This database is dedicated to the 342 Australian Jews who made the
supreme sacrifice in defence of freedom, peace and tolerance.
The Australian Jewish Military Database
This Australian Jewish Military Database contains the names and details of some 6,500 Jewish men and women who enlisted in the Colonial, Australian and other Empire armed forces to serve in the Second Boer War, World War One and World War Two.
The Database is an Education Project of the Centenary of Anzac Jewish Program (CoAJP) in conjunction with the Sydney Jewish Museum (SJM), as part of the Australia-wide Anzac Centenary (2014 to 2018) activities in collaboration with the Australian Jewish Historical Society (AJHS).
How to use this Database
As the information held is extensive and may be much more than that desired by the casual user as opposed to a researcher, we offer both a limited and an expanded view. AJHS members and electronic subscribers have access to the entire database.
Limited View gives key data including name, alternate name(s), conflict / unit / rank / identification number(s); Died on Service (DoS) details; National Archives of Australia (NAA) link and one other link. The database may be sorted on any of these fields and each field is text searchable. Individual’s records can also be viewed separately.
Expanded View covers each of fields in the database. We strongly recommend that researchers become AJHS members and subscribers to ajhs.com.au so that they can access the data in its entirety.
You can also click on the following headings for more information on how the database was formulated.
This Australian Jewish Military Database contains the names and details of some 6,500 Jewish men and women who enlisted in the Colonial, Australian and other Empire* armed forces to serve in the Second Boer War, World War One (WWI) and World War Two (WWII).
Enlistments of those who served exclusively prior to the Second Boer War, between that conflict and WWI, between WWI and WWII, and after WWII, are not included in this database – other than the five servicemen who died on service during the latter three periods. In time, such broader enlistment information may be incorporated, if and when released and assessed.
Most of the Jewish servicemen and women who served in the Australian Army, the Royal Australian Navy and the Royal Australian Air Force were born in Australia; however, many were born overseas. *This database also records, as best as could be determined, the names of Australian Jews who served in the armed forces of other British Empire countries.
Died on Service
Special recognition has been accorded to the 342 Jewish men who have died on service up to the present, including their cemetery and memorial details.
No Australian Jewish women are known to have died on service.
The National Archives of Australia (NAA)
The National Archives of Australia holds over one and a half million military records of Australian servicemen and women since 1901. Original enlistment papers asked religion, so to confirm religion requires each personnel record, some having over 50 handwritten pages, to be opened and inspected. Most WWI records and prior have been opened by NAA for public access and, since 2007, have been digitised for viewing on the internet.
Approximately half of the WWII records have been opened by NAA for public access and some have been digitised, but most Army and RAAF files are still to be open and digitised, so can only be viewed for free/in person at the NAA’s Canberra venue. NAA charges a fee of approximately $70 to digitise each record. AJHS would greatly appreciate donations to enable the records of all Jewish servicemen and women to be digitised, commencing with those who died on service in WWII. We would also welcome being advised if you have directly arranged digitising.
Where available, links to each person’s NAA records in naa.gov.au are included in this database, wherein those files that have been digitised can be freely viewed.
Not all Jews declared their religion at enlistment (Jewish, Hebrew or occasionally ‘Israelite’ in WWI). This was often the case during WWII as Jewish servicemen and women feared that capture by the Germans might not accord them protection of the Geneva Convention as a prisoner of war.
Indeed, it is recognised that a number of Jews had either an identification disc (dog tag) deliberately listing “CofE”, or two sets of discs, one with “Jewish” and another with “CofE”, worn in case of capture.
Research and Sources
Since WWI, there have been various efforts to list all Australian Jews who served. This has been a difficult and time-consuming challenge, as registers produced by the National Archives of Australia and the Australian War Memorial, referenced below, do not collate religions nor facilitate searching records specifically by religion.
Currently, the books most commonly referenced are the Australian Jewry Book of Honour: The Great War 1914–1918 by Harold Boas, Australian Jewry Book of Honour World War II edited by Gerald Pynt and since 2017, Jewish Anzacs – Jews in the Australian Military by Mark Dapin.
Other sources include the British Jewry Book of Honour edited by Rev. Michael Adler (especially for identifying Australian Jews who enlisted in other Empire forces in WWI), information published in the Jewish press and Honour Boards displayed in various synagogues or Jewish community buildings.
In 1999, Russell Stern commenced researching the names of Australian Jews in the Second Boer War (or as it is now known, the ‘South African War, 1899-1902’). Subsequently, he reviewed the records of individuals named in the above sources for all conflicts and by 2016, had examined thousands of previously unexamined dossiers of service personnel in the NAA, to transcribe and assess them for inclusion in accepted listings, discovering the names of many persons that had previously not been identified as Jewish military.
This database is primarily based on those listings produced by Russell Stern, and which were edited by Peter Allen in 2016 for publication in Jewish Anzacs. However, that record is still subject to ongoing refinement and expansion.
The database notes if a name was recorded in Boas and/or Pynt and the spelling used.
The Australian War Memorial (AWM)
The Australian War Memorial has detailed records of all Australians who died in the service of their country and where they are buried or memorialised, as well as Red Cross and POW records, photos, diaries and other information on some servicemen and women, for viewing freely.
Where available, links to each person’s AWM record and any photo/s, etc at awm.gov.au are included in this database.
