5th September 2021
Annual Commemoration of Jewish agents of SOE at Brookwood Military Cemetery, Surrey.
July’s edition of By the Light of the Moon reported that on 27th May 2021 our good friends at AJEX, the Jewish Military Association UK, kindly invited us to their (Covid-restricted numbers) Annual Service of Commemoration in honour of National Armed Forces Week which took place at the National Memorial Arboretum. The SWW2LN’s Media Officer, Steph Waters attended to represent the Network. Steph and Mike Bluestone, AJEX President, also placed wreaths in memory of Jewish SOE agents at the Vera Atkins memorial tree and seat.
This occasion in May represented an addition to our existing links with AJEX, the main one being the now-annual commemorative event, held on the first Sunday in September in order to tie in with the monthly Last Post gathering at Brookwood Military Cemetery. This is now the fifth year of the commemoration and, as usual, we were supported by AJEX and the Armed Forces and Defence Attaché and Naval Attaché from the Embassy of Israel in London and were blessed by fine weather.
(left) ‘Orders group’ led by Louisa Russell, Chair of The SWW2LN and (right) personal tribute to
The main theme of our commemoration was the lost men of SOE’s OPERATION BOATSWAIN (known in Israel as The 23 Who Went Down With The Ship) in the 80th anniversary year of the ill-fated SOE/Palmach mission in 1941. The names of the 23 were added to the Addenda panel of the Memorial to the Missing, 1935-45 in Brookwood Military Cemetery (the largest in the UK) after research and a successful campaign by Martin Sugarman, AJEX Archivist and SWW2LN supporter. Martin was unable to attend this year's ceremony, but sent a message of support, as did (from Tel Aviv) Ambassador Gershon Gan, a Friend of The SWW2LN and a cousin of Amiram Shohet who disappeared on OPERATION BOATSWAIN.
Louisa Russell, Chair of Trustees of The SWW2LN, Paul McCue Trustee, Eddie Jones, standard bearer and SWW2LN volunteer, representatives of the Embassy of Israel and Mike Bluestone and Brian Bloom of AJEX at the Memorial to the Missing 1939-45.
We also remembered one of the lesser-known British Jewish agents of F (French) Section, SOE – Captain Lionel Lee, MC.
At Brookwood, Captain Lionel Lee MC, service number 235209, is commemorated on panel 1, column 2 of the Memorial to the Missing 1939-45. In addition to his Military Cross, Lee was awarded the Croix de Guerre by the French government.
Both OPERATION BOATSWAIN and Lionel Lee were then remembered at the monthly (first Sunday of every month, at 3 p.m.) gathering of the Brookwood Last Post Association. Wreaths were laid at both ceremonies on behalf of The SWW2LN, the Embassy of Israel, the IDF and AJEX. The cemetery looked truly beautiful and was a credit to the Commonwealth War Graves Commission.
Credits: Paul McCue
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