UKs Most Senior Jewish WWII Veteran, Passes Away, Aged 102
16th March 2019
Lt. Col. Mordaunt Cohen MBE TD DL, the most senior Jewish Second World War Veteran in the UK, has passed away.
Col. Cohen passed away at the Royal Free hospital in the early hours of the morning. He is survived by his two children, 8 grandchildren and 12 great grandchildren. Col. Cohen was brought up in Sunderland and qualified as a solicitor in 1938 at the age of 21. Shortly after this, a Jewish Refugee Hostel was established in Sunderland. He learned from them the great suffering that was going in Europe, so in 1940 he decided to enlist, rather than wait to be called up. He felt it was his duty to serve his country and his people. He started his army service at the very bottom, as a gunner. His initial post was to a field artillery regiment at Redcar racecourse, just 40 miles from where he lived. His leadership skills were recognised early and in 1942, after training at Shrivenham and receiving his commission as an officer, he was sent to Nigeria to command a unit that was part of the Royal West African Frontier Force, which was 80% Muslim troops.
Col. Cohen left Nigeria in 1943 by boat and headed for Bombay and onwards to Burma. The war in Burma was particularly brutal. In addition he had to cope with extreme climatic conditions. As part of the ‘forgotten army’ he continued fighting the Japanese, after the war ended in Europe. He finally returned back home to Sunderland in December 1945 after winding up various military units. Col. Cohen was subsequently mentioned in dispatches for distinguished service in the Burma campaign and in 1953 he received the Territorial Decoration (TD), for long dedicated military service, following a period in the Territorial Army. Upon returning, Mordaunt resumed his legal career and threw himself into communal life in Sunderland. For the following 45 years, he became one of the most well-known figures in community life, serving Sunderland in many areas.
He was Chairman of the Sunderland Education Committee and in 1969 was appointed Founding Chairman of the brand new Sunderland Polytechnic, which became Sunderland University in 1992. In 1992 that Sunderland University honoured Col. Cohens late wife, Judge Myrella Cohen QC, the first female Judge in the North East and third in the UK, by awarding her Honorary Doctorate of Law. This was the first such award made by the new University. Last November he was awarded an honorary fellowship by the University, for his distinguished military service, his contributions to the City of Sunderland and to the University. Mordaunt and Myrella made legal made legal history as they were the first married couple in the UK to both hold full time Judicial posts. Myrella went on the sit at the Old Bailey and as senior Judge in Newcastle and Harrow. She was also active in the community, most notably as a leading Agunah (Jewish women whose husband refuses to grant a religious divorce) campaigner.
She drafted Divorce (Religious Marriages) Bill section 10a, which made it a lot harder for Jewish husbands to withhold a divorce (get) from their wives. In retirement Col. Cohen took on the National Chairmanship of the Association of Jewish Ex-Servicemen (AJEX) and was then Vice President. For approximately 60 years he led the No 1 Battalion at The AJEX Parade on Whitehall. He stopped partaking in this role three years ago due to difficulties in walking the required distance, however he still played an active part in the parade. Col. Cohen was well aware of his place as one of the last surviving senior officers who served in World War II and that he was one of the last few who had the ability to tell the story first-hand. He spent much of his time telling his military story and over many years was one of the most active and high profile veterans, speaking all over the country.
He saw it as his duty to inform young people of what life was like in the war and the importance of remembering those who sacrificed their lives so that future generations may live in peace. He was particularly passionate of teaching about the Jewish contribution to the war effort, with 60,000 Jews serving in World War Two. All of this was done with dignity and a profound sense of duty. For the 70th anniversary of VJ day, Col. Cohen produced a series of online videos, to educate people about his time fighting the Japanese. The main video was viewed over 170,000 times and helped bring awareness to this important day. It was this work, educating about World War Two, which led to him receiving an MBE in the 2018 New Years Honours list.
At age 101 he was the oldest on this list. On June 1st 2018, he received his award from Her Majesty the Queen at Buckingham Palace. He will be sorely missed by his many family and friends.