Jewish and Military Provenance
Compilers of the initial lists of names of Jewish military that were published in the Jewish press and on Jewish Honour Rolls generally relied on information provided by members of the public and – especially prior to ready access to the NAA – sometimes assumed that traditional Jewish-sounding names (e.g. Cohen, Levi) indicated membership of the Jewish faith. However, this has proven not to be definitive.
Russell Stern has researched the provenance of the names collated from the aforementioned sources and excluded those names where there is reasonable genealogical evidence that they were not Jewish, or the person enlisted in WWI to serve in Australia only, or if there is no evidence that the person actually enlisted. Such persons have been excluded from the general database listings.
There were rare cases where servicemen changed religion between enlistments. These names have been included, with notes.
Graves and War Memorials
Occasionally, graves and local war memorials listed as Jewish some whose Jewish origins were later questioned. This led to further investigation of family trees to verify Jewish ancestry, as noted above.
Normally, a Star of David on a headstone would be considered a clear sign that the deceased was Jewish, but there were rare cases where a star was requested by the family or the Jewish religion incorrectly ascribed to a grave. On a few occasions, only the father was Jewish – and by orthodox Jewish law, some would question the inclusion of those names. Where identified, such names have been included in the database, with notes.
A photo of the headstone or memorial may be available at The War Graves Photographic Project: https://www.twgpp.org/
In time, we hope that a direct link to each serviceman’s CWGC details and photo will be included in our database.
Common Names, Name Changes and Variations
While every effort has been made, it has not always been possible to differentiate between service personnel with similar names in those rare cases where date and place of birth or enlistment numbers do not align. Therefore, it is recommended that the user review all such common names for accuracy.
Some 300 of the service personnel listed were known by more than one name. In the case of women, this was usually due to marriage. For the men it may have been a slight change in spelling or anglicization of a European name e.g. Fritz Cohen to Fred Cohn or a complete change e.g. Herbert Bloustein to Morris Buxton. Other cases were as simple as an error in the spelling of a name by the enlisting officer. All known alternatives (aka) have been included.
The names are listed both by the person’s birth name (as on the cenotaph at the Australian Jewish War Memorial, dedicated at the ACTJC in Canberra, on 12th August 2018) and the name at enlistment (which is the NAA and AWM default).
Dates of Birth and Death
During the earlier part of WWI exact date of birth wasn’t recorded, only age in years and months. This estimation wasn’t always accurate, nevertheless the month and year of birth thus calculated has been included. Therefore, occasionally it isn’t even possible to be certain if the same person had again enlisted in WWII.
Sometimes, death on service was given as a ‘date range’ in their service record when the person was initially recorded as ‘Missing in Action’ or died whilst a POW. The date of death shown on their headstone, memorial or by the AWM is used in this database.
Multiple Enlistment Numbers
Many men enlisted more than once in each conflict and sometimes in multiple conflicts. Australian military record keeping systems from the first half of the 20th century did not have a unique identifier which followed a serviceman through his life, so sometimes one person will have multiple serial numbers, as shown in the database. For example, this commonly occurred during WWII, when servicemen (including approximately 100 Jews) first enlisted in the Australian Army and later transferred to the Royal Australian Air Force, receiving a second enlistment number.
We would greatly appreciate advice of errors or omissions and any additional information, including photographs, which could be incorporated into the database. In order to maintain the accuracy of the database, such information will first need to be verified by a panel appointed by the AJHS. We trust that users recognise there may be some delay because of this important process.
Please contact AJHS via the Suggest Edits link.
Much work has been done over many years by numerous people to research, collate and edit all of the information that is ultimately contained in this database. The database was launched in July 2018 – the year of the centenary of the Armistice on the Western Front of 11/11/1918 – and continues as a commemoration of the courage and self-sacrifice of all the Jews who served alongside their Australian brothers and sisters, to defend our country’s freedom, peace and tolerance.
We especially wish to recognise and express thanks for the efforts of the following:
• Russell Stern (AJHS President 2011-16) – research, provenance assessment and collation of data
• Peter Allen (CoAJP National Coordinator 2012-18) – review, management and editing of data, grant submissions and fund-raising
• Gloria Allen – research of grave and memorial data
• Tony James – research of award data
• Peter Philippsohn OAM (AJHS President 2016+) – database collation
• Anthony Perl (CommTogether) – website production
• The Australian Government, which provided grant funding through the Department of Veterans Affairs’ Anzac Centenary Local Grants program, for Educational Projects to the SJM (NSW), QJBD/QAJEX (Qld), JCCWA/WAJEX (WA), JCCSA (SA), HHC (Tas) and ACTJC (ACT), facilitated by the CoAJP.
• Individual and Organisation Donors to the CoAJP, as p. 354 of Jewish Anzacs.
• Charles Aronson (SJM, NAJEX, NSWJWM, AJHS) for assistance with collaboration.
• The Australian Jewish Historical Society for its support and hosting this database.
Thanks also to the following people and references:
• Harold Boas (Hon. Lt. YMCA Jewish Representative to the AIF) – AJBoH The Great War 1914-1918 (1923)
• Gerald Pynt and Jack Epstein (NAJEX historian) – AJBoH WWII (1973)
• Rev. Michael Adler (UK Chaplain WWI) and Max R. G. Freeman – BJBoH (1922)
• Mark Dapin – Jewish Anzacs (2017)