s Special Operations Executive (SOE) to destroy oil refineries in Tripoli, then in Vichy French-controlled Lebanon.

It was the first of the operational missions carried out by the Palmach, the elite element of the Haganah defence force, forerunner to the Israeli Army. The boat used was a British Palestine Police motor launch and on board with the 23 commandos was British SOE liaison officer Major Sir Anthony Palmer. He also died in the raid.

Pictured from left: Paul McCue, Colonel Ran Cahana, Carol Brown and Martin Sugarman.

Research by Martin Sugarman of the Association of Jewish Ex-Sevicemen and Women, confirmed the 23 men as SOE volunteers. In 2016, the Commonwealth War Graves Commission (CWGC) agreed that the names of the volunteers should be on the memorial in Brookwood Military Cemetery, as is Major Sir Anthony Palmer.

It is a story well documented in Israel, but little known in the UK.

Paul McCue, a trustee of the Secret WW 2 Learning Network, organised the service of unveiling and commemoration. Martin Sugarman outlined the story of the raid and added that it is not known how the men died: whether their boat was sunk, or whether they landed and were killed.

The Israeli ambassador reads a letter from the Prime Minister of Israel Benjamin Netanyahu.

The Isreali ambassador read a letter from Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. In the letter he wrote that Israel stands in solidarity with the UK this week over the terror attack in Manchester.

The ambassador unveiled the names on the memorial.

Colonel Ran Cahana, military attaché to the Israeli Embassy in London, reads out the names of the 23 men.

Colonel Ran Cahana, military attaché to the Israeli Embassy in London, then read out the names of the 23 men. This was followed by The Exhortation, a minute’s silence, and prayers led by Rabbi (Major) Reuben Livingstone CF, senior Jewish chaplain to HM Armed Forces.

The Operation Boatswain ceremony took place within the 1939-45 Memorial to the Missing.

Gershon Gan, a relative of Amiram Shoat, one of the 23, gave an address on behalf of the families of those who died. He said he was proud to represent the families and felt very emotional and also glad that the 23 are now being remembered in the UK.

Wreaths were also laid.

Teresa Russell, secretary of the Secret WW2 Learning Network lays a wreath.

Other relatives of the 23 were also present, along with other members of the Secret WW2 Learning Network (including SOE historian and Guildford local historian Carol Brown), as well as representatives of the Commonwealth War Graves Commission, Sandhurst Royal Academy and the Army Training Centre at Pirbright Barracks.

The United States’ military war cemetery at Brookwood. The picture shows it on Sunday morning May 28, before a service that afternoon to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the USA entering the First World War.

Another commemoration also took place at Brookwood Military Cemetery on Sunday afternoon. This was in the United States cemetery and marked the 100th anniversary of the USA entering the First World War.


Share This Post

Leave a Comment

Please see our comments policy. All comments are moderated and may take time to appear.

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *