Leon Bash: From a Diamond Polisher to a Soldier

Leon Bash was born in the second quarter of 1893. During the First World War, he served as a Private in the 10th Battalion of the Royal Fusiliers (City of London). His service number was 1602 and he died unmarried on 10th April 1917, at which time his address was given as 32 Charles Street, Hatton Garden, London.

Dorset Gardens, Brighton, home of some of the Bash family (possibly Leonard Bash, Leon’s brother aroud 1917).
©regencysociety.org

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 newspaper.

The census of 1911 shows that Leon was born in Hackney, London 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 Maurice was born in Brighton (we know this through a Bash family descendant) as well as this being listed on the 1911 census. Leon was 18 in 1911 and still living with his family, both parents, his five siblings (one of whom Lewis is listed as being Deaf) plus a boarder Leon Weitzman. The family residence shows up on the 1911 census as living together in Hackney, London at that point. It is knot know when Maurice Bash moved to London from Brighton.

1911 census showing Leon Bash’s home in London, Daniel Morgan-Thomas (Bash family descendent) contacted us to share this family information

It is likely that the Bash family were connected to Brighton’s Middle Street Synagogue in some way 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. It is possible that Leon’s brother lived in Brighton by the time of the First World War and that Leon’s nephew Leonard was born in the town.

Leon Bash war details – courtesy of MyHeritage website

Leon Bash who was living in London when he joined up, is shown as having been killed on the battlefields of France and Flanders. Leon was awarded the Victory and British Medals and buried in Arras Memorial Cemetery, France.  He was initially reported missing, and his death was not reported in the Jewish Chronicle until October.

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
©BHC
Leon Bash commemorated on the Brighton & Hove Hebrew Congregation WW1 Memorial Tablet. Photo: Sha Wylie, 2019.

References

[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. [5] Daniel Morgan-Thomas (Bash family descendent) contacted us to share family information