Roadshow will record of the lives of Jewish families during First World War

A special project which captures and records the impact, experience and contribution of the Jewish community during the First World War will be in St Annes this weekend.

Friday, 20th September 2019, 2:41 pm
Maurice Comer with his regiment is pictured far right on the middle row. Picture courtesy of WWTT

We Were There Too is a unique cross community project, and at the centre of it is a digital archive and interactive website, which will become a permanent record of the lives of Jewish men, women and families from 1914-19.

Details of their military and home front activities will be preserved ensuring that their stories are not lost for future generations.

It comes to St Annes Synagogue, in Orchard Road, on Sunday and people are invited to go along to find out more.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

Harry (standing) with another injured soldier at Farncombe Hospital, Broadway, Worcestershire Photo courtesy of WWTT

Rodney Ross said: “One of the central aims of the project is to unearth and collect stories and record personal histories from that time and add them to the website.

“We do this by running a number of roadshows across the North West.

“Roadshows are run on similar lines to the BBC’s Antiques Roadshow where people bring letters and photographs and our team of researchers help to create personal records so that these stories are not lost forever.

“Whatever your age, knowledge of the First World War, research experience or understanding of computers, if you think you have a family member who lived in Britain during the war, or are interested to research a name in the British Jewry Book of Honour, on a Synagogue Memorial Board, a gravestone or a host of other memorials, then we will help you to find out more about them and build a Personal Record.

An extract from Jewish World celebrating Blackpool's new synagogue

“We hope that we can uncover more stories so they are not lost forever.”

The project has already preserved stories, some about servicemen who lived locally and served during the war.

The most recent is a poster about the opening of Blackpool Synagogue in February 1916. It was uncovered by a researcher in London and later publishe.

Information about Harry David Green, who was the first jew to be chairman of St Annes branch of the British Legion, has also been recorded. Born in Birmingham, he lived for many years in St Annes and also Blackpool. He was, on three occasions, an independent candidate in Lytham St Annes municpal elections.

Page from Harry Comor's photo album. It shows medal ribbons, photographs from Farncombe Hospial, Broadway in 1919, and photographs from the Royal Flying Corps in 1917

Harry served with the Royal Flying Corps and Royal Air Force and his record shows how he remembered playing foodball with the Germans in no man’s land on Christmas Eve, just as the famous story goes.

His story was discovered at a ‘We Were There Too’ roadshow at a residential home in south Manchester where his daughter lives.

Lance Corporal Maurice Comer, who served with 1st Battalion Newfoundland Regiment and was a member of the Blackpool United Hebrew Congregation, died on December 5 1917 from wounds sustained in battle on October 12 1916.

His record says: “He was wounded at the Battle of Gueudecourt, having incurred shrapnel wounds to the lumbar area of his back and his spine and was transferred initially to a casualty clearing station before they sent him back to England for recovery on October 20th 1916. He was admitted to the Royal Victorian Hospital on return to England and remained there for five months, with some progress in the rehabilitation of his paralysed right leg and partially paralysed left one. Unfortunately, as the feeling returned so did the pain and it was necessary to administer morphine.

“By March, his general health was considered better and the wounds were healing so they decreased the morphine dosage and considered sending him home on March 19. However, he was transferred to the 2nd Western General (Alexandra Park) Hospital in Stockport, a day later and there he remained until December 5 when he died from his wounds.”

The roadshow will be in St Annes from 2pm to 4pm.

n Visit the website