Notification of Death: Mr Brendan McVeigh 79 Bty Cdo
Mr John Wharton 79 Bty Cdo
WO2 (RQMS) Peter Hudson 27 Nov 2018
Bdr Jack Ritchie 28 Nov 2018 aged 84 years
Luke Griffin 16 Regt RA 28 Nov 2018 aged 33 years
Mr Christopher Hughes 26 Oct 2018 aged 70 years
James Bennett J ames Bennett lived to be 100 years old, yet his energy was limitless and he found the 12-hour day all too brief for his packed, varied diary. Always known as Jim, he was a solicitor who enjoyed a successful side-line developing property. In 1961 he purchased a 16th century farmhouse in Cuckfield, West Sussex, and at one stage combined his legal work with supervising the 45-acre farm, which was populated by chickens, turkeys, pigs and, for a short while, veal calves. He encouraged his sons - Peter, Paul and Graeme – to buy run-down houses and renovate them. They all had their own home by the time they were 30, and Jim was happy to advise them. No matter how heavy his schedule, he would always find time for games of cricket with his sons on the garden lawn. “As a father he was more like a best friend,” said Peter. James Beckwith Bennett was born in April 1918 on Spa Farm, Askern, in the West Riding of Yorkshire. He inherited a spirit of enterprise from his father, Frederick, who sustained injuries in the First World War, yet ran Spa Farm while setting up and managing a local bus company. At Silcoates School in Wakefield Jim excelled on the rugby field and the cricket pitch, captaining the school teams. He won a place to study law at Jesus College, Cambridge, 1937. After graduating he joined the Royal Artillery, attaining the rank of Major and serving in North Africa, India, Ceylon, Burma and Italy. While stationed on HMS Loyal during the Allied invasion of Italy his sharp shooting helped the ship to blow up a German ammunition dump. For his bravery Jim was mentioned in dispatches. HMS Loyal struck a mine off the coast of Rimini in October 1944, but Jim did not talk about the incident until his sons questioned him about it many years later. Jim had met June Rutherford while mackerel fishing in Padstow, Cornwall. June was a member of the WAAF who had been serving at a radar station on nearby Trevose Head. They married a few months before VE Day in 1945. Their first son, Peter, was six months old when he first met Jim, who after the war had been posted to India for nine months to assist the adjutant-general of the British Indian Army. After obtaining his solicitor’s articles in Doncaster, Jim moved with his family to West Sussex, where he founded his own legal practice, James B Bennett & Co in Burgess Hill. He subsequently opened branches in Brighton, Haywards Heath and Crawley. Property, however, was Jim’s true passion and for nearly 50 years he was also a director of the Mid-Sussex Building Society. Naturally sociable, he and June regularly held parties where business acquaintances became long-standing friends. Jim rejoiced in playing practical jokes. Once, while June and the boys were in Dartmouth over Easter, they received a telegram from Jim saying that they should remain in isolation because Peter had been in contact with someone infected with scarlet fever. When Jim arrived days later he revealed that this was a joke, crying “April fools!” June was not amused. In 1983 he retired and began to travel the world with June. He even tried white-water rafting. At home he was always dapper, wearing a tie if he was slipping out of the house to post a letter. June predeceased him, but Jim remained in excellent health until his 100th birthday. He celebrated at his nursing home with a party for his three sons and their families, and was thrilled to receive a telegram from the Queen. Jim began to decline after a fall the next day, but - even days before his death - he was still eager to hear Peter’s plans for a house renovation. None of Jim’s sons ever forgot his key tip for house-buying: Location, location, location!” Credit Readers’ Lives: The Times.
