Victorian Association of Jewish Ex & Servicemen & Women Australia Incorporated

Founding Member General Sir John Monash GCMG KCB VD

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First names
Harold Francis
Service No.
Date of Death
Not Jewish
Hebrew Date
Hebrew Date
Age at Death
How Died
Where Died
Not Jewish
Service Details
Age at Enlistment
Place of Enlistment
Locality on Enlistment
Roman Catholic (brother 643 Private Gabriel Aarons also attested he was Roman Catholic. Gabriel's cremated remains are interred at Altona Memorial Park and he was not buried as Jew)
Date of Enlistment
Date of Discharge
Country of Enlistment
His name is on the Historic Obelisk in Melbourne General Cemetery, however he was not Jewish. Harold attested that he was Roman Catholic. His parents married at St Paul’s Church of England, Sandhurst 13th June 1882 Reg No 1780. A cross was originally on his gravestone but has been changed to Magen David for reasons unknown to us. A Catholic prayer book and rosary were in his possession. Parents Kate Matilda East and Benjamin Aarons are buried together in the same grave at Footscray Cemetery, Roman Catholic section, Grave - RC*B***1232. Harold's brother, 643 PTE Gabriel Aarons, 13th Light Horse Regiment, returned to Australia, 17th October 1916. He also stated he was Roman Catholic. Gabriel Brassey Aarons died in Heidelberg, Victoria in 1979 Reg No 5594 age 82. He was cremated at Altona Memorial Park and not buried as a Jew. Harold’s maternal grandmother was Honora Donnellan. She married Robert Henry East declaring that she was a member of the Catholic Church and they were married in Sandhurst, Parish of St Kilian on 24th November 1861 Reg No 3813 according to the rites of the Catholic Church. Their marriage certificate states that Robert Henry East was born in London and Honora Donnellan was born in County Clare. Therefore, changing the headstone from a cross to a Magen David is a mistake of the Commonwealth War Graves Commission (CWGC). The CWGC was notified of the wrong religious emblem, using the evidence of the above information. Their reply, “In this case our Commemorations team have advised that this case was previously brought to our attention in 2014. After discussions with the Office of Australian War Graves, at the time, it was decided that the headstone should remain as it is currently unless we are approached by a family member. Should we receive such an approach, we would then act in accordance with their wishes, based on any proof they could provide regarding Harold’s religion.” Rabbi's decision: Ruled to not be Jewish. Therefore he is not to be on the list for future memorials.
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