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Australian Jewish World War I hero remembered on 70th yahrzeit

September 14, 2010 Leave a comment Go to comments

MELBOURNE (Press Release)–Last Sunday, 12th September, VAJEX held a graveside  service to honour the memory of Sgt Issy Smith, a recipient of the Victoria Cross.

It was a moving  and well-deserved tribute to a very brave man. At only 11 years old Issy stowed away on a ship from Egypt to Britain where at 14 he joined the British Army and saw active service in Africa and India. After this period, he emigrated to Melbourne, Australia. At the outbreak of WW1 he returned to fight with the British Army. In 1915 at Ypres he won the Victoria Cross for outstanding bravery in rescuing numerous injured soldiers whilst under constant enemy fire. It was said “no man deserved the VC more than him”.  In all, Issy was gassed and wounded 5 times. On discharge as an acclaimed war hero Issy again emigrated  to Melbourne, Australia where he was held in high esteem within the Jewish community.

Issy Smith, VC died on 10 September 1940 and was buried with full military honours in the Fawkner Cemetary

The Memorial Service was held on his 70th Yahrtzeit and many of his family members attended; his son, Mr Maurice Smith and partner, coming from NSW. Presidents of organizations, both Jewish and non-Jewish, joined together in friendship and warmth on the cold and blustery day.
VAJEX President, Mr Ben Hirsh, extended the Official Welcome, followed by VAJEX Patron MAJGEN Jeffrey Rosenfeld CStJ’s poignant address. Our committee member, SQ/LDR Harold Karpin, spoke and read Psalm 24 and our own Chaplain Rabbi Dovid Gutnick did his usual splendid job performing his duties. Mr Maurice Smith in telling anecdotes of his late father, had us smiling at some of the antics of the boy-soldier….apart from being a real mensch he was also a bit of a lobus.

Mr Joe Krycer, JNF President surprised many, as he was not long out of hospital, by leading the Tree Planting. We were delighted to see him up and about.
To see some of the photos, click on or go to the link here.

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