Lt Col CJ Tug Lawson BEM I t is with deepest regret to inform the Gunner community and in particular the Gunner Tug-of-War fraternity that Tug passed away on Wednesday 14 November 2018 after a fall at home and subsequent illness. A dearly loved and departed father, grandfather and great-grandfather a truly remarkable Gunner who started his military career as a Gunner, eventually retiring as a Lieutenant Colonel having served in the Gunners for 35 years and celebrated his 90th birthday in outstanding fashion New Year’s Eve/Day 2017. Tug had an in-depth involvement in Gunner Tug of War as a puller with the RSA who became the first Army team to win both “old weights” at the Army Championships. He later coached and trained such teams as 39 Heavy Regt RA, PEE Shoeburyness, 26 Regt RA and JLRRA all with a degree of success, he advised many others on the intricacies of TOW and was also a past President of Gunner TOW involved in the setting up of the Gunner Pull Competition. He also had involvement at a national level in TOW as a past president and Award of Merit holder who recently travelled to Germany to support ACF teams in the GENSBY Competition held at Mohnesee. Tug was also a staunch supporter of Army Game Fishing and the Disabled Game Fishing Association, having fished for the Army in various competitions and spending many happy hours with other fellow anglers at Rutland and Eyebrook waters. Alas our Rudder (mother) was lost some time ago but now we have lost our figure head. ‘Once a Gunner always a Gunner’ “Last round cease firing.”
Notification of Death:
Mr Michael Adkins 15 January 2019 D Bty 3 RHA
LBdr Martyn Booth 12 January 2019 D Bty 3 RHA
Lt Col RW Burkey 22 November 2018 aged 79 years (Obituary to follow)
WO2 (BQMS) Tinsley Chan 1 January 2019 25 Bty 19 Regt RA
Maj Roger Cowlishaw 11 January 2019 aged 71 years
Lt Col Gene Kerr 5 January 2019
Mr J Lewendon May 2018
Lt RD Prince 25 September 2018 aged 74 years.
WO2 Robert Warren Speed 10 December 2018 aged 62 years
Colonel Dennis Walton passed away 8 December 2018 aged 98 years.
BLAKE – Maj Peter Geoffrey passed away 1 December 2018 aged 87 years. Loving husband to Ann, father to Elizabeth, Alison and Robert, grandfather to Amanda, Zoe and Georgina. After leaving the army in 1968 Peter trained as a teacher taught English at a boys school and then in adult education. He was a countryman at heart and spent twenty eight hopefully happy years of country life before severe ill health forced a move closer to civilisation. After years of disability he passed away peacefully in his sleep and will be much missed. RIP.
CAIRNS – Gnr William Brown (Billy) passed away 12 October 2018 aged 58 years from a sudden heart attack. Billy served for 9 years with D Bty 3 RHA from 1976 following his basic training with 17 Training Regiment in Woolwich. Billy passed away in Florida USA when he was playing golf representing Team Europe in the Phoenix Cup disabled golf competition against the USA. Europe won the cup and dedicated the win in Billy’s honour. He was also honoured on the Scottish disability Golf and Curling board. Billy’s wife predeceased him but he leaves behind two daughters, Cheryl and Heather, he will be missed greatly and remembered often by all who knew him. UBIQUE.
DANIEL – Richard (Dick) MBE passed away peacefully 29 November 2018 at home. He will be greatly missed by his children Susan, Amanda and Richard, grandchildren Liam, Ethan and Ciaran. Funeral has taken place but donations can be made to the Wiltshire Air Ambulance in his memory.
