Leon Bash: From a Diamond Polisher to a Soldier

Leon served as a Private in the 10th Battalion of the Royal Fusiliers (City of London). His service number was 1602 and he died on 10th April 1917, at which time his address was given as 32 Charles Street, Hatton Garden, London.

Dorset Gardens, Brighton, home of the Bash family in 1911.

The website ‘We Were There Too’ provides the year of his birth, and the names of his parents, Maurice and Fanny, and his five siblings, but gives his date of death as 11th April 1917 as per the Jewish Chronicle.

The same site suggests that Leon was born in Hackney and was a diamond polisher before the war, however he presumably had some connection with Sussex as he is one of six names that are shown as having died in the war on the Brighton & Hove Hebrew Congregation memorial. He is also mentioned in the congregation minutes which suggests he was part of the local community.

Research has focused on investigating Leon Bash’s connection to Sussex. Although Leon’s father was born in Brighton, the family moved to London when Leon was two years old. However, in 1911, the family were living in Brighton once again, at 12a Dorset Gardens. It is likely that they were connected to Brighton’s Middle Street Synagogue since the synagogue minutes and AGM record the condolences given to Leon’s family on his death and his name appears on the synagogue’s WW1 Memorial.

The Jewish Chronicle contains several references to Leon Bash, perhaps most significantly on p.12, 19 Oct 1917, when it appears to report his death having been ‘previously reported missing’. Leon is remembered in the paper in the years that follow – 12.4.1918, 11.4.1919, p.2-3 ‘dearly beloved son of Mr & Mrs Maurice Bash, 16.4.1920, p.2 ‘youngest son of Maurice & Fanny Bash’.

‘The Chair moved a vote of sympathy to Mr. M. Bash in his sad bereavement of a son on active service. Carried unanimously’, Minutes of Brighton Hebrew Congregation, 2 December 1917, HEB/1/1/4, ESRO.

The Keep, Brighton.Brighton and Hove Hebrew Congregation Minutes
Leon Bash commemorated on the Brighton & Hove Hebrew Congregation WW1 Memorial Tablet. Photo: Sha Wylie, 2019.

[1] British Jewry Book of Honour, Part 1, p. 79 (searchable via Ancestry). There is no mention of the Bash family in the 1894 Commercial Directory of the Jews of the United Kingdom : Harfield, Eugene G : Free Download, Borrow, and Streaming : Internet Archive
[2]We Were There Too: British Jews in the First World War
[3] Brighton & Hove Memorial tablet
[4] Michael Crook, JHSE Talk, Nov 2018, p.39 refers to BHC Minutes 2 December 1917 & AGM May 1918.