Sailor’s death to be marked 100 years on

The Jewish Chronicle - - NEWS - BY ROSA DOHERTY

THE FIRST Jewish sailor to be killed in the First World War will be com­mem­o­rated by his fam­ily drop­ping a plaque 200ft into the North Sea, where his ship, HMS Pathfinder, was sunk by a Ger­man tor­pedo.

Wil­liam Stern was one of 250 Royal Navy sailors who died when the ship went down off St Abbs Head in the Scot­tish Bor­ders on Septem­ber 5 1914.

Mr Stern’s nephew will travel along­side a team of divers from the Bri­tish Sub-Aqua Club (BSAC) who will lay a wreath on the re­mains of the ship.

Mal­colm Stern, 85, said: “I and some of my fam­ily will sail out to the wreck so thatwe­can­pay­our­re­spects,dropa­com­mem­o­ra­tive plaque, and say Kad­dish.

“My un­cle worked as a stoker in the ship’s en­gine room so was prob­a­bly one of the first to go.”

HMS Pathfinder was pa­trolling wa­ters off south­ern Scot­land when it was hit. The crew be­low decks had no op­por­tu­nity to escape and went down with the ship.

“You hear a lot about the sol­diers that died,” said Mr Stern, “but not much about the sailors and I think it is im­por­tant they get a men­tion.

“It is dou­bly un­usu­ally to hear about a Jewish sailor so it is im­por­tant for our fam­ily to re­mem­ber him.”

Mr Stern found out that his un­cle was the first Jewish sailor to be killed dur­ing WW1 af­ter look­ing into his fam­ily his­tory. He said: “I never met my un­cle but his story was one I grew up with.

“Af­ter the war, in 1922, Cax­ton Pub­lish­ing Com­pany printed a limited edi­tion of the Bri­tish Jewry Book of Hon­our.

“It lists a to­tal of 503 of­fi­cers and oth­ers in the Royal Navy and Royal Naval Di­vi­sion; 32 are shown as having been killed in ac­tion and the dates of their deaths are given. Wil­liam Stern’s is the ear­li­est recorded.”

Dave Lock, a BSAC na­tional div­ing com­mit­tee mem­ber and group leader for div­ing and coach­ing, will lead the group of divers. He said it would be a “poignant and som­bre oc­ca­sion… show­ing re­spect to the wreck and to the lives that were lost.

“Hope­fully, we will man­age to dive on the wreck of HMS Pathfinder 100 years to the day of her sink­ing. How­ever, she lies up­right in quite deep wa­ter. Her stern is at 68 me­tres while her decks are at 58 to 60 me­tres.

“This is for ex­pe­ri­enced sports divers.”

Poignant an­niver­sary: Wil­liam Stern and his ship, HMS Pathfinder

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