DEANE – Maj TM (Tim) RA and AAC, passed away 30 December aged 86 years. Tim was commissioned into the RA in 1953 and was later seduced into Army flying, a career path that was well suited to his character. There will be few in Army Aviation (and beyond) who have not met or do not know of Tim for he is famous for many things. He was a man who could never enter a room quietly, nor depart without leaving an impression. He was an inveterate writer to the Times and Telegraph, whose letters, on a wide range of subjects, were more often than not published – a fact that he shared with his ever extending Email contact list. The stories from his life are colourful and varied, as were their potential effects on 20th Century history; his possession of the wrong coloured marker at a crucial moment resulted in the line dividing Cyprus being named as “The Green Line.” In 1962 he was responsible for evaluating an Autogyro (which later went on to star in the James Bond film, You only Live Twice); an evaluation that resulted in at least two emergency landings – one of which on a beach in Cornwall, which drew the applause of basking holidaymakers. Tim was an experienced and effective RA Officer, Army Aviator and Air Observation Post pilot with a wealth of operational experience. Particularly so in the Far East with 7 Flight and 656 Squadron in the beloved Auster. Tim’s notes in Guy Warner’s history of 656 Squadron illustrate his insightfulness and his mastery of descriptive writing that was often masked by his larger than life character. He remained a champion for the AOP throughout his flying career and beyond, serving as the Air Observation Post Officers’ Association Secretary for decades. It was his zeal and energy that resulted in the creation of the AOP memorial in the Army Flying Museum; and his generosity of spirit that donated a copy of it to the Officers’ Mess at Middle Wallop. He only agreed to step down from his pivotal post for the Association in recent years so that he could spend more time with his wife, Gilly and playing golf, another one of his talents and skills. In retirement from Regular service he stayed on in what was then known as a Retired Officers’ appointment at Middle Wallop, with duties that included the editorship of the Corps Journal. It was in this role that he first championed Gilly’s impressive artistry. Messes and corridors around the Corps are littered with her watercolours and she turned her hand to sculpture to create the bust which now adorns the Air OP Memorial - a legacy of which he was particularly proud. There will be many and varied stories of Tim Deane that will continue to be told. Army Aviation has lost one of its characters, who will be much missed. Our thoughts are with Gilly, his family and his many, many friends and acquaintances. As sent to Gunner by the Regimental Secretary of the AAC Association, Lt Col Christopher Ions.
HALL – WO2 (BSM) Tom, passed away 4 December 2018 aged 74 years. Reunited with his beloved wife Edna, much loved and adored Dad of Samantha and Andrew, dearly loved father-in-law of Paul and Kelly, devoted and proud Grandad of Lily, Oliver, Ava and Lola and a dear brother. Funeral has taken place but donations if desired to the Alzheimer’s Society.
HOULGATE – Sgt Jeff ‘SAS’ passed away 5 December 2018 in Pinderfields Hospital Wakefield with his family at his side. A stalwart of 45 Regt RA WO & Sgt’s Mess “the best outside centre I ever played beside”. He served in 45 Regt from 1976-1993, mostly with 52 Niagara Bty leaving on redundancy. Gone far too young he was an outstanding SNCO and MT Sgt. Always his own man; always a rogue but only in everyone’s best interest. A BC’s secret weapon, he will be sadly missed by all his comrades. UBIQUE.
HUNTER – SSgt Pat passed away 20 December 2018 aged 67 years. Sir “Freddie” Viggers KCB, CMG, MBE, DL sent the following to Gunner; I first met Pat as a Bombardier in J (Sidi Rezegh) Battery after the Regiment was disbanded and J was sent to Paderborn to be equipped with the Swingfire anti-tank system. Pat played a key role in maintaining the Battery’s vehicle fleet and we became good friends throughout my time there. He was a thoroughly professional, loyal and committed man who could be relied on fully. He was a pleasure to work with and we got on well. We lost touch after I left the Battery but I heard later that he worked in my Headquarters as Adjutant General in Upavon and he also got involved with the RBL Club in Tidworth where he met Jane at various functions. It was also a pleasure to see him occasionally at the 3 RHA Past and Present Members Association. Pat had many friends and admirers and it is no surprise to see so many good messages after his death from his comrades. We wanted to attend his Funeral in Stockport and support Pat’s family but, sadly, events prevented that. It is a great shame that we couldn’t go and say Farewell to a damned good Horse Gunner. Pat set the standards. JOYCE - Gnr Douglas ‘Dougie’ passed away 10 November 2018 aged 94 years. Ex PHG Wimborne GPO, ex 27 Fd Regiment, 25th Indian Division, Arakan, Burma, the forgotten 14th Army, Reunited with his beloved wife Vi, leaving behind his sister Monica who is now the sole survivor of the Joyce family. RIP.
MOUNTFORD – Mrs Ann Ferrier passed away peacefully at home in Haslemere 2 December 2018 after a long and bravely fought battle with cancel aged 71 years. Loving wife for 47 years of Brigadier Richard Mountford OBE and beloved mother of Victoria, Lizzie and Alexander and a very proud grandmother. Sincere thanks to the wonderful staff of the NHS and Macmillan Cancer Care for their magnificent and dedicated help.
