Stan­ley Bril­liant


The Jewish Chronicle - - OBITUARIES -

BEST KNOWN to the Jewish pub­lic for or­gan­is­ing the an­nual Ajex pa­rade, Stan­ley Bril­liant won the Dis­tin­guished Ser­vice Cross for his role in sink­ing a Ger­man U-boat off Nor­way. But his ap­pli­ca­tion to join the Royal Navy was first re­jected on the grounds that his fa­ther was not born Bri­tish. Alexan­der Bril­liant fled Tsarist Rus­sia in the 1890s and was nat­u­ralised in 1903.

Stan­ley spent his early years above the fam­ily’s to­bacco and con­fec­tionery shop in Hack­ney, East Lon­don. He was a late ar­rival, with a brother and two sis­ters al­ready in their teens.

He at­tended the Gro­cers’ School, which nur­tured gen­er­a­tions of bright Jewish boys. When he left school at 17 for ar­ti­cles, or train­ing, with a City firm of char­tered ac­coun­tants, he seemed set for a steady ca­reer, us­ing his tal­ent for ad­min­is­tra­tion and fig­ures.

But the out­break of the Sec­ond World War in 1939 took his mind off study. In sum­mer 1940 he vol­un­teered for pilot train­ing in the Fleet Air Arm. His re­sponse to his re­jec­tion was po­litely to in­form the Lords Com­mis­sion­ers of the Ad­mi­ralty that he would serve in the Royal Navy or not at all. They ac­cepted and he be­gan train­ing at HMS St. Vin­cent, Gosport.

He en­joyed life at sea, ex­cept for the rum. He stored his daily “tot” un­til he had saved enough to ex­change it for a bot­tle of some­thing else.

Us­ing his tech­ni­cal skill and per­sonal courage for six years as a naval pilot in prac­ti­cally ev­ery theatre of war, in April 1944 he was part of 819 Squadron pro­tect­ing Arc­tic con­voys in the Bar­ents Sea. Op­er­at­ing from HMS Ac­tiv­ity, he flew a Fairey Sword­fish tor­pedo-car­ry­ing aero­plane that sank U-Boat 288. The con­voy reached Mur­mansk safely.

In July, Tem­po­rary Lieu­tenant (A) Stan­ley Bril­liant RNVR re­ceived the DSC for “un­daunted courage, skill and de­vo­tion to duty”. On VJ Day, Au­gust 1945, he led the naval fly-past for Lord Mount­bat­ten, C-in-C South East Asia Com­mand, in Colombo, Cey­lon (Sri Lanka).

Af­ter the war he en­tered the now whole­sale fam­ily busi­ness, work­ing tire­lessly. His fa­ther had died in 1942.

Away from work he de­voted him­self to the As­so­ci­a­tion of Jewish Ex-Ser­vice­men and Women (AJEX) and met Ruth Sussman, a for­mer WAAF of­fi­cer.

Af­ter mar­ry­ing in 1950, Stan­ley en- gaged with his wife’s com­mu­nally ac­tive fam­ily and be­came in­volved in Hamp­stead Syn­a­gogue life.

By his for­ties he had risen in the ranks of Ajex and, to­gether with Colonel Ge­orge Bean QC, later a High Court Judge, Ma­jor Harold Free­man and Philip Mis­hon, pro­vided the golden era lead­er­ship of the 1950s and 60s.

He­was­na­tion­alchair­man­from196870 and later a vice-pres­i­dent. He and his col­leagues cre­ated the UK Friends for Fur­ther Ed­u­ca­tion in Is­rael, work­ing within the Sol­diers’ Recre­ational Homes in Ashkelon and Beer­sheva.

He or­gan­ised the Ajex An­nual Re­mem­brance Pa­rade and Ser­vice ev­ery Novem­ber at the Ceno­taph in White- hall for some 40 years un­til 2002. His plan­ning and at­ten­tion to de­tail en­sured the suc­cess of this ma­jor event in the An­glo-Jewish cal­en­dar.

Jewish vet­er­ans will not for­get his “Attenshun!”, be­fore he led the col­umn off from Horse Guards Pa­rade to the sub­se­quent ser­vice, with the com­mand, “At Ease!” Suc­ces­sive re­view­ing of­fi­cers never failed to be im­pressed.

He held firmly mod­er­ate views and en­joyed mu­sic, travel, read­ing and sport. On his fi­nal am­bu­lance jour­ney to hospi­tal he re­cited the names of the 1936 Arse­nal FA Cup Team.

He is sur­vived by his wife, Ruth; two sons, Si­mon and David; and two grand­chil­dren.


Stan­ley Bril­liant with his wife, Ruth, next to a Fairey Sword­fish plane in the Im­pe­rial War Mu­seum

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