SELBY – Albert passed away 26 November 2018 aged 100 years. Albert served during WWII with the 7th Medium Regiment (32 Regt) in India and North Africa before being transferred to the 31st Field Regiment (42 Alem Hamza Bty) with whom he served in East Africa before being captured at the Battle of Alem Hamza, Libya in December 1941. Albert’s grandson writes ‘the Royal Artillery was always a part of his life as he continued to attend reunions and Regimental days well into his 80’s. Once a Gunner always a Gunner.
SHANNON – Sgt James ‘Shannon the Cannon’ passed away aged 58 years. Jimmy was a recruitment Sgt for the TA and served with 105 Regt RA. Jimmy was the 29th District Gunner, he officially took on the One o’clock Gun role in 2006 shortly after the death of long-time gunner “Tam the Gun”, Sergeant Thomas McKay, who had fired the timepiece since the 1970s. The firing of the Castle’s One o’clock Gun is a tradition that goes back to 1861, when it was used to allow ships in the Firth of Forth to set their maritime clocks. Jimmy will be sadly missed by his family, friends and comrades.
SMITH – Gnr John Anthony Mapp passed away 28 October 2018 aged 83 years at Canterbury Hospital following a short illness with cancer. John received the Gunner magazine every month due to his passion for all things Royal Artillery he would often spend time researching articles and enjoyed the history of the Regiment. In the 1970’s John started his company – Laser Transport International Ltd based in Dover, he built the company and became Chairman with its head office in Lympne. He was a respected figure in the industry regarded as a leader and gentleman by customers, partners and staff alike. John leaves behind his daughter Amanda and grandson Jamie, he will be sadly missed. UBIQUE.
Gnr Kenneth Crossley G nr Kenneth (Ken) passed away 28 November 2018 aged 93 years. Ken was a volunteer home guard prior to being drafted for National Service in March 1943, as he could drive he was employed as a driver of the medium guns and trained to fire them. Ken was part of the second wave into Normandy and was awarded the 39-45 Star Defence Medal, and although the family are not sure of what they are he had medals from France, Belgium and Germany war service. They have found documents that confirm in 1946 he spent Christmas in Deolali in India. Ken lost all six of his brothers, Hubert, Edgar, Alan, Francis, Roy and Ronnie and his sister Kathleen all predeceasing him. He married three times – to Norah, Anne and lastly Betty, being made a widower each time. Ken was a kind and honest man, he was well thought of by all he came into contact with. For the last couple of years he lived at Osborne House Care Home where sadly dementia took its toll on him, but throughout this terrible illness he could still recite his service number perfectly. Ken was very proud to have served as a Gunner. God rest you Ken, you have done us proud and will be remembered always. Once a Gunner always a Gunner.
The Gunner magazine and the RAA were contacted by Kens family, to assist with his funeral arrangements but also they wished to appeal to all other Gunners and the local RAA to boost those attending the funeral, as they worried there would only be perhaps half a dozen or so. Once the plea had gone out on our various social media outlets and the Gunner grapevine, the regiment did Ken proud. We later received this message from his family:
“Dear All – We wish to thank you for all your help arranging for Ken to have the very best of send offs. The remaining members of Ken’s family were moved beyond words at the turn out of all the members of the armed services. “Each and every one of them are heroes in our eyes, I wish there had been more time so that we could have got to speak in depth to them all.
The bugler moved us beyond tears, such a fitting tribute to our very own hero. Also the members of the community that came, what generous spirited people they are. Can you all put a message out to thank all the people for attending on behalf of the family?” With thanks, Gill and Steve Crossley (Ken’s nephew and wife).
Michael John Moore Mike was born in Doncaster, Yorkshire, England in 1930. He was educated at Doncaster Grammar School and Durham University. He dropped out of University to join the British Army’s Royal Artillery and was commissioned in time to serve in the Korean War. Later on, he saw active service in Borneo and Malaya and in the withdrawal from Aden. He was a pilot in the Army Air Corps and he also served in a Commando Artillery Regiment. In 1969 after seventeen years in the army, he retired as a major and came to Canada. Soon after getting off the boat, he was drawn to the North and joined the Government of the Northwest Territories in Fort Smith. He worked in the North for twenty years and was at various times Regional Director of the Baffin Region, Secretary to the Cabinet, Deputy Minister of Local Government and Chairman of the Workers’ Compensation Board. Mike used to say that his happiest times in the North were when he lived for seven years in Frobisher Bay (now Iqaluit) and got to know people in all the communities of the Baffin Region. But it was in Yellowknife that he discovered the joy of sailing and qualified as a CYA Advanced Level Cruising Instructor on Great Slave Lake. Mike retired for the second time in 1989 and lived aboard his yacht “Arctic Willow” in Sidney, B.C. teaching sailing and running skippered charters. In April 1994, he married Irene Stilwell, his close friend of many years, in a ceremony onboard “Arctic Willow” in Victoria Harbour. He later became involved in Outreach activities at First Metropolitan United Church and took a leading role with the Inner-City Dinners and the Out of the Rain night shelter for homeless youth. He also served as Chair of the Ministry and Personnel Committee and Co-Chair of the Management Group. Mike and Irene had twelve happy years together in Sidney until Mike suffered a major stroke in 2006, from which he never recovered. He remained in Extended Care at Saanich Peninsula Hospital until he died. He leaves behind his beloved Irene, his stepdaughter Kerry Schaffer (Warren) and grandchildren Ian and Taya of Haileybury, Ontario; and stepdaughter Dawn Woodhurst (Ed) of Winnipeg, Manitoba. Also left to mourn is his sister Sally Cant (Peter) of Scarborough, Ontario. A Celebration of Life will be held in the spring. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the “Out of the Rain” night shelter for homeless youth through Beacon Community Services, Victoria, BC. ‘Those Whom You Truly Love Never Die’
In memory of Jamie Doyle J amie ( AKA Baggy ) and I both served at Baker Barracks for a number of years together. He was a well-known character of (47 Regt RA) and a great person to be around. Since leaving the army in 2008 I’ve not seen or spoken with Baggy. Then the bombshell... RIP Jamie. I clicked on the name to be taken to his Facebook page. Although it shocked me I assumed he must have been in a bad accident or something. Then I found out he took his own life and that really shocked me. BAGGY! By his own doing? In the days following I was sent information that Combat Stress run a mental health hotline (0800 138 1619). When I first heard about Jamie I could not believe it was true. It seemed only fitting that living just down the road from Thorney that I do something worthwhile, a march in his memory from the place we served together to his resting place. I’m going to be doing a Memorial March from Thorney Island where I served with Jamie for a number of years to his resting place in Birmingham. A distance of around 150 miles to be completed in just four days. I wasn’t there for Baggy when he needed someone but I wanted to make sure everyone knows Combat Stress have this helpline. Everyone should have someone to talk to, who understands and can help beat the demons. If anyone wishes to join me either for the whole way or part of the way, I’d be happy to have the company, although it will be a forced march and not a bimble, so not to be taken lightly. The march is set to take place from 10 May 19 and finish on Monday 13 May 19. We will be posting updates on social media so you can track progress. I’m looking forward to seeing some people I’ve not seen in years and having a few beers in Jamie’s honour. Please share this story and if you can stick a few quid in the pot, it would be very much appreciated. Donating through JustGiving is simple, fast and totally secure. Your details are safe with JustGiving – they'll never sell them on or send unwanted emails. Once you donate, they'll send your money directly to the charity. So it's the most efficient way to donate – saving time and cutting costs for the charity. By Rob Smith.
Combat Stress The UK’s leading charity for veteran’s mental health. For almost a century, we’ve helped former servicemen and women deal with issues like trauma, anxiety, depression and post-traumatic stress disorder. Today, we provide support to veterans from every service and every conflict. Charity Registration No. 206002